Saturday, April 26, 2014

24 Weeks

Pregnancy Highlights:

How Far Along: 24 weeks. Yes that is a pregnant belly selfie in an airport bathroom. And no, there was no one else around. I do have some sense of decorum. 

Size of baby: He weighs around 1.5 lbs and is around 8.5 inches long. The size of an ear of corn. A little too skinny for my tastes. I'm ready for those chunky thigh rolls to start developing! I mean come on, there's nothing better than a thigh roll on a chunky, cuddly little baby.  Wouldn't you agree? (By the way--how awesome would it be if people still felt that way about adults? Ha!)

Total Weight Gain/Loss: around 15 lbs. I haven't gained any in the last week. It seems to go in spurts. Once I get to/past the 20 lb mark, and I'm sure I probably will--I may not post it anymore for the world to see! Y'all will be able to tell quite easily by looking at the pic that I am eating plenty and not depriving this baby. Ha! I know weight gain is a good and healthy thing during pregnancy but it is still hard sometimes to keep seeing that number climb! Anytime I think about that though, I just think about how thankful I am for a healthy baby. Any weight gained is more than worth it, and will come off eventually. 

Maternity Clothes: Oh yes. Still embracing the maternity pants with reckless abandon. I am hoping to do a little shopping this week for some tops since we are on the way to...wait for it...New York City! I am pumped.

Gender: a sweet baby BOY! Amos Jackson Sledge

Movement: lots!! 

Sleep: had my first leg cramps of this pregnancy this week, around 2 am one morning. And lots of vivid dreams. As I was trying not to scream in the midst of the extremely sudden, extremely intense cramp, I think I was making all kinds of wheezing noises. A very asleep Taylor leaned over and said "Catherine!! Get yourself together!" Ha. I told him the next morning that he needs to work on his level of compassion while sleep talking! 

What I miss: bending over easily when sitting down. Those days are gone for a while! 

Cravings: still sno cones and Popsicles. This week I went for coconut again, this time with raspberry colada. Smelled like the beach! 

Symptoms: Leg cramps, vivid dreams. And a couple mild headaches. Also had a good bit of round ligament pain this week. 

Best moment this week: Amos' all day long movement on Easter Sunday. He started up with the organ music when I was in the choir loft that morning and didn't stop all day! 

Prayer request for baby Amos: this week I will just ask for prayers for health and proper development as this sweet boy grows! 

And just as an aside-obviously we are going through some airports this weekend--may I just say how much I love them? Maybe I am strange--but I always have. Maybe it's because I am in them just often enough to feel very comfortable there, but not so often as to get sick of them. I think the movie Love Actually also inspired me somewhat towards a fondness for them. If you've seen the opening and closing scenes of that movie, you will know what I mean. Have you ever had a moment when you finally saw that long awaited person stepping off the airplane? Airports are the scenes of many happy reunions, tearful goodbyes, and important moments in great love stories. Friends and lovers are separated and reunited. Soldiers come home to their families. And hey--sometimes for a tired mama, they are just a place to prop your feet up for a few extra minutes and read or listen to music. I particularly love the Atlanta airport. 

How about you? Do you like airports or are they just a means to an end? I hope if you do any traveling this spring you will have at least one happy reunion! 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Baby Brain

Here is an excerpt from an article I read recently:

"Most of us will admit to feeling a bit more scatterbrained while the miracle of life blossoms in our womb. We forget things here and there. No big deal, right? Let us be the ones to welcome you to the baby-brain club. The club where an ease into sleep deprivation and not being on the ball, or even knowing where the ball is, are your new normal right alongside spider veins, stretch marks, and sore boobs. Baby-brain won’t cause long-term cerebral damage, but it will occasionally make you want to commit yourself.
...As a novice to this club, your first assignment is to write out in multiple [sticky notes], in huge letters, ‘you are not crazy’ and begin decorating your house, your car, your office, and even your partner with these and other little reminders to help navigate your day. Why? Well, there are reasons why a pregnant woman might be on the forgetful side, apart from the fact that everything that goes into making a baby can mentally and physically bankrupt you.  
There’s a lot of pressure for women to feel like they can handle pregnancy with super-human grace and poise with perfectly packaged bumps, flowing hair and a glowing complexion. Donning our Superwoman persona and cape, we juggle pregnancy, careers, possibly other children, spouses, family, social engagements, fitness, and other exhausting ambitions. All the while, we have less energy, are sleeping less, battling pants, socks, and shoes with a growing midsection, and we’re less alert, always hungry, probably nauseous, and just want to curl up on the sofa with a bag of popcorn, some ice cream, and nap in front of a movie until baby arrives."

     So...what they are indicating here is that if I may, or may not, have gotten halfway into the car (because yes, getting into the car is now a process) on Easter Sunday morning before I realized I was wearing neither shoes nor underwear, I should not be alarmed.  I'm not saying that that actually happened.  But if it did, I shouldn't be concerned.  Right?
Here is a link to the full article in case you find yourself in the same predicament and need somebody, anybody, to help you feel a little better about it.
And here, just for fun, are some more pics from the last few days: 
T.Mark's first Easter egg hunt! A sweet couple from our church put this on for church members, friends, and anyone else who wanted to come! There must have been close to 200 people there:
And yes, his shoes are on the wrong feet. He had just gotten off the trampoline and I had put them back on a few minutes before. Try not to judge me. What's the title of this post again? Thankfully a mom without baby brain pointed it out to me before my poor child walked all over creation with shoes on the wrong feet!

 Wish I could describe this sweet little moment for you because the picture does not do it total justice.  But it comes close:

Listening to the real Easter story being told by a bunny and a giant chicken (my wonderful friend Ali!): 

And here are a few from Emily's lakehouse, where T.Mark and I got to hang out all day on Saturday:

T.Mark with Nat and Em:

And last but not least, another picture from before we left the house Saturday. T.Mark had gone into the front part of the house about 30 seconds before I did (I was in the back getting ready) when I realized that I had knocked a black ink pen off the kitchen counter a few minutes earlier. My hands were full, and let's face it, bending over right now with empty hands is getting difficult. So I thought to myself, "I'll pick that up in a few minutes." Anyway-it hit me that I had left the pen within his reach, and I realized the possibilities and hustled to the front part of the house after him. Just as I got there I heard, "Mama! I make a snake!" 

Ha! All I could do was laugh. Looks like we'll be doing a little touch-up painting soon! 

Reflections on Easter

Here are some pics from yesterday-one of the most beautiful Easter Sundays, weather-wise, that I can remember.

Our little fam, at Taylor's parents house right after church and before lunch:

At Angie's house, later in the day:

Easter bellies! Yay for new life:

All five of my sweet nieces:

  Yesterday was a particularly moving Easter for me. I don't know if it's because last year I didn't spend enough time on contemplating the season, or if it's because this year I intentionally spent more, or if it is just because of where I am in life. Maybe pregnancy has something to do with it. But I will say this--I have never felt the depth of sadness that I felt this Good Friday, or the height of hope that I felt on Resurrection Sunday. The reason for my hope. 

And I don't know about you, but I need hope. I am deeply, hopelessly, irreversibly in need of redemption. In need of a Savior. I felt the sadness and darkness of that on Friday. And of the knowledge that because of me, Christ had to die. Because of the messiness and blackness and ugly imperfections of my own heart. 

But Christ, to put it in the words of a song our choir sang recently, looked beyond my faults--and saw my need. 

Have you ever been in an argument with a friend, or spouse, or parent, and you were just absolutely foul? Bad attitude, negative tone, unkind words? And maybe it wasn't because of what it appeared to be. Maybe it was because of a deeper hurt that you could not or would not give words to. And you expected the other person to argue back in kind. The same intensity of negativity. But instead of the words you deserved, they spoke life to you. Compassion. Encouragement. Tenderness.

It will just about knock your socks off. 

That has happened to me before, more than once. Any time that happens, it makes me think of what Christ did, and does, for us. It astounds me every time. He looks beyond my ugliness and unworthiness and finds something worth redeeming. A precious child, fashioned after his own image. Something of beauty. He takes the blackness and speaks life, lifting up and recreating, justifying and then sanctifying. He looks at me through the eyes of the resurrection. The eyes of that glorious Sunday. Not Friday.   

And so: "Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks you about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it." 1 Peter 3:15. I normally read an NIV translation but I like occasionally to read others, like this New Living Translation, and see the variations. Sometimes it will hit me a little harder with a different wording. 

But back to the NIV for this wonderful truth of scripture, and again, the reason for my hope--Romans 5:8: "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

I pray that I will be one who lives in the light of and perspective of the resurrection. And that I will be one who looks beyond faults to see needs. And one who speaks life, as my Savior does.

Friday, April 18, 2014

23 Weeks

Pregnancy Highlights:

How Far Along: 23 weeks 
Size of baby: He weighs around 1.2 lbs and is around 8 inches long. What to Expect When You're Expecting says he's the size of a papaya!  Here is a pic for you, since that's not necessarily a common fruit 'round these parts.

Total Weight Gain/Loss: around 15 lbs. Yikes! 
Maternity Clothes: oh yes. I have fully embraced the maternity pants. Somebody remind me again why we can't wear these all the time?
Gender: a sweet baby BOY! Amos Jackson Sledge
Movement: I can definitely tell when he is sleeping and when he is on the go! There are usually 3-4 periods of time a day when he gets moving. One early morning, one mid-morning, one mid-afternoon and one late at night. I'm just starting to be able to distinguish what's what when he kicks. I'm pretty sure I felt an elbow jab last night!
Sleep: has been ok lately. I just can't turn over without grunting and groaning like some kind of large animal.
What I miss: nothing I can think of at the moment
Cravings: sno cones and Popsicles! I had a coconut and sour cherry sno cone this week. YUM. 
Symptoms: lightheadedness. Also had one pretty terrible headache this week but no others so far thankfully.
Best moment this week: honestly I can't think of anything specific. The last week or two has been pretty tiring, just due to life in general. I feel very pregnant but am loving it! 
Prayer request for baby Amos: I saw this on another blog and thought it was a wonderful idea! Don't know why I haven't done it before now. If you are reading this, please pray that even now the Lord will be preparing this tiny boy to make a big impact for the Kingdom one day. That he will faithfully live the greatest commandment--to love the Lord his God with all his heart, soul, and mind. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

We Believe

Tomorrow is Friday, but Sunday is coming. 

I love the new song "We Believe" by the group The Newsboys. Coming from a Southern Baptist background, I did not grow up reciting creeds often in church, and do not do so now on any kind of a regular basis, if ever. But in my short stint as a halfway Presbyterian (Baptyterian we'll call it) in college, I was introduced to the practice of more regularly reciting things such as the Apostles Creed, or Nicene Creed. And I will say, I liked the affirmation of stating my beliefs aloud like that. Because let's be honest-on our hardest days, our worst days, and sometimes on the mundane days--doubt creeps in.  And reciting basic tenets of my faith aloud with other believers just did something to me. It affirmed. It reassured. It encouraged. And I imagine that it blesses the Lord to hear those who love him telling him so. Telling him the truths about himself. Does he need to be informed? Heavens no. But think about how you feel when those who love you tell you so. I am made in his image, and I imagine that if words of affirmation mean so much to me--and they do--perhaps the Lord wants to hear those things as well. 

So--creeds can be really great. Music is, in my not so humble opinion, even better. So--let's combine the two and--voila--perfection! So here are the simple and yet profound lyrics of the wonderful song that is on a repeat loop in my head. 

In this time of desperation
When all we know is doubt and fear
There is only One Foundation
We believe, We believe.
In this broken generation
When all is dark, You help us see
There is only One Salvation
We believe, We believe

We believe in God the Father
We believe in Jesus Christ
We believe in the Holy Spirit
And He's given us new life
We believe in the crucifixion
We believe that He conquered death
We believe in the resurrection
And He's comin' back again, we believe

So, let our faith be more than anthems
Greater than the songs we sing
And in our weakness and temptations
We believe, We believe!

We believe in God the Father!
We believe in Jesus Christ!
We believe in the Holy Spirit!
And He's given us new life!
We believe in the crucifixion!
We believe that He conquered death!
We believe in the resurrection!
And He's comin' back again!

Let the lost be found and the dead be raised!
In the here and now, let love invade!
Let the church live loud
Our God will see
We believe, We believe!
And the gates of hell will not prevail!
For the power of God, has torn the veil!
Now we know Your love will never fail!
We believe, We believe!

We believe in God the Father
We believe in Jesus Christ
We believe in the Holy Spirit
And He's given us new life!
We believe in the crucifixion!
We believe that He conquered death!
We believe in the resurrection!
And He's comin' back,
He's comin' back again!
He's comin' back again!
We believe!
We believe

Here is a link to the song if you'd like to hear it:

I am so thankful that the gates of hell will not prevail, and the power of God has torn the veil!!

Happy almost Easter to you!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Homemade Granola

  I decided to make my first attempt at homemade granola, at 9 PM tonight. Probably not the best timing, but I was feeling a rare burst of energy (rare these days due to a certain tiny growing boy named Amos--and a bigger growing one named T.Mark!) so I had to go with it.

  I used a cookbook that has become my very favorite since I bought it a year or so ago, called The Mom 100. It is thoughtfully written and arranged, and the writer-Katie Workman is her name, I think--has a really entertaining, humorous writing style. I rarely sit down to read a cookbook, but when I do, for some culinary inspiration, this is my favorite one to pull out. 

   This recipe called for a good bit of honey, and I was excited to use some that was a gift from my sweet and beloved family friend, Dr. Laney, who passed away last year. He always remembered to bring me honey from the bees he raised. I am trying to think of something cool I can do with this jar or label when the honey's gone. If you have any suggestions, let me know! 

And here is the finished product!

 It smelled absolutely amazing coming out of the oven. I'm looking forward to eating this for breakfast and as a snack over the next week or two! 

  Here is a quick picture of my cute lunch date today: 

 I asked him when I picked him up from Mother's Morning Out if he wanted to go eat lunch with mama. He said "Ok!! Gonna make a mess!"  I love that kid. Gotta appreciate his honesty!  

Monday, April 7, 2014

Big Airplane

  The wedding we went to this past weekend had an unusual venue for the reception--an airplane hangar! Our friend Luke works for Kimmel Aviation, a private airplane insurer. He and his wife Lindsey thought it would be cool and unique to have their reception at the hangar where Luke goes to work every day. And they were absolutely right.

   I think just about everyone enjoyed it. But there is nobody who loved it more than this little guy: 
  They had four airplanes stationed around the hangar as part of the decor. T.Mark's eyes got big as saucers when we first walked in. "BIIIIG airplane"'!!! 

 It is so sweet to see his little preferences come out so strongly as he grows. Right now his favorite things are airplanes, racecars, fountains, and American flags. Well, and the garbage man, of course. 

We had a great time at the party. T.Mark ate a piece of cake and yelled out "happy birthday"!! Ha! He also kept grabbing my hand and saying "mama dance with you!"  Um, yes please. Won't have to ask me that twice, that's for sure. 

  I can't wait to meet this brand new baby boy growing in my belly. I know he will have his own unique quirks and preferences, just as T.Mark does. And if I had to guess, I would make the tentative prediction that these two will be like night and day. I guess time will tell. 

 Here are a couple more pictures from the last few days/couple of weeks. 

My friend Lane and me after her shower a week or so ago. My belly looks deceptively big here! I need to do a pregnancy update post soon. I'm so happy for Lane--can't wait to meet sweet baby Kate! She and Amos have many play dates to look forward to:

I loved this pic of T.Mark and my nephews Carter and Kyle. If my two boys can turn out half as wonderful as these two, I'll be a happy girl!

And one more of Carrie and me from our HymnFest service at church last night:
Hope you are having a good Monday!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Grass and Flowers

  I love April and May in Mississippi. When it's not raining cats and dogs or threatening hail, as it is tonight. This time of year everything is green and budding and promise is in the air. Promise of what, I'm not exactly sure. But there is an unmistakable feeling of hope woven into the newness of spring. Maybe that's why the Lord gives us seasons. He knows our hearts, and that we desperately need the refreshment spring offers. I felt this week almost like it was a precious gift, straight from a loving Father to an undeserving, but thankful child. He knew just what I needed.

Which reminds me of a song I love. If you've never heard the song Every Season by Nichole Nordeman, please look it up ASAP. It's beautiful.

Here is the first fig of the season on my little fig tree. I love figs. They bring happy memories and they are so sweetly yummy! They'll be ready in late July. I'm hoping to get out the ice cream maker my uncle gave us and make some homemade fig ice cream!

My sweet boy and I went on a nature walk/ hunt for the garbage man a few afternoons ago.  He heard the garbage truck across the neighborhood from inside our house and our activity for the next hour or so was immediately determined. 
That boy loves the garbage man. He was first on our prayer list tonight at bedtime. I never know who he will want to pray for first, but tonight the garbage man was requested at the top of the list.

Little shadow walking with mama:

 After the garbage man had been found and waved to, and after he had so kindly honked the horn (multiple times, I might add) for us, we headed to the farmer's market for some pretty flowers and some sweet basil. I had a great little helper for my planting:

There is something restorative, encouraging, and almost healing about digging in the earth with your bare hands and finding the perfect spot for some beautiful little pieces of creation.

Now--unfortunately, I have what I like to call a black thumb, so those same beautiful little pieces of creation may be brown and withered in a month or two--so I won't turn this into too much of a metaphor for fear of the consequences. Ha! I will just enjoy our sweet time of planting together for what it's worth! And for the simple comfort it brought me in the middle of a hard week. 

This stuff will be gracing plenty of tomato pies, sandwiches, and salads this summer:

Little helper:

 This weekend was fairly laid back. I taught an ACT workshop for high school students Saturday morning, and then T.Mark and I headed to Greenwood to meet Taylor for our friend Luke's wedding. T.Mark had a GREAT time due to the location of the reception. I will try to post a little about that tomorrow!  Church tonight was a little different but a great time of worship. 

Hope you had a good weekend and that you are feeling the sweet hope of springtime

"The grass withers, and the flowers fade, but the Word of our God stands forever." Isaiah 40:8