Monday, October 24, 2011

Spoiled Thatch, Spaghetti Squash, and Sweatpants

So this week Jackson is slightly longer than a spaghetti squash (these fruit/vegetable analogies crack me up), and I'm realizing more and more of what a challenge we're going to have with our dog Thatcher when Jackson arrives.  We let Thatcher get away with a lot because he's so adorable, but it seems like it's time to be more strict with him.  Unfortunately I think Blake and I have both been more lax with him lately because we feel badly about how dethroned he'll feel once our baby arrives.  We're not worried about him hurting Jackson as Thatcher has been around babies and young children with no issues other than licking them too much; rather we're concerned about Thatcher being jealous and barking--like when we're holding Jackson and there isn't room in our lap for Thatcher.  Short of carrying around a baby doll to get Thatcher used to something else having our attention, I'm not really sure what to do to prepare him prior to Jackson's arrival. Any ideas?

As for sweatpants, if you're looking for a slightly dressier alternative, you should try maternity pants. 

p.s. I'm thankful that I can feel Jackson kick now.  The night of my last post I felt him for the first time, and it was so strange. I'm getting used to it now and love knowing he's moving around.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

10 Things

(1) We're halfway there! I'm 20 weeks pregnant today. 

(2) I've told my bosses that I'm not returning to work after Jackson's birth (because they asked)...and I'm thrilled to be able to stay at home.  Heck, I'd love to stay at home right now with Thatcher :) He needs love too.

(3) I still haven't felt Jack (at least to my knowledge), and last week I learned that I have an anterior placenta which means I'll feel his movement later than I would otherwise.

(4) I want to do some before and after posts to show the house progress, but I'm evidently too lazy to take and upload photos.  We're not doing a good job with the belly bump photos either....

(5) This weather is fantastic and makes me really grateful for the good job Blake did with our screened in backdoor porch and for the great deals we got on our outdoor furniture (yeah for Pottery Barn outlet having the same things as the regular Pottery Barn but for a fraction of the cost).

(6) I finally got to take Blake to my family's land in South Georgia for some 4-wheeling fun.  He and Thatcher loved it!  I couldn't believe what a little country dog Thatch became.

(7) There's definitely room in the maternity clothing market for a reasonably priced, well-made line of clothing, particularly for professionals.  Why is it that retailers think that now that I'm getting big that I want to wear teal and lavender (to the exclusion of colors like white and gray), loud prints, and cheaply made clothes? 

(8) It's depressing, but I really like The Civil Wars' "Poison and Wine."

(9) Over a year later and I'm still addicted to Words with Friends. Leave your username if you'd like to play.

(10) I think my blog was more interesting when I had dating stories, but I do not miss the drama and sometimes ridiculousness of dating. 

p.s. I'm grateful that I'm not working tomorrow and am heading to Nashville for fun with great friends.

Monday, September 12, 2011

We're Having a Boy!!

The day before Father's Day I found out that I was pregnant--just in time to give Blake an early Father's Day present. I wrapped up the positive pregnancy test and put it in a gift bag along with a card from Thatcher, and upon opening, Blake asked me "What does this mean?" I found his response hilarious as the test clearly identifies what two pink lines mean, and my husband has an engineering background and usually has no problem reading any test results. Needless to say he was ecstatic but cautiously so (he wasn't sure the test was reliable:). It became more real for him when we visited the doctor a few weeks later and were able to see our miracle on the ultrasound screen. Such a sweet relief to see the heartbeat.

Since then we've been able to see our baby two more times, and on our last visit we learned that our baby is a boy. We're naming him Jackson Ty. Jackson is my maiden name. We chose his middle name because I called my great uncle--"Uncle Ty"--as I couldn't pronounce Chester. I'm not sure how I came up with "Ty" (maybe because he often wore ties?), but it stuck and we all called him Uncle Ty. His wife helped raise my sister and me, and Uncle Ty often joined us for picnics, baton twirling, or harmonica playing.  He was a dear man and a blessing to our family.

The last 17 weeks have been so exciting and such a constant reminder of God's goodness and blessings. I love knowing our baby's name and being able to pray for him specifically. Plus it's great for me to mentally prepare for a boy since my sister has 3 girls; I'm 1 of 2 girls, and my mother is 1 of 3 girls.

The last 17 weeks have also felt like my body has a science project going on within it. It's really amazing how much everything is changing and how much I'm learning.

In other great news, we're back in our house and loving it. It's very comforting to finally be settling in.

p.s. I'm thankful for baby Jack and ultrasound technology that allows me to see him. I'm already looking forward to our next appointment.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The End is in Sight!

Thankfully it looks like we'll be moving back into our home at the end of next week. We're loving the way our house is looking and are so glad to have an end to all of this in sight. I imagine that by the end of August we'll be finished with all of this storm-related busyness, including the multiple phone calls to our mortgage company asking them to send the checks they were supposed to have already mailed, emails to our insurance adjuster to claim our depreciation money (so we can pay our contractor), and all of that hassle.

We finally got power back to our house (we've just had a temporary pole for construction purposes) a few weeks ago, so last weekend we finally installed the chandelier I bought last January for our dining room. I love it!

It's going to be nice to have more free time and for Blake not to be so stressed out and busy driving over to our house all the time. And maybe I'll find time to blog more; it's definitely fun to have a journal of some sort to reflect back on from time to time. Hope you're all well :)

p.s. I'm grateful for lazy Saturdays.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


We're seeing lots of progress with our house each week, and it looks like we'll be able to move back in by the end of next month. Honestly I'm still holding on to some bitterness about this ordeal that I need to let go of; I need to quit complaining and just enjoy the good things that are coming from this experience.

I've included some photos showing our progress...and no, we are not going to have a mustard colored house with mismatched siding; this is just the color of primed Hardiplank and the shingle like siding happens to come in a different color. It will all be painted gray with white trim. We had planned to exchange our vinyl siding for Hardi in a few years, but since insurance was only going to pay to re-side half of our house (which obviously wouldn't match) we decided to add to the money insurance was willing to pay and go ahead with this improvement.

Here are some of our new windows. Fortunately insurance was willing to pay to replace all of our windows since so many were damaged in the storm, and they all need to match (as they did preloss). This was a huge blessing because this is something we really wanted to do in the next year or two.

While all of this construction was going on we decided to pay to add rails to our back porch so that it is more child and dog friendly; we're also rescreening it since there were numerous holes in the screen (and I'm afraid Thatch may jump to his death).

I am so eager to be back in our home!

p.s. I am grateful for my father. We celebrated Father's Day last night, and he finally got a gmail acccount!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


After almost three months of our house looking like this:

the repairs have started! We are so grateful. Finally seeing some actual physical progress gives me hope and is exciting. I'm so ready to be back in our home.

Long story short we ended up getting a new adjuster after our initial adjuster submitted an absolutely asinine estimate to us (and she only got around to that because I called her supervisor...can you tell I'm still a little bitter?). We then met with our new adjuster and our contractor (very helpful), and our contractor submitted an estimate. After weeks of waiting, we received word that our insurance company would pay all of our contractor's bid except a few hundred dollars. We were stunned and elated as this was about $47,000 more than the initial estimate.

Of course nothing works quickly when an insurance company is actually paying money out (but they sure do demand prompt payment from their insureds), so it took another few weeks to get a check, and then when we received it it was several thousand dollars short. It took another few weeks to resolve that, and in the meantime we worked with our mortgage company on getting disbursement of funds from them (since we had to forward the insurance checks to them) which is another ordeal. It's really been a very time-consuming few months-- and such a blessing that Blake and I both have such flexible jobs.

We're hoping to be back in our home in July by which time our house will be a different color! We're adding money to the insurance funds so that we can go ahead and put Hardie Board on our home, which we're going to paint a light/medium gray with white trim.

Happy summer!

p.s. I'm grateful for this progress and for the fun that Pinterest has been for me the last few weeks.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011


Hopefully Blake, Thatcher, & I will be moving into an apartment later this week. It's not a great location, but we're beyond tired of living in a small hotel room and out of our suitcase. Thankfully we're both feeling less anxious, angry (at the adjuster), and exhausted than we have over the last 10 days. Last week was pretty awful. We were preoccupied by ridiculous comments by our adjuster (which could constitute an entire post), uneasy feelings about the structural engineer hired by our insurance company, and our inability to sleep through the night in this small, uncomfortable hotel bed. I struggled a lot with anxiety.

Last Saturday we had a 5 hour meeting with our adjuster and her structural engineer (our insurance company refused to pay for/use a local engineer and insisted on using the firm they use "all the time"), and it was a really frustrating and disheartening experience. While we know that in the end everything will turn out fine, we're realizing that it may be an exhausting battle to get there (at least with this adjuster).

Thankfully our relocation company is more reasonable than our adjuster, and while they initially suggested we consider an apartment complex that was totally unsuitable, as soon as I located an acceptable place, they contacted the leasing agent and got the ball rolling. We're just waiting on our adjuster to decide whether the insurance company is going to pay to move our belongings (which is the logical choice given the construction and refinishing of our floors that will occur over the next few months) & furniture to this apartment or if she's going to insist that we use rental furniture, etc. Based on what contractors have told us and the lag time with insurance, we're thinking we won't be back in our house for 3 months or more.

The highlight of the last week has been how beautifully Blake and I have worked together and encouraged each other through this ordeal. Despite being exhausted, we've been patient and kind to each other and worked well as a team as we make numerous phone calls and decisions(engineers, electricians, contractors, remediation companies, utility companies, relocation company, and the list goes on) and meet for appointments, etc. I've felt so grateful to have him at my side--and that he has an engineering and construction background--because I do not understand a lot of this. Thankfully I do understand our insurance policy...Blake & I both see how uneducated insureds could be taken advantage of easily.

p.s. I'm grateful for your prayers. I know this isn't a tragedy like the loss of life or an illness, but it's been a really overwhelming experience for us.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

So Much for Settling In

A fierce windstorm (perhaps a tornado) swept through our neighborhood yesterday afternoon while I was at work and Blake was in Florida. Thankfully no one in our area was hurt, although a man in a nearby community was sadly killed.

Here's a photograph of our house from yesterday afternoon:

And here is the view from part of the interior of our second floor:

The corner of our living room; sadly there's water in the walls, ruining our newly painted walls (doesn't pismo/baja dunes look great though?) & part of our crown molding:

We were so thankful that our new neighbors could rush over and get Thatcher from our house; he was hiding under our bed, which he's never done before. Our neighbors also cleaned up some of the water and set out buckets to capture the leaks.

I cleaned up water as soon as I got home as well, but our brand new hardwood floors are buckling and uneven now from the water that must be trapped underneath the floors. Part of the roof, siding, and gutters are destroyed; the upstairs bathroom walls and ceiling have been destroyed along with the storage areas; some windows are cracked or misshapen; and we fear that the foundation may be comprised given the enormous weight of the tree and multiple cracks throughout many walls. Our front stoop is also destroyed along with part of our driveway. We met with a general contractor today, and he said it could be 2-3 months before things are fully repaired. We're in the process of getting quotes.

Thankfully the tree crew finished up today, and a remediation company is coming tomorrow to more fully and securely tarp the house (in case it rains again) and begin the process of drying/removing water. Given the significant damage & odor (wet insulation I guess) and lack of electricity, we're in a hotel for at least a few days. Thatch is enjoying life with the "grandparents."

It's been an incredible 24 hours, and we're exhausted. Thankfully Blake was able to fly home last night, so we can navigate this insurance/rebuilding process together. Please pray that we have a reasonable and fair adjuster. We should meet her on Saturday and hopefully get approval to start putting our new home back together. We're not looking forward to handling this ordeal, especially after the last tiring 6 weeks of remodeling, but God's faithful provision is already so evident. He is good.

p.s. I'm grateful that so many friends, family, and new neighbors are reaching out to help us and that only things were damaged--after all, they can always be replaced.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Settling In

We've made lots of decisions--choosing paint, stain for our new floors, molding, baseboards, and we're still working on light fixtures. We've done lots of work (replacing stairs, painting, cleaning, packing, etc.) And we've hired some experts to sand, stain, and finish our floors (and I have idea how they endure that polyurethane smell); a plaster guy replaced our crumbling fire place wall for us and did some major patching; an electrician checked out our wiring and helped us identify the outlets that do/don't work; and we had the crown molding & base boards installed.

And last Saturday we moved in with the help of some great friends. Thankfully we had excellent weather, and the move was uneventful. We're still unpacking, but so far I'm liking house-living much better than the loft. It's so much quieter! And it's just nice to have more space so that we can spread out. And Thatcher is much better behaved now that we're paying attention to him again (painting and packing are two of his least favorite things, btw) and he has a big backyard to roam around in. Hoping to post some before/after photographs soon, but for now, check out Thatcher's new "perch."

p.s. I'm thankful for how smoothly everything has fallen into place with our new home.

Monday, January 31, 2011

It's Been a Chicken Kind of Winter

I've had two recipes on repeat this winter, and I love them so much that one week I realized I had eaten the same entree for at least seven meals in a row! Since I've enjoyed them so much I thought I would share them with you.

My recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup is a combination of several different recipes I found online; the Velveeta Cheese makes it creamy and rich. This recipe is easily altered by adding a can of black beans, corn, or by using spicy Rotel instead of the original, etc.

3 chicken breasts (which you can cook/shred beforehand or during the process)
2 regular size cans of Original Rotel
2 (10 ounce) can mild enchilada sauce (if you want it spicy, use medium)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth (you may want one more can--it just depends on how thick you want your soup to be)
1 and ½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1-2 bay leaf
Velveeta cheese (about an inch or two wide "slice" cut into cubes)

Put everything except for the Velveeta in a crock pot and stir, cover, and cook on low setting for 6 to 8 hours or on high setting for 3 to 4 hours. After a few hours I remove the chicken breasts and shred them with two forks. About 30-60 minutes before the soup is finished cooking, drop the Velveeta cubes into the pot...once they melt, stir again. Serve with tortilla chips & sour cream.

My other repeat recipes is Chicken Tortilla Casserole, which I believe my co-worker got from

3 cups shredded, cooked chicken (you could easily use more if you want)
1 packet (1.25 ounce)taco seasoning
2 cups salsa verde
9 fajita-size flour tortillas
1 can (15.5 ounces)refried beans, warmed in microwave
8 ounces sour cream
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese


1.Heat oven to 350°. Mix chicken, taco seasoning, 1/2 cup water and salsa verde in a skillet. Simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes.

2.Coat 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Cover bottom of pan with 3 flour tortillas, overlapping. Pour half of the chicken mixture on the tortillas. Cover with 3 more tortillas. Spread with warmed beans and the sour cream.

3.Sprinkle half the cheese over the beans and sour cream, and cover with the remaining 3 tortillas. Top with remaining chicken mixture, followed by remaining cheese. Bake at 350° for 25 to 28 minutes, until bubbly. I serve this with chips to and think it's even better reheated the next day.

Happy new week!

p.s. I'm grateful for my niece Mallie's first birthday party and the time with family.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Progress & Paint

It's been two weeks since we closed on the house, and wow, my husband has been hard at work. We've ripped out all of the carpet; torn out the hardwood floors on the first floor; and my brother in law, step-dad, and Blake installed the new hardwood floors. Blake has also torn out the ceiling tiles in two rooms, removed the popcorn finish on one ceiling, and is almost finished patching holes/cracks in the plaster on our walls so that we can paint. My contributions have been mainly limited to cleaning, providing meals (and doing all other household chores), slowly moving things to the house, and choosing paint. Choosing paint colors is hard. I'm glad Ace Hardware has free buttery popcorn; that makes it less painful.

We thought we'd narrowed it down to two colors yesterday (Benjamin Moore's berkshire beige or baja dunes), but once we applied them to our walls and looked at them in artificial light we realized they weren't for us. I think we're going to try chocolate mousse (the color) tonight. I like the idea of a darker chocolate color, but with our cherryish wood furniture and a brown leather sofa, we're thinking it'll be too dark. Looks like we'll be painting the foyer and small bedrooms white for now....

We've also had an electrician move our outlets since some were in the baseboard and some were on the wall. Oddly the smallest bedroom in the house has 12 outlets! It's crazy how many outlets this old house has...makes me wonder why.

Painting begins in the morning! Let's hope it goes quickly :) Happy (almost) weekend!



p.s. I'm grateful that it's Friday!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My New Obsession

Last week I shared Thatcher's new obsession, so I figured I'd share mine today: HGTV. I'm even setting my DVR from my phone to record shows like Sweat Equity, DIY Disaster, and Holmes on Homes. And I've decided to make a few videos to submit to HGTV in hopes of getting their help with some of our remodeling. After all we're basically redoing the entire house.

After our closing on Friday we celebrated with lunch at Urban Spoon, and then the real fun began. We pulled up the carpet in the living room and dining room and discovered this:

Of course, we'd hope to find the hardwood floors in decent shape, so that we could just have them sanded and refinished. Alas the three dogs that have lived with the previous owner had obviously not been fully house trained, and their urine had thoroughly stained parts of the floors and even rotted them in spots. So we've torn up the hardwoods as well and are having new flooring installed next week. I can't wait to see what the new 4 inch, slightly darker hardwood will look like. Thankfully the hardwoods upstairs are in much better condition and can be salvaged.

In the meantime, do you guys have any suggestions for this fireplace in our living room? I like the white wood mantel, but we're not crazy about the faux red brick and tile or the gold hood-like thing. Any thoughts? We're planning to paint the room a neutral--maybe a light brown/khaki-ish color.

p.s. I'm grateful for so many people's help this last week--whether they're giving us advice or lending a hand with our demolition or cleaning.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thatcher's Obsession (You'll Never Guess)

While my sister manages to keep her home remarkably clean and straigtened-up especially given her three children and husband, I recently learned that somehow a number of pacifiers on the floor escaped her attention. How did I learn this?

I took Thatcher to her house for a visit, and he found any and all pacifiers within his reach. He found several under her bed, a few more under the crib, and when we were outside he came running up and looking like this:

Clearly my youngest niece can't hold onto a pacifier. Of course, I took the paci away from Thatch since he eventually tries to eat the soft part. A few days later I had on a raincoat, and Thatch began scratching furiously at its pocket. I reached in the pocket to find his dear paci I had cruelly taken away. The dog is obsessed. We realized the full extent of his obsession when Thatch hung out with our friends' son Holden and stole his paci. Here's a photograph of Thatch sniffing things out:

p.s. I'm thankful that at least Thatch likes babies (at least the ones that don't make much noise)--even if he likes their pacis more.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

2010 (Put a Ring On It)

I'm a bit behind in end-of-the-year and beginning-of-the-year posting (or really just posting in general), but I just read a post that detailed the past year in photographs and felt inspired enough to log into Blogger & recap 2010.

My friends & I rang in the new year with a mad plaid party. My niece Mallie was born. We enjoyed a snow that permitted really fun sledding on the hill outside our apartments. And Blake & I bought Thatcher (he's doing his favorite thing in this photograph--licking!)


I finished watching all episodes of Criminal Minds, discovered the deliciousness that is boursin cheese on filet mignon, got a new, great secretary--obviously a slow month! (I only remember these things b/c I blogged about them.) Almost forgot, I visited Chicago for the first time to see my friend Sarah and meet up with our other two friends. from our days in Macon. So fun to catch up, but Thatcher almost died while I was gone. Scary!


Blake proposed. I said yes. I couldn't have been more thrilled.


We quickly set a date (June 12th) for the wedding & began planning. The planning wasn't really fun at all, but I felt very blessed by how well Blake and I worked together in doing something we didn't enjoy very much. And we celebrated Easter with a feast with our delicious!


Our friends threw us a co-ed shower as well as a lingerie shower (no boys at that one though). My friend Nicole and my sisters hosted another shower in my hometown, and we were constantly humbled by our friends and family's generosity, thoughtfulness, and support.


Finally! The planning was over, and Blake & I got married. The day went very smoothly thanks to our awesome friends & family (who served us well in so many different ways), and we were in the car headed to Atlanta by 1:00 or so :) One of my favorite moments was when I first saw Blake that morning at 7:45. He was waiting for me at the place he had proposed, and this is what I saw when I arrived: While we were dating, we often referred to "One Day"--because we knew that if it was God's plan for us to be married that "One Day" we'd get to enjoy certain things together--but not until then. And finally One Day had arrived. So glad to have waited for God's perfect plan & for Blake.
June 12th was also a special day for our friends Kate & Carson as Kate gave birth to their much prayed over son Holden. Here she is at our wedding & in labor! Here's one more favorite wedding day photo with my sweet friends & flower girl. Of course, we also went on our lovely honeymoon to the Dominican Republic.

Answered prayer! Blake got a great job. The timing was ideal--just a few weeks after we returned from our honeymoon.


Our friends Beth & Michael were commissioned & shipped out to "East Asia" as missionaries. Exciting but sort of sad too. Blake & I participated in our first mud run.


We spent a weekend at my boss' cabin in Mentone and continued adjusting to marriage, which has been much more difficult than I thought it would be for us. Blake & I also joined a Stories Group and began hosting a Supper Club through our church.


We celebrated Halloween with a party on the roof, and thanks to Blake's dad & step-mom Thatcher even got in on the "fun." I started volunteering regularly with some high school students once a week, and Blake had to travel a good bit. Thankfully distance makes the heart grow fonder :) We also began looking in earnest for a house & enjoyed a overnight shopping trip to Atlanta.


We found a house! It needs lot of work but is priced appropriately, and it's less than a mile from where we live now. We'll also share our back fence with our friends Kate & Carson (& Holden too). We close this Friday!


Blake's employer flew the spouses down to Tampa for the company Christmas party, and it was a great get-away. The spa was awesome, and it was just fun to be away together and to finally meet some of his coworkers (since Blake works from home). We had a magical white Christmas and celebrating Christmas with four separate parental units went better than we expected. I enjoyed my last huge Christmas tree (since our new home won't have such high loft ceilings).

So in summary, my year was full of answered prayers. It was busy, especially the process of going from "I" to much more "we." The new year is already off to an exciting start; hope yours is too.

p.s. I'm grateful for new years, clean slates, resolutions, possibilities, and opportunities.