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28 June, 2011

Oooohhhhhh we're half way there! - Pregnancy Update {Week 19}

How far along? 19 Weeks and 1 day

How big is baby? The weekly update from The Bump says Average size: 6.0 in, 8.5 oz Or about the size of a mango (see picture!)

Total weight gain: Hanging in around 14-15 pounds, despite my massive amounts of eating and baby growth spurt. I'm right at the top of the range for my pre-pregnancy weight. I'm curious as to what the midwife will say next week.

Maternity Clothes? Yes. Yes. Yes. I bought these two dresses (I have a purple, blue and cream pattern instead of the back and white one) to wear to a wedding (and Mass, showers, etc) this weekend.  Thoughts on which one I should wear?  The purple one is a little more comfortable, but the blue one shows off my bump a bit more, which Eric adores these days. I'll wear the same shoes, purse and wrap for each.

Stretch Marks? I found a new one on my boob. Katie was super impressed that I don't have any on my belly yet!

Sleep:  This might sound crazy but I have been sleeping pretty well at CLI this week.  The dorm bed has been really comforting on my sore hips and back.

Movement: Seriously, I still can't tell if it's the baby or gas.

Food cravings: Same old same old:  Lots of milk & cereal, ice cream, watermelon, cantaloupe, honey dew, crisp apples and grapes.  My mom thinks I'm craving dairy because, as we've discussed, I need the calcium.  And the fruit for the hydrating fiber to keep my, ahem, bowels, in good shape - an unfortunate complication of pregnancy.

What I miss: My back not hurting, though sitting on a yoga ball (great idea, Paige!) in the morning and at night has REALLY helped. According to What to Expect when You're Expecting, the back, hip and thigh pain around month 4 is totally normal.  And they have good stretches and exercises to help reduce it.  Win.

What I am looking forward to: Holding my own little bundle of joy! 

Milestones: We've reached the half way point!  I didn't realize that 38 weeks is considered full-term.  My belly button is almost flat! Kind of creepy.  And my bump is noticeable as a baby and not just as weight gain. The bump had changed to feeling like a little portable house for the baby, and not like a few extra pounds.

Say What? All the girls at CLI this week have been asking if it's a boy or a girl.  Not a lot of other questions or awkward discussions this week.  Nice break :)

Sweet moments: Eric has been loving on the baby belly so much. I like when he holds my belly and talks to the baby. 

Make room for baby:  Okay, so I decided to take my old t-shirts and turn them into burp cloths and bibs for the baby. I'll have a whole post one this in a few weeks, but so far, they're looking great!

I talked Eric into doing a lap around Babies R Us and buybuy Baby last Friday.  We had fun talking through random things and looking at ideas of what might want to register for.

And hooray for Alyshia she called on Sunday and gave me an awesome list of her favorites, needs, and "extras" for raising a baby.  She was so helpful and honest about everything.  She even offered a few items her kids have out grown.  So generous!  It was great having "mom talk" with a peer. 

Oh, and THIS: Mood swings are out of control.  Every few nights I have a total meltdown over totally irrational things.  Like the other night I cried for 45 minutes that Paige had a baby taken out of her by the doctor.  And that we saw her pregnant and an hour later she was holding him.  Can. Not. Fathom.  It really freaked me out.   Eric has been a trooper with fetching tissues and just listen at me bawl.

26 June, 2011

Place Your Bets: Boy or Girl?

Okay, y'all...we are scheduled for our anatomy scan ultrasound on July 6th.  If baby ninja cooperates we'll get to find out if it's a boy or a girl! Eric and I are both so excited and can't wait to start choosing a name.

Many have asked us if we would prefer a boy or girl. Truth be told, I am so torn and here is why:

I am the oldest child in my family and a girl (duh).  My mom is also the oldest and a girl, her mom and her grandma were also the oldest and a girl.  Carrying on this generational tradition would be an honor.  It would also be fun to have the first girl in our circle of friends.

My brother David just had a baby boy and my brother Alex has a boy toddler.  Most of our friends from church have a boy... or one of each.  If we had a boy, he'd be in good company.

My gut:
I think my gut says boy but only because I call the baby "him" all the time.  This isn't founded on any particular hunch, just by what naturally comes out of my mouth.

Eric's gut:
Eric thinks it's a girl because I'm the oldest and his sister is the oldest.  His dad and my grandfather have both had dreams or visions that it's a girl, too.

What do you think? Post your thoughts!

23 June, 2011

Giving Birth: It's like ordering a pizza

Monday morning didn't go as Paige planned.  She didn't have a natural birth.  She didn't even respond to the Pitocin to induce labor.  She ended up having a scheduled c-section Monday afternoon.  My heart broke for her.  How could she be okay not going according to the plan?  I would be so disappointed.

But that's me.  I have it in my head that natural childbirth is like a million, billion times better and more noble than any other way. And you have bragging rights after.  Of course, when I take a step back I realize that is my pride talking.

Yes, I have read all sorts of articles arguing that natural is the only way, and to fight your doctor tooth and nail if they suggest other wise.  "Women have been doing it this way for thousands of years", they say.

Then the other camp pipes in with "We have all this modern medicine and technology why not take advantage of it?"  And the two sides argue back and forth.  Same goes for breastfeeding vs bottle feeding, disposable diapers vs cloth, co-sleeping vs baby on his own ASAP, etc.

And so I find myself strictly siding with one argument or the other.  As if I need to define myself as a parent already. Perhaps it's my need for structure, rules, and a theory to fall back on.  But when I saw Paige be so flexible and go-with-the-flow on Monday my view opened a little bit.  Sometimes things don't go according to plan.  Sometimes you have to be flexible.  And sometimes, it's for the better.

Baby Zachary was blessed to be born c-section.  The doctors told Paige the day after his birth that Zachary's umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck twice.  It would have either killed him or caused an emergency c-section had she delivered vaginally.  God works in mysterious ways, and obviously His plan is better than our own.

On our drive home from Savannah, I was sharing these feelings with my sister - the emotions of feeling pressured into a child birthing "camp" or a mothering "style"- that women on both sides feel so strongly about their way, and that it's the only way.  And I'm oh-so-tired of the pressure and judgement.

She said this to me:

That giving birth and raising a baby is like ordering a pizza.  There is a right way for everyone.  Sometimes you find someone you likes it the same way you do, but it's rare.  And the New Yorkers will always fight with the Chicagoans on thin crust versus deep dish.  And that some people really don't like anchovies, while others can't get enough.  Some days you like it with pepperoni and other days you need a veggie lovers. But no mater what, no one gets offended or judges you based on how you order your pizza.  It's just accepted that everyone likes it differently.

And that I need to start looking at child birth and rearing:

That there is no right or wrong way, it's just what works best for you (and the baby). That I shouldn't feel pressured, nor should I judge.  Be willing to ask for advice, just like you'd ask a friend, "Hey, what do you like on your pizza?" when you need to try something new.  And be willing to concede from time to time, like when ordering pizza with your office staff.

So thank you to my wiser younger sister.  You calmed my heart this week.  And thank you to Paige for being brave when things didn't go according to plan.  You're both a huge blessing in my life and I learned so much from you this week!

21 June, 2011

Introducing Baby Zachary!

My brother, David, and his wife welcomed their son Zachary into the world yesterday afternoon.  Without sharing too much, Paige did not respond to the induced labor and a c-section was scheduled for 1pm yesterday afternoon.  

Zachary was born around 1:30 at 8lbs 13oz and 21 inches long.  He is absolutely precious and perfect in every way.  His little mouth looks just like David's.  Though he's been sleeping, Dave got a good look at his eyes, and they are green! How unusual. Wonder what color they will end up.

We've loved spending a few days here in Savannah spending time with David and Paige, and now baby Zach.  I can't wait to watch him grow up!

Photos are courtesy of my Dad and his awesome new 50mm lens.  And check out the adorable cake my sister made for Zachary!

20 June, 2011

My Sweet Potato Pie - Pregnancy Update {Week 18}

How far along? 18 weeks!

How big is baby?  According to The Bump  5.6 in, 6.7 oz About the size of a sweet potato!

Total weight gain: Oy. Y'all.  This week I saw a big jump, but I was only on the scale, once, after eating.  If it was accurate, it puts me at 14 pounds gained.

Maternity Clothes? In full swing!  Mom and I went to Motherhood Maternity last week to find a dress to wear to a wedding next week.  I found a dress and a few other things. I had $20 off, and we only shopped the sale and clearance rack.  Mom helped a little too.  I got two dresses, dress shorts, and a few new shirts, including the one in the photo.  I needed church and work appropriate clothes and this did the trick without breaking the bank.

Stretch Marks? Not yet!

Sleep: I've had a few nights that I've slept through the night, but then it worries me that I'm not hydrated enough.  I generally wake up super sore in my lower back and hips, I've even tried sleeping with pillows of varying sizes between my knees.  I feel like an old lady when I wake up.  I almost fell out of bed this morning at my brother's house (it's a really tall bed!). Ouch.

Movement:  I think I feel the baby...but then I start singing Nelly's "Cause it's all in my head.. I think about it over and over again"

Food cravings: Milk. Cereal. Watermelon. Waffles with Syrup. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

What I miss: My back not hurting. Not having to eat 6-10 small meals a day.  Not feeling super full after half a sandwich.  Energy to do things like swim, run errands, cook, walk, etc.

What I am looking forward to: Little baby things. Holding the baby....this could all be on the brain since baby Zachary, my nephew, is going to be born in the next few hours

Milestones: People are starting to recognize that I am pregnant without me saying anything.

Say What?  Guy behind me at Whole Foods in the dairy section touched my back and said, "I can see that you're pregnant and I didn't want to sneak up behind you and scare you."   Um, okay.  Did you need to touch me?  haha!

Sweet moments: I went to Mr. Taco for carryout the other day, and the cashier offered to carry my food to the car. Gotta milk it for all it's worth, right?

The little boy behind me at Mass yesterday was mad that I wasn't fully kneeling during the Eucharistic Prayer and kept asking his mom why he had to kneel while I could "sit".  Finally I hear her say, "she's having a baby, she can do whatever she wants"

Make room for baby:  Eric has started cleaning out the REI Suite.  We're trying to figure out exactly which sports we can do with a baby and which ones we'll actually do often enough to keep the equipment... ie the additional mountain bikes, kayaks, roller blades, etc.  This will be baby's room, so it's one or the other ;-)

It's been fun being at David & Paige's house with all the baby things, just waiting on baby.  My dad keeps running in from the nursery squealing about how small the diapers and clothes are.  I can't wait for Zachary or baby Ninja!

Two of our friends brought me two new pregnancy and baby books, plus reading the ones around David & Paige's house.  It's been nice to gain a little different perspective than the books I have at home.

Oh, and THIS: Let's just say there is probably a reason why I crave watermelon, and syrup....  Also, my leg and armpit hair is growing out. of. control. I feel like I can't keep up with shaving.

The last few days talking through labor and delivery issues with Paige is really making me nervous for twenty-two weeks from now.  Yikes!  I just have to keep my eye on the prize!

19 June, 2011

Sentimental Sundays - Catching up on June

(I think this blog hop is supposed to be for crafters...ooops. Oh well)

Baby Update

Being pregnant has exposed me to some realities of pregnancy that women just don't really talk about.  Everyone mentions their morning sickness or their terrible birth stories, probably because our society thrives on shows like CSI, Grey's Anatomy and House.  Obsessed with dramatic health.  Women don't talk about the growing pains like back pain, migraines, gas, and constipation. And sadly they rarely talk about the JOYS of being pregnant. 

I want to hear more stories about sweet or romantic things people do for women while they are pregnant.  I want to know the honest-to-God truth about what is going on with my body.  I want to hear women celebrate the first time they feel the baby, or the crying from the overwhelming love for the little one growing inside.

With that, here's a quick reality of my pregnancy this month: the baby is using up my already low supply of calcium.  I had to get two fillings recently and one of them redone.  At least both visits were so quick that I barely prayed the Holy Spirit Pentecost Novena before the procedures were done.

Joys in the pregnancy this month:  people noticing that I am pregnant and holding doors for me, letting me cut in bathroom lines, caring my take out order to the car,  Co-workers and kids asking dozens of questions.  Family worried that I will be over heated or dehydrated this summer, and checking in on my exercise regime to keep me healthy.

Teen Leader Retreat

June 10-12 Eric and I, along with four other adults, took 12 high school kids to my grandparents cabin in North Carolina for a retreat and leadership training weekend.  We taught the kids about leadership, commitment, a holy life style, accountability, prayer and relationships, while they still had plenty of time to roam the 5 acres of woods and relax in the fresh mountain air. 

Eric was the lead on the kitchen crew and he did an amazing job.  Lots of yummy food (and cheap!).  The rest of the adults pulled together the retreat schedule, talks, small groups, etc.  I am really looking forward to working with this leadership group for next year.  I feel like God chose a fine group of young people to help us lead the youth group.

Reading & Book Club

I had taken a short break from book club because I was immerced in pregnancy books, and honestly, too tired to read.  But now I am back in the swing of reading and have a few good summer gems.  Having our awesome $90 Kindle has made reading easier.  I keep that thing with me almost all the time. And if I don't have it, I can pull up the app on my phone.  Everything stays synced so I can pick up where I left off.

Something Borrowed
While at the airport going to/from Columbus I reread
Something Borrowed by Atlanta's own Emily Giffin.  Love her. Love the book. Love the movie. Need a quick beach read that's only mildly this and Something Blue

Perfect on Paper: The (Mis)Adventures of Waverly BrysonBook club read Perfect on Paper . It was cute.  Not the finest writing, and the story was a little far fetched, but some of the nuances the author notes about life were pretty funny. And the romance of the story was still cute.

Summer Rental

I am working through one of my favorite Atlanta authors, Mary Kay Andrews' new books Summer Rental.  It's a little different than her other books...less home make over, more detective.  But I guess her books kind of alternate in theme if you consider all of them.  This one takes place in Nags Head instead of some place in Georgia.  I miss not being able to picture exactly what she's describing because I'd been there.  Testament to her writing...I have a good idea :)

Eric has been reading a series of mysteries that are driving him the sense that they have multiple story lines that don't come together until the end.  The suspense of his books are making him carry his book around the house to keep reading at any given quiet second.  Maybe he'll post about his latest books soon?

Father's Day x3

One of the great things about being twenty minutes away from both sets of parents (unfortuantley in the opposite direction) is that we get to celebrate holidays with both sides of the family, often in the same day or the same weekend.  It can be a bit crazy and eat away an entire weekend, but it's family! We love it!

I wanted to do a little something for Eric for Father's Day.  Eric isn't one of "junky" gifts.  They need a purpose or to be an experience.  Sentimental things like a figuring, wall hanging, etc serve no purpose.  Practical things like bike parts or brewing equipment have no ties to Father's Day.  So I decided to make him a nice dinner with his favorite foods.

He loves fish, and I don't care for it, so we rarely cook it.  It was his night so I made him so tilapia on a bed of spinach with a shallot, lemon butter sauce (all from Whole foods, thank you gift card!).  A side of green beans, and a broccoli soup (all from the CSA).  With the execption of the light breading on the fish, everything fit his desired Paleo Diet, was organic and mostly locally grown.  Oh and high in iron, we both come from animic families.  Win!

For his gift I bought him two cans of coffee.  Now, Eric isn't much of a coffee drinker, but this was my forward thinking gift to him - late nights and early mornings with baby = a need for coffee.  This isn't just any's two of his favorite local breweries that come together to make a beer, then the coffee beans (from a local coffee shop) are soaked in the beer.  The product?  A delicious malty yet manly coffee!  Want to try? Check out

For his Dad we got up at the crack of dawn to run the Father's Day 4-miler at Turner Field.  A small race hosted by the Atlanta Track Club.  We had a great time!  After we had a cook out at Dan & Leeann's house and then spent the evening at the Braves Game dodging rain and lightening.  We left around the 5th inning after the second rain delay was called at 6:30.  The game didn't resume until after 8 and went into extra innings.  We were already home, had dinner, watched house and went to bed before the game was over.  Eric's Dad enjoyed the day though we joked that we made him go running and then took him to a crappy baseball game...haha Love you, Dad ;-)

Today is Father's Day for my dad, we're having a quick after Mass lunch before we pile in the cars to go to Savannah.  Paige is having baby Zachary tomorrow, so we went to spend time with them tonight and help them get checked into the hospital!  Can't wait!  Oh, we got my dad a 50mm lens for his camera.  Guess who is going to be borrowing that until I can save up for mine (stupid red light ticket!)

13 June, 2011

Sweet 16 - Pregnancy Updates {15,16, 17}

Think I popped a little while we were at camp?

How far along?  17 weeks today (no photo today...Eric was sick and my eyes felt like they had sandpaper in them)

How big is baby?  We went from orange to avocado and now an onion.  According to The Bump baby is about 5.1 inches and 3.5 oz and is supposed to double in weight in the next three weeks.  Oh, hello.

Total weight gain: Holding in around 10-12 pounds for the last few weeks. Midwife didn't comment at my last check up, so I am assuming I am doing okay.

Maternity Clothes? Rotating through all my purchases from the big shopping trip several weeks ago. It's about all I wear.  When I'm at home I wear my 2XL "workout" clothes I bought on the clearance rack at Target.  I also try to not wear my maternity clothes when I am at home, or working for Chris...I don't want to get sick of them.  Besides, yoga pants and Eric's tshirts are more comfortable anyway.

I am going to a wedding in the first weekend in July.  I am trying to hold out as long as possible to shop for a nice dress, but I also want to use my $20 off coupon and hit the Motherhood Maternity sale that ends this week.  Ideally, I would like to find a dress that I can dress up for the wedding, and dress casually for showers or Mass...that is cool, yet modest. Wish me luck!

Stretch Marks?  Nope!  But I do get chaffing between my legs on super hot days in skirts. Ew.

Sleep: I miss a good night's sleep.  I was at camp for a week (read: 20 girls on vinyl mattress bunk beds).  I was sick for a week (snotty cold).  And then I was away for another long weekend on another teen trip.  When I have had the time to actually think about real sleep, my hips, back and tailbone have been in such pain it's all I can do to fall asleep without crying.

Movement: Every once in a while I'll get a sharp little pain in the baby area.  Apparently the movement will pick up even more in the next week or two. I can't wait!  Eric can't either :)

Food cravings: I thought Ashley was crazy when all she craved was watermelon, but it's all I want, too. Cold milk. Watermelon. Cantaloupe. Honeydew.  Ice cream.  There are a lot of days that it's all I eat.  And no, I don't eat the watermelon and ice cream together.  Not yet, anyway.

Thankfully the food aversions have minimized.  I actually ate calamari at The Fred a few nights ago and some grilled shrimp at Dan & Leeann's.  Not on the top of my list, but it didn't leave me gagging.

What I miss:  Bending over without feeling like I'm squishing/folding my belly inside of me.  Not being super hot all. the. time.  Sleeping through the night and sleeping well.

What I am looking forward to:  Oh how I want to know if it's a boy or girl.  I think everyone asking me has heightened my desires.  Now that we've made the decision to find out, it's all I think about.  I had the chance to find out on Thursday when I had my 16 week check up, but it would cost an extra $50 and it's included in our 20 week visit.  Eric and I decided to wait and to enjoy the surprise together.  Besides, all I needed after my"annual exam" was to hear baby ninja's heartbeat to satisfy me.

Other things I'm looking forward to... choosing a name, having little tiny clothes around the house, snuggling with baby.

Milestones: 16 week check up went really well! We've been cleared for normal activity now that I haven't bled in 4 weeks.  It's nice to have confidence in being active.  The heartbeat sounded so sweet.
Everyone has commented that I've "popped" I do believe it happend around week 15/16 while we were at camp because when I returned it's the first thing my family and co-workers said!

Say What? The teens at church have been fascinated with asking if it's a boy or girl....or asking other random questions, like "Do you find yourself more prone to being car sick now that you're pregnant?" Um, what 17 year old thinks about those things?  Also, ones of the boys on the retreat this weekend decided to re-name the baby to "Baby Ham"... And my co-workers (cough Kath & Susan) are amused with naming the baby Hamilton or Katherine.  For those of you not making the connection to our last name, that would be the equivalent of calling the baby Hamburglar or Cat Burglar.  Oh-kay, it's funny.

Sweet moments:  More and more friends talking to my belly.  Let's be honest, it's sticking out a bit these days.  They say hello or good bye to baby.  Lots of parishioners are finding out about the baby now and they're all SO excited and giving me lots of hugs (including the men!).  I thought it would be more awkward than it is.  At least the summer is pretty slow around the parish, so it's come at a tolerable pace. And besides, who doesn't LOVE hugs?!?

Make room for baby: I hadn't given another ounce of thought about baby supplies or the baby's room until last night...when I couldn't sleep.  I started reading through one of our baby books and it has a "minimalist" parent and a "prepared" parent shopping list.  It's been nice to read about what the true necessities are and what's nice to have.  I am slowly setting up coffee dates with girlfriends who have new babies to get their recommendations and product brand suggestions.  I like to research and then make the decision on what's best for us.

Oh, and THIS:  I hate to say it, but I'm almost a little bitter that people didn't warn me about the random migraines, backaches and hip aches.  People are OBSESSED with morning sickness and labor & delivery stories, but why not warn me about the growing pains in the second trimester.  I feel like I'm living on Tylenol and can't seem to do enough yoga.

I do have a bit more energy this week.  It was nice to vacuum, dust and tidy up the apartment tonight without needing 2 naps in between :)

09 June, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend: Highlands & Asheville, NC

My computer is still being worked I snagged Eric's computer for the night. 
And while I had my two cameras with me the whole weekend, I always had the camera card in the camera that I didn't have with me. Silly me.

Several weeks ago Ashley contacted me to let me know she and Mike were thinking of taking the long way to their beach trip via Asheville.  Coincidentally it would be the same weekend that Eric and I would be a little over an hour away in Highlands, NC.  Perfect timing.  Much like last year's rendezvous in Indianapolis.

Eric took Friday off from work so we drove to Highlands on Thursday night.  We enjoyed quiet conversation with my grandparents, and toured all the renovations to the house due to this winter's pipe bursting disaster.

After a lingering breakfast at their cabin we drove to Ashville just in time for brunch with Ashley, Mike and Gabe.  Whole wheat strawberry-banana pancakes. Please, and thank you.  Eric had a local fish of the day and of course, an Asheville beer.  The day continued with us literally walking, talking, and eating our way through the streets of Asheville. 

Kat, another college girlfriend, who drove all the way from Nashville for the day, met up with us just in time to walk through the botanical gardens.  While free, the gardens were more like a hiking path.  I was a little disappointed, but hey, I could use the walk.

As we strolled along we would periodically stop for candy, window shopping, strawberry lemonade or simply to sit for a few minutes.

After walking a mile (or two) in search of a coffee shop we found ourselves at a gourmet Mexican restaurant for dinner and we closed out the night watching a group of locals participate in a drum circle.

It was so wonderful to catch up with them.  Twitter, Facebook and Blogging has made the 500 miles between all three of us feel more like 5.  And our random impromptu meet ups have helped savor our friendships.  I am so blessed to have Ashley and Kat in my life :)

Of course Eric had to make a pit stop at a local brewery for some growlers, and at Bruisin' Ales for some rare beers.  Beer is just one of the many reasons we love day tripping to Asheville.

On Saturday Eric drove down the mountain to Covecrest, the retreat center that hosts our retreats and the summer camp I took the teens to.  He was asked / volunteered to help with the annual bike maintenance for all the mountain bikes they keep at the camp.  He spent the better part of the day working on the bikes and teaching the staff how to do some basic tune ups.

I literally laid on the couch or on the deck at the cabin all day.  I finished my book club book, so I took the cabin Jeep and drove into town for some free Wi-Fi and a rootbeer float.  I downloaded another cheesy summer read while I waited in line for my ice cream.  Hooray Kindles.

That evening our extended family joined us at the cabin for a Memorial Day feast of ribs, corn, salad, and s'mores. 

Sunday after Mass, Eric took some of my cousins to the other side of town to go rock sliding down the river.  What a trooper.  We had lunch and dinner with the family before heading back to Atlanta, as I had to be up Monday morning to take the kids up to Covecrest for a week of summer camp.

Friends, family, food.  I couldn't have asked for a better weekend.  And what a way to kick off summer (and have a calm weekend before the storm of middle school madness...more on that to come!)!

04 June, 2011

One Thousand Gifts {128-177} Summer Camp Edition

While at camp with the kids this week I was able to read another chapter and a half of the book, as well as spend some focused time journaling.   It's so easy to be thankful when you're at a place as beautiful as Covecrest...


128. pre-trip breakfast dates
129. bus "rentals" for free
130. excited kids for camp
131. safe bus trips
132. no one getting sick on the bus
133. Covecrest welcome
134. feeling @ home at Covecrest
135. amazing small group leaders assigned to our small group for the week
136. watching the kids pray with their hands open for the first time
137. their attentiveness and participation
138. impressive small group discussion
139. easy lights out with 20 girls in a room
140 easy wake up with 20 girls in a room
141. sunrise Mass over the pond
142. Feast of the Annunciation- Mary, Elizabeth, and John's "fear of the Lord"
143. coffee talks with the YMs at camp
144. helpful and generous camp staff
145. 2 naps @ camp
146. watching middle school kids go to and come from Confession.  Transformation.
147. a sing a long bonfire with 200+ middle school kids

 148. sunscreen
149. watching the boys cheer each other on on the ropes course
150. all our girls doing the high ropes without complaints, screaming or letting their fears be known
151. watching other youth ministers cheer on our kids
152. telling the girls about the baby
153. melty girl scout cookies on a hot day
154. a beautiful Mass with a homily on the Eucharist
155. ending Mass with a Eucharistic profession outside under thousands of stars
156. watching our kids worship whole-heartedly


157:  A trip to Waffle House with another YM
158: BBQ in Helen, GA with the girls
159: a peaceful nap and shower
160. Fr Jose's homily on a woman's "no" and "yes"
161. Women's session on becoming a saint
162. watching middle school girls stand up and declare their steps to sainthood
163. Adoration in the round
164. the boys processing in around the girls and praying over us
165. Praying over the boys
166. Fr. Paul asking if the baby leap in my womb at the sight of our Lord.... Yes!
167. Fr. Paul reminding me that I have a second guardian angel and the baby receives the Eucharist when I do


168. morning youth minister faith sharing
169. unexpected handmade affirmation notes
170. Barbara-Anne
171. summer staff
172. Chacos
173. Chaco-tacos
174. Watching the boy with autism run around camp and be cheered on by the "popular" boys from our church
175. good conversations with other young YMs
176. hot showers....alone
177. Pages 134-135 of One Thousand Gifts

Photography Class

For my Dad's birthday we bought him a Groupon for a four hour photography class.  Shortly after, Eric agreed I could take the class with my dad. I knew it would be more fun for us to take the class together so we could practice and discuss after.

The class focused on how to use a DSLR in full manual mode, meaning setting the ISO, Aperture and Shutter speed based on the lighting.  She taught us how to use features on our camera to monitor these settings and the exposure. She also taught us how to check the white balance.  After hands on sessions for each of these concepts, we spent the last hour of class practicing shots with live models.

Once we mastered the settings for the sunny spot, she moved us all to the shade, where we had to reset our cameras and practice again.  She'd check our pictures after a few shots to check our settings.  After we were feeling comfortable with light and shade, she took our cameras and completely changed all the settings.  She sent us inside to the dimly lit studio for us to practice indoor shots and setting up our cameras from scratch.  If we passed the test then we could go home.

The day was just enough for me.  I left feeling confident, but boarder line overwhelmed.  I knew I needed to start practicing right away or else I'd forget everything I learned.

Here are a few shots from class.    Oh, by the way, she didn't want us to focus on composition as much as the they're not super interesting.   Plus, I was using a kit lens...

Nowhere near professional, but seeing the quality of these compared to what the camera would have taken on "auto", I am pleased with myself.

The second I pulled into our apartment, I grabbed Eric and I went down to the river for a practice photoshoot at dusk.  Here's a few more practice shots....

Nowhere near professional, but seeing the quality of these compared to what the camera would have taken on "auto", I am pleased with myself.

Lots of practice to come!