Thursday, December 07, 2006

Shameless Plug

Alrighty then. It's been ages since I've been able to sit down at this computer for a little bloggin'. Missed you all. So much has happened since I posted last. I finally uploaded the pictures from our digital camera. (By the way, the battery was dead on it. It wasn't broken. That's a relief.) However, the pictures were uploaded to Chad's laptop because the desktop computer in our house is older than the hills and can't handle the photos. One of these days I'll be able to post pictures again. For those of you who might want to see Avery's 9-month session, click on the Jennifer Photography link to your right. From there, click on the Information Tab and then click on the Slideshows link. It will pop up in a separate window. The password is Troup. You can see some sweet and funny Christmas shots there, too.

Rehearsals are going well for The Sanders Family Christmas. We're reprising our roles from 2 years ago. We got such a great response from that show that we decided to do it again. The original 7 cast members are playing the same parts. We're thrilled to have a roomier stage this year, too. A guy named Travis is doing a fantastic job with set construction. We've added so many new fun elements to the show. I can't wait. So here's my shameless plug . . . . Come see the Sanders Family Christmas at Otter Creek (409 Franklin Road, Brentwood) on December 15, 16 or 17 at 7 p.m. It's FREE, but seating is first come, first served. A collection will be taken up for the Living Water Ministry. Tell a friend.

Doing the show has completely gotten me in the Christmas spirit this year. Chad and I got a real tree and even put lights up outside! I finally gave in and tuned in to 92.9 fm which turns to 100% Christmas music after Thanksgiving. At first, I was agitated because I wasn't ready for Christmas music in November and I'm a dork and like light rock. But I made the switch.

It even snowed here today! It was beautiful. Of course, it didn't stick, but Avery loved watching it out the window. I love that it actually feels like Christmas, but our family can't seem to shake a nagging cold. Advice on trusty home remedies would be much-appreciated.

Wow. I'm proud of myself. I posted! Now let's just hope you all hear from me again before the new year!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Sparkly band-aids and the Tide testimonial

I took Avery last week for her 9-month check-up at Dr. Morel's office. I always choose the early morning appointments in hopes of avoiding all the sick children who might pass along their respective illnesses to my susceptible infant. This particular morning, I knew we were going to have shots and a flu vaccination, but they also took a little blood from Avery's toe to check her levels after having a UTI a few weeks ago.

I expected tears. She doesn't exactly trust the nurses after her 4-hour visit due to the UTI last time. Nevertheless, we survived. After pricking her toe, they put on a sparkly band-aid. Bad idea. She was mesmerized and immediately tried to put her feet in her mouth. She tugged and pulled at the band-aid and caused her toe to start bleeding again and the blood ended up all over my favorite sweater and jeans.

The nurse gave me an alcohol swab, so I worked at the spots for a while to no avail. And then I remembered a little gift from Becca -- a Tide To Go pen! I hadn't used it before, but it took the stain right out. The day was saved! Well, maybe that's a bit drastic, but at least my sweater survived.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Two by two

We have teeth! Avery's two bottom front teeth arrived today. I had a sneaking suspicion that they were coming due to her incessant gnawing lately. She's been "biting" at the most inopportune times and it's quite uncomfortable for me! She hasn't been droowling or fussing. She seems fairly comfortable, so we might actually survive this phase unscathed.

We've had a very busy last few days. After a weekend trip to North Carolina to visit my family, we dropped Chad off in Raleigh to meet some of his co-workers for a week-long audit in Danville, Virginia -- again (it seems like he has been there a lot lately.) So Avery and I were home alone most of the week. We managed to get nothing done around the house, too.

We went to a Halloween party at the Miller farm last night and have a dinner date with the Daniels at Don and Mary Stanford's house tonight. Big weekend. I can't post pictures yet because we left the camera cord at my parents' house and the camera battery is dead. Maybe I'll get some video on here soon. More later . . .

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Okay, I know. It's been ages since I've posted. Believe it or not, my life is a bit hectic right now. One would think that my time would be freed up after quitting my job, but it has gotten nuttier. For one thing, my laptop -- my lifeline to the world -- had to be turned in when I left Nelson, so I have to wait until Chad is home before I can get online. Another toughie is that Avery has become a bit clingy and doesn't like me out of her site.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is that I've still been going into the office a couple of days a week for 2 or 3 hours at a time to help train my replacement. That's not the hard part. Coming up with childcare is incredibly difficult. There's this emotion that most mothers are overcome with and it's called GUILT. I feel guilty for asking a friend to keep Avery more than once -- especially if I've never kept their children (which I'm totally willing to do, by the way). But why is it that moms are tormented with this feeling for a major portion of their waking hours?

I'm determined to create a mom network to help women find others who could trade out on childcare. We would be much more productive members of society. If we didn't have to FREAK OUT every time we needed to get a sitter and worry about paying someone an absurd amount of money to simply be in the same room with a sleeping child, we could actually get a few things done (sans stomach ulcer.)

So who's with me? I'd like to regularly go to Kirkpatrick Elementary to volunteer in Mrs. Jones' kindergarten class. Does someone want to take on a classroom, too, at an alternate time while I keep your kid(s)? A regular date to grocery shop? How about getting your nails done? Maybe a regular volunteer position? And even better -- a nap? I'd love to hear comments. Maybe you have a better idea.

I know blogs are usually meant for an outlet for random ramblings, but I'm serious here. At the risk of turning my living room into a nursery, I'm offering my childcare services. It could actually be pretty rewarding to see some of you rested and refreshed from a couple of hours of freedom. Of course, don't make me feel guilty for asking the same of you once in a while. Who's in? The floor is open . . .

Thursday, September 21, 2006

CPA - Hooray!

Chad called this afternoon from Palestine, Texas, where he has been for the last four days. He said, "Guess who you're talking to?" I got REALLY excited because I knew what it meant. He got his CPA scores back and passed the last two sections!!!!! Can you tell I'm excited by all the exclamation marks? Two years of hard work on his part have finally paid off. Chad has been so dedicated and disciplined as he has studied. We get our lives back! Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.

Avery and I had a lazy evening in front of the television. Thursday night prime time television is my favorite. It used to be "Friends," but now it's "My Name is Earl," "The Office," "Grey's Anatomy" and "ER." The top news stories online were about the difficult choices viewers were going to have to make as they decided which of the great shows they'd have to miss. Top-notch programs went head to head battling it out for the top spot. My remote control finger is tired.

I need to post pictures. A lot has happened since I blogged last -- Avery's first Braves game, Becca & Nathan's new baby Fenley, and Brax's birthday party -- so I need to upload photos. Maybe next time . . . Stay tuned.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Long weekend

This weekend actually felt like a long weekend! No studying, no traveling, no working! Hooray! My parents came into town and we had a ball. Nothing fancy -- just being together.

I love the Labor Day weekend for some reason. We always make Chicken Stew. It's nothing special, but it's part of our family tradition inspired by an old Mars Hill fundraiser. We made a HUGE pot of it, so quite a bit of it ended up in the freezer to be eaten later. Yum.

Labor day has a different meaning to me now, though. I think of actual labor. We had lunch with college girlfriends on Saturday and I got to talk about the day Avery was born. It was really tough and I'm sure it was incredibly painful, but I don't remember that part. I only remember seeing that sweet angel being placed in my arms and seeing the look of pure joy and amazement on Chad's face. Priceless.

We're making sure to appreciate every moment we can with Avery. The last 7 months have flown by already, so we're trying to be intentional about not missing anything. I'll catch myself just staring at her sometimes, being amazed at how she's learning how her body works. She uses her hands so well and never stops moving her feet. Even pooping is cute!

I'll be sure to post pictures next time. So sorry that it's been a while. We thought we broke the camera, but it's up and running again, so we're playing catch-up. Thanks for checking in on us!

Friday, September 01, 2006

It's getting hot in here . . .

A couple of weeks ago, it started getting warmer in our house. Chad checked all the vents and . . . nothing. He went outside to peek at the A/C unit and the pipe was frozen. It had been working too hard. You see, we have a slow, small coolant leak. We knew we had it last year, but we were told that simply refilling the coolant each year would solve the problem, at least temporarily.

So we called out a guy to do that again for us this year. It seemed to work for a while, but Wednesday after work, I came home and commented that I thought it was getting warmer again. Chad didn't notice, so I chocked it up to having just climbed the stairs. (I'm still out of shape.) After church however, it was definitely warmer inside than it was out. Chad again checked the outside unit. It wasn't frozen this time, so we knew we had a problem. At least it was a cool night, so we slept with the windows open and it felt fantastic.

He came home from work early to meet the A/C guy who determined that our compressor was "out" and that we could replace it for $1,500. Kill me. However, we still had the problem of the coolant leak and didn't know where it was. He fooled around with the system for a while longer and found TWO leaks. Great. That would cost us $1,000 -- every year!

So this afternoon, Donelson Air Conditioning will be replacing our ENTIRE SYSTEM. Perfect timing just as I've resigned from my job and we're down to one income.

I'm in my last few days at Thomas Nelson. I agreed to stay on (working from home) for another month to help with transitions, though. There are pros and cons. The pros are that I'll get to be with Avery all day, I'll have WAY fewer meetings to attend, I'll have no office distractions (printer noise, foot traffic, employee gossip time) and I'll keep getting a paycheck for a little longer. The cons are that I'll be working AND have Avery (which might be quite the load) and I'm only getting paid for part-time work. No matter what I'm getting paid for, I tend to put way too much effort into it. It's a good thing for my employer, but it's a bad thing for my sanity.

I love my company. I love my job. I'm not sure how this is going to work out, but I'm excited about trying something new. This is a busy time of year for us with major books releasing this fall. I'm sure you'll hear me talking about them. So help me afford my new air conditioner. BUY A BOOK.

My parents are coming into town this weekend and I'm thrilled. Of course, I hope the air is running by the time they get here! I've been trying to tell Avery that they're coming. She probably has no idea what I'm saying, but we have a great time squealing in high pitched voices at each other.

She is the most fun baby. She's always in a good mood and thinks everything is funny. I'm really seeing the "Laura Posey nose" that she's making. I did it when I was a baby and she has picked up the same habit. It's adorable. She has also finally figured out that her Jumperoo is for bouncing, so now she's quite the jumper. Of course, because of that, she thinks that everything she sits in is going to bounce. So fun.

Jennifer took Avery's 6-month pictures last month, so I'm finally adding a photo to my blog. I knew Jennifer was a good photographer, but she catches all the best shots. If you get the chance to use her, please do. Jennifer, I hope you don't mind that I'm posting one of my proofs! Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Summer's not over

I expected traffic to be worse than it has been. With kids back in school and big yellow buses flanking every corner, I've prepared for the worst. My daily route includes two school zones. Luckily, I'm through one before the lights start flashing. (The middle school starts late!)

Tusculum Elementary, however, enforces the 15 mph speed limit with two crossing guards -- one at the 4-way stop at McMurray and Whispering Hills and the other at the light at Nolensville Road. I like the lady at the 4-way stop. She is very friendly and professional. Last year, I felt much differently about the lady at Nolensville Road. Inevitably, every morning she'd stop traffic at the light I was sitting at so kids could cross the street. I don't mind that they have to cross the street. Not a problem. However, it drove me nuts that she only stopped traffic for the folks who were trying to turn left from McMurray onto Nolensville Road. One morning, I had to sit through 6 green lights before finally giving up, turning right and making a U-turn to get to work. I don't have time for that. Thankfully, we have a new crossing guard this year. Whoo hoo!!!!! She already seems to be better. She gets people across the street, but I haven't had to wait on anyone yet.

This past weekend, in talking with Chad's family, a discussion came up about the school year schedule. They all seem to be in favor of kids starting as late as possible. Chad's aunt Elaine even went so far as to suggest that kids should start after Labor Day. Whoa! That didn't seem like such a good idea to me -- until now. I realize that we're already thinking that the summer is over since the kids have gone back to school. Summer's not over!!!!

Technically, summer will be sticking with us until September 20-something, but department stores already have out their fall clothes (Who wants to wear sweaters in 90 degree weather??), football teams are taking the field, and the evenings are getting milder. Forget about all this end-of-summer mumbo jumbo. We need to enjoy it! Just 'cause the kids are back in school doesn't mean we shouldn't bask in the glorious days of summer.

May I suggest a few things? Make lemonade. Play in the sprinkler. Eat some watermelon. Take a dip in the pool (at least smell the chlorine!). Do all the things that are so characteristic of summer. Because it's not over yet!

Monday, July 10, 2006


Avery woke up at 4:30 this morning. Ouch! Early is painful when you're the mother of an infant. I managed to feed her and get her into bed with me while Chad was getting ready this morning. He was out the door by about 5:15 to catch a flight to New Mexico.

Once I woke up at 6, I left Avery in my bed so I could shower and get ready. I went into the bathroom and looked at the countertop. One toothbrush. Mine. I felt so lonely. It hit me that my sweet husband was gone for a week and I missed him so badly already. When he's gone, I realize how much he does around here when he's home. He is so hands-on with Avery and helps around the house, too. I'm sure I could get it done on my own if I had to, but it's so nice to have a husband who actively participates in running this household.

Working full-time has been a bit challenging. As I've said a thousand times before, I love my job. But it's starting to wear on me. Added responsibilities and a raised sense of urgency have compounded the problem of time constraints. I keep telling myself that it will get better, but I find myself living weekend to weekend, and even then, we're on the road and don't get any relief.

The busy-ness has driven a chasm between us and our friends right now, too. We're overscheduled and can't spend time with them -- even just to goof off and let our kids play together. We're closer than ever to each other, but we know we need other relationships to help ours grow. But time is against us, and the longer we go without seeing our friends, the more we miss out on growing our relationships with them. How do you catch up???

On a lighter note, Avery is teething. Everything she can get into her hands gets gnawed on. And the child is quite fussy. Okay, okay, so fussy for Avery is a little whiny wimper, but she is fussy. She has also learned to sit up on her own. She's getting really good at balancing and holding herself up. She'll finally topple over after a few minutes, but she's so proud of herself.

Only 3 pictures this time. More next time.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Let's do Lunch

I know, I know. It's been ages since I've posted. The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind. So I'm posting on my lunch break. (It used to be called the "lunch hour" but I'm almost positive we don't get a whole hour any more.) I can't post at home any more. Avery is much too wiggly. She likes to kick the keyboard while I type, so I don't even try to get the laptop out any more. And I'm just about ready to pass out myself after she goes to bed. So lunch break it is.

Work has been incredibly stressful lately—not just busy—but stressful. I'm quite used to a fast pace. In fact, I enjoy the fast pace. But the work load is wearing on me. I actually drove to work the other day with a pit in my stomach about it. Nervous! Me? I'm not supposed to be worried about work. Regardless, the anxiety finally started wearing off today.

We're getting ready to go to North Carolina this weekend to visit my parents. I haven't been there since February. And Chad hasn't been there since Thanksgiving! My parents are in their new house. Sort of. Much of their furniture is still at the old house while they're trying to sell it. "Staging" it for the prospective homebuyers, if you will.

I'm thrilled to be going "home." I'll get to show off Avery to all my friends from high school. The Fourth of July is always a big deal in Hickory. Since we moved there, we've always had a party at the Starnes' house on the water. The guys have a golf scramble starting in the morning. The women hang out in the pool and the kids and teens hit the lake for water sports. Then everyone comes together for dinner. There's always a band, so people dance until dark. Gradually, the fireworks display has gotten bigger and bigger. I heard that it overshadowed the one at the minor leage baseball game last year! Can't wait!

Avery's Uncle John and Uncle Ben came to visit us last weekend and went to the zoo with us. They hadn't seen her in quite a while, so they were shocked to see how big she is and how fun she is. We're making sure they stay updated on all the fun things she's learning and cute stuff she does.

I'll leave you with some pictures from the last few days. Enjoy! Uncle John is showing Avery how the elephants "mop, mop, mop."
Somebody got really sleepy, really fast.
This is the goofiest looking alpaca I've ever seen. Somebody get this animal a dentist!
Avery has learned to suck on her toes. Limber little thing.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Wisdom teeth

Today was a whirlwind. We got up in time to get Avery dressed and off to daycare. Chad and I went from there to Dr. Malin's office. Chad had to get his wisdom teeth extracted. It didn't take very long -- maybe an hour. The nurse came to get me when it was all over and gave me all the important instructions.

I laughed for the next hour. Chad was so drugged that he had no idea what he was doing. He honestly didn't remember anything. When he saw me in the room with him, he asked me if they were about to get started. But they were already done. He was hilarious.

But I got him home and fed him and gave him pain pills and put him to bed. Then I pulled out the computer and got going on marketing plans. Major updates are due this week for the big titles we presented two weeks ago. I've tried not to miss a beat by being out of the office. Of course, I've trained myself not to get too worked up. I tend to be a perfectionist, but I know when to draw the line most of the time now.

We had a great weekend in Florence for Jana's wedding, although we're still sore from riding the wave runner all weekend. Chad and I thought our legs would fall off. It's kind of tough to get around to everyone in the family when we're in Florence, but we got pretty close. We also got some fun pictures. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Living for the weekend

Wow. It has been an overwhelming day. I look forward to going to the office each morning, but once I got there today, I was slammed with meetings, projects and e-mail. It's sad to say, but I've been living weekend to weekend. However, now all my weekends are packed, too.

We're heading to Florence Friday for Jana Young's wedding. I haven't been there in forever, so I'm really eager to hit the road. We'll be staying with Grandma, so we'll get to play around on the lake and test out the new pier. Avery has been in a pool, but she's never experienced the lake. This should be interesting.

We'll also get to see Nannie. She and Avery share the same birthday, eighty-something years apart. It's amazing to think that there are 5 living generations of firstborn females in my family.

Just 2 more days until the weekend!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Night Owl

We've got a new child on our hands. Avery is doing SO much better since getting an antibiotic. She is back to her normal, happy self. However, she doesn't seem to want to go to bed. She's wide awake right now, watching me blog. Maybe it's the medicine, but she didn't take much of a nap today either. I just hope she's wiped out by the time I'm ready to turn in for the night.

Amid all the chaos of her being sick, I completely forgot to document the 4-month check-up that happened the same time as her sick visit to Dr. Morel. She is now 13 lbs., 12 oz. and 25 1/2 inches long. It looks like her birth girth means nothing at all, because all the boys in our life group have taken off in size.

We sat around watching the spelling bee after dinner tonight. When I heard it would be on ABC Prime Time tonight, I thought they were nuts and would lose viewership. However, I found myself sucked in, rooting for the little spellers. The winner correctly spelled ursprache. I now feel compelled to use the word in a sentence this week. Probably won't happen.

I also heard today that Anna Nicole Smith was pregnant. Quite often, I question my parenting skills, but after hearing that (and recalling the recent blunders of Britney Spears,) I feel like Super Mom! I'm pretty proud of my girl and my confidence is building as I see all the amazing milestones she hits along the way.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Long time, no post

My baby is sick. I feel so helpless. My sweet, easy-going, beaming child has been reduced to a cranky, crying, sleepy one by a miserable fight with an ear infection. We have seen the tiniest glimpses of her former self when we dance around like fools for her as she cries and tries to smile back at us.

Last night was a blur. With the incessant coughing and sneezing, Avery woke herself up more times than I can recall. Not having dealt with a sick child before, I jumped out of bed in panic every time she made a sound. A couple of times, I jumped up just to check and see why I hadn't heard her in a while.

She was so sweet this morning, even after such a hard night. Chad dropped her off at her daycare and she was asleep in her carseat. A couple of hours later, they called me because she seemed miserable. Her 4 month checkup at the doctor was supposed to be Thursday, so we just bumped it up to today and they worked her in for shots and a once-over from Dr. Morel.

We're coming down off a weekend high. We had a nice visit with Beverly (Chad's mom), who came in town Thursday to watch Avery while Chad and I went to David and Jessie's rehearsal dinner. Friday, we all went to the wedding—Avery included—and enjoyed catching up with old college friends. As Beverly was leaving, Nana and Papa (my parents) were coming into town from North Carolina. It had been so long since they had seen Avery. They were so shocked at the little personality she has taken on.

Chad and Dad played golf on Saturday and Mom and I bought fabric and patterns to get started on some outfits for Avery. I'm gradually learning more and more about how Grandmother's old sewing machine works. While I am incredibly grateful to have it, I'm dying to have a new one of my own with all the bells and whistles that I'm looking for. I have a long way to go before I'm as talented as my mom, but maybe a new toy will motivate me to keep trying.

I'm trying to discipline myself to schedule things I need to get done after work. I just finished my first week full-time in the office. It wasn't as bad as I expected. I have a pretty great team and they're so supportive and encouraging, assuring me that family comes first. I still have a long way to go before I'm caught up with marketing plans and campaigns, but I really enjoy it, so I'm inspired to work hard at it while I'm in the office.

Chad and I went for a walk tonight. We're trying to make it a habit. Since I haven't been able to join the walking mommies in the mornings (They'd better still be walking!), I have to come up with my own exercise regimen. I'll still be battling the bulge for a while, so I'm grateful for Chad for motivating me to get out and get moving. If you have any recommendations besides pushing the stroller up a steep hill, share away!

I leave you with photos from the past week. Enjoy! I'll try not to wait so long for the next post.

Sleeping in Daddy's tie at Josh & Lindsey's wedding

Cheesin' it up

Showing off for Nana & Papa

Happy time in the Boppy

Grins with Mommy before school this morning

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Testing 123

I thought I was going to get my husband back on Friday. He came back into town, but dove straight back into his studies for the CPA. His test is Tuesday. The poor thing has been hanging out at the library most of the time since he got home. (He's much more disciplined than I am.) He has poured himself into preparing for each individual part of the exam. We were hoping to have all this behind us before Avery came along, but we should have realized that you can't rush this and that you have to completely focus in order to end up with a good score.

Parenthood has interrupted a few of our plans. We should have known. Some of them have been welcomed interruptions and others seem a bit more sacrificial. Regardless, we know that God timed Avery's arrival just perfectly for us. While we would love to have the CPA exam behind us, we know that Chad will be finished in plenty of time to reap the benefits.

We had a nice weekend. Chad rolled into town earlier than expected on Friday, so he squeezed in a quick 9 holes of golf. (It's been ages since he has played.) We grabbed dinner out with Avery on Friday night and got our wedding rings cleaned, too.

Chad spent most of the day at the library on Saturday and I went to Traveller's Rest Plantation to help set up for Lindsey Stigall and Josh Crites' wedding. That place is gorgeous and the wedding was so beautiful and fun. Although I didn't do much, helping with the reception made me want to be a wedding coordinator. If I could do it all over again, I would have hired someone to take care of all the details of my wedding. It's just too stressful for a bride (& her family) to have to worry about that stuff on the wedding day. I'd much rather have left it up to someone else so I wouldn't have even had to think about what might have been forgotten. Of course, I probably would have done several things differently. Brides too often feel as though they have to please everyone else rather than actually have the dream wedding. It's going to cost a fortune anyway. A bride should get what she wants!

Kim spent the night with us after the wedding. She left around 8 this morning so we went to one of my favorite places for breakfast -- Bruegger's Bagels -- and then to class. Ken Switzer and Randal Wilcher are teaching a class on Paul's letters and it's fantastic. It is very well attended because Ken and Randal are quite educated -- and quite funny, too. I'm amazed that Ken seemed so eager to attack the controversial topic today of women's role in the church. I'm really sad that next week is the last week of the quarter. I'm sure we'll have another great set of choices for class.

After church, we went to Pei Wei. (Wow. Does it seem like we eat out enough?) We love to eat out with our life group, but it's pretty tough to find a place that can seat so many babies. We usually end up scarfing down our food before all the kids start screaming.

Chad headed back to the library this afternoon and Avery and I settled in front of the Braves game for a quick nap. She slept a little longer than expected, so we were late for Celebration service at church. We were expecting our life group there. We decided not to meet in someone's home tonight so we could go to Celebration, but it ended up being us and the Daniels and Laura Essner. So we went to McAllister's with the Daniels afterward. (Okay, so YES, we do eat out way too much.) It was nice to have some two-on-two time with them. They're pretty fun. Although they've been married longer than us, they are at a place in their lives that I remember quite well -- just getting plugged in at church and in a life group. I just hope that their lives are blessed by the life group as much as our lives have been blessed.

It is a sense of belonging. Even though we still have some insecurities, Chad and I feel amazingly close to our group. We're all sharing the joys and challenges of being new parents and still trying to keep our marriages fresh and new. It's definitely good to have friends who know what you're going through, good or ill.

Mom and Dad are coming to visit this weekend and I couldn't be more excited! It has been so long since they've seen Avery, so they're taking advantage of the long weekend. We still have to work out the lodging logistics, but it looks like they're coming Saturday morning. I think they are going to flip out when they see how much Avery has changed and developed. Her face is so expressive now and she's using her hands really well. I'm very proud.

Well, Chad is already asleep, trying to get rested so he can get up early and study before work. Bless his heart. I'm calling it a night. Till next time . . .

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Snot and spit up

This week is a weird one. I'm playing the single parent since Chad is out of town. It's tough. I don't know how some people do it. It makes me really appreciate all he does around here. I definitely appreciate that he takes Avery to daycare each day. It's quite out of the way for me.

Speaking of daycare, Avery is doing really well. I think she and I have come down with something, though. It started out as sneezing with allergy-like symptoms, but it has gotten down in my chest and initiated a painful cough. Avery's eyes are red and she has been sneezing and coughing, too. Let's hope it stays mild, though. I've been blowing my nose like crazy, but she doesn't exactly know how to do that yet and she hates the bulb syringe stuck up her nose.

When I picked her up today, she was in a different outfit. Mrs. Kourtne', Avery's teacher, told me she had to change her because she spit up "all over herself." That's a new thing. She has never been one to spit up much, but after we got home this afternoon, she did it again. She's in her fourth outfit today (counting her pj's from this morning). It'll be 5 by bedtime. I'm hoping this trend is over!

She seems to be adjusting to this new schedule quite well. I'm doing much better than I expected, but I miss her like crazy during the day. I'm very tempted to take her to work with me and stash her under my desk.

No pictures today, but be sure you look back a couple of days where I posted shots from St. Louis.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day!

Today is Mother's Day. My first with a child of my own. However, last year's was just about as special because it was the day we found out we were expecting Avery. Let's go back . . . the Saturday before, we took a pregnancy test that was supposed to show a plus sign if it was positive. It looked funny, so we decided we weren't pregnant. The next day, we took a digital test and it confirmed our suspicions. It was a pretty special day.

Today was pretty special, too. Chad and Avery woke me up with roses and a card. We went to lunch at Big River Grille and came home for a Baskin Robbins ice cream cake! It's amazing to think that I'm a mom. It's even more shocking to realize that my mom is a grandmother now. She's not old enough to be a grandmother!

Being a mom now makes me appreciate my mother even more than I already did. There are so many tiny little things that I never realized moms did. And I never knew how much she really loved me until I had Avery and felt the deepest, purest love I've ever known. It's a love that children don't have to earn. It was as if God planted a mother's love for her child deep into her heart while he was knitting the child together in the mother's womb. Amazing!

Avery rolled over for the first time today, too. We were so proud! She is advancing and growing every day. She does a new "trick" every week. And she is the happiest, sweetest child I've ever been around. We are pretty lucky to have such an easygoing baby.

My blessings are too numerous to count. Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The (Thomas Nelson) Office - Season Premier

Today was the day. I started back to work. Well, technically I started back Sunday when I flew out to Los Angeles with my team for a strategic planning meeting with the Red Hat Society. It was a whirlwind trip, but we accomplished so much for our upcoming book project. Those ladies are fantastic!

I left Avery in very able hands with Chad while I was gone. My cousin Jenny kept her on Monday while he was at work, but he managed everything else. I, on the other hand, had a bit of trouble while I was gone. Airplanes don't have electrical outlets and I forgot my hand pump. In fact, the airports didn't have reasonable accommodations either. I stuck it out and survived, but it definitely wasn't comfortable. I'm just grateful there were no crying babies on the plane. Yikes!

We spent Tuesday and Wednesday getting Avery adjusted to daycare. Okay, so let's be honest. We really just needed to get ourselves adjusted to having her in daycare. Chad and I were both miserable and weepy all day Tuesday, but we managed to keep it together. Today was definitely easier.

Miraculously, my car drove itself to the office today. It was a pretty easy transition back to work. I wasn't there very long. All I managed to get done was clean out my email inbox. I'm pretty proud of myself, though. I went through almost 3,000. Granted, most of them were Google news updates and Viagra ads, but I got 'em knocked out. Tomorrow will be dedicated to educating myself on the new products and alerting my authors and media contacts that I've resurfaced.

We had dinner with the Millers tonight. It was an answered prayer. Sallie called when Avery and I were staring blankly into the pantry trying to come up with a plan for supper. I HATE deciding what to cook for dinner. The actual preparation is not a problem. It's the decision itself. Aarg! But Sallie phoned in and laid out the invitation and saved the day! All we really ended up doing was grubbing and watching NBC season finales.

We have a night for each network. Sunday is ABC for Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy. Tuesday is Fox for American Idol. Wednesday is Fox, too, for the results show. (Can you believe Chris got voted off? Shocking! I, personally, am a big fan of Elliott Yamin. Vote people!!!!!) Thursday is NBC for Will & Grace, My Name is Earl, The Office, and ER. We try not to watch TV too much, but it's ridiculously difficult to turn the thing off when we pay so much for cable. Don't get me started.

Okay, so I really should wind it down. I need to save something to write about another day.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Still in STL

I can't believe how quickly this week has flown by. I know it's because I start back to work next week. At least it's part time so I can stay sane. But I'm going back with a bang. I fly out Sunday night to Los Angeles and back on Monday for a really fast meeting with the Red Hat Society. We're publishing their cookbook this summer, so we're nailing down all the final marketing plans. The book is going to be incredible! All the best recipes from the country's most extravagant gotta-love-life women.

Chad's auditing class wrapped up today in St. Louis, so we went up in the arch. Avery fell asleep right before we got in the tram to the top. We took pictures of her by the window and next to the elevation sign so that one day we can prove to her that she has been there. We left the camera cord in Nashville, so I'll have to post those pictures when we get back home.

While Chad was in class today, Avery and I hunted for the post office to mail my dad's birthday present. While we were out, we grabbed lunch. There are not many places to eat in St. Louis. I found a Qdoba restaurant, but I had to circle the parking lot 4 times before I found a parking space. And we realized that the line was out the door. Then it dawns on me that it's Cinco de Mayo. Bad idea. But we had no other choice. The place was packed with high school kids (they get free soft drinks on Fridays) and business people drinking Corona on their lunch break. Any excuse for a beer for some folks, I guess.

We had dinner with my friend Jodi and her fiance' Paul. Jodi and I always have a good time, but I feel like I got to know Paul. He is a great guy and he and Jodi make a pretty good couple. It's going to be fun watching her get married and start a family. She has always been the Mother Hen to our group of college friends. She took great care of me after my car accident in college and ever since has made herself responsible for the well-being of the rest of us. It will be neat to see her with her own kids one day.

Well, that's all for tonight. I'm sure I'll have plenty to add when we get home. Till then . . .

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Gateway to the West

Chad, Avery and I are in St. Louis, MO, this week. Chad has an audit conference at the Adam's Mark Hotel, so Avery and I are killing time in the city. We arrived last night in time for dinner. Not wanting to risk getting lost on our first night, we went to T.G.I.Friday's. They seated us in the non-smoking section RIGHT next to the smoking section. We had to be moved so our infant daughter wouldn't smell like an ashtray. But dinner was fantastic.

This morning, Avery slept quite late. We loaded up the stroller and hit up the local Starbuck's for breakfast. I'm almost convinced that no one in St. Louis has ever seen a baby. People everywhere were stopping me to coo at Avery and ask questions about her. Absurd.

We went to Famous-Barr department store afterward. I'm hunting for the perfect birthday gift for my dad. I managed to find everything else but that gift while I was at the store. My dad is hard to buy for. What do you get for the guy who has everything?

I digress. We played around at Famous-Barr long enough to allow Mother Nature to brew up a little storm outside. We were trapped. We had walked 6 blocks from the hotel and I didn't have an umbrella. I waited for the rain to let up and made a run for it. We zipped from awning to awning, popped in Panera Bread for lunch and got back to the hotel only slightly drenched. The first of many adventures this week, I'm sure.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Controlled Chaos

Life Group on Sunday nights . . . never a dull moment. We all get together at 5 or 6 each Sunday evening for a meal, good conversation, prayer, and explosive laughter at our insanely chaotic lives. Our life group is growing exponentially, but it's because of all the children—and the Laytons weren't even there tonight.

But between the spitting up, crying, and diaper changing, we actually get real with each other. We talk about real heart issues. We always joke around about "edifying and uplifting," but that group of friends is my lifeline. I don't know what I would do without my girlfriends. I was feeling a bit disconnected before Avery came along and I was still in the office every day. All the other girls got to spend time together each day while I plugged away in the office. Don't get me wrong; I love my job. But while I've been on maternity leave, I've had the chance to actually get close to my friends—share in the frustrations and joys of motherhood, blow a ridiculously large amount of money on tiny little clothes for Avery, and squeeze in a daily workout.

And next week I start back to work. It scares me out of my mind. I LOVE my job. I think I'm pretty good at my job. But I'm going to be attempting to go back to my former life while adding the responsibility of rearing a child at the same time. The biggest difference is that I'll be taking my friends with me. Of course, they won't be making the commute with me, but they'll be my support network, helping me to be a better mom every day. Thanks girls. I love you all!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Lazy Saturday

We slept in this morning. Avery somehow made her way into our bed at about 6 and fell back asleep with us until 10. Wow! We wasted the morning. After a big pancake breakfast, we piddled around the house and yard. It probably would have been a great day to mow the grass since it's supposed to rain for the next several days, but our neighbors on either side haven't mowed their grass at all yet this year, so we're looking pretty good.

Avery has been quite the grouch lately. I think part of it is another growth spurt (as if she could get any bigger.) She can do a complete 180 with her mood, going from absolutely elated to entirely falling apart. Regardless, she can melt my heart with the tiniest crooked grin. I'll leave you with some of the latest shots that will melt your heart, too. Enjoy!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Daddy's home!

Chad is finally home from West Virginia! Hooray! Avery seemed excited to see him. She's been talking (babbling) up a storm. Since he's been away from her for a few days, he says that she seems so much bigger and older. At this stage in her life, it seems like she's doing something new and different every day. I don't want to miss anything.

The mommy club went to Chili's today after the walk in the park. It's almost embarrassing to ask for a table for such a large crowd. "Five adults and six children, please. I'm so sorry." We always have to apologize beforehand. We get lots of stares. At least we're brave enough to venture out now and then. Pretty soon we're only going to be able to frequent places like McDonald's. Heaven forbid.

I've been painting the bathroom while Chad has been out of town. It wasn't bad before. Just not my taste. It was standard issue white, but the previous owners added a wallpaper fence border around the chairrail height and birdhouse wallpaper around the top with stamped ivy around the door and window. Overkill. So I dragged out the can of paint we had intended to use in our study. We were going for Alabama Crimson. (I think the actual color name is Drumbeat Red.) We just got too busy to paint. One can definitely wouldn't have covered the entire study. It has barely covered the tiny little bathroom. It took about 7 coats. What was I thinking? At least I like the color. I need to hand the blinds back up so we can actually use the bathroom.

When I hinted to Chad that I had a surprise for him upon his return, he was afraid that either I was pregnant or I had called the Empire Today carpet people and had new flooring installed. Now which of those do you think would be the lesser of two evils? Yikes! Needless to say, he was relieved to know I had only painted a 4 x 6 room.

International Furniture Market is this week in High Point. It's my dad's big show for the new lines for the coming season. There are two big ones each year plus a pre-market for each one. He's also got a couple of smaller similar events that he preps for, but "Market" is definitely the best. Many of the residents of High Point, NC, move out of their homes during Market and rent them to furniture manufacturers for the week so all the reps can stay together somewhere more comfortable than a Motel 6. Anyway, the showroom is incredible. Dad's company, Fairfield Chair, has a showroom in the old historic post office. It is divided up so they can put their new designs on exhibit and let retailers come in and place orders for their store showrooms. Everything from the upholstery to the accessories to the paint on the walls is carefully chosen so the buyers can see how incredible all the furniture looks. I'm pretty proud of my dad. He works so hard and is so talented.

Mom is in High Point for the weekend to see Daddy and the new lines. And when the showrooms close each day, everyone ends up eating some great food and enjoying the market season nightlife. I think she enjoys catching up with all the reps' wives that she hasn't seen since the previous market, too! It's a mini-vacation for her.

No new pictures today. I'll download them all tomorrow now that we have the computer back. It's nice to be back!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Easy like Sunday morning

Is it really Sunday? Yesterday felt like Sunday all day long, so it made the weekend seem nice and long. We ended up getting plenty done—Chad mowed the yard between rain showers; We witnessed Jennifer Ezell and Chris Wilbeck’s wedding; We grocery shopped—the usual.

Avery is using her hands and feet so much now. She kicks her legs all the time, making her floor toys so much more fun now. She’s grabbing with her hands, too. She loves pulling my hair and pulling her dress up over her head. Exhibitionist.

We had our life group over to the house tonight. It’s a zoo, but we love spending time together. We had two new couples tonight, too. Both pregnant, of course. We wouldn’t have it any other way! Pretty soon, we’ll be able to have our own baseball team.

Chad hits the road for West Virginia tomorrow morning (very early.) His laptop is my window to the outside world when he gets home from work every evening, so I don’t know what I’ll do with myself while he’s gone. I may have to raid the Miller household and hijack their computer. Till then . . .

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Early start

We got off to an early start this morning. Out the door at 7 a.m. Chad was going to the men's breakfast at church (who can pass up anything prepared by Galen Foster?), so Avery and I teamed up with Sallie and Eli to hit yard sales.

Now when you decide to go to yard sales, you have to be in the right frame of mind. You must expect most of what you see to be pure junk that someone would just throw away if it doesn't sell. You've struck gold if you find a piece of furniture or a pair of stilettos. Sallie found a pair of end tables. I managed to score a dog house. Now Roxy and Major have a duplex!

Our Saturdays are usually dedicated to housework, yardwork and sports. I can't think of any games on television today, so it looks like we'll be working. Before Avery arrived, I thought I'd have plenty of time for cleaning. Boy was I crazy! Naptime, nursing, diaper changing, crying, and all the other baby-raising things disrupt and good housekeeping intentions. So we make Saturday the day to get everything done so we can pass Avery back and forth and help each other cross things off our lists.

Avery's schedule is getting a little more manageable. She's napping at about the same times each day and she isn't demanding to be fed as often. Despite the reduced frequency in feedings, she's growing like a weed! The child is over 12 lbs already. She is becoming a little lady, too. Her face is so animated and she's strong enough to hold her head up really well. She pays attention to our faces when we talk to her and she reacts to our voices and gestures with cooing and babble. However, she tends to coo and babble at the television, too. When we're watching sports, news, or sitcoms, she gets drawn in. We catch her stretching and craning her neck to get where she can see the TV set. This could be trouble!

The little munchkin is down for her nap, so I'd better take advantage of having two free hands. I leave you with a few pictures of her.

Fun time in the floor!
Avery is cooing at "Mom" Troup, Chad's grandmother.
Little Bit is napping in her swing.
Avery doesn't seem very happy with her Easter basket.

Hanging out with our buddy Brax Belville at church on Easter Sunday.
Isn't she a doll?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Just Getting Started

Well, I feel pretty behind. All my mommy friends have blogs, so I figured I should start one up, too. Without family in town, this seems to be the best way to keep everyone up to speed on Avery and what she does and looks like.

She's 12 weeks old now. Shocking. It's incredible how quickly time flies. I'm approaching the end of my maternity leave. It's somewhat bittersweet. I'm loving every minute of getting to know this precious little angel, but I'm eager to get back in the corporate world and make sure I still know how to use my brain. It seems almost as mushy as my midsection some days.

Prior commitments and bad weather have kept us out of the park this week. We've been trying to go every day to walk with the girlfriends and their babies. Last week, there were 6 mommies and 9 babies. We just have to laugh. It's such a blessing, though, that we all get to go through this together. Some days I couldn't do it without them.

So, I guess that's a good start to my first blog entry. I'll leave you with a picture of Avery and one of her boyfriends, Eli James Miller, at about 3 weeks old. More to come later . . .