Monday, December 29, 2008

36 Weeks & Rhys' Room is Ready!

The lower back pain I was referring to a couple of posts ago turns out to be sciatica, sometimes experienced in late pregnancy, primarily resulting from the uterus pressing on the sciatic nerve, and, secondarily, from the muscular tension and/or vertebral compression consequent to carrying the extra weight of the fetus, and the postural changes inherent to pregnancy.

Let's just say that Rhys' weight gain these last couple of weeks has led to incredible pressure and PAIN on my lower back, so that when I simply walk, my legs start to tingle and go numb! Needless to say, I'll be taking it easy on the cardio for this last month of pregnancy. Sure stinks since I love my afternoon walks! :(

We had our 36-week dr's appointment this morning, and Rhys is measuring perfectly and is positioned head down, precisely as he should be for delivery! Yay!! He should weigh about 6 lbs right now and be about 18 to 19 inches long, and our doctor predicts he'll be 7 to 8 lbs at full term (40 weeks). I told my doctor about my lower back pain, thinking he might go ahead and induce me :) (I know that was totally wishful thinking), and his response was that most women are miserable by this point in pregnancy. "Thanks, Doc!" I think he was trying to be nice when he told me that I'm about 1/2 cm dilated. Oh, that made me feel really good! {I'm being quite sarcastic here!}

Well, my sweet husband has taken it upon himself to continue on with the nursery preparations for Rhys' arrival! He went shopping today and bought these sweet curtains and the rod, came straight home and got to decoratin'! He also bought Rhys his very own electric radiator to keep his room nice and cozy! :)
Notice the Nautica crib sheet set! Russell is super excited about the nautical theme for Rhys' room. "Thank you, Papa & Grandmom Wright, for the beautiful sheet set!! It's just missing Rhys, now!" Russell installed our video monitor base directly above the crib, so we can watch his every little move from outside of his room! :) Thanks to Rhys' Baba & Mama Nili and Aunt Soraya for all of his beautiful furniture, too!Ashley, thank you for the mobile! Russell installed it tonight!Below, notice the model sailboats! We got the two smaller ones on the ledge while we were in Quebec and the larger of the three from a local store.
Rhys is due in 27 days! Russell and I are praying for a speedy and smooth labor and delivery. I'm praying for sooner than later, but, of course, according to the Lord's will. The last month gets really hard...I mean, heavy! I praise the Lord for the experience and for the bundle of love He is creating right inside of me! Absolutely amazing!

Cathedral Caverns, Huntsville, Alabama

Ashley took some great interior pictures of Cathedral Caverns this passed weekend, so I've been waiting to snag those from her in order to share with my readers. We enjoyed the tour through the caverns. It only took a little over an hour, and, as I said in my last blog post, it's amazing that we have such a beautiful hidden treasure right here in our very own Alabama! Admission is only $10, too! We highly recommend the tour!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Huntsville Times

Russell and I just rolled in from a great visit with my best girlfriend and her family up in Huntsville, Alabama. We drove up last night and got to spend the evening and all day today with this sweet bunch...
From the left, Dan, carrying Nathan, Ashley, Kevin (Ashley's TALL little brother :)) and Mrs. & Mr. Mack (Ashley's sweet parents).

Mrs. Mack prepared a beautiful and delicious dinner for us last night...yummy ribs, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, salad and rolls. We got to visit and tell fun stories over dinner. Then, we moved the party to the game table...a little Joker for good measure! The guys stomped us twice, but we all enjoyed the time together. I was off to bed by 10:00, my back very achey! The lower left of my back is constantly aching these last several days...I think my body is preparing itself for Rhys' delivery! That's the only consolation I have in dealing with this pain...our baby boy is worth it!

This morning, we woke up, ate a hearty breakfast and snacks, and we drove eastward to Cathedral Caverns, a beautiful treasure in our very own Alabama! Here are some pictures around the entrance to the huge caverns...
Sweet Ashley, Rhys :) & myself.I had to snag this cute picture! Dan carried Nathan for 3 hours today in this carrier! His back was hurting, and mine was, too! Only my baby is IN my tummy! back is still hurting!
Russell & I have been completely spoiled with WONDERFUL company this Christmas season! We are THANKFUL!!!
After the caverns, we hit the road for yummy Cracker Barrel before heading back south to Birmingham...LOVE this little bundle on the table!! I just want to eat Nathan up! "Oh, and sorry for interrupting your thought-provoking table game to get this picture, Dan!" ;)

"Dan, Ashley, Nathan, thank y'all for letting us enjoy some good, quality time with you guys, and we're ready to watch The Goonies (readers, you may not be able to figure this one out) with you when you have some time! :) We'll set it up on our projector and living room wall, pop some popcorn and have us a big time movie night! Love you guys!!!"

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Get-Togethers 2008

I was concerned that Russell and I would be so bored this Christmas, since we couldn't travel with Rhys being due in just a month. We've actually had so much fun staying home!! For one thing, it's been a treat to be able to come home in between visits with family and friends so that I can rest! I'm so much more tired going into this last month of pregnancy. Russell and I have also just enjoyed the alone time we've shared in our home! We're realizing more and more that once Rhys comes along, 'our' time will be slim to none for a good while. Yikes!
The BEST part of this season has been WONDERFUL get-togethers with so many of our friends and family...Dinner and Joker :) with Aryvia & Kate (above) and Shegun & Mary (below) last Saturday night.Babysitting Rollins & Christian this Monday night was such fun and good practice!! :)Above, Rollins playing with our remote control Jeep...Russell's feet are 'road bumps' :)We took turns loving on Christian. He's full of smiles and so content! I enjoyed watching Russell tend to and bond with the boys! He's going to be a wonderful daddy!!! Ben & Virginia, a new couple friend of ours, came to visit us on Monday night, too. They brought us this sweet gift for Rhys! Smartwool booties for our babe! :) "Thanks, guys!!"
Dave & Carrie Tyson joined us for lunch & a couple of games of Joker on Christmas Eve!
Then, we visited with my family this Christmas morning.
Above, I'm standing with my twin sister, Soraya.
Below, we're with my granny, my mom, little Lady Bug (the pomeranian) and my dad.
Then, we spent today with Ryan & Jenn deVilleneuve and their families from Louisiana...eating a yummy Christmas lunch followed by a melt-in-your-mouth rum cake a la mode for dessert! Jenn is the BEST cook! She won't admit it...she's way too modest. :) "Thank you, Jenn. I know you enjoy treating and serving others, and you really do spoil us!" Then, we all visited over a good game of Joker!!
Above, Ryan & Jenn.
Below, Ryan & Sarah Amato. Sarah is the above Ryan's sister, and she married the below Ryan!! :) Both great guys, just confusing at 'roll call'! :)

Ryan deVilleneuve's Christmas gift...a portable Joker board set! This is the ultimate! You can play 2-, 3-, 4-, 5- or 6-man Joker! The guys stomped us today, but we're comin' back with a vengeance! :)

Tonight was special, as well. Charlie & Jamie Erwin brought us dinner! A yummy baked Ziti and tortellini soup. "Thank you, guys!!" We know each other through our church, and we all stay so busy that it's difficult to get together often, so when we found out they were in town Christmas night, we invited ourselves into their evening! :) We caught up, ate our delicious dinner, enjoyed genuine fellowship, then, we pulled out the Joker board...of course! Ha ha!!
More fun times ahead...the Christmas holidays have only just begun! I am so thankful to be off work so that I can rest, clean house and continue 'nesting' in anticipation of Rhys' arrival and enjoy the rest of our fun plans for this holiday!!

Merry Christmas to all on this 60 plus degree day from Birmingham, Alabama!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Easy Chocolate Crackled Cookies

Hey, gang!

So, when I was invited to a cookie exchange a few weeks back, I unfortunately was about to immediately dismiss the idea...I know, I know, you're thinking, "What a scrooge!" My reasoning behind the disinterest, however, was pure lack of faith in my ability to bake two dozen cookies, and yummy ones at that! So, before nixing the idea altogether, I decided to wait (perhaps to get my courage up??? :)).

I'm thankful for waiting because the Lord led me to see this as an opportunity beyond simply baking some cookies. Brilliant! Shouldn't I always have this perspective?!?! Absolutely! So, He laid a couple of friends on my heart, and they were all about it! So, we're heading to the cookie exchange together tomorrow night! We'll be brimming with yummy cookies and ready to share in an evening of fulfilling fellowship with some other great girls!

Now, for the cookie recipe I chose...I went to my favorite cooking source - All Recipes - and did a search for "Easy Cookies!" :) Hee hee! Seriously!! So, here's what I'm taking to my first-ever cookie exchange!! This is actually my third batch of these particular cookies to bake in less than a week! We've had other get-togethers, and it's the perfect gift for our sweet neighbors, so I've enjoyed this EASY and YUMMY cookie recipe. I now share with YOU!

Above, prepared and ready for baking!!
Below, freshly baked and so pretty!!!

Easy Chocolate Crackled Cookies

1 (18.25 ounce) package devil's food cake mix
1/2 cup butter flavored shortening (I just used a stick of butter)
1 tablespoon water
2 eggs
1 cup confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
In a medium bowl, beat with mixer together the shortening, water, and eggs. Add the cake mix, and mix with a spoon (not with mixer) until smooth.
Roll the dough into walnut sized balls in the confectioners' sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 10-15 minutes in the preheated oven. These are best served the same day, as the confectioners' sugar becomes absorbed by the cookie giving it a pasty look. This can be fixed by dusting the cookies with sugar again.

If you want to spice this recipe up a bit, try adding a teaspoon of nutmeg, a teaspoon of vanilla and maybe a half teaspoon of cloves. I did this for the second batch, and they were yummy!! I just forgot to add the extra spices tonight! :( Oh well. They're good both ways.

Next, I'm going to try this recipe with a box of yellow cake mix...with a certain sweet friend in mind who can't eat chocolate. So, she can handle these. ;) "Love ya, girl! Get well, and get ready for some yummy cookies!"

"Shireen and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day"

I've borrowed and edited the title of this post from the children's book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day to suit the following true story...This description definitely suits my day yesterday!!! It was such a MONDAY! Jenn, my day reminded me of this post and this post that you shared a while back, when you were pregnant with Christian. Oh, the symptoms of pregnancy magnify the closer we get to delivery!!

Sunday, I felt as though I was walking in a fog...didn't have any clue what time it was all day long. I was tired, mopey, weary, definitely not the most desirable company...poor Russell! "Sarah, if I didn't make sense during our time together, 'Sorry!!!'" I felt badly for being so puney, but I couldn't do a darn thing about it, other than pray and wait for the Lord to restore my energy and heart as I rested intentionally.

The next morning, I awoke around 5:30, my normal waking time, slooooooooooooooooowly getting my face washed, teeth brushed and making it downstairs to spend some time in the Word. Since I missed church on Sunday night, I chose to go online and listen to the sermon, which was so good and so encouraging, given my still unrelenting, foggy state of mind.

After hearing the sermon, I proceeded to go about my morning routine. I started to walk on our treadmill for a mere 2 miles, which seems like FOREVER these {BIGGER, pregnant} days!! I couldn't even get to 1.5 miles when I finally had to turn off the treadmill. That was such a bummer. I then realized I was hungry! So, I ate a nice, big bowl of cereal! Then, I proceeded to the shower, where I became emotional and just cried and cried...I still don't know why, other than the result of pregnancy-induced hormones! Then, I couldn't apply my mascara without applying too much, and I finally gave up and didn't care what my eyes looked like. Next, the dreaded daily decision...what to wear, what to wear??? Ugh!

At this point, Russell comes to check on me, asking, "Honey, you okay?" to which I just honestly said, "No, honey. I just don't feel like myself." He sweetly hugged me, which I so appreciated, but I still needed to "get it together" and get on with my day! I finally got myself downstairs, said good-bye to Russell, put my purse down so that I could change from my fleece jacket to my rain coat because it was, of course, raining (yuck) outside. My purse fell over, its contents fell out onto the floor, and I prayerfully asked the Lord to help me to maintain a good attitude even in the midst of this. I got my raincoat on, everything back into my purse, proceeded out the door, then, "SLAM!"...I slammed my fingers in the front door! I screamed and then cried because it scared and hurt me.

What a pitiful start to a day! Hence, this blog post's title!
Russell quickly came to check on me, gave me a giant bear hug, and he whispered into my ear, "Honey, how about taking the day off today?" I said, "That'd be great," with utmost relief in my heart. He took me upstairs, medicated and bandaged my torn and bleeding finger, tucked me in, and let me sleep for a good couple of hours.

I laugh over yesterday, now, and Russell's already jokingly telling me to watch my fingers when closing a door. :) It's fine...I know it's all pregnancy! It sure helps that the Lord has given me a new perspective, which allows me to smile even in the midst of the hardship.

God is so good, and His timing is always perfect. My being patient for His timing, however, is always a good test! I'm glad I'm over yesterday's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day today! "Thank YOU, Lord. It is only Your grace that carries me through times like that. Whew!"

Fulfilling Fellowship!

While my sweet hubby went hiking and camping over the weekend with these two great guys...Ryan & Rollins deVilleneuve (I snagged this great picture from Jenn!)...I made sure I had some fun plans for myself, too!

First, I got to spend Saturday morning with a sweet girlfriend, Nicki McDonald, who is clearly in my life by God's purposes! The way we came to know each other was through a babysitting referral from a mutual friend at church about 2 years ago! Nicki got my phone number, called me to see if I might be available for a certain evening to keep her 3 beautiful children, and our conversation was IMMEDIATELY transparent, refreshing and encouraging! I remember looking at my watch, thinking, "Man! We've been talking almost an hour!" I did keep her children shortly thereafter, and that led to a great friendship for me and Nicki!
We got to visit for a good while this last Saturday morning, while Clayton, Nicholas and Kaylee were in and out! :) "Nicki, thank you for Rhys' new gift - a handsome blue cross with scripture on it!!" I love this verse of truth, "Every good and perfect gift is from above." James 1:17 Amen!That day, I got to have lunch with my sweet granny. She spoiled me, cooking lunch for me, giving me a manicure and pedicure, then letting me fall asleep and nap for a good while. We ran an errand together and really enjoyed our quality time just before I headed back home to visit with my best girlfriend, Ashley, her sweet baby, Nathan, and her dear husband, Dan.

I was actually supposed to babysit Nathan that night, while Dan & Ashley were at their community group's Christmas party, but little Nathan was sick and needed Mommy and Daddy's company, so they were so sweet to come spend their evening with me! I loved it!! "Thank you, Dan, Ashley & Nathan!! I love y'all so much!"My heart was genuinely full after the day of good fellowship!

Russell enjoyed his camping experience, too! He said he was actually SWEATING in his sleeping bag while it was 32 degrees outside! I guess that's the blessing of wearing and using the wright ;) gear! "Way to be so prepared, Honey! That allows me to know that you are camping safely and in comfort! I'm glad you had fun with the guys, too! What a fun experience for Rollins!" :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

34 Weeks!!

Little Rhys should be weighing in at about 4 3/4 pounds, about the weight of an average cantaloupe. Wow! He should be about 18 inches long from head to heel. Again, wow!

Russell and I read some great news from some friends last week...welcome Samuel James Davis!! He came four weeks early! Russell immediately looked at me and said, "We've got to pack our hospital bag!" We immediately got on the ball! Since then, we've started packing our hospital bag, we consulted with and chose our pediatrician, we've started the process of adding Rhys to our health insurance, and we've done at least 4 or 5 loads of laundry, getting his clothes, blankets, etc. all washed and ready for him!
Russell has arranged and rearranged the nursery...still working on it to suit his fancy! :) I think we're both officially in 'nesting' mode, and we're so excited to introduce Rhys to his room and home once he ventures his way into the world! We're genuinely enjoying all these responsibilites and steps of preparation because this precious gift - our son - is becoming more of a reality!

Here we 34 weeks!! Rhys is moving around A TON! :) Russell and I are amazed to see his body parts poking from within my tummy! It's weird, but it's so sweet! As Rhys grows in length and needs to stretch out, he's been kicking into my ribs! It tickles and even hurts sometimes! :) Again, it's all so WORTH it! We love all the movement because it's exactly what he's supposed to be doing right now!! "Keep it up, Rhys! Daddy & Mommy are eager to meet you, but take your time and incubate as long as you need!" :)

Russell and I just got back from Rhys' most recent dr's appointment :), and our doctor is so pleased with both Rhys' and my growth and development as we approach delivery!! We're healthy and right on target, and we absolutely praise our Lord!!

"Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name."
Psalm 103:1

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Weekend Recap: 24 Phenomenal Hours with the Stickler's

In an effort to recap an amazing, fun-filled, absolutely non-stop weekend with the Stickler's, here goes...

I rolled into their drive this passed Saturday morning at exactly 11:00, right on schedule! I recognized Justin with John Martin and Morgan immediately! They were just sittin' in front of their house at the foot of a tree, just chillin'! I rolled down my window as I approached their drive and screamed, "Hey, guys!" It was already like being at casual, so comfortable, all just chillin' together! Darby and the Raiger walked out the front door, and the hugs began!!

Darby and I got to visit while feeding the girls their lunch, then having a yummy turkey and cheese croissant with chips for ourselves! Thank you, Darby! That was SO good! I didn't realize how hungry I had to be all the excitement leading up to this time with them, the 3-hour drive and, of course, Rhys has to eat!! :)

Then, Darby quickly bathed the girls, put them down for their afternoon nap; John Martin was already napping; Justin was delivering a bale of hay, so it was just me and Darby! We caught up, shared all kinds of life stories, continued getting to know each other and just enjoyed the quality time! Then, the projects began!! :)First, we got to change up the word board! Believe it or not, this took about 30 or 45 minutes! We had to go through a bag of double-sided letters to come up with all that we needed to fit this verse of Scripture on their kitchen word board. It was fun, kind of like Scrabble :), and what a delight to see Scripture on their walls! Above, Darby is multi-tasking, still talking to me, holding John Martin, choosing a verse, picking out all the letters. I took over, and we finally accomplished the below...Then, it was break time. Shireen needed some caffeine "somethin' fierce"! Justin had just gotten home, so we all piled up in the keeping room and sipped on my new favorite coffee (great recommendation from your blog, Darby!!), and enjoyed more quality time!

Oh, but the break was soon over, and the next project was started! Darby is possibly the most crafty person I know. She couldn't let me go back home without one of these sweet things...

Yes, we are making a gum drop wreath! Sweet-sweet, indeed!
Thank you, Darby, Morgan and Paige!! Y'all are so sweet...even sweeter than these gum drops! ;) Oh, and I must share that Russell has already helped himself to at least one gum drop! It may be bare by Christmas!

Saturday night was also very fun and non-stop! Justin had invited about 5 families over to watch the SEC Championship football game. I kid you not, we had at least 25 people, from babies and children to teens and adults, in and out of the house throughout the evening!! Justin built a fire in their patio fire pit, while the guys 'set up shop' out there to watch the game and grill burgers and all kinds of meats, and we girlies stayed busy prepping appetizers and dinner in the kitchen and then visiting around a beautiful, warm fire inside the house! Justin and the guys took turns coming inside to make sure our indoor fire was burning hot throughout the night! Thank you, guys!!

Below, our yummy desserts...Darby's delicious Chocolate Eclair Dessert and my Fresh Apple Cake! :)

Bed time came about 10:00, and I was completely exhausted after a perfect day! I LOVED 'my' room, the girls' playroom, which looked like this just last week! :) I'm looking forward to sleeping in this amazingly comfy sofa bed again! We're all hoping that Russell, Rhys and I can head back down to Dothan for a weekend visit this Spring! Yay!!!The next morning was Sunday, and the girls got all dressed up in their pretty little Christmas dresses for church! I asked them to 'pose' for me here! :) They're precious!Then, it was time for me to let them go on to church and for me to get back on the road! Justin was sweet to snap one final shot of me and my new God-given girlfriend and sister! And, yes, Erika! In response to your offer, I want to be y'all's triplet! ;) If you're MommaSissy, then, does that make me Aunt Shireen??? :) Hee hee!

In all seriousness and through a heart of pure thanksgiving, I praise the LORD for all the faith HE gave me and Darby in starting and developing our friendship online! I feel awkward telling people how we met because of the unfortunately negative conotation "online" friendships can carry. We've each prayed about our friendship, especially leading up to my traveling down to visit, and God has confirmed each step of the way that HE declared this friendship! I am so thankful, and Russell and I truly look forward to going back for a visit together and further exploring that which HE has in store for us with the Stickler's!

"Justin, Darby, Morgan, Paige and John Martin, I love you guys so much, and I thank you for letting me live life with you for a wonderful 24 hours!"

Friday, December 5, 2008

Blogging Blessings

About a year ago, Russell and I were watching a movie at home. I was clearly not that into the movie because I got bored, pulled the laptop onto my lap and dove head first into the blogging world! I went from one blog to another, hopping from link to link, picking and choosing to read from those that struck my fancy.

I remember the blog had a festive, Fall-time themed background. Looking more closely, there was specific Scripture 'decorating' the pages. Reading about this family, I was struck by the beautiful transparency and willingness to share with the world in order to glorify the Lord. I interrupted Russell's focus on the movie several times that evening...reading to him, showing him sweet pictures, ooh-ing and ah-ing over this precious blog (and family). I went on to bed that night, but I couldn't help but think of that blog again a few days later, wondering how I could get back to it. I did not store it in my favorites, nor was it saved in my internet cache.

I started sifting through blogs and links on blogs like I was seeking out hidden treasure! Aha! I found it!! "Thank you, Lord!!" So, I thought about it and thought about it...should I post a comment??? Would that be stalking? Surely, the writer would think I'm weird! I didn't care! I went for it! I posted my first comment! :) Boy, am I glad that I did!

Darby and I have become great friends! She's so cool, very talented, so genuine, and she's also a twin! :) Most importantly, she has a heart of pure gold...loves the Lord and people so selflessly. God has ministered to my heart and helped me through life decisions since I've been richly blessed to know Darby. We've been emailing, instant messaging each other, keeping up with each other through our blogs, posting comments, etc. We've even exchanged mailing addresses and phone numbers! We've each received physical mail from each other! :) Fun!
Above, Darby with her husband, Justin, and their sweet children, Morgan, Paige and John Martin (left to right)
Below, Darby (just after giving birth!) and her cool twin sister, Erika.
We almost got to meet this passed Summer, but the timing was not quite right. She had her third child!! Since we've met online :), I've gotten pregnant, and I realized a couple of months ago that if we're going to plan to see each other any time soon, we'd better get on it, dog on it! :) Sooooooooo, I'm headed to see Darby and her sweet family tomorrow! Yippee! We've been communicating, praying and planning for this weekend, knowing that Russell would have drill and it would be such an opportune time for me to travel before I can't in the next few weeks...we're gettin' kind of close to Rhys' due date.

Okay, enough reminiscing! I look SO forward to posting on my time with the Stickler's!

Can't wait!

Happy Friday and weekend to you all!