Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Week 27: Picture Perfect

Dear Baby A,

Today you are 27 weeks old!  Based on our weekly update from "You weigh about two pounds and are 14 1/2 inches long with your legs extended. You sleep and wake at regular intervals, open and close your eyes, and perhaps even suck your fingers." 

Until yesterday, we could only read these updates and imagine what your little world was like in Mommy's tummy.  Mommy and Daddy spent yesterday evening at Daddy's office where Miss Jan expertly took us through an hour in the life of Baby A.  We got to see you stretch and yawn and rub your eyes.  We even saw you open your eyes once.  But most of all we got to see you looking sweet and content and comfortable in your home away from home. 

There were so many magical moments that Miss Jan captured for us, but our very favorite was this one.  You look like a little angel peacefully resting.  Seeing you this closely made us so incredibly excited to meet you and hold you and kiss those little cheeks.  And I have to say that I cannot count the number of times we have looked at this picture.  As soon as your sweet face disappeared from the screen, we missed you. 

It's hard to believe that we won't see you again until the day I hold you in my arms.  As we've experienced over the last 27 weeks, time has a way of escaping us.  I'm sure November will be here before we know it.  Until then, little one, get your rest, grow strong, and enjoy the rest of this journey that you and I have together.  As excited as I am to meet you, I am going to miss knowing that you are with me every minute of every day. 

We love you more and more each day,

Mommy and Daddy

Monday, August 15, 2011

Howdy Neighbors

So guess who moved in just two blocks down - Matthew and Camilla!!  I guess they're only here for about a month, but still!  How exciting is that!!!

Mark saw Matthew running in the park, and we saw Camilla chatting on the phone on their porch when we took Beignet for a stroll.  I hope they love our little neighborhood.  It would be crazy to bring by a basket of muffins or something, right?!

Friday, August 12, 2011

26 Weeks: No Pain, No Gain

Dear Baby A,

I am two days late in telling you, Happy 26th week.  Things have been kind of hectic around here.  This week, Daddy went to Atlanta for robot school so he can learn to use the Da Vinci.  Aren't you proud?!  Mommy had dinner with your grandparent's on Monday, a late board meeting on Tuesday, a girls night out to see The Help on Wednesday, and a Delta Gamma advisors meeting last night.  Whew, I'm pooped just thinking about the week in review. 

I have been thinking about all of the things I want to share with you this week, but I think the most important one is a lesson I was reminded of this past weekend.  You see Saturday morning, Mommy woke up to the sounds of Annie, our 17 year old Jack Russel Terrior, crying.  Poor Annie didn't look so good, so Mommy sat quietly with Annie in her lap trying to calm her down.  In all honestly, I think somewhere deep inside, I knew there was something really wrong and innately knew that I needed to spend some really special and peaceful time with her.  Your grandparents came over because they could tell I was worried, and they went with me to take Annie to the doctor.  I was never more grateful to have them near me as I was that morning.  When we met with the doctor, it was clear that Annie had taken a sudden and severe turn for the worse.  And while I knew that the decision to help her go peacefully to rest was the right one, I have never had to make a harder choice in my life. 

Annie was a part of my life longer than most of the people currently in it.  I have known her since I was just fourteen.  She was a loveable and joyful and spunky little thing who, up until about three years ago, still had enough energy to go running with your Daddy.  She spent the last few of her healthy years happily in Beaufort where she enjoyed our walks through Habersham and her time lounging in the sunshine on the porch.  And I guess if I had to tell you how I will remember her most it will be with a silly grin.  I am not kidding, she was a dog who could smile.

To think of her sick and in pain, as she was on Saturday breaks, my heart.  To know that we had to help her find peace breaks it even further.  And it made me realize that there is nothing in this world I want more than to shelter you from pain and suffering and sorrow.  I don't want for you to spend one second of your life sad or heartbroken.  If only I could shelter you from all of the things that could hurt you...

But little one, there is one thing I have learned from sadness and tragedy.  It was a lesson I first learned following Hurricane Katrina when, after wishing that I had never even heard of a place called New Orleans so that my heart wouldn't hurt like it did, it was clear that pain comes from a place deep inside of you and fills the void where love once lived.  If you didn't feel pain, you wouldn't have ever felt love. For my heart to be as broken as our levees it could only mean that I had truly loved New Orleans.  For me to feel as empty as I did when Annie passed away showed just how big a space she occupied in my heart. 

And there is one thing I want more for you than to keep you safe and that is for you to love with every fiber in your being.  To not be afraid to share your heart with someone or someplace or something because you worry what life will be like without that person, place, or thing.  I can assure you that your life will always have been better having lost a love than having never loved at all.

We love you to pieces and cannot wait to take you to the Superdome tonight to see the Saints play in their first home pre-season game. 

Enjoy the rest of your 26th week, little one.


Mommy and Daddy

Monday, August 8, 2011

One Year Ago Today: The Saints (and I) Go to the White House

One year ago today, I was just entering the White House where I would soon find myself surrounded by the world champion New Orleans Saints, and of course, President Obama.  it was truly one of the single greatest moments of my life.  Even after a year has passed, it seems almost to surreal to explain fully...  But here goes...

Pinch me!!!  I'm still in shock that just yesterday I was in our nation's capital standing only feet away from President Obama and the Superbowl Champion Saints!!!

For four years, since Mark began his tour of duty at the Naval Hospital Beaufort, we have been flying back to New Orleans for home games.  Each and every time our plane landed safely in New Orleans, I was grateful that we were able to see our Boys in Black and Gold play football.  It is a sport my dad taught me to love, and a game that brought me such pure joy in the days of darkness following Katrina.  Like marriage,  I have loved this team in the bad times - you know what I'm talking about -  remember having two inept Billy Joes and the time Aaron Brooks threw the ball backwards to an offensive lineman??  But I have also loved this team in the good times:  September 25, 2006; Deuce's push to the goal line v. Philly, Drew's seven td's to seven different receivers against the Giants in week four (the day I bought our flights to Miami), and Superbowl Sunday.

Yesterday, the height of my Saints fan career was reached when I was able to stand in the East Room and watch Coach Payton and our team represent all of the Gulf South as the 2009 World Champs!

For your viewing pleasure, here are some pictures from truly one of the most amazing days of my life!

I was still a little anxious in this picture because I was so nervous my name was omitted from the list, but I couldn't have been more excited to be in line and about to enter the White House gates.

As we approached the entrance to the White House, we caught our first glimpse of the players.  They were holding a clinic for kids from the Boys and Girls Club as a part of the NFL's Play 60 campaign.

Upon entering the greeting room, we were met with the familiar sounds of New Orleans jazz played by the Marine Corps band.

One by one the players began making there way into the greeting room.  We were not the only ones to be in awe of this incredible experience.  Here, Jonathan Vilma is taking photographs of the band.  Do you spot Reggie Bush???

Maybe this close up shot will help!!!!  (Tracy Porter is in the background.  I wanted to ask him why he didn't have an image of the White House shaved into his head, but I got too shy!).

Here is a photo of Alex Brown (our newest addition at defensive end) and me.  He was so nice and very excited to be a part of the team.

And here is one of Wendell Pierce and me.  You may remember how much I love the show The Wire, and of course, Treme is a favorite too.  And, as a local he has taken on a role in the Be the One campaign.  Meeting him was incredible.  He brought his mom and dad and his brother, and it was sweet to see how excited he was about meeting the team!

Drew Brees is in the building!  Woohoooooooo!!!

After much anticipation, we all filed into the East Room.  The announcer came on and asked us to stand and congratulate the 2009 World Champion New Orleans Saints.  And as the players filed in and found their places on the bleachers at the front of the room, the band played "When the Saints Go Marching In."  It was such a special moment.  And you could see how touched the players were as they all had out their cameras and videocameras.  Truly once in a lifetime!!

And for the moment everyone had been waiting for, we were asked to stay rising to welcome the President of the United States.  I thought President Obama's speech was funny and heartwarming and truly captured the magical relationship this team has with its fans.

The President invited Drew to join Coach Payton on the stage to recognize him for the work he is doing to emphasize the importance of health and fitness in the lives of children.  What a great guy!

Mickey Loomis (the Saints GM) joined the President on stage, and I imagine in this moment he is telling Drew how they will manage to be back at the White House this time next year.  Can you say "Two Dat?!?!"

After the team presented the President with his very own jersey, the President went to each player to express his warmest regards and congratulations.

After the President congratulated the players, they were escorted out of the East Wing and onto the lawn where they watched as the President left via Marine Force One.

On our way out, we managed to spot a few familiar faces heading to the team bus.  Doesn't Jeremy Shockey look fabulous in his salmon seersucker blazer.  He stopped to tell us hi and take pictures with us (my eyes were closed dangit.).

And here's Mr. and Mrs. Benson.  He was so excited that I swear I thought I saw him sneak in his signature Benson boogie!

He couldn't wait for us to get a shot of his ring.  I have to say they are GORGEOUS!  And props to Mr. Benson for taking his look old school and sporting the pinky ring...

This post would not be complete without a HUGE thank you to my friend Anne.  I'd first like to thank her for adopting New Orleans as her home and spending time in DC this summer lobbying on behalf of the Audubon Institute for clean energy.  But I'd also like to thank her for considering me for this amazing experience.  

When I got a call from her on Thursday asking if I could get to the White House by Monday at 8:20 am, I thought they were going to have to take me to the ER.  My heart literally stopped beating.  I never in my wildest dreams thought I'd be in the East Room as the Superbowl Champion Saints met the President.  This experience will be one that I will never fully be able to put into words.  But, to be there to see our boys, our team, celebrate the pinnacle of success - holy cow.  From the bottom of my heart that pumps Black and Gold blood through my veins, thank you Anne.  This was truly one of the greatest days of my life!
Anne and me in the East Room

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ten Things on Thursday

I have missed participating in Lisa's Ten Things, so I thought I'd play along to one she put a few weeks ago.  Here goes:

1. If you watch the Food Network, which chef/show host is your favorite?
Without a doubt it's Ina Garten.  I actually have this hope that one day soon Mark and I will take a trip to the Hamptons.  I will be at the market selecting perfectly unperfect heirloom tomatoes when I spot Ina.  She comes over and says "now that's a lovely batch.'  And I say, "yes, well I'm working on heirloom tomato pies for supper."  And she loves the idea so much that she asks me to come over and show her how to make them in her kitchen.  Then Mark and Jeffrey join us for a wonderful meal with the perfect tablescape.  A girl can dream!

2. Do most of the people in your life know you blog? Or are you partially or totally anonymous?
Most of the peple in my life know I blog.  It's been a great way to stay in touch with everyone we love who live in a million different places.

3. When you grocery shop, do you prefer to bag your own groceries or do you like it when the store bags them for you? Paper, plastic, or reusable bags?
I am a very particular shopper and would love if the check out person would let me bag my own things.  I like all of the frozen items bagged together, then the meats, then refrigerated items, then produce, then dry goods.  It sounds crazy, but it's so much easier to unload that way.  Unfortunately, even when I set them out in that order, they end up getting mixed in the bags.  Grrr....  I love reusable bags because they're not only better for the environment, but they also hold so much more and are easier to carry!

4. Do you prefer to dine outdoors or indoors?

I prefer to dine outdoors.  It reminds me of all of the fabulous cafe where we had wine and cheese in Paris.  Of course, living in New Orleans, I prefer to dine whereever I am not 100 degrees...

5. How do you pronounce the word aunt? Does your pronunciation rhyme with ‘haunt’ or ‘can’t'?
I say aunt that rhymes with can't.  Mark says it the other way, and I think it sounds so funny.

6. Do you like to take baths? Do you take them very often?
I love to take a nice hot bath.  I find it so incredibly relaxing.  I might indulge in a good bath every month or so.  This makes me think I need to do this more often!

7. What color are the walls in your kitchen?
Every wall in our house is painted a very light neutral color with cream trim.  This would not be what I would have chosen, but right before we moved in the previous owners had the house professionally painted and their is not a spot out of place.  We have 13 foot ceiling downstairs, and I just can't bring myself to consider a color change now.  I think next summer we might have them done, but until now neutral it is.

8. Do you have a green thumb?
NO!  I wish I did.  My dad is a wonderful gardener.  Unfortunately, I am not very thoughtful when it comes to taking care of plants.  I once won this beautiful rose topiary at a fundraiser and it died before I got it home.  I'm not kidding.  When I got back to work from the event, I had about two hours left to my work day, and I assumed since it was hot outside at the nursery, and it was hot inside my car, those two things were equivalent.  Well, apparently, plants shouldn't be kept in a hot car... 

9. Describe your ideal weather.
My absolute favorite thing in the world is feeling the first cool breezes of fall.  I feel renewed.  I love when it is just cool enough where you need a light sweater and a scarf.  It's still sunny during the day so you can really enjoying sitting outside with a good book or a good friend. And I love when you start to see pumpkins on people's porches. It's like one day the fall fairy arrives and everything feels a little bit more festive.

10. If you could learn any foreign language, which would you choose to learn?
French!  It is not the most practical, but it sure is beautiful.

What's your ideal weather?  Or your favorite Food Network Star?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Week 25: Daddy's Project

Benjamin Moore Pismo Dunes

Dear Baby A,

It is the start of week 25!  To get things going, Mommy had her glucose screening today.  Rather than the orange drink most moms have to drink, Dr. Champlin recommended two donuts and a bottle of oj.  So Mommy and Daddy had breakfast at Blue Dot Donut  where I ordered two cinnamon twists and a large juice.  You will come to learn that cinnamon sugar is quite a perfect combination!  Fingers crossed my lab results will come back just fine, and we'll have one less thing to worry about.  The closer we get to meeting you the longer my "worry list" gets!!

Baby A, last night I came home to find your daddy high atop a ladder covered in paint.  Can you guess what project he was completing?  It is a very special one, indeed!  Of course, he was painting your nursery.  For weeks Daddy has been asking if he could get started on your room, but Mommy has a hard time making final decisions when it comes to paint colors.  Well, two Saturdays ago we settled on Benjamin Moore's Pismo Dunes, so Daddy began working on your room this weekend.

I cannot begin to tell you how lucky you are to have such a wonderful Daddy.  From the moment we picked the color, he has been saying how excited he was to have a project to complete just by himself especially for you.  He could have asked for help, and lots have people who love you would have joined the paint party, but he wanted to get it ready all on his own as a little present for you.  It makes me so happy and content knowing that your daddy loves you that much. 

I would love to share all of the experiences I have had with Daddy that make me so certain he will be a wonderful father, but to do so would take as long to tell as it did to live those moments.  What I can tell you is that your Daddy is warm and kind and patient and supportive.  He is wise and thoughtful.  He is a wonderful story teller.  He has a laugh that is contagious and a smile that fills a room.  He thinks of others before himself.  And he loves you more than you will ever know.  Already.  Without meeting you, he loves you.  And he always will. 

When I think about seeing you in your Daddy's arms, it makes me ever more ready to meet you, little one.  I can't wait to see him hold you and rock you and kiss away your bobos and tell you all is right in the world.  Seeing the smile on his face as he stood in your room and admired his gift for you made me know one thing is certain, you are already the sparkle in your Daddy's eye. 

Have a wonderful 25th week.  (PS - The Saints have signed some pretty amazing free agents.  You got to be at their second day of practice, and I think you were their good luck charm.  Later that day, they signed Mark Ingram to his rookie contract!)


Mommy and Daddy

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays: Buffalo Chicken Bites

Photo Courtesy of The Other Side of 50

One of my very favorite things is stumbling on a fabulous blog.  I feel like I've hit the jackpot when I spy a site that encompasses everything I love to spend my free time reading about: food, travel, fashion, crafts. 

Last week, I found Your Southern Peach and fell in love with her Friday Five post.  Who doesn't love mason jar projects, football, and ice cream parties?!

One of Southern Peach's Friday Favorites took me to Copacetic in Carolina's post "Southern Fried Football: Tailgate Fare and SEC Superfans."  I was in heaven - two fabulous new blogs in one day!!! 

As you may have guessed from last week's post, I have football on the brain.  Going to training camp Saturday only exacerbated my condition.  It's all I think about.  Have we signed Zach or Jermon?  When will Cam Jordan finally come to camp?  Who will we get for depth at defensive tackle?  There's just so much going on in the frenzy that is the post-lockout NFL. 

I love Copacetic in Carolina's tailgate recipe collage!

While our final roster remains a mystery, one thing is certain...  it's August.  With August comes pre-season football and with football comes a tailgate.  In the South, that means only one thing - good food, good friends, good times.  When you're cooking for a crowd, you have to have tasty easy recipes that can be eaten on the go.  Every recipe featured in CIC's post is better than the next.  But, if I had to choose the one I cannot wait to try on Friday, August 12th (the night of the first Saints pre-season home game) it would have to be the Buffalo Chicken Bites.

Buffalo Chicken Bites

Yield: 48 small bites, or 30 medium bites

3 cups shredded cooked chicken (About 1 store-bought rotisserie chicken, skin discarded)
1/4 to 1/2 cup hot sauce (or more to your taste)
3 1/2 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 3/4 cups sharp or medium shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3 – 4 cups Corn Flakes cereal, crushed

Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a large bowl, mix the chicken, cream cheese and hot sauce until combined.  Stir in the cheddar cheese and green onions.

Using a small cookie or ice cream scoop, spoon out the chicken mixture and roll into about 1 1/2 inch balls.  Place on a plate or separate baking sheet (not lined) until ready to dip.

In three separate bowls, set out the flour, eggs and Corn Flakes.  Dip each chicken ball first into the flour, then the egg and ending with the Corn Flakes. 

Place on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.  Serve warm with ranch or blue cheese dressing.

**If freezing for later, place the dipped and uncooked chicken balls onto the parchment lined baking sheet and flash freeze for 15 to 20 minutes.  Transfer to a freezer bag and store in the freezer until ready.  To bake, place the frozen chicken balls back on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350˚F for 25 to 30 minutes, until crispy and golden brown.

What's your favorite tailgating food?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Bachelorette Bonanza

I was going to tell you all about our weekend, but I can't because tonight Ashley has taken over my living room!  I cannot wait for a marathon of mush.  From the finale to the after the rose, there is nothing on my agenda aside from the Bachelorette!

Here's Ashley in her Randi Rahm engagement gown...

Who do you think it will be??

Ben F.

or JP?

I am not very certain this time around.  I really like her chemistry with JP, but I think that Ben F seems like such a wonderful guy.

Wait no more...  The answer is just around the corner!!!


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