Monday, August 5, 2013

Our Journey to Ruth - Part I

Wow, it has been a long time since I have posted anything on here!  We have had a lot going on, however. 

Scott and I welcomed Ruth Abigail Bowden into this world on June 25.  This is something that we have prayed for and tried for for 5 years.  We made the decision early on in our journey through trying to conceive that we would share our problems with very few people.  In some ways, we were protecting ourselves and in some ways we were protecting others from the pain of it.  It was one wild and sometimes terrifying ride for sure.  Just because we have one baby does not mean that this journey is over.  We never know what will happen when we try for our next.  But, for now we will praise God and be thankful for this little life that He has put us in charge of raising.  I'd like to take the time here to share our journey from the beginning.  This promises to be a long post, and probably difficult for me to write.  I have actually been thinking about what to write since we found out we were expecting and had a draft out here for about 4 months.

God has been working in our hearts for a long time when it comes to children.  When Scott and I got married, we both agreed that we wanted two children, no more no less.  We didn't really think of children as a joy and a blessing, but just something you did as a married couple.  We knew that some people enjoyed their children and some people did not, but most people around us complained about their kids, sent them off to daycare as much as possible, and talked about how coming back to work on Monday was a nice break from the kids.  At church, all the kids were sent to the nursery or to children's church.  Then, God worked in our lives by breaking our hearts, really.  We left our church, along with quite a few other members due to some disagreements on Biblical truths. We visited other churches and had meetings with the other former church members who had left our church and soon we realized we needed to plant our own church.  It was a very tough road but we all did what we could and God blessed us.  Our new church was family integrated.  I didn't realize at first that this was by design.  I thought it was because we didn't have the space to send all the kids off to the nursery.  Families in our church started growing and multiplying.  We enjoyed being around their children.  We began to see the blessing and joy that God intended for children to be.  We both agreed that when we were ready to begin growing our family, we would see how many children God wanted us to have. 

In December of 2007, Scott and I decided to begin trying to have children.  Every month we felt excitement and then disappointment that nothing would happen.  Then, I started researching fertility and trying to understand how things worked better.  After much testing, research, and praying about God's will in all of this, we saw 2 different reproductive endocrinologists (RE), had several IUIs, one round of IVF, all interspersed with seeing a nutritionist/naturopath and 2 acupuncturists, losing 30 lbs, and trying a gluten free/dairy free diet for 1.5 years.  We found out that I have an auto immune issue called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis which means that my body's immune system is attacking my thyroid.  Thankfully, we caught it before it could cause me to be hypothyroid.  We learned that being on a gluten free/dairy free diet does not help this for me.  In 2011, we went on a cruise in the summer and when we got back, we realized that I was pregnant, but miscarrying.  Then, in 2012, our RE suggested immune testing (which is something I had asked him about more than a year previously and he said there wasn't enough proof that looking at that helped anything).  He suggested we have a phone consultation with an RE in Chicago that specializes in immunology.  She looked at our records and suggested a few more tests and came back saying that I have an auto immune issue called Natural Killer Cells.  The type I have can be treated before, during, and after an IVF cycle with an IV treatment called intralipids.  This is much cheaper than the alternative, IVIG.  We got these results in September, I believe. 

On Oct 3, 2012, I was working from home and I used a break to call my RE and schedule an appointment to have our initial consult to begin our second round of IVF.  The consult was scheduled for the following Tuesday (this was a Wednesday).  When I got off the phone, I knew that they were going to ask me the first day of my last menstrual cycle.  I knew it was the Wed. before Labor Day, or was it the Wed after?  I texted Scott to verify.  I counted days.  I counted two...three times.  Hmmm...this didn't make any sense.  It had been 36 days.  I may not have been ovulating for the past 5 years, but I had never had a cycle longer than 33 days or shorter than 28 days, ever; even the month I was actually pregnant.  My heart did some weird things.  My stomach flipped over.  I remained calm.  I did not mention this to anyone, even Scott.  The very last thing I wanted to do was suffer another miscarriage.  But, I'd hate to be pregnant and NOT know it and NOT do everything in my power to keep the baby alive.  The next morning I did the thing I dreaded most - I took a home pregnancy test.  It was one of the ones you buy that was pretty expensive.  It was positive.  I checked the expiration date.  Yep, it was still good.  I went into the bedroom and rifled around in a drawer for one of the freebies that always came with my cheapo ovulation test strips (I always laughed about getting these - like I'd need them!  Ha!).  It was positive.  I stood there in my bathroom holding my little cup of pee wondering what I should do next.  So, I woke Scott up.  He was annoyed "WHAT?!"  I must say that earlier that week I had woken him up to tell him that there was water leaking into our closet (we never did find that leak, come to think of it) and it was not unusual for me to wake him up to come kill a bug for me.  I laughed inwardly without breaking a smile outwardly.  I asked him to come look at something for me.  (He sighed loudly, more inward laughing).  I picked up both tests and showed him and explained why I'd taken them.  We both stood in the bathroom staring at them then at each other.  We knew that either way, this would change us forever - whether we were about to have another miscarriage or have a baby.  We agreed to call the RE.  I called and left a message with his nurse on the way to work.  She called me as soon as he got in and told me to get there that day, that morning.  Scott and I both went, smiling, but nervous.  I think we both had a kind of glassy-eyed shocked expression.  We talked about normal stuff in the waiting area.  We sat down in the RE's office and stared at him.  We hung on every breath he took before he started talking.  "Congratulations!"  What?  How could he say that yet?  They didn't have any blood work or anything yet.  He ordered blood work, and he started writing prescriptions.  Scott had his iPad and was typing notes furiously.  I sat there and stared, my mouth hanging open.  He wrote me prescriptions for steroids, antibiotics, progesterone, baby aspirin, and the IV infusion of intralipids.  Depending on the bloodwork (which he ordered for Scott and me both), I might have to do the intralipids once or once every two weeks.  Thankfully, the blood work came back showing that I only had to do it once.  What the intralipids does is coat all the cells in my body to look the same so that my body did not try to attack and kill the "foreign" matter that was our baby.  We were optimistic and skeptical all at the same time. 

Based on the bloodwork levels for HCG (the pregnancy hormone), my nurse estimated that my due date could not be calculated by counting the days since my last menstrual cycle.  She suspected I had ovulated late.  There was no doubt.  Based on the fact that Scott had a stomach virus that month and I was working tons of long days for budget, I would have guessed no less than one week late.  If we had gone based on counting days, our due date would have been June 8.  Based on our ultrasound findings (early ultrasounds are very accurate for dating babies), our due date was June 15!  As is turns out, we found out about our pregnancy early because I ovulated late!  I think I was maybe 4 weeks when we found out...which is in reality 2 weeks after the conception date.  What a miracle! 

God orchestrated our pregnancy in a way that only He could take credit.  Scott and I always knew that if we got pregnant, no matter how we got pregnant,  it would be His doing.  However, this way, no one could argue that.  Our daughter's entire story is a testimony to God's plan.



Friday, July 6, 2012

The Pot Tower


Picture taken this week.

We found this idea on Pinterest.  I loved it.  Sadly, I did not take pictures while we were doing it because we were kind of in a hurry once we got home with all the stuff.  I'd gone to the Growers' Outlet up the street and just randomly bought two each of several plants I liked plus a huge tray of Marigolds for the pots in the back to keep bugs away.  I had tons of Marigolds leftover.  I was telling Scott about how I really needed some taller plant stands, etc...but that I'd settle for making the pot tower.  His interest was peaked.  We measured, planned, went to the store, and made some purchases.

We wanted a 6' piece of rebar, but could only find 10'.  Then, we decided if we had to buy a 10' piece, we'd just use 6.5'.  A guy at The Home Depot cut it down to 6.5' with a hack saw.  Based on our measurements, the height of a pot ended up being about the diameter of the pot when we tilted it the way we thought they should be tilted.  But, we ended up needing another pot, so apparently our calculations were off a bit.  We hammered the rebar 18" into the ground, leaving 5' sticking out.  I would suggest doing no less than 18", you could even cut your rebar down to 7' and hammer 2' for more sturdiness.  Our neighbor came out when they saw our flurry of activity and helped.  Then, made suggestions.  When we realized we needed another pot, he suggested that we add in a colored pot.  Wow the colored pot cost about three times the clay pot of the same size.  But, I love it.  If we decided to add another colored pot next year, I will invest in spray paint and just spray paint a pot we already have.  We ended up using some pots I already had and buying the rest.  We used 2-10" (one flower pot and one azalea pot), 2-8", 2-6" and then the blue pot which I would guess is about 8". 

Once we'd hammered the rebar into the ground, we put one 8" pot upside down over the rebar (just slide the rebar through the drainage hole).  I took a plastic grocery bag and put it down in each pot to line it then pushed a hole through the bag just over the drainage hole.  I leave the handles sticking out and everything until I am done planting, then I trim them.  This is important when you have a hot dry summer with clay pots because they release so much moisture through their pores.  Then, we put the first 10" (right side up) over the rebar and held it in place slanted until we put the next 10" pot over it and once we got them slanted going in opposite directions of each other, they stayed.  Then, we added the regular 8" pot, the blue pot, and the 2-6"s.  The end product is probably 5-6" taller than me (I'm 5'1.5"), because we made sure that our top pot was on the rebar, but the rebar was not sticking out of it.  For the rebar and the pots (including the cost of the two we already had), we paid approximately $50.

We filled each pot half full of dirt.  Then, I hemmed and hawed and placed all the plants in different gatherings until I had decided what to do, then of course as I filled the pots, I changed my mind a couple of times or things just didn't fit the way I thought they would.  I think that's how I ended up with the two Million Belles on the same side and the two Sweet Potato vines on the same side.  After I put the plants in the way I liked them, I filled them the rest of the way with dirt, pressed it all down, and Scott followed after me with a box knife and cut the bag handles off and tucked them in the dirt.  I probably used a little less than half of a big bag of potting soil that I had already purchased for my pots out back. I think it was 2 cubic feet and cost about $6. 

The interesting part is watering them the first time when all the dirt is loose in a tilted pot.  Watering is...fun.  You have to just put a little water in each pot.  If you put too much, it will run off and cause erosion onto the next pot's plant.  I find that I enjoy our pot tower so much that I am more likely to remember to water it and to take the time to dead head all the flowers.  The recent heat spell that came through has claimed one of the Marigolds, but thankfully it was in the back of that pot and since it was in there with a Million Belles, I am hoping no one can tell from the street.  Lots of neighbors have stopped by to ask how we did it.  It definitely adds height to our garden. 

In case you are wondering, I used two white Gerbera Daisies, two purple Angelonia, one Sweet Potato vine that I had two little vines in it split into two pots, two yellow Million Belles, two pink Geraniums, two Blue Daze, and at least one Marigold in each pot except the top one, which was too small.  Because I got the plants super cheap at the Growers' Outlet, I think I spent about $25 in total on the plants.

I really enjoyed this project.  I still enjoy taking care of our pot tower.


Picture taken on the day we built the pot tower, April 14.

I hope I've helped if you weren't sure about how to go about this.  If you have any questions, leave me a comment and I'll answer it the best I can.  When I first saw this on Pinterest, the link I had only had a picture, but I have since seen others posting tutorials.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Luggage Tag Tutorial

Hi Y'all!

It has been so long since I have posted anything that blogger has updated!  Wow!  The purpose of this post is for me to share the way I made a luggage tag.  I read through and attempted three different versions I found on Pinterest.  I kind of used a snippet from each of theirs to make mine like I wanted.  These are the ones I tried.  This one was just too "curvy" for my sewing abilities, but I liked the button hole to keep it closed.  Because I purchased the super-firm double sided fusible interfacing called for in the previous tutorial, my tag was just too thick to do this one.  But, I liked the fact that the handle was made from the same fabric instead of ribbon.  Finally, this one was really the simplest, but when I made it then shook the tag upside down, the address label fell out.  So, here is my way.  I am still not crazy with the idea of snipping out the fabric from the window without hemming it, but I just don't think I can think of a better way.  Any suggestions for doing this better are welcome.



Materials:

Vinyl - (1) 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" piece (keep the paper)
Top fabric - (1) 3 1/2" x 5" and (1) 3 1/2" x 5 1/2" piece
Bottom fabric - (1) 3 1/2" x 5" and (1) 2" x 12" piece
Fusible interfacing - single sided fusible is fine for this project - (2) 3" x 4 1/2" pieces
Coordinating thread



Supplies:

Scissors and/or rotary cutter and mat
Iron
Sewing machine - you'll need to be able to do a button hole and a zig-zag stitch
Parchment paper

I went to a quilting store to find the vinyl.  It came in a roll, like this:



You can use whichever stiffness of fusible interfacing you want, it depends on how stiff you want your luggage tags.  Mine was super stiff because I bought it for a different tag than the one I ended up making.  I would suggest one a bit less stiff. It will make it easier to turn inside out.  And, it will probably be less expensive than what I bought.

When I ironed the fabric and fusible interfacing together, I protected my ironing board and iron by folding it into a piece of  parchment paper.  One of the brands of interfacing I used suggested to do this, so I just kept doing it.

The very first thing you want to do is find some fun materials that you like.


Step 1:  Cut out all of your materials.  Don't forget to hold onto the paper from your vinyl!
Step 2:  Iron on the fusible interfacing to the wrong side of one piece of your bottom fabric and the 3 1/2" x 5" piece of your top fabric.


Step 3:  Iron your 2" x 12" piece in half, lengthwise.  Then, open it up and fold each end in to the center.  Then, fold those in half.  You will end up with a 1/2" x 12" piece.  See pictures below.  Sew down the length of this strip, kind of close to the edge, on each side of this folded fabric.  This is the strap of your tag.  Set this aside.

Ironed flat

Ironed in half

 

Open up and iron one side in to the crease

Iron the other side in to the crease


 
Then iron the whole thing in half to be 1/2" wide

 

Here is another strip that shows where to sew, sort of


Step 4:  Make a button hole on the 3 1/2" x 5 1/2" piece of your top fabric, about 1 1/2" from the edge of one end.  The button hole should be a teeny bit wider than the strap, just enough to pullt he strap through.  Now fold the end over and make a hem.  You will want this piece to end up shorter than the actual tag or when you go to sew the end up, you'll have a hard time doing that.  See the picture below the next step to see what I am talking about.  I hope this makes sense.

Step 5:  Now, center your vinyl on the right side of your fabric with the button hole.  You'll want it to be close enough to the button hole that you can zig-zag stitch and be close but not touching.  I kind of centered it across the width.  You just need enough at the opposite end of the button hole end to sew the tag together.  I don't know if I took a picture of this, but hopefully you'll see what I mean in the finished product.  Go ahead and zig-zag stitch all the way around the edge of the vinyl.  You will want to leave the paper on there or your presser foot will stick to the vinyl and it won't move.  This will be very frustrating and you will want to jump up and down (not that I would ever do that).  So, don't try it.  Use the paper.  Here is a picture of the button hole, hem, and vinyl sewn on.  I am apparently not good at documenting.



Step 6:  You can now pull the paper off.  It should come off pretty easily because you  have just perforated it with a zillion holes.  I did a very "close" zig-zag on all but one, so I didn't need to try to pull the paper out of the stitching area on any of them except that one that had a less "close" stitch.  It's a pain.  And a mess.


Step 7:  Now, very close to the stitch, cut your fabric out of the window, like in the picture.  If this isn't clear, let me know.  It might be kind of hard to tell, but you can kind of see it.


Step 8:  Take your piece of top fabric with the interfacing attached and lay it interfacing side down on the table.  Take the window piece and lay it face up on top of this.  Make sure that your hemmed end will be shorter than the end of your tag.  This is your chance to adjust the hem if it isn't.  Lay the piece of bottom fabric with the interfacing attached and lay it interfacing side up.  Now you have an inside out luggage tag sandwich. 
Step 9:  Sew very closely around the edge of the interfacing on the fabric, on all three sides except the edge that has the button hole/hemmed edge.  Leave that one open.
Step 10:  Turn the whole thing inside out (the window stays with the matching fabric).
Step 11:  Now, fold in the edges and sew all the way across the top.  I had to give it two rows of stitching to make sure I got the hem because it was kind of small.  Plus, I ironed the hem in before sewing to make it stay in place. 
Step 12:  Fold the strap in half and line it up with the botton hole, between the window fabric and the upper fabric, but not so far down that you can see if through the window.  You'll kind of have to fold down the window piece, and then sew the strap on there.  I went backwards then forwards twice and made two rows of stitching to make it nice and sturdy.  Pull your strap through the botton hole.


You're all done!  The tag will hold an address label the size of a business card.

Let me know if something doesn't make sense and I'll correct it.  I know that sometimes something that makes sense in my head doesn't make sense to anyone else.  :)

I could never have figured this out on my own, so I am super thankful for the three other tutorials that I went through to get to this one.

I made four of these for my sister for her birthday.  She seemed pleased with them.  Scott was like, well, are you going to make some for us?  Yes, before our cruise in November, I will do that.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Vacation








I know, it's been a long time. There's been lots of stuff going on, but I have been prioritizing and other stuff has bene taking priority over blogging. But, we just took a long, amazing vacation. I felt that it deserved a blog post. I have already posted pictures on Facebook, so I will share those pictures here so that I don't have to re-upload them. That would take forever! Just a warning, this is a really long post!






We left our house on Thursday, May 12 after work. We drove down to Tifton to eat, stopping at an Olive Garden on the way down. We drove the rest of the way to Tampa on Friday, checked in at our hotel, then headed over to Busch Gardens. School hadn't let out yet, so there were not many people there. We rode every ride we wanted to ride that day, but didn't really spend that much time looking at the animals and all that. Friday night after we got back from the park, we went over to the mall close to the port in Tampa and had dinner at Maggiano's and watched Thor. We really enjoyed both. I thought Thor would be more exciting, but it was still good. I am glad that now I know the story. We went back to Busch Gardens on Saturday and spent more time looking at the animals. The first thing we did was ride the train around the park so that we could see all the animals that are out in the open area. We rode a couple rides, at lunch, then went to the Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy, which was kind of like a miniature Cirque de Soliel (we think). We stopped to watch a short Christian concert and then it rained pretty hard. We ducked into one of the shops and tried to wait it out, but it just kept sprinkling. So, we bought a couple of ponchos and headed over to the animal area you can walk through. There we saw giraffes, gorillas, a small aquarium area (small compared to the GA aquarium), meerkats, and lions. I love giraffes! They were a lot of fun to watch. The little meerkats were also so cute! We had seen that they were having a Michael W. Smith concert that evening, so we headed over there. The openers were the the Sidewalk Prophets. We really enjoyed it. We would definitely pay to see Michael W. Smith. We ate dinner on the way to get in one more ride before the park closed. We purchased the all day dining deal that Busch Gardens offers and it was well worth it because we were able to get bottled waters and snacks all day when we wanted it. Here is our album of pictures from Busch Gardens.




On Sunday morning, we got up and took our time packing and eating breakfast, then headed over to he Port in Tampa. We went through the embarkation process to get our Sail and Sign cards (the ship ID) and got on the Carnival Legend. The first thing we did was find the buffet since our room wasn't ready yet. The food was pretty good. We chose the chinese buffet line. It was hard to find a table, so I sat at the first empty table we found while Scott got his food and then got mine while he ate. That was really the only way to do it since we were still lugging around our carry on luggage. By the time we were done with lunch, we were able to go to our room and put down our stuff. We then headed out to the pool to wait for the muster drill and the sail-away. We paid for a room with just a window, but we got upgraded for free to an obstructed balcony, probably because our ship wasn't full and my sister booked our cruise through her company and they book tons of cruises throug Carnival. The only other big things we did that night was go to dinner and the Welcome Aboard show. The show was so late that we checked out the Sing-along in the piano bar with a guy named Mr. H. That was a lot of fun. We met a couple at dinner who would supposedly be sharing our table for the week, Jocilyn and Dustin. The picture is of us sitting at the pool before the muster drill.




Monday was a "Fun Day at Sea" meaning we were cruising all day. We went to a couple of seminars about what do do in the ports when you weren't on an excursion, mainly about shopping. Please remind me to never waste my time at one of those again. They hand you all the information you need on the way off the ship and none of the "great deals" they talk about are really all that great from what I can tell. We also laid out in the sun, ate lunch, and went to our first "formal" night. Our new "friends" Jocilyn and Dustin had been drinking all day and were kind of funny, but Jocilyn said some things that I think embarrassed her. Also, Dustin hadn't realized that they prefer for you not to wear shorts and flip flops to the dining room. So, probably for those reasons, we never saw them again. That night there was a show called "Hot Jazz" that was pretty good.



Tuesday was our first day in a port of call, Cozumel. We had planned a dolphin swim and ride at the Dolphinaris. We really had a lot of fun. We got to pet the dolphins, "dance" with the dolphins, kiss the dolphins, hug the dolphins, and do a belly ride with the dolphin. Our dolpins names were Bina and Marcy (yep, that's right). The lunch was included in our package. It was pretty good, but when we saw how much it was, we decided that if it hadn't been included, we'd have gone somewhere else. After that, we just walked up and down the main shopping area and looked in the shops. We were getting up early the next morning, so we just headed to bed early and watched tv.




Wednesday was our day in Belize and our longest excursion. We went through a private company as opposed to going through Carnival. There were only six of us on our tour, Scott and me and a family of 3 and their son's friend. We did cave tubing and zip lining. The cave tubing was just okay. It was just like tubing in GA down the Chattahoochee, except you are going through a cave in the dark. We did see bat holes in the roof of the cave and some real live bats! Eek! The zip lining was tons of fun! We did 7 zip lines. We got some good videos of each of us zip lining. I really enjoyed being able to look down and see all the trees below us. Scott enjoyed it too and he's afraid of heights. It's a very controlled environment when you're zip lining.




Thursday was our day in Mohagany Bay, Isla Roatan which is in Honduras. We spent the morning on the beach. We purchased a package that included a ride on the "magical flying beach chair" which was a chair lift kind of like at ski resorts, two chairs and a "clam shell" cover, and two floats. The beach was crowded, but it was beautiful and they had an area roped off so that people could swim and not have to worry about floating too far out. Some people were renting snorkeling stuff and jumping off a dock that was a little to the left of where we were. I heard some people saying they saw all kinds of cool stuff. While we were at the beach, our waterproof digital camera stopped working. We had a regular digital camera on the ship, but the next day was our snorkeling trip, so we really wanted to digital camera. So, we decided to be cheap and go back to the ship for lunch, put away our beach things, then go back out to shop for a camera. No luck. We ran into a couple we'd met the next day while we were doing the slide later on and they have a waterproof camera and said they loved their's and had seen the exact same camera but a new model in the photo area on the ship. So, we bought one that night. That was our second "Cruise Elegant" night and there was a New Orleans-type show, so they had beads on everyone's plate when we got to the dining room. That night, it was really windy in the area the ship was sailing through, and we were going really fast. So, the ship was really rocking. There was a big show that night, the best one of the whole cruise, call The Big Easy. We couldn't believe the dancers and singers were still able to go on with the show. The cruise director had told them they shouldn't do it, but they really wanted to. The cruise director, Wee Jimmy, who was Scottish, said that after dinner he saw all the sober people walking around all unstable-looking and people were walking out of the bar in a straight line. It really was hard to walk!

Friday we were in Grand Cayman. It is so nice there! The water is beautiful and clear, the streets are fairly nice and clean. We shopped around, at lunch at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, and then went on a snorkeling tour. We visited a coral reef and a ship wreck. It was my first time snorkeling. Scott had been a couple of times before. There weren't tons of fish and there were really only abour 3-4 different kinds of fish down there. The ship wreck was cool. The ship was the Cali and it had a cool history about how it had had several owners, but the last owner had retro-fitted it with 2 big diesel engines. One night he was trying to make it back to the port to beat a storm and he fired up both engines at full throttle. The boat couldn't take the force of the engines, so it started to literally fall apart at the seams. He made it to the pier in Grand Cayman and a welder was trying to fix everything, but finally told him it was a lost job. Since he didn't want to be embarrassed by sinking his ship at the dock, he drove it further into the ocean and left it there. The boat was full of rice, so when the rice got wet, it expanded and literally sank the ship and busted the seams! It's the only time in history our tour guide knew of a boat being sank by rice. The British, who own Grand Cayman, thought the Cali was an eye sore, so they decided to blow it up right where it was. They brought 10 cases of dynamite with them. They really only needed 2.5, but they didn't want to take it all back with them. So, they hooked it all up and let 'er rip! The explosion was so huge, it busted all the windows out of the shops that are close to the dock in that area! This had happened years ago and the ship was all in pieces at the bottom of the ocean and there was lots of algae growing on it. That night, we saw a hilarious juggler, Dana Tison.



Saturday was another "Fun Day at Sea" and we got up bright and early so that we could get a good seat by the pool. We laid out by the pool, reading and napping and talking. There was an ice sculpting demonstration that afternoon. We of course spent a good bit of time on the slide. We played putt-putt on top of the ship in winds so hard, we had to lean into it to keep from being blown over. That was interesting. We worked on packing before dinner and managed to get most of it done before we went to eat. We just finished packing that night and went to bed since we knew we'd have to get up early if we wanted to get breakfast on the ship.




Sunday was "debarkation" and it really went very smoothly. We drove about half way home and stopped in Moultrie, GA where we had dinner with our friends John and Ashleigh, watched the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and stayed the night. We drove the rest of the way home on Monday and managed to get almost all of our laundry caught up! It was definitely a good idea to take Monday off!














I think we are both in post-vacation let-down. I, surprisingly, didn't feel a real sense of dread about going back to work. So, I thought that was good. I feel revived. I thought our vacation had a good mix of fun and activity and laying around and being lazy.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Movies

Scott and I love to watch movies. There was a bit of a dry spell where there either weren't any that we wanted to see, or we were too busy while the ones we wanted to see were in the theater. So, until Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 came out in November, I think the last movie we'd been to see was Eclipse. However, we saw HP7 twice (once on the regular screen then once in IMAX with some friends). Then, we've been to see Tangled and the new Narnia movie in the past couple of weeks.

We really like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part1. Obviously, with a book that long, they had to condense a lot of scenes, but I still felt like they stayed pretty true to the book on this one. In previous movies, mainly in the Goblet of Fire, they strayed so far from the book that I felt they actually changed the character of the characters, if you know what I mean. They ended Part 1 in a place that ensures that Part 2 will be nothing but non-stop action and have us on the edge of our seats the whole time! I am really excited to see that one but at the same time I'll be sad for the series to be over.



Tangled was a really cute movie. I really want to get ahold of the Little Golden Book version of Rapunzel because I want to see if the story was anything like the real Rapunzel. I can't remember anything about it, except the hair and the tower. Of course everything ended with a "happy ever after."

The newest Narnia movie, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, was very entertaining as well. I have never read any of the books, so I can't compare them. I will probably read them one day, but I might wait until the movies are all out so I won't watch the movies comparing them to the books.

I am an AMC Moviewatcher member, so the last time we went, we got a free ticket that we have to use before the end of January. So, we'll be going to see something else very soon.

We've also been renting movies from Netflix. We watched a movie that Emma Watson, from Harry Potter, did a few years ago on instant watch. It was called Ballet Shoes. Yeah, not that great of a movie. It was kind of pointless, but I didn't think the acting was bad. We borrowed the Alice in Wonderland with Johnny Depp from my dad and I actually really enjoyed it. I thought it would just be ridiculous, so I wasn't expecting much, so I guess that's why I liked it. I had heard several people say they weren't impressed. Before we watched that version, we watched another real-people version of Alice in Wonderland and the animated Disney version. We watched The Kingdom last night and that was a very action-packed movie. The main character was Jamie Foxx. I don't think I had watched him in anything since the TV show In Living Color so I was surprised that he was so good at playing a serious character! The show was based on terrorism in Saudi Arabia. A military compound is attacked and the FBI comes in to help them figure out what happened and who is to blame. Oh man, this movie was so stressful. Next on our queue is The Life and Faith of C.S. Lewis. We did an instant watch of a documentary called America's Godly Builders: Wallbuilders. It talked about how America's founding fathers intended for Christianity to be a part of the American life. I must admit that I made the mistake of laying down during this one b/c I couldn't get comfortable and fell asleep a couple of times. But, I got the gist. Scott really liked it and we'll probably watch more stuff like that on instant watch. We also watched Sweet Home Alabama because Scott had never seen it and I wanted to see it again. We both agree that that one should go on our wishlist because it's a keeper. Since we really don't want to spend all our time at home watching movies, we have the cheapest version of Netflix - we get two rentals per month, one at a time, and 2 hours of instant watch per month. Sometimes, we end up keeping a movie for over a month because we aren't able to watch it, so we don't need to spend more.

Well, I hope you are tempted to watch some of these movies that we've seen lately if you haven't already. Hopefully I'll download some holiday gathering pictures and do a post on that soon.

Take care!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Caught in the Act

The other day I got video of some of the cats' funnier quirky habits. So cute.



video

Mathilda has started dunking her head under the stream of water before drinking it (usually for much longer than I captured here). Sampson always "hints" that he wants to be brushed. They keep us laughing!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Random Thoughts From Marcy

I know it has been forever since I've posted. So, I really don't know what to say, so I thought I would just do a bulleted list:

-It is cold in GA. It actually wasn't unbearable this morning, but it is supposed to be about 30 degrees F on Christmas day. That's cold.

-I need a new pair of gloves. The ones I have I got at Eddie Bauer either the year Scott and I started dating or the year before that. They have strings hanging off and all the anti-slip stuff is breaking off and getting everywhere. But, there are no holes and they still keep my hands all toasty. I think I'll be going back to Eddie Bauer to replace them. Gloves are not something I can just put on my wishlist. I have to try them on. I have small hands.

-I work in a place where vacation time is use-it-or-lose-it. I haven't used very much because I've been so busy. So, I took last Friday off and I will be taking off every day for the rest of the year beginning tomorrow.

-Tomorrow is cleaning day.

-Our cats are still the best ever. Mathilda has removed a few random ornaments from the tree, but there has been very little damage. Sampson and Maxwell are as sweet as ever. All three compete for our attention.

-We have lots of Christmas and New Years activities coming up in the next week and a half. It's good to be busy and to have lots of friends and family to spend time with.

I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chili

Last night we had our annual bonfire at Charles' and Maggie's house. It was a lot of fun, even though it was really really cold. But, there was a fire, so I huddled close to it. Maggie and Charles were recently part of a different small group, so we had new people at our bonfire and that was a lot of fun too! I made the chili and got lots of compliments on it. This was surprising since I'd never made it this way before, but I made it this way to try to make it so that more people would like it. I have, in the past, always made my chili with only like 1-2 pounds of meat in a huge pot of chili with beans (always pinto) and lots of tomatoes. And it generally isn't very spicy because of my acid reflux and the fact that when I used to put in a can of Rotel, Scott mentioned it was too spicy. But, he seems to have taken on a higher threshold for spiciness in the years since we were first married, so I took a chance and he seemed pleased. I wanted to publish my "recipe" since I still had the cans I used yesterday sitting on the counter since I'd rinsed them and let them dry for recycling.

I made two big crock pots full - the "regular" round size (I think it's 4 quarts) and the big oval one (I think that one is 6 quarts). I tried to put about the same proportion of everything in each pot, so here is two big pots' worth of ingredients:

-3 boxes of the 2 Alarm Chili Kit mixes (do not add the masa flour and the red pepper until later)
-4 lbs ground chuck, browned and drained (we drained it into a collander sitting in a bowl and then pressed it with a paper towel)
-2 lbs reduced fat breakfast sausage, browned and drained
-3 cans tomato sauce
-3 cans plain diced tomatoes
-1 can diced tomatoes w/ green peppers & onions
-2 cans rotel (one was the regular Rotel brand, one was the fire-roasted Kroger version)
-2 small cans tomato paste
-2 cans fire-roasted tomatoes w/ garlic
-1 can fire-roasted tomatoes

Scott browned and drained the meat for me. I split it between the crock pots. I added one mix to each crock pot excluding the masa flour and the red pepper. I then added all the tomato products above. I put the lid on an let it cook on high for 30 minutes, as directed on the box. I went back and tasted and thought it could use some more heat, so I split 1 of the envelopes of red pepper between the 2 pots and to thicken it, I mixed one envelope of the masa flour with 1/4 c warm water in each pot (2 total). I let them cook for maybe 15 more minutes on high then turned them down to low while we went out to lunch, so maybe an hour and a half-ish. When we got home, the house smelled like chili, but when I stirred it up and tasted, it didn't really taste like chili. It tasted like meat and tomatoes. Sad. So, I split my last chili kit between the two pots, excluding the masa flour and the red pepper. I thought they were thick enough and I knew from experience that chili gets hotter with time, so I didn't want to overdo the spice. They probably cooked on low for another hour to an hour and a half before we packed them up to take to Charles' and Maggie's house. Of course, they didn't have to cook for that long and would have cooked faster on the stove. However, if you make chili "quickly" and you intend to have leftovers for the next few days or to freeze, keep in mind that the reheated version will always be spicier.

Sorry that was so long. But, chili is a food of love. It takes a while. I rarely ever make it the same way twice because I can rarely remember. If I was making this for just Scott and me, I would put in beans. I have also made chili with ground turkey breast and it is just as good. I would have used turkey sausage if I could find anything but those breakfast links, which are a pain to break up and they are more expensive. Happy cooking!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Belated Post About Our Vacation

Back at the end of July, Scott and I went on vacation in Destin for a long weekend. We really enjoyed it when we went down there for my sister's wedding, so we thought we'd go there again. The water and beach were so beautiful. Well, with all the oil issues and the storms, it wasn't as beautiful as it had been. There was no oil around, but everything just seemed stirred up. I have made a slide show of the few pictures that we took. It was really windy and hot. That's the one thing I don't like about the beach - that you get all hot and sweaty. Ick! But, I read Sense and Sensibility while we were there and we sat on the beach the whole time, with one short trip to the outlet mall. We had one nice meal out at a place called The Back Porch, which was right on the beach. It was an open restaurant and it was really windy that day. We made good use of the salt and pepper shaker and all the condiment bottles to hold down our napkins and such. The other nights we cooked dinner in. We ate lunch in every day too. We spent as much on our one meal out as we did on our food the entire rest of the trip! I think that Carrie, Bethany, and Shana will appreciate this! I took pictures of the place we stayed so we'd remember. It was called Capri by the Gulf by Harmony Beach Vacations. It was pretty nice. It also was the best price around! I didn't bother labeling my pictures because I felt they were pretty self-explanatory. Enjoy!