Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Recap and a Baby Bump

We had a great time over Christmas this year hanging out with family! Our tradition since getting married has been some version of the following: sometime the week preceding Christmas, most years the day before Christmas Eve, we hop in the car with Taylor's parents and brother (and now almost sister-in-law, Caroline!) and head down to Kentwood, Louisiana, where Taylor's maternal grandparents live. His grandmother is a wonderful cook, and they have a HUGE garden where they get a lot of their vegetables and produce. We have great time visiting with the Stevens side of his family. Christmas Eve is back in Jackson, with the Christmas Eve service and a yummy gumbo dinner. My parents never really had a specific Christmas Eve tradition, so we all go to church together and then head to the Sledges along with Taylor's other grandparents for that delicious gumbo. Christmas Day we alternate each year who whose house we go to first, and we basically split the day after that.
This year was slightly different on Christmas Day because it was a Sunday. I've got to say that I absolutely loved the opportunity for corporate worship on Christmas Day! It was neat to see all my sweet church friends first thing that morning, and to sing in the choir on Christmas Day. Taylor and I woke up a little early, checked out our stockings to see what Santa had brought us, and then headed down to First Baptist. After a great service, it was back to the Sledges for traditional Christmas lunch and presents!

Here is a sweet pic of Lisa and her boys:

And Mark with his parents, CB and Evelyn:
Baby Sledge's first sleeper! I love that it has guitars on it. I hope he will inherit mine and Taylor's love of music!
After lunch it was on to my parents house for more hanging out with the fam....and more eating!
Our niece Dorothy loved her fairy princess Barbie:
My brother with Anna and Catie:
Dad "assuming the position" as we like to call it. After lunch he plops down in this chair and pretty much doesn't move until he goes to bed. Love it.
There's Angie in the corner and that's me with what Olivia got for Christmas!! Penny Gig the guinea pig. Bless her little heart, every time we got her out of the cage she basically froze, not moving a muscle. She might twitch a little whisker or two, but that was about it. I'll bet she has warmed up to people by now though.
Olivia, me, and Penny Gig :)
She found a warm spot on Carter's chest:
And now, for what you've all been waiting for....(ha!) the BUMP!
This is at a couple days short of 19 weeks. I am so thankful to be feeling well, and--a huge milestone--I finally felt sweet baby boy moving around in there a couple of days ago! I've felt him two or three times a day since then. It's so funny--he seems to like, or at least respond ,to the sound of the drill! As in, the one I use all day long! Maybe he will be a dentist one day like his mama. ;)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Back for Christmas!

Well, kids, I'm back! I took a bit of a blogging hiatus for several reasons, which I will discuss, but the main one was--if I were blogging constantly, I knew there was no way I would be able to keep my mouth shut that we are expecting a baby in May!!! We are so thrilled, blessed, and thankful beyond anything we have experienced before as a couple. We found out shortly after my last post that we were pregnant, and as you can imagine, thoughts of this new little life have been pretty much at the forefront of our minds most of the time since then. It seemed almost futile to me to try to blog--I didn't know if I'd even have anything to say, considering I was busting at the seams with THE thing I really wanted to say! Anyway--after we reached the end of the first trimester--ok let's be honest, I let it slip a little before then. It was my fault, I'll admit it. We both started telling a few close friends (a policy I instigated) when I was around 10 weeks along, and before we knew it, I walked into the bank one day and it seemed that the whole town knew! Ha! It was honestly a relief though--we were about to bust!

Our lives have been a whirlwind since I posted in September--we have been to many football games in Oxford, family gatherings, trips to Huntington Beach, California, for Taylor's business and New York City for our "babymoon". I was in our church's Christmas program, Carols by Candlelight, and sang Mary's song, "Breath of Heaven." We had a family picture session with the Sledges with a professional photographer, since we are expecting and Taylor's brother, Travis, recently got engaged!! We can't wait for Caroline to officially be a part of the family! We had a Christmas open house at my new office, and our annual cookie swap party at our house with college friends. Taylor has been busy with work and I have been just as busy--overwhelmed, really--with my work. That combined with pregnancy tiredness and nausea left me unable to function after about 5 pm every day--hence my lack of blogging. I would joke with Taylor that my brain went into shutdown mode on my way home from work. Our office transferred to a new location just recently, which was a pretty stressful process, but which has been absolutely wonderful. We've been practicing there for about three weeks, and we love it. Dad had been in his old building for almost 30 years! It was a great spot for him all those years, but with my joining the practice we had outgrown it--we simply needed more space. I will post more later about that process and share some pictures of our new, spa-like locale! It was the first thing I have ever decorated myself, and it has really given me a lot of confidence for decorating the nursery! Be looking for lots of pics soon from all those events--I want to do a few recaps.

I am now on into the second trimester (almost 19 weeks along), and am feeling much more energy! About a week and a half ago, we found out that this precious new baby is a little BOY!!! We are so excited. I am fully prepared for all things blue, plus tractors and trucks and trains--snakes, snails, and puppy dog tails--isn't that how the little rhyme goes? It was so funny, because for some reason we were both just convinced it was a girl! I'm not sure why--we just were. We truly had no preference whatsoever though--so it was such a fun surprise when the sonographer showed us what she saw! One of the purest joys I have experienced was seeing the look on Taylor's face and listening to his yells of excitement as he immediately must have seen visions of little boots and overalls and a little man in diapers to take hunting with him! His first comment when we left the appointment: "Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. I think I'm going to buy him a rifle--today!" Ha!

That night we had a gender reveal party for family and a few close friends. It was SO hard all day not to tell our families the news. Especially since I work with my dad all day long! I tried to avoid him as much as possible. Although I will say--he didn't pressure me one bit, which I really appreciated! He just wanted to know if the baby was healthy.

Here is a picture of the proud parents from the night of the gender reveal:

And one of my favorites from the night--everyone holding up their cupcakes in anticipation. And this is what I just love--my best friend, Emily, lives in Nashville and wasn't able to be there--so we Skyped her in!!! That's her sister, Natalie, holding my iPad. Emily's face here cracks me up! Thank you, Lord, for modern technology!

Blue icing!!!
Taylor's parents after taking a bite of their cupcake. Such a sweet picture!
And us with all of the proud and excited grandparents!

We feel so blessed and excited that this little boy is coming into such an environment of love and anticipation! My prayer life has really been strengthened since we found out we were expecting--I pray for those 10 little fingers and 10 little toes, plus a million other things, multiple times a day! I just can't wait to meet him!

Well, I am off to the grocery store to start my afternoon of cooking for tomorrow! I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas, and that you and I both spend lots of time reflecting on the reason for our celebrating this weekend--the fact that the King came to earth in the form of a little baby boy, and that he grew up to be the Savior of this world. I am so very thankful for all my blessings this season, especially that most important one!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Midweek Music

Yesterday afternoon, Taylor and I took off work a little early, hopped in the truck, and headed up the road to our favorite spot for a fun concert. Oxford was bustling, as usual, and there was a great crowd at the Pat Green show at the Lyric Theater! Taylor had bought the tickets a couple of months back and asked if I minded heading up to Oxford midweek. Easy answer for that one!

Our friends Kim and B.C. also came to the concert and stayed with us. We went for an early dinner at Snackbar beforehand--YUM! I wish I had taken some pics. One of the best things about John Currence's restaurants in Oxford (City Grocery, Snackbar, Boure, and Big Bad Breakfast), is that many of the meats these four use are prepared in his local smokehouse. We got a charcuterie tasting plate for the table that was delish! (Y'all please excuse my foodie indulgences with these paragraphs every so often--I can't help getting excited about truly great food!)

Here is a pic of me with my hot date!

And one of Pat Green wailing away on "Wave on Wave":

We woke up early this morning to make in back home in time for work. That made for a pretty long day--I am pretty worn out after a busy day at the office--but it was totally worth it! I love being able to take fun little random road trips like that together--I look at them as an investment in our marriage and in both of our psyches!

In other news--in the last few weeks we've had some fun activities. I went down to Gulf Shores for a dear friend's bachelorette party...during a tropical storm, no less! That is commitment, people! We ended up inside the condo most of the time (praying not to be blown away!) catching up and watching movies and eating yummy snacks--can't beat that.

We also just started, as of last week, as sponsors for our church's senior high youth choir. We are both REALLY excited about this! I had such a positive experience in that same choir growing up, and would love to help other kids do the same, and Taylor really has a heart for ministry with high school kids. He was very involved in YoungLife in high school and served as a YoungLife leader all through college. We are prayerful and excited about this opportunity!

Right now we are hanging out watching the LSU/Mississippi State game, so I'd better go pay attention! As you know, we are both Ole Miss fans--I am pulling for MSU in this one, and Taylor is pulling for the Tigers. May the best team win!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Dog Days of Summer

I can't believe it has been over a month since I posted! I'm afraid I don't have too terribly much to report. These summer days have seemed to drag along and fly by, all at once. It sure has been a HOT one, too! Good grief! I always have to make sure to check the forecast each morning before I leave--if the heat index is going to be over 100, I leave my poor pups inside. I just can't bear to think about them being outside in that kind of heat! They have a shaded area to lie in, and plenty of fresh water, but I am a worrywort and am always afraid they will get some kind of heat stroke or something! Taylor thinks I am going to be a crazy person when we have kids, since I am this protective of the dogs!

This morning Olivia, my sister's youngest child, was baptized. It was a really special time for my family. Lee, my brother-in-law (Olivia's dad) was able to baptize her because he is on staff at our church. It is so sweet and tender to see a father baptize his daughter like that, and even more so when they are a part of your family. We had a family lunch after that at Newks, and I ran into my beloved 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Polk--who informed me that I have been way too slow lately posting on this blog! I guess you just never know who might be reading!

A couple of weeks back we had a little "family reunion", as my cousin Kaleb took to calling it, down at my parents' new deer camp. There was fishing, ice-cream making, burger grilling, story-telling--the works.

A pic of the cabin:

And my uncle Rip. I love this picture of him! He's such a character.

Dorothy, my brother's youngest, after her fill of the slip'n'slide:

Goooood stick:

Olivia baiting her hook. Those poor fish didn't know what was coming.

Mom and Angie hanging out in the kitchen:

Rip explaining how to make that homemade ice cream just right. And he sure knows the secret....that stuff was delicious!

Cousins! Kaleb and Anna:

Doc taking a joyride with Kaleb, Anna, and Catie:

Kyle modeling for me while I figure out some camera settings. I told him J Crew and Calvin Klein will be calling soon!

Our cousin Buddy, doing what he does best--sitting on a front porch and telling us all how it is! We love when Buddy comes to town!

Dad and me:

Taylor being crazy in the kitchen:

And the brothers together--Dad and Rip, or as they call themselves sometimes, Mutt and Jeff!

And a few pics of my fur-babies!

Sleepytime!

As I write this, that little guy is literally snoring next to me on the couch! He's like a small, furry old man. Ha!

Last week my parents were on a well-deserved vacation to Montana with some friends--and since my dad and my business partner are one and the same--I was the head honcho at the office last week by myself for the first time! It was fun to continue learning the ropes of the business in that setting. We have some wonderful employees who made it a breeze, and fun too!

And speaking of work--I don't think I have mentioned it yet on the blog--but we are in the process of building out a new office space, and plan to be moving in early November! That's part of the reason I haven't posted much lately. I have been pretty overwhelmed with all of the decision making involved in that process, to be honest. I get home every night and pretty much either plop down and rest the rest of the evening, or clean house until time to go to bed. Pretty boring, huh? I am so thankful and excited about our new office, but it just absolutely fries my brain to be constantly making decisions about paint colors, flooring options, lighting layouts, and wall heights. I am a science girl, not a design one--and that has been made all the more clear to me over the last few weeks! Sometimes I wish I could close my eyes and *poof* it would be done! Anybody got some ruby red slippers I can borrow?

I try not to talk too much business on this blog, partly because the nature of what I do is confidential (my patients' privacy is of utmost importance to me, not to mention protected by HIPPA laws!), and partly because this blog is really intended to be more of a personal chronicle, not a business one. But because I'm now a small business owner, and being a dentist is a big part of who I am--it's hard to separate the two sometimes! So I definitely plan to talk a little about our color and decor choices for the new office. I feel like that is a way to include that part of myself on this blog in a positive way.

Yay!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Holy Land: Arrival

So it has been about a week and a half since we returned from Israel, and I have gotten back into the swing of things. However, I am happy to say that it is a "swing" with a renewed perspective and a refreshed attitude. I have meant for the last several days now to post the recaps of our first two days in Israel (since we did not have Internet there til the 3rd day-how appropriate, a 3rd day reference!). So, here it is, albeit a little late! This first entry is straight out of my journal from that first day:

As I write this, I am looking out over the sunrise on the Sea of Galilee. Our flight into Tel Aviv yesterday was uneventful, thankfully. We arrived as well rested as one can be from an overnight 12 hour flight, and hopped on a bus as a group with our driver, Nazih, and our tour guide, Rami. Rami is a Palestinian Christian (there aren't many of those-about 2% according to Rami) and Nazih is a Druze-a religion that is a mixture of beliefs, borrowing from several major religions.

Tel Aviv is a busy metropolitan center, with high rises, lots of people, and interstates-or I guess they would be called freeways here-that sprawl in every direction and make "stacks" like the one we have in Jackson. There are giant ads on the sides of buildings like in New York City (and in case you were wondering, that Harry Potter kid is popular EVERYWHERE. J.K. Rowling, you are a genius).

Once we rolled out of the city, the landscape began to change-from high rises and palm trees to abrupt hills and valleys. If you can imagine the topography of a place like Idaho, or parts of Montana even, but with a totally different soil and feel. The soil and hills are very rocky, with dried up grasses peeking out between the rocks. There are plenty of trees, but it looks almost unnatural for the lack of underbrush. Some trees are short and and their branches form shapes that are sort of "poofy", while some are tall and skinny and rise like spires toward the sky. Someone mentions that many of the trees are olive, and some are lemon.

We pass a sign that says Nazareth <-- , Tiberias -->. (You've gotta me kidding me?! Is this for real??). We come up on the Sea of Galilee just after sunset and arrive at our hotel, called Golan Hotel, which overlooks the Sea-which is actually a lake, FYI.

Today we are headed off to Cana and the River Jordan, among other places!

Here is a picture of that first sunrise on the Sea of Galilee:

So those were my reflections on those first few hours in the Holy Land!

The Holy Land, Day 1

We started our first full day in Israel with a visit to Cana, the little town where Jesus performed his very first miracle. You will see from this picture that even important sites like this are not immune from tourist traps!

This is the Catholic church built over the site where the miracle is believed to have taken place....of course, there is another church, Greek Orthodox, DIRECTLY across the street, that claims the same thing!! As I've mentioned before, its not the exact spot that matters to me-I just know that it happened! We do know for sure though that a majority of scholars believe this is the small village where it happened.

From John 2: "On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."

With Ron and Kathy's leadership, the married couples in our group decided to take this opportunity to renew their wedding vows (we were at the place where the wedding miracle took place, after all). Taylor and I have been married for 3 years, and Taylor, being his usual jovial self, said at first that he wasn't sure if we needed to renew because ours were still pretty fresh. Ha! But then he figured-how many times does a couple have the chance to do that, in Cana, no less! So we jumped right in.

Our sweet friend Todd snapped a pic of us renewing our vows:

So of course I have to give a shout-out: Taylor, I love you and am so happy I am married to you!

Here is a picture of the inside of the church at Cana:

And this is VERY cool: below is a picture of a stone jar, like the ones described in the New Testament, that dates back to the time of Jesus. This would have been the exact type of jar that would have held the water at the wedding, before Jesus turned it to wine.
"Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast." So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now." This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him." :

Next we headed to the local Baptist church in Nazareth for worship.

The church members there, despite our language barrier, were kind and welcoming. They had invited us to sing for their service, and we were happy to oblige! One of the coolest things about it to me was singing some of the praise choruses, with all the voices rising up in a beautiful collision of English and Arabic. Some of the choruses were only in Arabic, and let me tell y'all, it was pretty funny to hear all those Mississippi accents singing those Arabic words!

Next it was on to the Church of the Anunciation, which is built over the house that is believed to have been Mary's at the time the angel appeared to her and told her she would have a child:

These are the beautiful doors of the church, depicting Bible stories, and our guide Rami standing in front giving one of his excellent explanations:

Here is Taylor and me with the cave that was Mary's home in the background:

Next Rami led us through the winding streets of Nazareth to a local falafel and schwarma restaurant-yum! I had to snap a pic of my Arabic Coke Zero!

Then it was back on the bus for a drive to the Mediterranean coast, to the ruins of Caesarea Maritima, a port city built by Herod the Great around 20 B.C.

The city was a center of trade, culture, and the arts. Below are the restructured ruins of the amphitheater that existed at that time. The bottom row of seats is original to Herod's theater. It has been restored today and is currently used as a venue for concerts and shows.

Lizzie and me resting atop one of the ancient columns:

Our whole group in front of the Mediterranean Sea:

Taylor and me:

And our last stop of the day was Mount Carmel, mentioned in the Bible in 1 Kings 18:
"So Ahab sent a message among all the sons of Israel and brought the prophets together at Mount Carmel. Elijah came near to all the people and said, "How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him." But the people did not answer him a word. Then Elijah said to the people, "I alone am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men....Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, He is God." And all the people said, "That is a good idea."
At the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet came near and said, "O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at Your word. "Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again." Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, "The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God." (1 Kings 18:20-24, 36-39 NASB)

Here is the view from atop Mount Carmel, looking over the Jezreel Valley

In case you are not familiar with the Jezreel Valley, here is a little info from Wikipedia: "According to the Bible, the valley was the scene of a victory by the Israelites, led by Gideon, against the Midianites, the Amalekiltes, and the Children of the East, but was later the location at which the Israelites, led by King Saul, were defeated by the Philistines. In Christian eschatology, the part of the valley on which the Battle of Megiddo was fought is believed to be destined to be the site of the penultimate battle between good and evil (the final battle taking place 1,000 years later in Jerusalem), known as Armageddon (a word derived from Megiddo)."

A pretty happenin' place if you ask me!

After packing all that in, we were worn slap out. It was back to our hotel on the Sea of Galilee for a filling dinner and STRAIGHT to bed for this girl-we had another big day ahead!