Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Day


This year we spent Christmas at my parent's house. Just the six of us - mom, dad, my sister, her husband, my husband & me! We had a wonderful day together! 

My mom loves to decorate the table all pretty for Christmas. It makes her happy. I think she did a beautiful job! (And yes, they moved the table to the living room. I guess it was kinda cramped in the kitchen!)


 
My parents often give cash for Christmas. We are all VERY MUCH OKAY with this!! (Especially this year, because we are trying to cover fertility expenses without touching our savings... for as long as we can, anyway!) Because giving cash can be kind of boring, my mom did it scavenger hunt style. Haha! She did this two years ago & it was so much fun. So she decided to do it again. I am telling you - it is a blast! Haha! Mom is pretty creative with her clues!






I am sure you can guess where she found this $50! (See next pic!)


The doggies had a nice time, too. Fievel was being really sweet. :)

Molly relaxing on her mom & dad (my parents). By the way, did i mention my dad RETIRED?!!? 38 years in the same place! Wow. The week before Christmas was his last week, EVER! So proud of him!



Michelle & Mike left around 4 or so... they had an early flight to IRELAND! Lucky! Brad & I stuck around for awhile. We watched Sleepless in Seattle with my parents... i love that movie. I watch it every Christmas.

So we had a really great time!! Hope you & yours had a great day, too. :)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Eve

This year, we spent Christmas Eve day with Brad's family & Christmas Day with mine.

Christmas Eve morning was wonderful. I was off of work, and so was Brad, so we just enjoyed the morning together. We didn't have to be at his aunt & uncle's house until noon, and i didn't have to cook anything, so it was just a peaceful & quiet morning.

A little before noon, we headed to Brad's aunt & uncle's house. We enjoyed spending time with his family.

We went outside for a bit & i saw that the neighbor's horse was out. Decided to do a little practice photography. I am ALWAYS passing horses on my way home from anywhere, and i'm always wanting to take pictures of them! But you know... i don't want to just pull over & start photographing somebody's horse! But this one was outside just asking for it.... how could i resist! ;)

 


Got a few shots of the fam, too. Good times. :) This is Brad's cousin Chris & his girlfriend Brooke. I just met her at Thanksgiving - she's very nice. :)
 
 The sun is just a LITTLE bit in my eyes. Thus the squinting. No big deal! 

Brad's cousin Matt & his soon-to-be WIFE, Lynde. Can't wait til their wedding in March!



Me & Brad's cousin Brittany. I just LOVE her!! She is precious! 

After awhile we went home, freshened up & went to church! We were having a Christmas Eve service at 5, and i needed to arrive a little early to practice with Billy. He is our worship pastor. I was going to be singing Oh Holy Night & Billy was going to sing Oh Little Town of Bethlehem. We both were going to sing Oh Come All Ye Faithful.

I would like to say all of this went smoothly, but... not so much! Truth be told, it felt like a train wreck to me! Oh my goodness! I found out that it didn't sound as badly as I thought it did... sometimes what you hear on stage isn't what people hear in the congregation. So i'm glad it wasn't as bad as i thought! And hopefully Billy knows that & will let me sing again - HA! 

But anyway... the service was still nice. Lots of testimonies of God's goodness. Maybe next year i can give mine on how God brought us through infertility. Maybe? I am hoping so. 

It is always good to have Christmas Eve service. I never went to one until last year & now i hope to make it something we do each year. We sang, listened to scripture & testimonies, and took communion. Beautiful. 

Afterwards there were pics with two of our favorite people! Billy & Mandy!! 







I actually did have a more "normal" pic taken of the four of us, but it came out blurry. But this one is more fun anyway! Haha! :)

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas Eve, too!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Good Food & a Photo Shoot | Mandeville, LA

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I went to Mandeville for the day to do a little photo shoot of my sister & her husband. And to have dinner with them. Brad came along.

This actually happened December 7th, 2013... and i have yet to blog about it. Wanted to do that before i got to blogging all of our Christmas happenings.

My sister & her hubby live in Mandeville, which is about an hour & a half from Baton Rouge, on your way to New Orleans. I absolutely love Mandeville. It's such a cute little town... a small one, but with PLENTY of places to shop & eat! And it's clean. I just like it a lot.

Anyway. First we went to this little area in Mandeville where Michelle had decided she wanted me to do their Christmas pics. It was COLD & she didn't want to freeze, so she said she wanted me to just snap some shots & be done with it. Haha! It ended up being about a ten minute photo shoot! Shortest, easiest shoot EVER! Haha.

These are my two favorites from the shoot.

Michael, Michelle & Bali. :)

I love this one of Michelle & Bali. :) 

Brad grabbed my camera for me & took one of me & my sister. I love it, even though my hair is not looking picture perfect! LOL. We will blame that on the wind! 
We look nothing alike, I know! Haha! It is funny, though, people say when they meet the other sister in person, they realize we are definitely sisters! Apparently our expressions & mannerisms are the same! We are nothing alike in every other area, though! But we love each other tons! :)

SO after our little photo shoot, we dropped Bali off at their house & went to eat lunch at a new place in Mandeville called Old Rail Brewing Company. Y'all. It was pretty much AMAZING.

It's a pub, so of course there was beer. I'm not a drinker at all, but i wanted to try them. Michael ordered a sampler, and.. yeah. They were all disgusting. But it was fun to taste them! Haha!


Michelle wasn't too fond of some of them either... as you can see... HAHA! 

But the food, y'all. The food was DIVINE!
That would be a gigantic hamburger. It was pretty much the best burger EVER. I got mac & cheese because our appetizers were fries. (Yeah, the diet was out the window!) The mac & cheese was the best I've ever had.

 It was just a few days before Michael's birthday, and a couple weeks before his graduation from grad school, so Brad & I brought Michael some goodies. :)



We had SUCH a great time!! Can't wait to go visit them again! And if you are ever in Mandeville, definitely go eat at Old Rail Brewing Company! All of us LOVED the food, and the service was excellent!


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

It's Christmas Time!

So, I just want to say THANK YOU to all of you who wrote sweet comments on my last post, or who sent me emails, or who just said a prayer for me. I feel much better... Maybe it helps to get it all out! I felt better yesterday, and I feel much better today.


And it's Christmas!! I think i found my Christmas Spirit... it was suddenly there when i woke up this morning. That excitement & joy. It helps that i have a few days off of work. Yippee!


Sunday, we had a little bit of Christmas. We went to my sister-in-law's church to hear her sing. That church, y'all. It's big. And it has a giant choir & praise team & ORCHESTRA! I mean - they have a cello, which is my favorite. They have trombones & saxophones & everything! (Our church is small - we have an awesome praise team - but it's just drums, a keyboard, an organ, & some guitars.) Anyway, Jaimie sang - she is AMAZING!!!



That evening we went to her new house for our Christmas with Brad's immediate family. Jaimie cooked ham, potatoes & green beans & it was all delicious! Then we exchanged gifts. It must have been a gift card exchange, which is more than fine with me!! I got gift cards to the following: Macy's, Olive Garden, Baskin Robbins, Barnes & Noble, Isabella's Pizzeria (where i have never been but have been dying to try!), & Amazon. I think that's it? That's a lot of free money, people! ;)



Yesterday, I braved Walmart after work... yes, i know. But it was that or go this morning, and that is just NOT happening! Walmart actually went fine, until checkout. Did you know you can't get visa gift cards with your other grocery items? They all have to be rung up separately. At least the ones I grabbed, with no bar code on the back. LOVELY. So the lady in line behind me huffed & puffed during my conversation with the cashier, as if i was holding up the line... when i really wasn't holding up the line because the cashier was ringing up my other stuff while we were talking. Anyway, the lady behind me kept huffing & puffing & i finally turned and said, "I'm so sorry, this isn't my fault, i didn't know you had to ring up the gift cards seperately." And while the girl behind her was quick to say, "Oh, that's okay, no big deal!" The lady behind me averted my eyes, and continued to scowl.


I think i may have never used the word scowl before??? But that's what it was. A definite scowl.

I REALLY wanted to go, "MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!" to her, with a giant fake smile on my face as i was leaving, but i didn't. I mean... maybe she was scowling because someone else huffed & puffed at her. Because it kind of put me in a rotten mood for about the first half of my way home! Sometimes people being all scroogy on you, makes you a little scroogy too. SO oh-well. Hopefully she is in a better mood today, like i am. At least she is (probably) not at walmart again.


And then i felt bad that i didn't clarify that it wasn't the cashier girl's fault either. I could have said, "I mean, it's not your fault either! Just one of those things!" but i didn't think about that until i was leaving. And then i worried that they thought i was insinuating that it was HER fault, which i wasn't!

And then i wondered if that lady behind me felt bad for scowling and huffing and puffing because i felt bad for not clarifying that it wasn't the cashier's fault.

So now you know how my thoughts go, sometimes. HA!

 That present is for me, from Brad, & I have NO IDEA what it is. It's very heavy!

Today. Today will be good. I was told I don't have to bring anything to Christmas Eve lunch today, which is fabulous!!! Haha. So today is just relaxing, eating breakfast, playing online, and then getting up & dressed & heading to my husband's aunt & uncle's house. And then tonight is our Christmas Eve service, our second annual one, and I will be singing Oh Holy Night & Oh Come All Ye Faithful, with our worship pastor, Billy, harmonizing with me. I am pretty excited about it. But also nervous, because we only practiced once, two Sundays ago. We'll practice again before tonight!

 Excuse the mess! Focus on those adorable little salt & pepper shakers! ;)

Hope you all have a very merry Christmas!!

XOXO

Monday, December 23, 2013

Tough Week, Yo.

I have been running sound for A Christmas Carol at our local theater. I thoroughly enjoy it, but am so glad it's over. I'm tired. And ready to enjoy the holidays without having to be at the theater every night. And put batteries in mics. And do mic checks. And chase down actors after performances for their mics so i could go home already. You get the idea. I am just ready to enjoy family & good food & days off of work. Yay!

A Christmas Carol was really good. It's a tradition at our theater, and i truly enjoy it. By the way, if you have not been to a performance at your local theater, you should go. Or to a city near you if you don't have a local theater. Go see a live show. Just do me a favor & TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE! (I really am apalled at how many think it is okay to text in a LIVE performance! Incredibly rude to the actors & the audience members around you. I have left the sound board before in order to tell someone to turn their phone off. I couldn't today, because i had too many sound cues, but MAN! TURN IT OFF!)

Sorry to fuss. I think I am still annoyed because a woman's phone went off five SEPARATE times during the show today. I mean, okay... the first time, you forgot to turn it off, i get it. But after that we shouldn't hear your phone again!


It's been kind of a hard week. First of all, it's been rainy, humid, and 80 degrees. Not cool.

Secondly, the main things in my Facebook news feed have been about football (which is probably dead LAST on the list of things that are important to me), and of course the whole A&E/DD controversy. I am sure you know what i am talking about but i don't even want to spell out the words because i am SO SICK OF SEEING IT WRITTEN EVERYWHERE I LOOK!!! Oh my goodness!

I hate to add to it all, but I'm going to ... just a little bit... if you need to skip over it because you are SO SICK OF THIS TOPIC, I fully understand! ...just...read this post. It was just a breath of fresh air for me & I agree with it 100%. I am going to post the one quote from it that i loved most of all. I guess my biggest thing with the whole controversy this week is that i don't think "I stand with {you know who}" buttons are going to really help anything or anyone. They come across (to me) as haughty & self-righteous. And please don't be offended by that, i am not saying if you posted it you are haughty or self-righteous, but scrolling through my newsfeed, not even paying attention to who was posting what, just seeing post after post of "I STAND WITH ______" and their comments of "WE ARE RIGHT & THEY ARE WRONG" just gets to be too much for me. I told Brad, "Sometimes i wonder if some of these people posting these things have even one gay friend. Because SURELY they would use a little more wisdom & kindness with their words if they did, right?" And then i read this post & this quote, which is EXACTLY what i was trying to say. She just put it so eloquently.

"The sterile public sphere outside of the protective confines of relationships is not a safe place for such weighty discussions, and we should not add to the pile of condescending, degrading comments about real human people. These precious, fragile conversations belong among people who love one another, who've earned the right to be heard, who can look each other in the eye and listen with grace and humility." -Jen Hatmaker 

That's all i'm saying.

*  *  *  *  *  *  * 

The other thing about this week? INFERTILITY. Blahhhhhhh.

The holidays are tough for those of us still stuck in the journey of infertility, but for some reason i wasn't expecting to have a rough time with it this Christmas? I'm not sure why. And it hasn't been awful at all so far... but there have been moments of sadness. This morning, we went to my sister-in-law's church & I cried in the pew. I cried when my sister-in-law sang, i cried when a girl got baptized & her entire family was sitting just a few feet from us. I cried when the little children sang, and I cried watching one of them using sign language. I cry like a pregnant woman these days...some of it is definitely hormonal, but there is no baby growing inside me.

Tonight, we were at my sister-in-law's new house. It's a newly built house, something i desperately want. It's beautiful & adorable & I just want a house SO BAD. But it's nothing like my desire for children. I would live in this trailer for the rest of my days if it meant i could be a mother.

You might be thinking already of what you will say in the comment section... that OF COURSE i will be a mom, that i need to be patient, that God has a perfect plan for me, that one day i will be a mom, that good things come to those who wait, that He will give me the desires of my heart. And i tell myself these things too. OF COURSE i will be a mom. It's always been my desire! God knows that.

But what if? What if we don't get to become parents? What if the next IUI fails, and the one after that fails too, and they keep failing until it becomes apparent that IUI isn't going to work & IVF is what is needed? What if my husband still doesn't agree to IVF, because of the cost? What if we can't do adoption either, because of the cost? What if we are just destined to live in this trailer WITHOUT CHILDREN forever???? Sometimes i am fully trusting God's perfect plan. Sometimes I am confident that He is going to give us a baby.

Other times i feel stricken with fear.

Colleen wrote this post on her blog and i beg you to read it. So thankful for it. This is how it is. It hurts so bad. It sucks so bad. And people's comments are HORRIBLE. HORRIBLE!!!! Some comments are obviously not intended to hurt me, but they still hurt. And the ones that don't hurt are exhausting.

Sometimes I see pics of babies or children on Facebook, and i "like" the post. Other times I scroll past it as quickly as possible, in order to avoid that sucker punch feeling. But i don't avoid it. I saw the picture & it hurts. It hurts because while everyone is moving on in life, i am still stuck in infertility. They all get married & get pregnant, easily, without any problems, sometimes even as a surprise!!

I love doing Christmas cards. I will always do them. I love them. But... i thought that by now there would be a child in the picture on our card. Or a baby. Or at least a baby bump. Or baby announcement. But nope. Just another card with me, brad & the dog. I mean... we have a pretty cute dog, but i would like a baby human. Every year, when i work on my Christmas card, i think, "Maybe next year there will be a baby in this picture - or at least a baby bump!" And it never is. And so the next year i say the same thing. And this year... well... i know that next year, there may NOT be a baby or a baby bump. There may never be. And i can't be okay with that. I don't think i will ever be okay with that!

Tonight we had Christmas with just me, Brad, his parents & his sister. And as we were finishing opening gifts, i thought again of how much fun it would have been to have one of the presents for my father-in-law be a "this is what cool grandpa looks like" t-shirt. I would love to casually sneak in gifts like that as part of a usual gift exchange, in order to announce we are pregnant. How special & fun. But it is not to be. Again.

It hasn't been a bad Christmas season. But there have been MOMENTS where there is such a pang in my heart. Where tears come to the surface. I came home last night very emotional, and i stubbed my toe on the dang doggie gate & i lost control. I said, "I HATE THOSE STUPID GATES IN THIS HOUSE!!!!!!", only i didn't say stupid. And then i started wrapping gifts & crying. And i couldn't help thinking that we waited until Monday to do all of our Christmas shopping, and that we finished our shopping in three hours, and that i finished wrapping in a half hour, all because we are still childless.

Anyway... i know it could be far worse. I have friends who lost a loved one this week & my heart breaks to think of them losing someone they loved so much, right before Christmas. I have a friend who has done IVF 6 times and all 6 times she became pregnant and all 6 times she miscarried. I just don't know how i would bear something like that. And there are people right here in blogland who have been through similar situations. So yes, it could be worse, but it still hurts. Bad. And i just... really don't know how much longer i have to go through this. I will say that i love my support group, and can't wait until we meet again.

Please pray for us. I don't know if i told you but my obgyn referred me to an RE. I really like him. We had a test they recommended to see if we are carriers of cystic fybrosis and about a hundred other diseases & that test came back negative. We are not carriers of those diseases. I am so thankful for that! Next, we go in to do an HSG test, which is a test done to see if your tubes are blocked. Praying that one also has good results! And then we will be doing IUI #2.

Anyway, sorry for such a downer post. My job is going well these days, I love my family & i feel incredibly lucky to be married to such a handsome, sweet & HILARIOUS person. But infertility is still incredibly painful. And i don't know when or if it will ever end.

I love Christmas, and i will worship & rejoice in the birth of our savior! Where would i be without Him? How could i even face infertility without Him by my side??? He is the only one who can get me through this! I will worship & celebrate, and have a great time. But i am also ready for a new year, and the hope that it brings.

If you are also going through a rough time, about anything, please feel free to comment or email me & i will pray for you also.

XOXO & Merry Christmas. :)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Little Emmeline | Children's Photography | Baton Rouge, LA

This is little Emmeline. Isn't she a cutie? I just love her blond curls!

Emmeline's mom asked me to come to Emmy's grandparent's house to do a mini shoot. I was happy to do it. Here are some of my favorites. :)



Love the shoes! :)

Looks like somebody might follow in her mom & aunt's footsteps!


There's that smile! :) 

Haha! What a face! 



Just precious.