Friday, December 30

Projects galore...

Josh and I went antique shopping yesterday.  We kept passing the Benbrook Antique Mall thinking, we should probably check that out sometime, and after two years we finally did.  Our mission consisted of two things; one: locating unique pieces of cobalt blue glass (for the collection inspired by my dad) and two: find antique picture frames to be refinished for the baby's room.

I was SO overwhelmed by how awesome this place was.  We've been to our fair share of antique stores and this one topped the cake.  The prices were a little high, but lucky for us we went right when they were having an end of the year sale.  We found several picture frames of varying sizes and textures all at really reasonable prices and splurged a bit {if you can call $29 a splurge} on an amazing mirror with shutters attached!  We also found three beautiful blue glass pieces to add to the collection.  I'd call the day a huge success.

Add to that, I was able to be out of bed all day waking around with little to no back pain!  We can thank my new chiropractor for that.  I've seen him twice now and he has really started working miracles on me.  It's amazing how out of whack my entire body was... I have a long way to go and am still experiencing back pain but I am thankful that at least now I'm able to get around!  I'll show that spondylosis who's boss yet!

Here are a few pictures of our treasures...  The picture frames are going to be hung on the wall above the dresser/changing table {which has still yet to be purchased} and will all be painted white!  I am SO excited to start this project!

Last night I was feeling artsy so I did a little water coloring.  That stuff is NOT as easy as it looks! Anyway, I came up with this little bird and hopefully it will be hung in one of the newly purchased frames! 

Tuesday, December 27

Sweet Love Birds

With the week off and no sign of any improvement in my back I've been bound to the house.  Let the projects begin!  Today I tackled the bird decoration from Pinterest.  I think it turned out quite well!!  Here's a few pictures from my endeavor.  

Friday, December 23

Everything BABY!

Yes, I am going a little crazy.  But to my credit I haven't had ANY time to browse the web and get excited about baby "stuff."  I'm taking full advantage of this break and trying to explore as much as possible! :)

During my browsing I've found some things that I want to keep in mind as we think about registering and furnishing baby M's nursery.  We've already finished painting the room {for the most part} and have the crib {thanks to my sweet Momma!} and crib mattress.  At this point we are at a standstill to do much more until we know if we're having a he or a she.  :)

Here is the bedding we've chosen.  Pink is clearly for a girl and blue for a boy.  

Baby M's nursery (minus the mattress).  I guess if we HAD to decide on a theme it would be soft and cheek with a touch of whimsy.  
{We will be adding two birds, either pink or blue, and a nest w/ eggs once we know the gender}

I've found a diaper bag that I'm semi in love with.  Still browsing so if any of you experienced mommas have any advice I'd love to hear your thoughts!  
Next week I'll be borrowing my sweet momma's sewing machine to work on a few Pinterest projects for the nursery.  Since we're going to be painting birds on the wall with the tree mural I wanted to get more birds to put on shelves as decor.  Saw these beauties and HAVE to have them! 

This will also be one of the first projects I work on when we find out the gender of baby M.  
{Hint on names... The letter will either be a pink C or a blue N}

There is so much more buzzing around in my busy little brain, but this will do for now.  :)  My next projects include organizing the nursery closet!  Josh is really looking forward to me tackling that job. 

Week 15

I've not been the best about maintaining a pregnancy journal, something I promised myself I'd do, so I thought, well, better late than never!  Baby M is the size of a navel orange this week and measures in at 4 inches long!

The pregnancy has been pretty incredible so far.  Yes, I've had my fair share of "morning" sickness.  Weeks 8-13 were the worst for feeling icky.  I believe the baby was trying to take it easy on me as a new teacher because I didn't start feeling ill until about 7:00 each night.  Once 7 hit I was down for the count.  Fortunately I was able to keep most of my meals down.

After I reached the second trimester it was as if someone waved the magical wand over me and suddenly my "morning" sickness was gone!  Now, exhaustion has been a whole different story!  Making a little human is quite a lot of work, add that to 12 hour work days, a new job and trying to maintain a social life and I was pretty much at my breaking point.  This Christmas break couldn't have come at a better time.

We decided early on that during the pregnancy we wanted to take a lot of pictures.  Documenting life is something I've always been passionate about.  Yes, some of you may say to the extreme at times {5,700+ photos on facebook} but with my terrible memory it has really helped me to remember some incredible, and yes, sometimes boring, times of my life.  :)  We've been pretty good at taking a weekly photo, minus week 12 (Josh was out of town the entire week!) and I can't wait to look back on the changes after our little one is here.

On Thanksgiving day, on our way back home from my sister-in-law's house, I felt our sweet little baby move for the first time.  Everyone tells me that it was way to early to be feeling anything but I know for sure that it was Peanut.  It felt like a tiny butterfly was stuck under my belly button and was just fluttering around for a moment.  The feeling stopped me in my tracks, I knew exactly what it was!  Since then baby M has graced me with some crazy flutters reminding me that he/she is still there.  This is BY FAR my favorite part of pregnancy.  It is such a beautiful reminder that there really is a little person growing inside of me!  One of my favorite moments this week was getting to see baby M moving around in our 15 week ultrasound.  Less than a month until we find out if we're having a he or a she!!!

Thursday, December 22

Baby Update

This has been quite the interesting week so far.  My first vacation in YEARS!  Having two weeks off for Christmas is such a wonderful blessing, and I decided to take full advantage of it.

Monday while getting out of bed I did something to my lower back.  I tried going through the day but it just continued to get worse, until I nearly feel outside of the Post Office in the pouring rain.  Tears budded up in my eyes as I grimaced in pain, as soon as I got to the car I had the doctor on the phone.  Our 15 week check up was scheduled for Tuesday but because of the intense pain they asked me to come in a day early. Josh took off work and drove me to our doctor where they let us hear the baby's heart rate (in the 150's) and he did an exam to make sure everything was okay.

We were relieved to hear that the baby was just fine and that the pain wasn't related.  If you remember reading my blog last year about a little health update, you'll recall the CT scan I had for abdominal pain which revealed a condition called spondylosis in my lumbar vertebrae.  I hadn't sought out physical therapy because I wasn't experiencing any pain in my lower back.  Now, as it turns out, they believe pregnancy has made the condition more prevalent.  I was ordered a few days of bed rest and some pain medicine.  Here it is, Thursday... I am still in bed and STILL having back pain and trouble walking.  No one wants to do X-Rays on a preggo lady so I'm stuck wondering what is wrong with my back and hoping that this bed rest does me some good.  It's extremely difficult to lay in bed when there is so much that needs to get done!  Especially the week before Christmas!  :)

On Wednesday we had the wonderful opportunity to have a sonogram done.  It was such a miracle to see our little active baby.  He / she measured in at 16 weeks, which is a little ahead of where we are now.  It was upside down and kicking and rolling over.  It even played with its umbilical cord.  I sat there with my eyes popped wide open and jaw hanging on the floor.  It was so amazing!!!  I could watch it all day long.  I was especially thrilled because my mom was able to be there!  She got to see the ultrasound first hand.  What a special moment!  Here are a few pictures from the appointment!   We go back in on January 18 (my birthday) to find out the sex of our little one!

Heart beat.  144bpm
 He/she is upside down, head on the bottom, spine on the left.
 Little hand on the left waving!
 Tiny foot at the top kicking away
 Sweet baby upside down again, if you look closely you can see eyes, nose and mouth!

Saturday, December 10

Christmas Letter 2011

Dearest family and friends,
As I sat down on our living room couch to begin writing this Christmas letter I’ve thought to myself about all of the events that have taken place over the past year.  
This year has held a lot of firsts for our family.  If I had to pick a theme for the year it would be change.  As you all know, last December my family went through a terrible, Earth shattering loss.  We lost my dad, Galen, on December 14th, 2010.  Our entire family has been taking advantage of these past several months as an attempt to put our broken lives back together.  There is no remedy for “getting over” something so tragic.  Not a day goes by that we do not think of him and miss him.  

A lot of this past year has been a blur.  You fall into routines and being able to wake up to a new day becomes a challenge on its own.  But I am so proud and thankful to say that I am part of a family of survivors.  Our faith in our Lord and the comfort He provides to us in our times of need has gotten us through some of the most unimaginable circumstances and for that, I am eternally grateful.  
Here is a quick recap of some of the wonderful events that happened in the life of our family in 2011.  
I turned 25 in January, my first birthday without Dad.  Friends and family came together to make it one of the most special days I’ve ever had.  It was an outpouring of love, support and comfort that I am very blessed to have experienced.  A quarter of a century lived!  What an amazing blessing.   
In February Josh and I took a weekend trip to Austin.  We were able to spend some quality time with our Aunt and Uncle and really enjoyed the get away.  February also marked the time where I began going to counseling.  I visited a group here in town called the Warm Place.  I attended 8 weeks of sessions with people in my age group who had all suffered the loss of a loved one.  It was a really tough time for me but after it was all said and done I felt as if I had made some big strides in coping with my grief.  
When May rolled around we had a lot of celebrations.  Athena turned 15, Melanie turned 26 and Mom celebrated her 49th birthday!  In the midst of all of that we also celebrated Mother’s Day.  It was a month filled with celebrations and love shared between our family

        Over the past several years we have both been very fortunate in avoiding any accidents on the road.  June rolled around and I decided to break that streak.  I was in a small accident leaving our home one evening.  My car was totaled in the process and I spent about 5 hours in the emergency room.  I was not seriously injured, thank the Lord.  After the accident we had to go out and find a new car.  I sure do miss my Escape but am really enjoying some of the perks of this newer Edge. 

     I also traveled with my family to Pittsburgh, PA for the first time in over a decade!  It was such a wonderful experience to see my family again.  We celebrated the union of my beautiful cousin Jessica to her new husband David.  The trip was such a wonderful break from reality.  
     One of the biggest changes took place in July.  I left my job at THG and started on the path of pursuing my dream to become a teacher.  During the month of July I attended an alternative certification program where I obtained my probationary teaching certificate.  After graduating we traveled down to Destin to spend a long weekend on the beach with the Morgans.  The sun and great company were a welcomed relief to the long days we had both been having.  We really enjoyed our time with family!
After vacation, I searched for interviews and teaching opportunities to no avail.  It seemed hopeless and I was feeling very down on myself.  But through constant prayer and a strong faith, I knew the Lord would provide an opportunity for Josh and me.  I began substitute teaching in September and worked at different elementary schools nearly daily for over a month.  During that time period I had four interviews; all of which went really well.  I had begun a long-term substitute assignment for kindergarten just as I was offered a full time teaching job.  As of October 31st, I am now the newest fourth grade teacher at Jackie Carden Elementary School.  This job has had some serious ups and downs but at the end of the day I am thankful and happy to be doing what I was created to do.  The Lord IS faithful and provides for His children.  We couldn’t be happier! 
Josh turned 28 in September and this year we celebrated with a party at our home.  We had friends and family come over for a cook out and played games outside in the beautiful weather.  Any time our loved ones can all come together for a common purpose is a great time! 

October brought another little blessing about to our little family of two.  After an afternoon of antique shopping with Josh I came home and took a pregnancy test.  To our surprise we saw two VERY strong pink lines.  We were completely awestruck at the news!  We waited just under a month to tell our family and friends, which by the way was one of the hardest things we’ve ever done!  We are now 14 weeks and will be going in to find out the gender on my birthday in January.  Neither of us are hoping for one or the other, just a healthy and happy baby.  I joined the ranks of my beautiful sister, Melanie as she is pregnant with their second and is expecting at the beginning of March.  Their son, Matthew just celebrated his first birthday in October!  Our little family is growing so quickly we just don’t know what to do with ourselves!  It will be exciting to watch our children grow up together. 

Thanksgiving was spent with friends and family eating way too much food.  This year was held at our sister, Jamie’s house.  They had family from both sides over and it was quite the turn out!  We were so excited to learn that she, too, was expecting!  Our parents, Marsha and Steve, are going to be having quite a busy year next year as they become grandparents for the first time with both of their children having babies in the span of two months!  
It is incredible to think of what a year can hold;  tragedy, loss, trials, hardships, new opportunities, life and the strengthening of families.  Josh and I are so very thankful for the families that we have.  Although we miss Dad every moment we know that he is in a much better place getting to enjoy the presence of his Heavenly Father and for that I am envious.  We are really looking forward to what this next year holds for our little family; I’ll finish my first year of teaching and we will become parents!  This little bundle of joy is one of the best things that has ever happened to us and I thank the Lord every day for the opportunity to be trusted to bring a person into the world. 
We hope this letter finds you in good health and spirits as you take the time to enjoy what has come and what is yet to come.  Christmas is a perfect time of year to reflect on and embrace those things in life that we sometimes take for granted.  We love and miss each and every one of you and hope that your year was just as busy and filled with love and family as ours was.  
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
With all of our love,
Josh and Nicki 

Thursday, November 24


It's that time of year again.  Thanksgiving has rolled around and this morning I lay in bed thinking about this past year and all of the events it held.  It's slightly overwhelming to think of the vast variety of huge, life-altering events that have happened over the past year.  There are so many things to be thankful for and yet, at moments, I find it very difficult to find that thankful spirit within me.

This time last year I was typing up a blog about all of the things I was thankful for.  Smiling and filled with excitement at the previous year and the upcoming one as well.  This year I can find many things to add to my list but there is still one event that bogs it all down.

Losing my dad was and is the hardest thing I've ever had to experience in my life.  There isn't a day that goes by where I don't think about and miss him.  Some days are better than others, and most days I'm finding genuine happiness, but there are those select days that just seem to weigh my spirit down.  I was in bed last night thinking about the Thanksgiving feasts we have planned for today.  My mind went back to last year, the whole family wrapped around the dining room table.  Dad perched comfortably in his seat at the head of the table with the rest of the family surrounding him.  We ate and ate, talked about our lives and all of the things we were thankful for.  He had this way about him.  He'd just sit there quietly, knowingly and listen.  With a glass of tea or a cup of coffee in his hand he'd sit back and watch each person as they discussed those things in their lives they were so abundantly thankful for.  I think it was always one of his proudest moments.  One of the few times we were all at a dining room table together.  He mentioned being thankful for his new grandson, for his growing family and all of the comforts the Lord had blessed us with.  He was never selfish in his thanks, it was always directed to his Heavenly Father and he was so eloquent with his words.  I got to sit to my dad's right, and during the prayer I cherished holding his strong, warm hand in mine.  I've always prided myself on being so much like my dad.  Followed in his traditions as I became an adult, adopted his mottos and good habits.  Today, as I think about all of the things in my life that I am thankful for it reminds me of him.  His constant urging for us to remember why we celebrated the holidays, why it is that we took time off work/school to spend time with family.  With Dad, there was always a reason for everything.

So today, I sit here, wanting to uphold the tradition.  What am I thankful for?  It's a question that has been gnawing at my heart.  Typically I'd make a list and elaborate on each item, but this year I think it is enough just to get them down.

First and foremost, I thank my Lord for watching over my family over this past year.  For providing us with comfort, friends, and family in a time of desperate need.  He is a faithful God and it is my absolute honor to be called his child.

This year held so much... Here are a few of the things I am thankful for:

  • The freedom to love my Lord so freely, to worship in public and not be persecuted for it.

  • My husband who is the most selfless man I've ever known, constantly encouraging me through my crazy adventures, pushing me to be the best I can be and loving me even in my darkest of moments.  

  • This life that grows inside of me.  This baby is a miracle.  God has chosen Josh and I to be parents to a child and the feeling of being pregnant is one I never imagined.  It is overwhelmingly wonderful to know that in a few short months our family will go from two to three.  What a wonderful and incredible blessing.

  • My family - having them close, healthy and growing.

  • Friends.  Without them I'd be lost.

  • A job... If you've followed my blog at all you'll know how thankful we are for a full time teaching job in this economy.  

  • Food, shelter, clothing and modern comforts that I typically take for granted.

  • Life.  I see now how fragile life is.  How easily it can be taken away, because of that I have learned to appreciate every moment, every breath and every hug.  

To all of our family, friends and loved ones, we wish you a very happy Thanksgiving.  May your day be filled with family and love... And if you remember, tell someone you care about that you are thankful for them.  Hold your families tightly today, hug them all a little tighter.

To my daddy, I am thankful most today to be your daughter.  Though you aren't here physically for me to hug or hold your hand during prayer, I know you are watching.  Those big brown eyes filling with tears of pride as you watch your family from Heaven.  We miss you, we love you... And I am so very thankful for the almost 49 years you blessed this world with your life.

Tuesday, November 1

Life's Little Blessings

I can't believe how long it has been since my last post!   Life has been so full we're simply bursting at the seems.  Here's a few updates. :)

Teaching has completely transformed my life.  Being a substitute definitely has its ups and downs.  A huge perk of subbing is that I got to step foot in several different teacher's classrooms, was exposed to several grades/ages and learned a TON.  The hardest part was definitely the fact that I wasn't able to form the relationships with staff and students that I had so desperately been wanting.  It's difficult to be wearing someone else's shoes day in and day out in their room with their kids.  A HUGE blessing came about two weeks ago.  I was presented the opportunity to interview for a fourth grade position in a classroom that had recently lost their teacher.  I was the substitute for this class prior to the interview and just continued to pray that God would lead me in the direction He desired.  After months of prayers, four interviews in two different districts and what seemed like hundreds of classrooms the Lord blessed me with the full time teaching job!!  My first day was Monday... It has been a whirlwind of a school year and I can only imagine what the next several months will be like.  Thank you all for your continued prayers and support!

Here are a few pictures from our crazy, busy lives these past two months. :)

Angie's birthday celebration.  Just missing Kristi!

Mom's house went on the market... Bittersweet.

Josh's 28th birthday, before Texas de Brazil.  Yumm!

Matty's 1st Birthday!  The cutest baby ever!!

Halloween with the sweetest little bear

And a little fun surprise....

That's right!  We are having a BABY!!!!!!!!  

We've had so much fun telling friends and family the big news.  One afternoon after school Josh and I went to visit his parents.  We had purchased a little frame with the word "Baby"on it and printed the following poem to be framed inside:

I do not have a face to see,
Or put inside a frame.
I do not have soft cheeks to kiss,
I don't yet have a name.
You can't yet hold my tiny hands,
Nor whisper in my ear.
It's still too soon to sing a song,
Or cuddle me so near.
But all will change come June,
That's when the say I'm due.
I'm your new grandson or granddaughter,
I can't wait till I meet you.
All I ask between now and then,
Is your patience while I grow.
I promise I'll be worth the wait,
Because of all the love we'll know.
So what I have to give you now,
is a wish to you from me.
I cannot wait to be a part
Of this wonderful family.

Steve and Marsha are thrilled to be grandparents!  This will be their first grandchild! 

Telling my family was really fun.  As most of you know we are big Settlers of Catan players.  With both sets of grandparents in for Matty's birthday party we took advantage of their presence and played a game.  During the game I played a "development card" that we had made prior to their arrival and yelled out, "I win!"  Athena refused to acknowledge the win because she knew I only had four points (you need 10 to win) but I insisted she look closely at the card.  She read it aloud, "We're having a baby!" then looked over at my mom who's jaw had dropped to the ground.  Mom mustered out the word, "REALLY?!" several times as I nodded my head and held back tears of joy.  

We've really had so much fun breaking the news to people and are elated that we can finally share it with everyone.  We are a little over 8 weeks and our little peanut is due sometime around June 12, 2012.  Just in time for my first summer vacation as a teacher!  We had our first sonogram on Tuesday October 25th and got to see our little bean's heartbeat.  It was so incredible and emotional.  I just laid there on the table, eyes locked on the monitor as they filled up with tears of excitement.
I have been utterly exhausted (which is why the updates are so far and few between) and pretty sick.  Luckily I'm able to keep all of my food down but the nausea doesn't seem to want to lay off.  Really looking forward to the second trimester. :)  We've been taking weekly pictures to document our sweet peanut's growth, at the end of my pregnancy it will be fun to put them together and see how much my belly grew.  I hope you'll check back for some more frequent updates!  We are so excited and happy to be able to share this with all of you.  Here's to a healthy and happy pregnancy!  :)

5 Weeks

6 Weeks

7 Weeks

8 Weeks