Sunday, May 16, 2010

Just a Bit About My Baby Shower!

My mom threw me a baby shower today and everything turned out so nice that I thought I'd share!
Mom handmade everything from the invitations--blue onesies that open & close--to the diaper cake centerpieces, along with the mini favors--candy-filled napkin diapers! She had a "clothes line" set up for all the guests to write a little something for us on onesy-shaped paper and hang up with mini clothes pins. Everything was so nice!
The games were so much fun, from baby bottles races to "winner takes 'All'." For the races, every table chose one person to be "it." By this time, my husband Kevin arrived, so of course, he was designated, as well. Each person recieved a baby bottle with equal amounts of juice; the first person to finish drinking was the winner. That game had everyone laughing!
In "Winner takes 'All'," everyone passed around a baby bottle bank and threw in their loose change. Then, everyone had a chance to guess how much money there was all together. After I counted the money, whoever was closest was crowned the winner, who would "take 'All'." Besides my mom, no one knew that "all" was the brand of the laundry detergent the winner would recieve, and that the change-filled bank was meant for the baby!
After more games and more laughs, I opened gifts and took pictures with my handmade, ribbon and bow, paper plate bonnet. We all had cake after our mac and cheese (my favorite!) and sloppy joe lunch; everything was so yummy!
Now, books, toys, clothes, diapers, and blue, blue, blue! fill the baby's room. Although it's a lot to sort through, I'm extremely excited to look at everything and get the room in order--Mom and I have a date on Tuesday night to do so!

Friday, May 14, 2010

I Thought Turning Into Your Mother Was Scary...

Everyone says that, as you get older, you realize that you turn into your parents. Because I've been 40 since I was four, I always knew that I was my mother from the very start. Sometimes that's scarier than others, but as I get older, there's no shock involved when I catch myself doing and saying as she does. What was scary, was going back to my high school and agreeing with my vice principal.
When I was a teenager, I thought, I'm not wrong, these people (authority figures) are just rude (no, that probably wasn't my choice of words) and don't like teenagers. But you realize later that you were wrong.
I returned to my high school the other day to meet with the principal and a senior girl for a story I was covering for work. While I waited for them in the office, students were being called in to meet with the vice principal, mostly for disciplinary purposes.
I thought of how highy I used to think of this man when I was in school, which wasn't much, especially from someone who never even got into trouble. But as he handed out punishments over and over, I saw how leanient he was. I wasn't surprised that I agreed with him that these kids should be punished, I was just shocked at how he was letting many of them slide; of course, they didn't see it that way.
It's just so strange when change occurs over time, but you don't realize it until something happens that makes you think about it. When did we all grow up? For me, it happened so quickly, that sometimes I don't remember doing it all--I just was.
Being in my high school again was nice. When I realized what was happening in the office that morning, I chuckled at myself, knowing that I used to be that girl who hated everything the vice principal said. I saw my former journalism teacher and talked to him just as easily as I always had, only it was about a movie that we both watched at the drive in over the weekend. I walked the halls and saw how different things were, and how some things were exactly the same. Or was that just me?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Don't Knock It 'Til You Try It: Sweet & Salty

Pregnant or not, many people love sweet and salty foods at the same time. Like fries and a soda, or ice cream and a soft pretzel. Some things are even better as one though, no matter how crazy they may sound. Here are just a few of my favorites, in no particular order.
Milkshake dipped French fries. If you haven't tried this yet, you're missing out. My dad first introduced me to this combo at Wendy's when I was about 7 years old. Since then, I always order French fries when I order a shake; it's just not the same without them!
Potato chip cookies. Strange? That's what I thought. A coworker brought these in to work a few months ago when I couldn't even think about eating because I had flushed my appetite down the drain. So naturally, the thought of smashing potato chips and throwing them into cookie batter did not appeal to me. But once I tasted the combination of sweet chocolate chips and crunchy, saltiness, my appetite began to return (I appreciate them even more now that I no longer have morning sickness).
Chocolate chunk bacon cookies. I recently heard about these cookies from a lady I know who owns a local BBQ restaurant. I was immediately skeptical, and then I remembered that I love foods like this--sweet and salty all at once! Because she's the awesome person that she is, she made sure to save me one and I finally got to try it the other day. Mmmm. Although it was doublue chocolate, it wasn't too sweet, and there was just the right amount of bacon to add the perfect touch of saltiness. You must try them!
Peanut butter and jelly with cheese and bacon on toast. This has got to be one of my favorites. I refused to try this sandwich for months when I first started working at the restaurant where it's served, but I am so glad that I gave in. The bacon compliments the peanut butter, and the cheese is the perfect mate for the grape jelly. Throw it all together on toast and you'll swear you'll never "knock it 'til you try it" again!
What are your favorite, "crazy" food combos? What do you think of these?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I Pledge to "Have a Heart"

After the tragic suicide of a local, 15 year old boy this past February, a fellow peer decided that there needed to be something done to raise awareness of social issues, and to let others know that help is available.
I had the pleasure of meeting Stephanie, the initiator of the Have a Heart Campaign, today. Although she would never admit it, Stephanie is an awesome human being, who has spent so much time making her classmates, peers, high school staff, and community members aware of very serious social issues.
What started as a pledge to lend a hand to those in need and seek help for one's self if necessary, has grown to an educational program based on spreading awareness and helping others. Because of what Stephanie started, almost 400 students have signed the Have a Heart Campaign pledge. In addition, the entire student body at her high school is now more aware of social issues such as drug and alcohol abuse, harassment, and cyber bullying, among other things. These issues are being discussed through posters, pamphlets, and videos made by Stephanie and approximately 17 clubs at the high school.
I was so amazed at how far this campaign has come, but then Stephanie told me more. Not only does the high school plan to continue the Have a Heart Campaign every year, but other high schools are now interested, as well. If just one person can be helped through the awareness that this campaign is spreading, then it's worth it. But if it catches on and spreads to high schools--and perhaps other institutions--all over the country, how awesome would that be?
After I interviewed Stephanie, she asked me if I would like to sign the pledge.
"Of course," I said, and I signed my name inside the paper heart, promising to always remember to have one.
For more information on the Have a Heart Campaign, leave a comment with your e-mail address and I will forward further information.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Little Something to Think About

"I feel like God has taken my family away from me."
That's what someone said after being told that he would spend the rest of his life in prison. To this day, he has yet to take responsibility for his own actions. Instead, he blames God.
Why is it so easy for some people to blame God for their misfortunes and their own mistakes, but so hard for them to be thankful for what He has given them? Why is it that people can not admit that they were wrong and ask for forgiveness?When in a crisis, is it not easier to turn to God and seek help than it is to blame him for a situation's outcome?
Our parents raise us and teach us things that will help us to lead good lives. When they send us off on our own, they hope that we will take their advice with us and become productive, happy adults. But we all make mistakes. So is it my mom's fault if I spend too much money on going out to eat? Is it my dad's fault if my engine seizes up because I was too lazy to check my oil? If I steal someone's car because I need a way to get home, is it my parents' fault because they would not give me a ride?
God sends us into this world with the power to make our own choices. When an opportunity arises to do good, we should thank Him. Instead, we take it for granted, only to blame Him for our mistakes and condemn Him for not giving enough.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

My Unborn Son Makes Everything Okay

Today was my "first" Mother's Day and it turned out to be a pretty emotional experience. Everything was great, of course. My husband gave me a card and wrote a little something inside; my mom made me a bracelet with five little charms, representing the baby; I recieved a gift at church; I placed roses on the graves of my grandmother and mother-in-law; I had breakfast with my parents and grandparents; my husband and I went out to dinner with my parents. Overall, I had a very nice, eventful day. But also a day of realizations...
In church this morning, a couple sat in front of me with an infant, no more than two months old. As the pastor spoke of the bond a mother shares with her child after having carried him in her womb for nine months, this tiny baby stared at me. I couldn't help but smile as her lips turned up into a smile of her own, her pudgy little cheeks creating tiny hills under her bright blue eyes. And the whole while, I kept my hands on my belly, feeling my own child stretch his tiny arms and legs out as far as he could... Amazing.
In less than two months, I am going to be holding this little boy in my arms. He'll no longer be my little "bean"--as I call him now--growing in my belly. He'll be here, in my arms, staring back at me as he clings to me instinctively. And I will cling to him, not wanting to let him go, as I will be so used to the fact that he has been safe inside my belly all this time.
From the moment I found out I was pregnant, my life changed. Everything I did concerned the life that was forming inside me. And every time he moves, every time I hear his heartbeat, every time I see his little fist curled up against his cheek... nothing else matters. These things simply confirm that it's all about him. But when this baby boy takes his first breath... nothing will compare to that moment. And boy, am I scared.
Although my life has already changed, I can only imagine what it's going to be like two months from now. And today, the "first" of my Mother's Days, really caused me to feel a bit overwhelmed. I'm nervous. I'm scared. But I'm so excited.
All I have to do is feel him move, or picture the way he looked during my last ultrasound, or imagine which features he'll inherit from me and which he'll inherit from his daddy... And everything is okay.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

You May Kiss the Blackberry

Have you ever seen someone so attached to an electronic device that you wanted to smash it? That happened to me today.
Now let me start by saying, I own an iPhone and I find that I'm more reliant on it every day. For example, I just recently found this app, which allows me to easily update my blog without ever touching a computer. However, I still value human contact.
My husband and I went to the diner for breakfast this morning, and as I waited for him to decide on his meal, I quickly checked my Facebook before turning my phone on silent and slipping it into my purse. Other than answering a text from my mom a short time later, that was the last appearance my phone made while we were at the diner.
While we waited for our waitress, our breakfast, our bill... we talked to each other. Can you imagine such a thing? We enjoyed each other's company over breakfast, just as they did in the dark ages, before cell phones became the rulers of everyone's lives.
There was a couple (I know they're an item through friends, not to mention there aren't any secrets in a small town) sitting at a table across from us who arrived shortly after we had. From the time they sat down until my husband and I left about 45 minutes later, I don't think the two of them said more than 25 words to each other. Rather, they sat across from each other with their eyes glued to their phones, their thumbs pounding away on their keyboards, the entire time.
I wanted nothing more than to sit down with them and ask, are you really that bored with each other? Do you realize that your future is going to be even worse than your time together now because you won't have any memories to look back on? Put down your damn phones and make eye contact for six seconds!
And then I thought, if I look around this room, I bet over half of its occupants are doing the same exact thing... But they weren't. What a pleasant surprise (and one of the only times where it felt good to be wrong)!
Although everyone besides this couple seemed to be enjoying the company of those they were dining with, a lot of peole spend way too much time with their cell phones and other electronics. When did we start replacing human interactions and intimate relationships with cell phones and status updates? I don't like it...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

My Grandmother, with the Machine Gun Arm

My mom and I were shopping for baby clothes the other day, and--aside from realizing that my son has a larger wardrobe than I do, although he's still in the womb--it really made me miss my grandmother. I thought, if Gram were here, she'd have purchased the entire rack of clothing months ago. While I was a bit sad for a moment, I had to smile as I thought of all the good times I had with her, and those that we would have had if she were still here.
My grandmother was a shopaholic, bingo freak, and yard sale fanatic. When we went to yard sales, she would always tell me, "If you think you want something, pick it up before someone else does!"
Her friends actually stopped going to sales with her because she would buy all of the comforter sets, even though she already had a few dozen at home. She would buy things just because she could, and just so someone else couldn't. It was hilarious.
The way she played bingo was amazing. She asked me to go with her once and, while I slowly marked two or three of my cards, she had already dabbed her cards and finished mine.
When that woman had a credit card or a bingo dabber in her hand, she was quicker than a machine gun.
I miss my grandmother so much. Even when I think of the good times with a smile, it hurts a little because I wish she could be here to share these good times. But it's gotten easier. I know she's watching.
On July 5, it will be two years that she's been gone. Maybe that's why I'm thinking about her so much more than usual. Or maybe it's because my due date is June 28, and I'm terrified that my son will be born on the day my grandmother passed away. Is it horrible to worry about that?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Nothing Compares to a Good Reunion

My high school English teacher found me on Facebook today, and I couldn't be happier! I'm just a bit... Surprised!
After graduating college last year, I searched for her, hoping that I would be able to contact her in time to invite her to my wedding. Unfortunately, that never happened. But upon checking my Facebook today, I came across a message from my very inspirational, high school English teacher. And it feels great to get in touch with someone from my past!
Not only do I remember learning so much in her class, but I had so much fun there, too. On top of that, I'd spend my free time with her in her classroom, just talking about where we had been in life, where we were going, our wants, our dreams... Those were the times I learned the most from her, and from myself, through her.
We're planning on meeting for lunch some time, and I can't wait to see her again! To see what she's been doing since retiring, to tell her about my life since high school... To learn just as I had when the two of us would sit at her desk, just talking. I imagine it will be just as easy to talk to her now as it was then, and just as easy to learn so many new things.
What a real joy it is to be reunited with someone from your past!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Love is Like an Old Wicker Rocking Chair

My husband and I returned home from the store today, and he looked down at my old wicker rocking chair in disgust.
"We should just throw this thing out. It's falling a part."
It is falling a part. But there is no way I'm getting rid of it.
Every time I sit in it, another piece of dark brown wicker cracks. Sometimes when I rock, a piece or two will fall to the ground. But it's the most comfortable piece of furniture I own. My body fits perfectly in the seat, and my head rests just right against the back. It's the perfect companion on a cool summer night.
As I walked in the house, I thought, "My chair is a lot like love, and I haven't thrown that away!"
When you love someone, you see past their flaws, because in your eyes, they're not really flaws at all. After time, you come to realize that you wouldn't have them any other way.
It's these little flaws we come to love the most; that make us fit so perfectly together, helping us to compliment each other in order to be each other's companion.
Just like my chair.
If that little brown rocker weren't so fragile, it would be stiff, making it uncomfortable and hard for my body to shape to. One day it may give up, but so far, it hasn't let me down. Until then, I'll keep my faith in my old wicker rocker.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Thrift Stores Are Gifts from Heaven!

I went shopping with my mom today and we stopped at a thrift store to look for maternity clothes. Everyone knows how expensive clothes are to begin with, but the bigger you get, the higher the price tends to be. Well, eight maternity tops, one maternity dress, and three onesies later, I spent less than $60.
If I had gone anywhere else, I probably would have spent at least $20 on each piece. That would have cost me almost $200, not including the baby clothes. Why go anywhere else for clothes I'm only going to wear for a few months during my pregnancy? And they all look brand new, and they're cute!
On Wednesdays, this particular store has "family night," where everything in the store except for one color (tags come in different colors) is half off. My husband and I went one Wednesday and I got about four pairs of maternity pants, 10 maternity tops, five or six baby outfits, and eight t-shirts for my husband. Again, we spent less than $60 for everything.
I know I'm not the only one who appreciates a bargain, so I wanted to pass this along: there is absolutely nothing wrong with shopping at thrift stores, especially for work and play clothes, or clothes you're only going to wear for a short period of time. Not to mention, many thrift stores' profits go to charity, such as the Salvation Army. So, everybody wins!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

"Be Happy With What You Have." ~William E. Gladstone

We've all heard the saying "Count your blessings" time and time again, but most of us still go about our daily lives taking things for granted. We focus on the things that we once had but have no longer; we spend our time wishing that the future will bring us more than we have now. And we're never happy. But maybe if we enjoy what we do have right now, we could be happy.
There are a lot of things from my past that I miss and that I wouldn't mind having back. More time with my extended family; money that I spent on God knows what; priceless moments with my grandmother. But those things are a part of the past and they're not coming back. Yes, I miss them, but why spend my time wishing that the present was more like the past? If that's how we spent our lives, we'd wake up one day and realize how much time we wasted, time that we can never get back.
As for the future, none of us know what tomorrow will bring. It's great to pray that tomorrow will hold many blessings and good fortune, but there is a difference between having faith and dwelling on things that you do not have now. Sure it would be great if I had more money tomorrow than I do today; if everyone I knew were healthier tomorrow than they are right now; if everything were better than it is. But don't I have so much to be thankful for in this very moment?
I have a loving family and a safe home. My family, friends and I are healthy. I have opportunities to pursue happiness in ways that many do not. I have air in my lungs and a beautiful baby boy growing in my belly. I have God watching over me and my family. Right now, in this very moment, I have so much to be thankful for. Why would I spend this time any other way than to be happy for what I have?
As for the future, there are things I hope for. But I have faith. I thank God for what I do have now, and I trust Him to lead me in the right direction. I trust that whatever He has in store for me and my future will be the best outcome, whether it is what I expected or not.
We are all human and most of us do not live our lives being thankful 24 hours a day. Things happen that make us angry and upset, leaving us wishing we had more time, more money, more patience, more, more, more... But maybe--instead of getting angry so easily--if we all just stopped and thought about all the blessings that we do have, rather than the ones we have no longer or the ones we wish we had; maybe we'd all be that much happier. Focusing on negativity will only create more negativity. So what else is there except to be positive, to be thankful for this very moment?
As for me, I am going to try to think more positively; to be thankful for what I have now, rather than angry about the things I no longer have; to have more faith and trust in God, leaving my future in his hands.
This morning in church, my minister said, "To love God is to live a life of appreciation and thankfulness for what He has done." My goal is to do just that.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Are You An Unwanted Weed or A Withering Wildflower?

I remember reading a poem when I was younger about weeds and wildflowers, and which one is more appealing. To this day, I haven't been able to find that poem again, but I still ask myself, "Would I rather be a weed or a wildflower?"

Weeds are ugly and unwanted, but they're free. No one's going to pick them and bring them home to die. Weeds are free to blow in the breeze on a cliff, to bend down and kiss the water as it rushes by in a river. There are no worries about when they will be uprooted, waiting to die. They have power and control over their lives; they have freedom. But is an eternity of freedom worth the loss of a few moments of being wanted and loved? Is it worth being plucked by the hand of a child, to show his mommy how much he loves her?

Wildflowers are beautiful and wanted. They're red and yellow and purple and orange and blue. They're unique and sometimes rare, which makes them even more valuable. But they have no idea what the future will hold. One day they're growing strong and vibrant in the sun; the next, they're withering away on a nightstand or coffee table. Wildflowers have no idea what a long life is, because they're plucked in their youth, to be taken home to moms and wives and teachers and friends. But even though they may die young, never able to experience the eternal beauty of life, they are needed by someone, even if it is only for a flicker in time. They are used as a symbol of love, appreciation, gratitude. They symbolize that, although we all die, we can still remain beautiful, just as a flower does after being torn from life.

I still ask myself which I would rather be. Sometimes, I want nothing more than to be a weed, free of worry and responsibility. To just live in the moment, not afraid of what may lie ahead. To go on forever, even if no one knows I'm there.
But other times, I want to be a wildflower. To be beautiful and wanted, even for a moment. To stand as a token of love, a priceless gift. To make someone smile for a second, to laugh, to shed a tear. And although I would die young without every truly knowing freedom and control, I would be appreciated, wanted, remembered. I would be loved.
Ultimately, I would rather be a wildflower. For me, I wouldn't want to live life alone, no matter how much freedom I had. I want to feel needed by someone, even if it is only for a short period of time. After all, is it not better to have loved and lost, then never to have loved at all?

So if you had to choose, which would you rather be? A weed or a wildflower? Leave your comments and take the poll!