31 December 2013

Alaska Happenings: September-December

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18


Hello friends! Due to pregnancy, school, and sheer laziness, I have not blogged many happenings these last few months in Alaska. So, in the spirit of closing out this year before we ring in the new one, this post is going to be a quick recap. Basically, Hubs' last few months can be summarized as work and football, and mine can be summarized as school and baby-growing.

Football Season
Hubs loves saying we haven't done many "Alaskan" things because I'm pregnant. While that may have been true for the first month or so, the reality is that we haven't done many "Alaskan" things because of football. After we got the keys and our property shipment back in September, we spent most of our time lounging. Hubs had time off work, and we needed the rest after the long drive and a ton of new changes. We went from no cable for the first three years of marriage to getting cable "because it's football season". Needless to say, our weekends have been spent in our living room. Hubs loves all things football, especially his fantasy league, and has felt deprived for the last few falls in pre-deployment training (2010), Iraq (2011), and phase one of EOD school at Ft Lee (2012). So, this year, he has done his darnedest to overcompensate. I would say it was a complete success. In fact, all of Hubs dedication paid off (literally) when he won the Heaston Bowl- first place in his fantasy league. However, I would also say that I've been counting down the days til February 2nd and that us getting cable next fall is going to be an almost impossible sell. Don't get me wrong: I enjoy football. I just don't enjoy competing with it.

EOD FRG
A few weeks after we arrived here, the FRG had a company cookout. The FRG (Family Readiness Group) serves service members and their families in many things from group gatherings and meal chains to being the key communication resource during deployments between the company and the spouses. Most military units have an FRG and is internally run by the spouses in conjunction with company leaders. This particular company's FRG had been almost inactive until about a month or so before we arrived. Another wife fairly new to Alaska has a great deal of experience in setting up and running FRGs, so she has resolved to establish a cohesive and effective group. The cookout was the first group event when we voted in volunteering spouses to leadership roles. We met maybe most of the families that day, and some of the wives asked me to go consignment sale shopping for our new addition the next day. We have attended a Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner with FRG, and I'm excited to stay involved. The few friends I have here are wives I've met through the monthly FRG events and I'm glad to have the group!

Kodiak, AK
One of the jobs of an EOD unit is to be on call for any potential ordinance threat within a specific radius to their location. In October, Hubs, one of his team members, and two other team leaders went on a call to Kodiak, AK. The coast guard base there is referenced in the movie, The Guardian. Here is Hubs' account:
"I flew with three other techs to Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak on Kodiak Island, AK. It is about 250 miles south of Anchorage. The Coast Guard official took us to some marine markers they were holding which they found washed up on the beach. We took them to a remote location on the island and disposed of them by detonation. Then he drove us back to the airplane and we came home. Kevin Costner was not seen."
Basically, it was a super fun mission to go blow something up. Not only that, but they got to experience  a flight over southern Alaska on a beautiful, clear, fall day. Here are the pics.













Hubs brought Jessie this rare treat that he found along the path they took in Kodiak. The treat disappeared short after.

Jessie's First Romps in the Snow
Our first hike after the first small snow.
video

A Fake-out Marriage Retreat
Hubs had signed us up for a battalion wide Strong Bonds Marriage Retreat at Alyeska Ski Resort. It was an all-expenses paid weekend getaway and we were so excited! We had called the week before to set up Jessie's stay at a Pet Smart on the way. Well, when we got to the Pet Smart, they informed us that we did not have the correct records for her shots. Being the thorough dog-mom that I am, I knew she was up-to-date. We drove almost 45 minutes back to our house to get every receipt and vet record from her entire year of life before driving to the nearest Pet Smart- about 10 minutes from our house- to ask if we had the adequate information before heading out again. Surely, if we can get her into Canada and back into America, we have what she needs to stay at a Pet Smart. Apparently, to be boarded, Jessie needed to have a shot that is not given at the vet without specifically asking for it. Hubs called to say we weren't coming. We concluded that there was some protection over us or Jessie that day. So, we ordered Mexican food to go and got home to find we had no heat in the house. Here is the documentation of that weekend:

Jessie's Obesity Scare
I took Jessie to the vet for shots and her annual heart worm test. What we thought was a little ten or eleven pounder clocked in at over sixteen! The vet told us to cut back on her food, so we stopped free feeding and put her bowl out twice a day. It's not much different really. We realized, it's not that she ate a ton, but more that she is so much less active since we moved here. She sleeps all the time. That makes two of us. Other than the embarrassing scale situation, Jessie was a great patient. The little weirdo wagged her tail each time she got a shot.

Christmas
This is our fourth married Christmas and our second Christmas tree.

Our first Christmas was spent in Nashville with family. We had our wedding reception and the wonderful surprise of Hubs' dad getting leave (army talk for vacation) to come home for Christmas from deployment. We spent the last part of our visit in Gatlinburg with Hubs' parents.

Our second Christmas was right after Hubs returned from his deployment. A few weeks before he came home, he made the call that we wouldn't make the trip to Nashville for Christmas. He only had about a week off at Christmas, but was given a longer leave the end of that January. He decided our time would be better spent at the second, longer leave time. Being on patrol for the previous 6 months made him weary of an 11 hour drive both ways, and difficult circumstances on deployment had him needing time and rest before having to accommodate certain conversation and interaction. Our times in Nashville are jam packed and full of family. It is so wonderful, we love being 'home', but it can be exhausting, and he wasn't ready. I was so proud of him for making that difficult decision, especially with the backlash that came with it. At first I was sad we weren't making the trip, but then seeing him grow and get stronger each day of that short break was all the evidence I needed to know he made the right call. He slept and ate and watched TV. I watched him get color back in his cheeks, a smile back on his face, and the energy back that was sucked dry. Like watching a flower bloom. We picked out our first Christmas tree at our first house, and we'll never forget it. We had a wonderful trip to Nashville just a few weeks later and stopped on the way back for a sweet post-deployment honeymoon in Gatlinburg.

Our third Christmas, we were back in Nashville with family. It included another Gatlinburg trip, this time with the Hopkins crew.

This year, we didn't make the trip for many reasons- mainly the money it would take to get plane tickets from Anchorage at the holidays. We stayed here and had a laid-back Christmas. We had our tree right after Thanksgiving. Hubs somehow know how to pick out the best one on the lot.
This year, we decided to decorate our fir for our gender reveal- see it here!

Christmas morning, we made cinnamon rolls, gave each other stockings, opened presents from family, and made full use of FaceTime. It was hard to be away and in a weird new place, even though it is a beautiful winter wonderland here. We're getting there though and are so grateful for our relationships that are built on something more than the miles and are proving more long-term than the long-distance.

I think that pretty much catches us up! I'm resolved to post happening updates at least monthly instead of quarterly from here on out. But I can't make any promises…


24 December 2013

Week 20


“Do not be afraid. I am bringing you good news that will be a great joy to all the people. Today your Savior was born in the town of David. He is Christ, the Lord. This is how you will know him: You will find a baby wrapped in pieces of cloth and lying in a feeding box.” Luke 2:9-12


How far along?
WE'RE HALFWAY DONE!
20 weeks / 5 months

Baby size?
Our man is about the size of a banana. This fruit analogy is obviously science.

Sleep?
Sleeping is so much better, except I occasionally wake up in the wee hours and can't get back to sleep. I love naps!

Cravings?
- My amazing friend, Karla, sent homemade peppermint bark. I have not stopped thinking about it since we opened the box. (She also sent a bag of sweet potatoes because I mentioned once on Facebook that they are my fave and I couldn't find them here! How's that for thoughtful?!)
- I also could eat Italian food at any moment. But, let's be honest, this is not abnormal for me as a non-pregnant person.
- I'm also a regular consumer of Oh's cereal in unsweetened almond milk. If you haven't tried Oh's, you are missing out on one of life's little treasures.
- And, anytime I think of food that is only available in previous locations we have lived, I crush that thought into tiny pieces. If I dared to allow myself to dream of any Sunday dinner at Maw Maw's; my Momma's lasagna/french toast/pink salad/monkey bread/coconut creme pie; Victoria's chicken salad; Bang Bang shrimp or Reggae Rolls; or Chikfila, I would cease to function normally. I have a secret list of must-eats for our trip in Nashville and may or may not be tearing up at the thought.
- Can you tell my appetite is back?? Sheesh.

Aversions?
Dishes left in the sink, produce that isn't fresh, some food smells

Symptoms?
I am definitely growing. Major sweet tooth. Uncomfortable and lower back aches.

Mood?
I have been super jolly these two weeks!

Looking forward to?
- Christmas! We had an FRG party on the 20th, had a get-together at a friend's house today, and have presents under the tree for tomorrow! Andrew's work schedule is light, and we live in a winter wonderland. Cherishing our sweet family of four being together.
- Working on the nursery. I got a head start when we first found out and moved into our home, but got really excited to decorate for the first time since after we found out it's a boy's room!

What's new?
- Done with school for the semester!
- Found out our little joey is a boy! It's so amazing to be able to call him a he!
- Buying plane tickets to Tennessee! I'm about to explode waiting for this trip back to family in February!

Prayer Requests?
{After having the round ligament pain I mentioned in the last post for almost two weeks, I complained to Hubs & my parents that I was so discouraged & wasn't sure how I much longer I could take feeling that way. That night, Hubs & I prayed for relief, & my parents prayed throughout the next day. That day, it was gone & has not returned. God's participation is never a surprise, but I'm always left in awe of His care. Hence, this new section of our baby growth blog posts called Prayer Requests.}
- Please pray for peace. There are certain external circumstances that welcome fear and sadness in our hearts. It's hard for me to approach myself and others in love when I am afraid or hurt.
- Pray please for joey to develop perfectly and for his home to be healthy!


Happy Birthday, Jesus!

This Christmas season, as we are amazed at the miracle of this new little life, we are overwhelmed by the baby boy born in a barn. The King came as promised and as we least expected. He defeated death and gave us life, both out of a love we can't possibly imagine. We wait together in this blessed assurance, in this hope that rises higher than our greatest moments and runs deeper than our darkest hours. O come, Emmanuel!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining

Till he appeared and the soul felt it's worth
The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

18 December 2013

OH BOY!


“Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life.” 1 Samuel 1:28 


Today, we went to Radiology for an anatomy scan appointment. We spent over an hour watching the tech zoom in on all the different organs, take all kinds of measurements, and explain to us what we were seeing. He was an amazing blessing to us- so informative and thorough and kind. He probably spent way longer with us than a normal appointment usually takes because we asked a ton of questions and we ended up talking about random things like Alaskan activities and how much he enjoys his job. Of course, the best part of the appointment was finding out that our little joey is a BOY! We can't wait to meet him in May!


Hubs was in a bit of shock because he has been so sure that we were having a girl. He got this hunch not a week after we found out I was pregnant and then felt confirmed at our sonogram almost two months ago. The tech at that appointment offered to project the baby's sex based on the angle of the organ at the time. She confidently stated, "Oh, you're having a girl! I mean, that's only a 51% guess though." But she sounded so sure that Hubs was convinced. I even started leaning that way a little. 

We would've absolutely loved having a little lady (and I'm already secretly hoping the next one is a baby sister!) But we are already so proud of our little man! If we had been able to choose, we would've chosen a boy. We love that any other children we have will have a big brother. We love the idea of playing in the backyard with our son! We couldn't be happier. While we have started a rough list of names we like for either a boy or girl, we are still sure that we do not want to name him until we meet him. (OMG! I get to say HIM!) So, he's still our little joey for now. Mr. Woodard is an acceptable option as well.


Everything else was wonderful on the scan. Joey is functioning as he should and has all his little fingers and toes. He was stretched all the way out from head to toe for most of his performance. The only hiccup is that we are continuing to monitor the two fibroids that were found at the 12 week sonogram. Fibroids are common benign tumors that many women have and is usually genetic. Most women who have fibroids are completely unaware until they show up on a pregnancy ultrasound like mine did. The reason why we are even monitoring the ones that I have is that one of them is in a position that could potentially cause a natural delivery to be a little difficult. Fibroids typically grow larger in the company of hormones, and mine did measure larger this appointment. It is nothing they haven't seen before and all doctors and techs are confidant that it is a non-issue for a normal and safe delivery. The worst case scenario is a c-section, and the weird case scenario is that I might have a funny-shaped preggo belly! Fibroids pose absolutely no risk to the well-being of our little boy. He just might have to share some room. He is preferring to hang out on the right side of me and seems snug as a bug in a rug over there!

We went straight to the PX after the appt to make sure we had all the tree supplies. (I had already bought pink ornaments and ribbon, as well as blue ornaments and the football for tree topping, but didn't have enough blue because Hubs was so sure our appointment would simply confirm what he already knew!) We couldn't help ourselves as we went straight for the baby dept. Hubs excitedly picked out our first "boy" outfit and wants joey to come home from the hospital in his new digs! 

We also received these adorably appropriate baby slippers in the mail from my sweet seester today! We know this was a humble sacrifice from Keke, an avid Tennessee fan. Joey is already completely covered in love from his cool aunts!

We are thrilled to share this news with you! What a fun surprise. It is going to be impossible to not start purchasing handsome garments, athletic gear, & a tiny shaving kit, amiright?!



10 December 2013

Week 18


“Your hands made me and formed me.” Psalm 119:73


{ Disclaimer: Last week's belly bump picture was deceivingly small due to clothing choice and angle. So, if it seems that our baby has grown an insane amount over two weeks, it is only an illusion. As my mom put it, "No wonder you're having growing pains!" The sweet babe has definitely grown, but it has been way more subtle than it may seem from the difference in these two pics. Also, don't ask what is going on with my hair. This is a baby bump picture, not a momma beauty contest. }

How far along?
18 weeks

Baby size?

Our joey is about the size of a bell pepper.

Sleep?

Sleep schedule is completely off. I occasionally get woken up by aches and pains and have even had to sleep sitting up a few nights to get relief.

Cravings?

candy and cranberry juice

Aversions?

meat and produce that isn't fresh

Symptoms?

tiredness, pretty extreme growing pains

Mood?

I've been irritable due to lack of sleep and lots of hurting!  

Looking forward to?
- Finding out if our joey is a boy or a girl!
- Pain relief, hopefully.
- Christmas!

What's new?

- Belly is growing and normal clothes no longer fit.
- I can feel joey rolling if I press on my belly. No kicks or jabs yet!
- Had a doctor's appointment on 12/5. Only gained about a pound and heard a healthy heartbeat. Hubs went with me and was so amazing at helping me ask all the questions we are starting to have about the rest of this process! 

So, what do you guys think? Is our little joey a boy or a girl?!