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10 posts from October 2010

10/30/2010

Wanna-Be Maternity Photographer

My friend Jacque asked me to take some maternity pictures this morning. She is due in the next few weeks and getting preggo pics before she popped was a must!

Being able to become a mom is something she's always wanted, so capturing her pregnancy this way is something I know she'll treasure forever.

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We headed to downtown Arlington, TX this morning--which is an up and coming area here in North Texas. It was a bit chilly (for Texas standards) but warmed up quickly.

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"H" for James Hudson (but they are going with Hudson for his day-to-day name).

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The morning light was pretty harsh, but we ended up finding some great lighting options under a performance pavilion across from City Hall.

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We also took a few pictures at a historic site just a few blocks from the downtown area. This was a little too weird, but the homestead's original owner is actually named James Hudson Knapp. Strange coincidence!

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It was so much fun and I'm happy with the way they've turned out, even if I'm just a wanna-be maternity photographer!

10/25/2010

Baby Boom

I don't really have a lot of babies in my life. Out of my three sisters and Cody's two sisters, we will be the first to have a kiddo. Outside of my limited babysitting experiences in middle and high school, I am still pretty clueless about what it takes to take care of a baby (although Cody reassures me, and I know he is right, that by day 2 of having our daughter I will be a diaper changing pro).

But, with that said, my friends and I are going through a bit of a baby boom. I had never co-hosted a baby shower before, but that recently changed--and I know I'll be getting lots more practice in the upcoming months as all these little ones start to make their appearance.

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Jacque is one of my closest friends and after being married for ten years, she will FINALLY be a mom to baby James Hudson in just a few weeks.

We had planned the shower pretty far in advance (six weeks or so) but it ended up being bad timing as Cody's grandma, Bonita, passed away the Thursday morning before. So, on the day of the shower, we had her funeral at 11am, a two hour drive home, and the shower at 3pm. Whew!

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Jacque was so sweet and offered to reschedule, but my co-hosts pulled off an amazing feat and everything was set up and ready to go when I walked in my front door at 3:05pm.

It turned out so cute, and the food looked so good! Stacey, a friend who went to Africa last year with Jacque and I, made the adorable diaper cake. Again, I am a total baby shower novice and had never seen one of these before. I guess they are easy to make, or so rumor has it, but I was impressed.

(Love that she put the African animals on here to tie into our trip!)

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Since my co-hosts had already rescued me from prep and set-up, it's not a surprise that Megan, who was in charge of games and prizes, totally kicked butt on the shower activities. I know any guys reading this won't agree, but the games were actually fun and not cheesy at all. (Note that Cody and Jacque's husband, Dace, were babysitting Spangler upstairs while this was going on . . . . They had some man activities planned, but the were cancelled because of Bonita's funeral so they just played xBox instead. I'm sure they got a kick out of listening to us.)

We had to figure out how many words we could come up with, just using the letters from "James Hudson." We then separated into two teams for game #2 where we picked an item off a given list and Jacque had to dig in a bag to try to find that particular item. Whatever team had the smallest cumulative amount of time, won.

(My team dominated this one.)

During the shower everyone was given a clothes pin to wear with either "baby" or "boy" on it. If you said the word and someone caught you, they'd get to take your clothes pin. Whoever had the most clothespins at the end of the shower, won.

(I did not dominate at this one at all. In fact, I think my clothes pin lasted about 2 minutes on my shirt before I said "boy.")

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We opened gifts, which is always fun. Jacque's Mom made her a "J HUD" teddy bear and she got some way cute little man clothes.

What is cuter than a miniture old man argyle sweater?

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I'm pretty sure she felt showered after surveying the goods, post shower . . .

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And we had plenty of help, especially with Jacque's two nieces around. Ali, the oldest one, had her fair share of guidance when it came to how to open each gift.

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After the guests had left I had to bust out the Gap jeans since we were all in baby mode.

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And Spangler finally got to make his appearance.

He was just DYING having to stay upstairs while all these people and food were downstairs. Luckily, Jacque's nieces have a big dog at home so they had no trouble telling Spangler to "sit" over and over again. I'm just glad they didn't mind getting licked on the face over and over again by a 75 pound dog.

So, we have three more babies coming in the next six months ago, and hopefully another one coming shortly after that (ahem, Randy and Jace . . . hint hint).

Lots of babies. Lots of showers.

10/20/2010

Stranger Danger

Spangler doesn't have a mean bone in his body. He is labrador retriever through and through. Not once has he ever shown aggression, even when faced with big, mean dogs at the dog park. He'll just shake his tail and lick their face, until they finally decide that they'd rather play then be mean.

When we have people come over, we make Spangler sit until they walk in so they don't have this big 75 pound dog in their face. Fortunately/unfortunately, Spangler follows this same thought process when totally random people come to visit (UPS man, door-to-door religious people) as he thinks he gets to meet them if he sits like a good boy. He never even barks when the doorbell rings.

So I was a bit shocked Monday morning . . .

Spangler and I were on our morning walk when we rounded a corner (The Dog Whisperer would not be happy with me as Spangler leads most of our walks). All of a sudden, he froze, his tail immediately went straight up into the air and he let out a deep bark. I then made the same corner and saw what he barked at, which was a 35-40 year old man hanging out near the entrance to the park trail. Spangler then let out another weird bark/growl and the guy turned and walked away from us.

The guy was weird. I typically don't see people just loitering around our neighborhood. It's usually people DOING something, like exercising, walking their dog, or pushing their baby around. This guy just . . . gave me the creeps. He didn't seem like he was up to any good.

Also, I have never seen Spangler react to a person that way. We've met plenty of strangers on our morning walks, and he's been around ton of people in general. I think he must have felt the same creepy weirdness that I did.

I was so proud of my baby dog for getting that same feeling. It makes me feel much more comfortable that his overall niceness can easily be overtaken when he's around someone that would give anyone the creeps.

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(Picture of the only time we usually ever see "aggression" in Spangler: when he's sleeping, with the help of gravity.)

10/18/2010

Brennan Vineyards in Comanche, TX

We spent the weekend at my in-laws a few weeks ago and my parents came down to join us (yes, so very nice that our parents get along and actually choose to spend time together!).

North Central Texas really isn't known for its wine (or maybe it's just me and my lack of wine knowledge . . . so I'll say that I really didn't know that North Central Texas had any wineries) but there is a small winery in one of the towns not too far from Cody's parents, Brennan Vineyards.

My parents are definitely wine drinkers, so it was a natural fit to go check it out while we were in town. I had been there 2-3 years ago, on one of our trips home for Christmas from Chicago, and had forgotten how beautiful the location was.

Just down the street from the Comanche, TX square, the tasting room was built in 1879 and it's one of the oldest remaining homesteads in Texas. It's also a designated landmark by the Texas Historical Commission.

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This place is gorgeous on the inside and out.

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The windows are one of my favorite parts. I know the picture below doesn't do it justice, but they are floor-to-ceiling with beautiful woodwork. The shutters are amazing as well--and these are in every room.

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My Dad had to get a picture of me showing off my tummy. 20 weeks along.

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The wine list.

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The seating room decor.

My whole house could look just like it and I would love it. Rustic and beautiful.

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My father-in-law, chillin' in the seating room.

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This is the tasting room, with the original fireplace.

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You can't visit a winery without actually trying the wine. I, of course, couldn't, but I usually keep myself busy taking pictures of random stuff.

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The woman in the purple is the owner. My Dad is the kind of person that can carry on a conversation with anyone, and he didn't disappoint. He was able to get the history of the winery and the building itself while doing his tasting.

This was her and her husbands dream--to own their own winery. How awesome that they followed through with it?

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During the conversation between the owner and my Dad, the owner pulled out a magazine to show us what the homestead looked like when they bought it. This is just a crazy story, but they actually purchased it from a Ralph Lauren designer who had it as his vacation home.

This magazine (I didn't catch which magazine it was) featured his home as he was the one the restored it. Since they bought it fully furnished/decorated, most of the furniture pieces we saw in the magazine were still there.

You can see the fireplace there on the right. The tasting room was changed the most since they added a counter, etc.

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If you're in the area, definitely stop by, even if you're not into wine tasting (although they've won a ton of awards). Appreciating the history of the homestead, and how beautiful it's been kept up, is worth the trip itself.

10/16/2010

Remembering Abbie Bonita

Last Thursday I was on the phone with my boss when my mother-in-law called. I wasn't able to answer it, but I was able to check my voice-mail right before jumping on my next conference call. She sounded strange. Upset, but unsure since she had gotten a call from the hospital chaplain, where her Mom was, asking her to come into town as soon as she could. She called to let me know that something was wrong with Bonita, but she wasn't sure what it was.

I sent Cody a message using BlackBerry messenger (the best way to talk with him during the day, since it's my work phone to his work phone) telling him that there was something wrong with his grandma, but no one knew anything and that his Mom was headed to the hospital. Just a few minutes later, Cody messaged me back saying that he had talked to his Dad, who was already at the hospital, and Bonita, his grandma, was gone.

I was dumbfounded. At 88 years old, Bonita was in fantastic health. She had fallen a few weeks ealier and had broken her hip, but was recovering quickly. She was only hospitalized because her medications were causing nausea, so no one was really worried. She had felt great Thursday morning as she was able to eat a full breakfast, but when she got up to use the bathroom, she complained to the nurse about not feeling well when all of a sudden she just collapsed. It turns out that a blood clot that was in her lungs went straight to her heart.

Bonita has lived with Cody's parents for the vast majority of the time we've been together, so I've had an opportunity to really get to know her over the past nine years. She was just SO excited about being a great grandmother, and that is the part that is hardest to deal with.

I know that she loved our daughter already, but it would have been amazing if she had been able to meet her. It's been difficult to deal with that part.

But we have lots of stories. Bonita was a talker and I sincerely enjoyed just getting to sit with her on a Saturday afternoon--listening to whatever was on her mind. Some of my favorites . . .

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She was a Rosie the Riveter during World War II, she moved to the big city of Fort Worth (a decent distance away from the small town she grew up in) to work in an airplane parts factory. The funniest part is that no one knew about this until just a few years ago when Cody and I were asking questions about her past. She did it to find good work and to support the war effort--not for any kind of glory or recognition.

She kept notes on everything. Over the past week my mother-in-law has found the most random scraps of paper and notebooks commenting on the tornado of 1990 to the family that lived down the street from her in the 1940's. She even found notes on the last episode Bob Barker hosted on The Price is Right with every game and every prize listed.

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Cody and I were always under the impression that Bonita loved giraffes. She had an entire collection that sat on the shelf next to her chair in the living room, so anytime we'd see a giraffe in a store or on a trip, we'd get her one. Well, last year I was hanging out with her and she starts to tell me about how Cody's little sister once brought home a giraffe for her, and being a gift from her granddaughter, she kept it. She went onto tell me that everyone started buying her more and more giraffes, but that she, in fact, didn't really like them. It took everything I had to not bust out laughing. All these years, right?

Her father was known as the town's bootlegger, likely stemming from Prohibition. She ended up marrying the town sheriff's son, Cody's grandpa. She would always get embarrassed when we'd ask her questions about it. To her, it was something to be ashamed of, but to us, it was an amazing story.

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Bonita was also this crazy Texas Ranger's fan. Seriously, she was the most involved baseball fan I've ever met. She never missed a game and kept the scores of every single player at every single game. It was great because the Wednesday before she died she got to see the Ranger's in the playoffs. It's too bad she's not seeing them move on more than that, but I know she would just be so excited.

She was born in 1922 in the same area that Cody's parents grew up in, and the same area the Cody grew up in. She was a grown woman by the time electricity and cars were in the area. She also lived through The Great Depression, World War II, the invention of the airplane (and got to see the jet fighters that our military now uses), not to mention the huge advances in modern medicine and technology.

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Her lifespan was through some of the most amazing years in history, and it was a honor to be able to experience what life was like through her eyes. She didn't have it easy and faced plenty of hardships, but I know that is one of many reasons why Cody is who he is today. It's through adversity that we become better people and the hard work ethic that his family has is an integral part of him.

We'll definitely have lots of stories to tell our daughter about her Great Grandma, Abbie Bonita.

We'll miss you, Bonita.

10/15/2010

Daddy-Daughter Denim Day

A few weeks ago Gap was having a sale on their 1969 denim. From 12 Noon to 3pm on a Saturday you had to mention a word that was announced on their Twitter feed and you got 50% off any full price jeans.

(Disclaimer . . . I love The Gap. I worked there starting when I was 16 years old, and spent my last Christmas workingthere at 21. Stores in New Mexico, Texas and Arizona have hosted me at one time or another as an employee . . . I can't help what I'm about to show you. My little girl will, more than likely, be a Gap baby. I can't resist.)

We headed over and got Cody some much-needed new jeans . . . and I also picked up a few pairs for our little girl. I just had to share this because even though I've never been one to coo over baby clothes, this is too cute. Daddy and daughter denim:

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I know it's not practical (my Mom has told me that if they don't have snaps, they are a pain to get on and off a baby) but I had to make an exception. Even Cody got a kick out of them.

Little girl . . . We are ready to meet you and get you into these jeans . . .

10/13/2010

I'm Like A Baseball Good Luck Charm

The end of September was a bit rough for work travel. I was gone two weeks in a row, which is always a drain, especially when you have to leave on Sunday night to make it to a Monday morning meeting. It just kills your weekend.

But, it's fall, which is a good thing . . . and it also means that it's baseball playoff time. I'll admit, I'm not a huge baseball fan. I don't sit in front of the TV and watch every Ranger's game, but I do enjoy having it on in the background or even better, going to a game in-person.

I was in Minneapolis for an internal work meeting and we had a "Team Building Exercise" at the Twins game (always makes me think of "Team Building Exercise 1999"--right?). It just so happens that the game we got tickets for ended up being the game in which the Twins clenched the AL Central (after the White Sox lost later that evening, but there was plenty of celebration!). I'm not a Twins fan, but I have to admit, the stadium was packed and it was fun, especially at the bottom of the 6th when the Twins finally made their move.

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It was a beautiful evening, although a bit cold by Texas standards. I'm glad I brought my fleece jacket.

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There were these weird cockroach-looking-flying-bug-things that kept freaking us all out (yes, even my manly co-workers, but they'll probably blame it on the beer). We did get charmed by the sweet woman who plays the baseball jingles during the game. We had grabbed nachos at the concession stand (bad choice, by the way, if you're pregnant . . . I'm just saying that I recreated it that night come 2am) and happened to end up in the enclosure that she was in. She happily posed for pictures.

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The crowd stayed to the end and didn't sit down the entire 9th inning.

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But, if we were all honest, it wasn't the crowd, sweet music lady, or even the weird Minnesota bugs that led the Twins to win . . . It was my presence. Really.

Because . . . just the next week I was in Philadelphia for work and that Monday night the Phillies clenched the NL East title. No, I wasn't at the game, but I was in town.

(Am I stretching this a bit? Maybe? Well, let me continue . . .)

We made it to the Ranger's game this past weekend. Our friends had bought tickets (they are hard-core Ranger's fans) when they made it to the playoffs and we tagged along. We weren't even sure if Sunday's game was going to happens since it was game four of the series (there are five total games, so if the Ranger's had won the first three games, the other two games wouldn't have been played), but fortunately/unfortunately they lost on Saturday at home which forced the fourth game.

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Unlike the previously mentioned Minnesota game (which was three weeks ago), in Texas, it's still pretty hot for mid-October. Sunday's high was in the mid-80's and with no clouds in the sky; we were expecting a hot and sweaty game.

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We totally lucked out and got the small part of the stadium that has a bit of an overhang and were in the shade the entire time. It's like God was taking care of me and my little girl.

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So, we didn't win the game that we were physically at, (actually, it was a pretty frustrating game to watch because the Ranger's just looked messy) but last night was a little bit different. I met Cody at a bar in Fort Worth to watch the game with some of his coworkers and it was awesome. We totally dominated game 5 and took the the AL Division Series.

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Now, I know what you're thinking. The Ranger's didn't win and clench the series while I was at the game. Details . . . Details . . .

You're missing the point.

I still totally believe that I'm some kind of good luck charm. Was it coincidence that every city I was in ended up winning their series? Maybe. But, maybe not.

But just in case, I won't be going to New York City anytime soon. The Ranger's play them Friday night and I don't want to take any chances.

10/11/2010

Spangler *hearts* Plastic

Spangler turns 11 months old next week. Even though we are losing the ability to blame anything on being a puppy, he is still very much showing his puppiness . . . and the latest way is his affinity for plastic.

Plastic Ingestion #1

Spangler was fixed just a week ago. We had been delaying getting him fixed (they recommended getting dogs fixed around six months) at the request of his vet. When he ate the rock earlier this Spring, he had some swelling issues that lasted probably two months after the surgery and she had concern that he might be allergic to the type of sutures used. To make sure that all had healed in time for his manhood-removal, she recommended waiting until "September or October." So, we followed her recommendation, but I called the first week of September to make the appointment.

When I went to pick him up from his surgery, the vet chose to send him home in a cone since he had already been caught licking his incision. Knowing the damage he is able to do, I agreed that the cone was the best approach.

Long story short, we got home from church the Sunday before last and not only had he removed his cone, but he was able to swallow a good portion of it.

He woke up Cody two nights later throwing up (how nice that I was able to sleep through it!) and we were able to get the majority of the cone pieces that way.

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We took Spangler back to the vet a bit unexpectedly this past Thursday as Cody's Grandmother Bonita left us Thursday morning and we needed to get to his parents house as quickly as we could. We were coming home Sunday, but with the funeral at 11am and the vet closing at Noon, there was no way picking him up would work. Luckily, we have nice enough friends and so Jace was able to make it over to the vet and pick him up.

This is what he was met with:

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According to the note that was sent home, the boarding staff showed up Saturday morning and was doing their morning checks. They had the clipboard on the outside of his kennel run and in the five minutes they were gone, he had chewed a good portion through the door.

New policy at the veterinary boarding facility is nothing hanging on the kennel runs, thanks to Spangler.

We're still waiting on the leftovers from the clipboard to make a reappearance, but obviously Spangler has no problem devouring anything plastic.

Spangler <3's plastic.

10/08/2010

The Baby's Room Has Been Chosen

This was a big decision. We have been married for over six years and have gotten used to having ample space for just our things. Both in Illinois and in Texas, our houses have had four bedrooms: master bedroom, guest bedroom, my office and Cody's office. Who would cave and give up their office?

To leave the manroom intact, we I decided to go with my office as the baby's room, mostly because I was not a fan of Cody's other suggestion: move his office into the loft area and the baby could take his old office. I like the idea of the loft being the "family room" where toys can roam free--away from adult guests.

Here is the bones of my office when we first were house hunting, so you can get an idea of the room sans junk and furniture:

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As I mentioned before, I want to stay away from pink. I know that more than likely our daughter will be a princess-and-pink-loving girl, who can't get enough of pink, so I might as well get away with it while I can.

My idea board is really driving off the colors in the Pottery Barn duvet cover, which I will happily cut up and reuse/resew into a new creation. I found a twin duvet for $55 on eBay (about half the price of buying it in the store) and it will be the base of what I'm doing.

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It will be an adventure of purging existing junk, trying to find a place for my office stuff, and coming up with a realistic livable space for our little girl to be in.

Stay tuned for the Upstairs-Reorganization-And-Baby-Room-Creation 2010 Project.

Here we go!

10/06/2010

23 Weeks Down, 17 Weeks To Go

Dear Little Girl,

You have been in my belly for 23 weeks and by the looks of it, you are rapidly growing. I felt you for the first time about a month ago and you haven’t stopped since. I was sitting in our Sunday night Bible study, with my hands rested on my stomach, and felt a *blurp*. I stopped, then I felt it again. I tried paying attention to what was being said, but I don’t think I could wipe the excitement/shock off my face. I knew it was you that I was feeling for the first time.

That same night I laid down and called your Dad over, since I could feel you moving a lot. He rested his hand on my stomach and almost immediately felt you. The look on his face was something I will never ever forget. His eyes got very wide and I could tell that all of a sudden, your arrival became very real for both of us.

You are a mover. I feel you pretty much whenever I stop to think about it, but especially when I'm laying down to go to bed and after I eat. You seem to really move when I’m hungry—letting me know that you are hungry too and need food. Now.

I’m trying to make sure that you get what you need to eat and drink, but it has been a challenge. Drinking lots and lots of water, trying to eat healthy, and get these prenatal vitamins down is a daily battle for me. I never considered myself a bad eater, but knowing that whatever I eat you eat too makes me question everything I put into my mouth.

Maybe you'll find this funny one day, but my plan is to limit your knowledge of the McDonald's Happy meal for as long as I can. Although, you've already been introduced to the McDonald's greatness. Last week we got to eat a McDonald’s quarter pounder with cheese at the airport, and I know we both found it delicious, but probably not the best snack for us to have. We'll see if Mommy is eating her words about the Happy Meal sooner rather than later . . .

You have traveled a lot with me over these past few months. Back in May (the week of the 17th) I was in Minneapolis for a week and called Daddy complaining to him that my face was breaking out in a very bad way. I hadn’t experienced acne like that since . . . well, not even high school! Little did I know that you were already inside my belly, if only for a week, causing my hormones to get a little crazy. Since then we’ve gone to Mexico for some rest and relaxation, Philadelphia on five different occasions and back to Minnesota once. Although my coworkers know you’re coming, my clients do not. I have to say, when I’m in a serious meeting for work and you’re throwing a party in my belly by movin’ and grovin’ around, it’s hard for me to pay attention. You are already stealing the show!

I have tried to get an aisle seat when flying back and forth, but sometimes I’m next to the window and the other passengers aren’t very nice when I ask to be let out to go to the bathroom. I tell them that I’m pregnant, but since I don’t really look the part, the just glare at me.

Speaking of . . . I have gained about 11 pounds with you so far. I feel like my tummy is huge, but most people say that they can only tell if they know me, which is why I've been able to keep it a secret from my clients. You are hanging out pretty far down, way below my belly button (which has been poking out for about a month now). Your soon-to-be-friend Hudson, who will be making his appearance into the world in a month, likes to spend most of his time right around his Mom's belly button, so it's interesting how you're already so far down. Your location allows you to leave my lungs alone, but you did get into a bit of a kick-boxing round with my intestines last night. I think you won the round. Ouch!

We are not very good at coming up with some names for you. It is a lot harder than we thought. I liked the name Lesta, which is my Mom’s Mom Mom (your great great grandmother), but Daddy quickly came up with a way to make fun of it that made it not so appealing . . . Some other names we like can be traced to some people we don’t really like, so we are trying to steer clear of those. We know that it’s something that you will have to live with your entire life. So, making it normal enough, professional enough, but also something that can define you as an individual, is our goal.

We are already very much ready to meet you. We talk about what color your hair is going to be, how many freckles you are going to have (we’re both convinced that it’s a question of how many, not if there will be any), and what color your eyes are going to be. Are you going to be a night person or a morning person? Will you be a picky eater? An introvert or an extrovert? We can’t wait until you arrive and start to become your own little person.

Love,

Mommy