Aug 31, 2012

Third Trimester Eve

      I used to think 9 months was a loooong time to be pregnant, but now that I see how fast it flies by and how much there is to do & prepare.. I wish the human gestation period was a bit longer.  But you can ask me again at 36 weeks, I’ll probably be singing a different tune.


     The second trimester did eventually live up to it’s “honeymoon of pregnancy reputation.” The all day morning sickness did eventually fade away with only occasional bouts of it now. I just have to make sure I don’t get hungry. Hungrer= Nausea. The morning sickness gave way to heartburn, though that is mostly kept under control by Papaya Enzyme. I had a couple of those excruciating leg cramps in the middle of the night, but calf exercises before bed has mostly taken care of that annoyance too.


     I’m really thankful that I’ve been blessed with a healthy pregnancy so far. I just passed my gestational diabetes glucose test last week which I was a teensy bit worried about. I have an insane sweet tooth & lack of self- control when it comes to anything delicious. My simple solution to this problem is to just keep sugar and sweets out of the house. That goes for salty snacks too! BUT it IS summer, which means I’ve not wanted for ice cream cones, cake at all the summer weddings, delicious desserts at family weddings, and most recently- a trip to visit the grandparents meant many, many desserts. I guess I should mention Marcus making a double batch of chocolate chip cookies the night before the test, too. Despite my apprehension, one sugary, yucky test & a blood draw later.. all my levels were in the normal range. I’ve been pretty good about eating a protein-rich diet {especially now that I am eating meat again} and I love my fruits & veggies. I don’t know if I could identify specific cravings associated with this pregnancy, but rather “food kicks” that I want to eat for a couple weeks straight. Of late that that has been me making French toast for breakfast ,lunch & dinner or needing carrots dipped in ranch before bed every night. Before that I ate more than my share of oatmeal squares for  weeks & I don’t even like cold cereal. I had a love affair with cold chicken salad, too. I could definitely say that pregnancy intensifies taste- for me everything is either SO-SO-AMAZING good or repulsive. Most foods find their way into the so amazing category. A redemptive move since I had so many food aversions the first trimester.


     I’ve been exercising to prepare for the marathon of childbirth. I’ve been pretty good about keeping it up. I love to swim so swimming is by far my preferred exercise but now that I am not working at a pool anymore, I’ve done some laps here and there at the pool in my parent’s neighborhood as well as gone back on base with Marcus to swim laps. He is working on swimming so it benefits both of us. Once fall rolls around, I’ll definitely try to head to the pool 3x weekly. We take a lot of brisk walks around our neighborhood, but I’ve mainly relied on work-out videos at home. Which, believe me, is ridiculously funny. One of the videos is really hard, and I can’t do two days in a row. I look and sound so insane while trying to keep up I have to close the living room curtains.  The other one is more mild, but it does the job. There is even a “couples” component to the work-out video which is neat. It probably is not as fun for Marcus, but I’m pretty proud of my 10 wall pushups supporting his entire body weight, as he leans his back against my back while I work out my arms.


     We just completed our childbirth class, which was taught by the doula’s we hired. It really was a great class, and I would highly recommend it to anybody. They made it really fun, even for the dad’s. We looked forward to going together & talking about the different topics afterwards. Marcus has done his part, taking the supportive role very seriously and even made me a schedule to ensure I was practicing all my labor positions and stretching. I think he knows I skip them on the days he is working and will call me out on it, haha.


      We are up to our ears in Vaccine research, pediatrician searches, baby registry research, changing table hunting, life-insurance acquiring, deep breathing practicing, and most recently.. investigating homebirth. We’ve been less-than-thrilled with our OBGYN so we’re exploring the options. When I’m not dropping my jaw over how expensive it is to have a homebirth, I’m sipping my red-raspberry leaf tea while reading this sweet book. And this one.  {Please excuse the cheesy cover photos} Because while there is a lot of wordly prep for a baby, I know the most important preparation is I’m trying to be diligent in praying for this little man.


     Speaking of my son, he is always on the move. My mom said that’s why she guessed he was a boy. I KNEW I felt him for the first time when I wasn’t quite 15 weeks and Marcus felt him kicking HARD at 18 weeks. I am hoping he wears himself out in the womb, because frankly, I am a little intimidated by his energy levels. It’s not rare to watch my stomach jump about at his kicks and flips, like a bowl of jelly. There is not an inch of my uterus he hasn’t worked over. I’m not sure when he sleeps. I’m pretty sure he knows his dad’s voice and hands he will really ramp up any movement when Marcus talks to him or touches my stomach. The baby favors my right side, so belly bump looks pretty lumpy! I have not had any strangers come up and touch my stomach, but I don’t think it would bother me if they did. {Again, ask me at the END of this trimester..} I like it that a baby in the womb can bring joy to so many people and I’m glad to provide it. While nobody is touching the baby bump, nearly EVERYBODY comments on how I am carrying. I’ve had a couple people tell me  “You MUST be having a boy!”  Some lady even chuckled when she looked at me the other day saying my stomach looked so funny and low. “Like a basketball” or “so, so low” are the most comment comments.


     I have Braxton Hicks constantly and have been since about week 24. They are only bothersome because of their frequency. We also can listen to the baby’s heartbeat on Marcus’ stethoscope from work. It takes a while to find it, and I can only hear it when he has his back pressed up against me {and I can typically encourage him to turn around if he is not the in the best position my patting and gently shaking my stomach, or getting on my hands and knees for a couple minutes}


Marcus took this the first time I heard his heartbeat, week 25. I think you can typically only hear it with a stethoscope after week 20.

      We have some favorite names picked out, but are waiting until we see his face so we know which one fits! I know these next couple months will fly by and it won’t be long until I am blogging with a baby on my lap. We have some fun things planned, like a trip to Ohio to see my grandparents, and an overnight at a Bed & Breakfast {Thank you Guinn Family!!} and an annual trek to the Apple Festival. I’m hoping to get a little hiking in too, like last year! Fall is my absolute favorite season. Even though September starts tomorrow…I’ve got my heart set on Oct & Nov. I won’t rush the summer away though—it flies by fast enough on it’s own. I’m still planning on our beach-after- Sunday mass trips for a least a couple more weeks.

    Whew! That’s all folks!

Aug 30, 2012

August, you’re leaving?! You just got here!

     Obviously, I’m in shock that it really is the end of August. Is there some sort of rule that seasons have to pass quicker with each year or something? I guess keeping busy has a way of making the time fly. Teaching for RAPS was entirely too much fun {as evidenced by the two hour nap which would sometimes follow the swim lessons} but the fun didn’t end there.

     When we weren’t watching the Olympics, I was cooking dinner again {thank you morning sickness for mostly leaving!! You were a little late but hooray!} When Marcus is not firefighting or catching up on sleep he has been working with his dad here and there. His engine is the second busiest in the city of Virginia Beach, so not much sleeping occurs that during the night. Which is why I get to capture him doing this when he gets off a shift.  I may or may not have thrown open the curtains and turned on the light to take this. I can’t remember if I am that awesome of a wife or not. But I am guessing yes. Sorry, Marcus!

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   We’ve continued our summer of fruit-picking. More blueberries and peaches from Knott’s Island

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I spend more than my fair share of time at Bergy’s, taking any and all of my girlfriends who just want to meet up for a lunch date. I can’t help myself.. I love them cows!


Speaking of friends, we had one of our favorites over for dinner before she heads off for a deployment. Here we are at her going-away party. Three Laura’s!


August also brought the happy news that my sister is going to be mama to another little…….

Photo: The kids open their eyes an discover whether they have a new brother or sister on the way :)

Around the middle of the month, we celebrated this guy’s birthday!  Patrick, I can’t believe you are 15!

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Then, as if I wasn’t excited enough for fall, I took some pictures of College Floral Arrangements for my Mom C.’s  flower shop- Flowers by Kings.  Do you recognize the different Va schools? I think these are so neat!

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I think the highlight of August was going to see Marcus’ grandparents in Northern Virginia. It was just a quick trip, but packed with the sweetest memories and quality time.



We saw Uncle John, too!


August was my first month as a stay at home Mom. I haven’t eaten any bon-bons whilst relaxing on the couch {I tried, but they gave me heartburn}, but I have made much more time for seeing friends, tackling organization and other projects for baby, exercising, the luxury of taking naps when I can, daily mass, hitting up the Farmer’s Market for our favorite Muscadine grapes, spending Wednesday evenings at our birth class, babysitting Cecilia & Thomas here and there, getting back to volunteering with the local pro-life Ministry, spending hours researching baby-type things, avoiding the grocery store &  avoiding cleaning the bathroom {just being honest} and nannying for a family on Wednesdays. I have not been bored yet, just thankful for this time. I know eeevvvveerryything will change in November! When I was working, it always seemed my shifts were opposite of Marcus’ day’s off, so I’ve just been so grateful to be off when he is off now and packing in as much QT before there are 3 of us!  

Aug 13, 2012

Time is Love

     This song seriously stopped me in my tracks recently. Not only is it incredibly sweet from a romantic perspective, it was a well-deserved kick in the pants for me.  At some point, probably beginning after high school, time becomes such a treasured commodity. There are never enough hours to accomplish all the things you need or want to do. And in our rush to stay on top of things, spending time with others normally gets the short end of the stick. It seems to way too overwhelming to try to schedule lunch with friends, a ‘just popping in’ visit with your sister, and that double date you’ve been trying to go on for the past 3 months? It’ll never work. We like each other’s facebook statuses and comment on their new pictures, but you haven’t seen them in person since March. When you do see them, it is in passing, with the promise of “I’ll call you” or “We really need to catch up!” I am so, so, so very guilty.


     I’ll state the can be a ton of work just to hang out with friends. It can mean 10 emails back and forth and you still can’t nail down a evening for coffee or making plans on the only free evening you had that week. Catching dinner with someone you have not seen in two long may cost you some unchecked items on your to-do list. Even just calling a friend who lives on the other side of the country requires you find a free 30 minutes or so.  Free time is a rare commodity in a society that urges us to stay as busy as possible, to take on as many jobs, projects and ministries as possible. And our relationships truly suffer because of it.


     I’m realizing more and more that the time that counts is the time spent with others. It is worth so much more than a to-do list checked off, some free hours to yourself. It’s worth that gas money and the overpriced sandwich. Giving our time is truly the most valuable, effective, and complete way we can love. It asks that we give of ourselves. I’m also realizing how much more time I owe to the author of time, Himself. He gave it to me as a gift. I need to return it. He’ll know I love him by the way I spend it.


     If I recall correctly from my I’m-your-typical-Catholic-and-don’t-know-the-bible-like-I-should mind, those were the two greatest commandments. Loving God and loving our neighbors.  And what better way to do it than with the gift of your time.

Aug 11, 2012

The Gift That Lifeguarding Gave me

     On July 27th, I climbed down from the guard stand for the last time.

     They don’t make maternity lifeguard suit’s y’all, so I figured I would go ahead and gestate full time instead. All this gestating makes me nostalgic, so I took a trip down lifeguarding memory lane. With pictures!

     It all started out innocently enough- Neighborhood pool on the navy base where I grew up, nearly right in my backyard…it only made sense that I would apply for my first job there. Before I donned the red suit though, I spent my first summer as the sales clerk. It was a demanding job. Filled with popsicles, magazines, sign-in sheets, rainy day games of spades and solitaire. Since the company was going through some big changes that summer, it was a bit unorganized, and I really had no idea what I was supposed to be doing.  Sometime you should ask me about how I kept my change fund for myself at the end of the summer. Not on purpose! I guess I just thought it was some type of bonus for a job well done?


     The next summer, my friend Whitney and I took the lifeguarding class. Aside from barely passing the eligibility swim {Swimming was not always a hobby of mine!} and cracking up while learning CPR, we graduated on the top of our class! My first summer as a lifeguard lived up to my glamorous a great tan, ate way too many Wendy’s frostys, played endlessly with my co-workers during adult swim, made enough active-victim rescues to feel legit, performed our minor cleaning duties with feelings of “Man- I work SO hard around here” and had just a regular good time.

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      Lifeguards who showed work ethic, maturity, high safety & rescue skills were given the privilege to go work at the Navy Base’s version of a water park, called  The Lagoon Pool. Friends, I am not sure how on earth I was assigned to Lagoon Pool the following summer since, I can assure you, I would not have considered myself hard working or mature at the time. Thankfully though, my rescue & safety skills have always been up to par, so perhaps that is what gave me the promotion. I think it had more to do with the fact that my good friend was the head lifeguard at Lagoon and just wanted to be surrounded by people that knew how to have fun :) In any event, I spent two glorious, completely carefree summers there as a lifeguard with minimal other responsibilities. I made best friends, went line dancing, babysat for many of our patron’s families, rode my bike to work, and made the most of thunderstorms.  Don’t worry, I also took pool readings, cleaned bathrooms, cleaned up vomit/poop in the pool, gave swim tests, played with camp kids, made too many rescues too count in the deep end stand, vacuumed the pool, was handy with the skimmer, and was pretty good at keeping the scum line clean. I think I finally learned how to work simply for the joy of working and taking pride in our facility. In fact, I had such a grand time at Lagoon, I had my heart set on managing Lagoon. I wanted to be the head guard!  It seemed like such a glamorous position! So I spent the next fall & winter working towards my Lifeguard Instructor and Water Safety Instructor certifications-both requirements of the job. My hard work paid off and I head guarded at Lagoon for the next 3 summers. I learned a lot in this position- mostly that while the fun wasn’t completely over, I had a staff of 16 or so guards, 5 or 6 sales clerks and a 50 plus meter pool that I was completely responsible for. It was a crash course in leadership, customer service and management. Despite the hard work and headaches, I loved {MOST} of my guards and I really loved that pool. Good times, great friendships and sweet memories resulted.

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     In the fall of 2005-while working towards my instructor certifications, I joined the ranks of the flex guards- the year round part-time guards who manned the navy base’s indoor pools. So life went along, lifeguarding in between college classes, and teaching my first swim lessons/ lifeguarding classes that winter and spring. At the time, I had no idea how long these fall and winter lifeguarding days would be a part of my life. I loved lifeguarding during the crisp days of fall & squinting in that orange glow at autumn’s sunsets. I even loved Saturday morning shifts with hot tea & sleepy hello’s to all our swimmers. I cherished my afternoon shift, dubbed “therapy” since I shared those hours between 1:30 & 6 with so many close friends over the years. I remember Tuesday & Thursday evenings, spent convincing preschoolers to blow bubbles and float on their back. Teaching swim lessons meant watching kids grow up, bubbling over with excitement as they went from being scared to put their face in their water to swimming front crawl for 25 meters. Spring break brought all the high-school lifeguard candidates. I’ll never forget my knees knocking together and my shaking hands when I taught my first lifeguarding class. Or going on to work with some of my previous students and, noting their superior skills & workmanship, teasing them with questions like “You are a suberb guard...who taught you?!” And that time a group of amateur lifeguards, learning to backboard a spinal victim {yours truly} FLIPPED the backboard over with me completely strapped into it? Etched in my permanent memory!

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     I didn’t always love my job. I struggled when many of my friends graduated college and went on to new things. I didn’t plan on hanging around so long myself, but my senior year off college found me enrolling in grad school for my masters of Elementary Education..only to change my mind as I graduated with my bachelors. I was having an early-life career crisis. I joined the ranks of countless other college grads who suffered from “I-have-no-idea-what-I-am-supposed-to-be-doing-itis. I had a bad, depressing case of it & I resented lifeguarding because of it. Every time I slipped that suit on it reminded me of my seemingly lack of direction and success. Those 3 years I lifeguarded after graduating college challenged me in so many ways. I had so prided myself on my future career and the fulfillment and honor I was sure it was to bring me.  For so long I had imagined myself as a teacher and nothing else. So when my plans changed, I truly lost a part of my identity. I felt completely transparent and insecure, unsure of who I really was. Long term lifeguarding was not part of this plan and it certainly did not feel fulfilling and honorable at the time. I sulked around for more than I would like to admit during that time, feeling pretty lost! But it was that ‘early life crisis’, that period of confusion and hurt pride, that lifeguarding really gave me a gift.

Love these crazy people!


       You see, my co-workers were  close-knit team of guards who held a totally different attitude towards our work than I was used to with the summer crowd. It was a group of people who weren’t just there for the summer or through college. It was a staff who loved their job, made longstanding relationships with our patron’s, and took pride in our services and facilities.They had complete satisfaction and fulfillment in what I considered to be such a temporary job. I observed how they all carried themselves with such esteem as they worked hard to create such a fantastic experience for our patrons. They found satisfaction in serving right where they were. They enjoyed themselves, sought to improve our team constantly and simply taught me so much. Slowly, their examples of character & self worth rubbed off on me. I was finally becoming content, honored really, to be a lifeguard. I no longer avoided telling people what I did for a living. The resentment and embarrassment gave way to feelings of dignity and gratitude. My motivation to work was to serve alongside of them, better our facilities and truly just give glory to God in the exciting or mundane tasks. I learned that your identity was not what you do, but how you do it.  To this day, I really have to pinch myself when I think about the privilege of working with MWR alongside of such inspiring people for so long. What a gift! It was just supposed to be a summer job, instead it gave me one of the greatest lessons I needed. Lessons in humility and contentment. Lessons in true identity. 

     So to you MWR Aquatics, and  to you Brad, Amanda, Erica, Steve, Sara, Morgan…  and the many others who I shared a stand with…Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Aug 9, 2012

Really {Ridiculously} Awesome People Swimming

      I met Leslie Paul by sheer good luck. Actually, I take that back, I met Leslie Paul because God is crazy for me and has awesome plans for me. When I nervously signed up to take a Water Safety Instructor class in the fall of 2006, it was Leslie’s be-freckled, smiling self that welcomed me.  In case you aren’t familiar with all things Red Cross Aquatics, a Water Safety Instructor is a fancy-schmancy word for Swim Teacher.  Now I should mention that, in 2006, I wasn’t a prime candidate to be a WSI. I could swim but my strokes were not very pretty. As in, if I was showing a student how to do the butterfly stroke, said student might freak out and think I was drowning. But Leslie didn’t seem to mind..I swear she worked extra hard with me to get me through this class {Most of my classmates were former swim team guards with stellar strokes}. She encouraged me, instilled a lot of confidence in me, and held me to good, high standards. After a couple of intense weekend classes with her, I became certified and went on to teach that very same winter and for some  years after that.


      On top of being an Instructor-Trainer for Red Cross, Leslie was up to something else in those days. Disturbed by drowning statistics in children, she took action and founded RAPS. Really Awesome People Swimming offers Red Cross swim lessons to disadvantaged children. In just a week format, groups of children attend RAPS to learn water safety, gain comfort in & around water, and get swimming! You may have seen RAPS mentioned on the local news during this past summer since Leslie & her staff are truly making waves…they have taught hundreds of local children since its inception. You can check out RAPS on Facebook {be sure to look through the pictures!} as well as read more about it here, herehere, and  here.


     RAPS is made possible by Leslie’s vision, enthusiasm, love for swimming, love for kids, and desire to see a change. I spent the last two weeks witnessing her magic. Leslie has bugged me for years to come out and teach with RAPS. I always put her off since I was instructing with MWR and didn’t want to deal with all the scheduling conflicts. When I hung up my guard suit for good at the end of July, I knew it was finally time to go teach for her and see what RAPS was all about. I was unprepared for how much I would LOVE it!  I was absolutely privileged & blessed to teach alongside Leslie and the other instructors. I had a ball playing and working with these kiddo’s who don’t normally get access to swimming lessons and pools in general. I was amazed at how much we could accomplish in a week, and the confidence and skills the children were walking away with. Not only do they learn the basic strokes and swimming survival skills, but water safety too.


     Marcus came along on graduation Friday to see the swim lessons and take pictures. Take a look!

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Then after a week of 45 minute lessons followed by 45 minutes of free time, they graduate! Complete with medals, shirts and other goodies!

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My sweet little class, minus one

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Remember, learning to swim is a necessity, NOT a luxury!


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