Thursday, July 29, 2010

Recipe: Beef Enchiladas

*I adapted this recipe from one I found at I forgot to take pictures while I was preparing these, but I'll definitely make them over and over again, so I'll upload pictures next time I make them. Important to note: This is the first thing I've made that HubbyButt actually had seconds of!*

Beef Enchiladas

1 1/2 lbs ground beef (can substitute cooked and shredded chicken)
3/4 cup onions
1 recipe Enchilada sauce
Pinch of cumin
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup olives, chopped
Grated cheese (cheddar, jack work well)
1. Saute meat and onions until meat is crumbly and onions are limp.
2. Add 1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce, cumin, and salt. Simmer 30 minutes.
3. While mixture is simmering, soft fry tortillas in oil. Drain on paper towels.
4. Dip fried tortillas in remaining enchilada sauce, coating both sides.
5. Add ripe olives to meat mixture.
6. Divide the stuffing (meat mixture) among tortillas, add cheese. Roll and place seam down in prepared baking dish. Spoon remaining sauce over enchiladas and top with grated cheese.
7. Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 5 minutes.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Summer in Southern California Means...

Wildfires. Right now, there are two very large fires burning in the mountains around where I live. The Bull Fire is burning near Kernville, and the West Fire is burning in Tehachapi. From my house in Bakersfield, you can see some dark smoke to the southeast, from the West Fire, and to the north/northeast, from the Bull Fire. These two fires have destroyed between 30 and 50 homes combined, which I can only imagine is extremely devastating for the homeowners and the communities being affected. The American Red Cross has set up an account to accept donations for families affected by the fires. I'm obviously not a reporter, but this is something that's really touching me right now, and I'm keeping the residents of the affected communities in my prayers, and I encourage you to do the same. 
These photos were NOT taken by me. The one on the left is from photographer Mike Meadows, and the photo is an AP photo. It's a picture taken from westbound highway 58 of the West Fire, taken from about 50 miles away at the base of the mountains where the fire is burning. The photo above is from the Bull Fire, and was taken by Kern River Valley Resident Sherry Gaskin. You can see more photos from the West Fire here, and photos of the Bull Fire here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I'm Not A Big Sports Fan But....

I AM really proud of the local Cal State for achieving Division 1 status, effective September first of this year!

T Minus 53 Days

I was curious as to how many days are left until my due date, so I found one of those countdown clocks where you put a date in and it calculates, and I found out I'm due in 53 days! That just blows my mind! It seems like everything is really starting to come together for her arrival, too. My shower at work is on Tuesday, HubbyButt's mom is starting to plan my other shower, I'm getting ready to go on leave, and we're finally starting to get baby clothes and toys and all that. I think what really made me start to think about how close we are to actually being parents is the fact that I made all the rest of my check-up appointments the other day. I mean, five more visits with my doctor, and I'll be a mommy (assuming, of course, Princess waits until forty weeks to arrive). Just seeing those few appointments on the card from the office just really REALLY put it all in perspective. I'm so excited!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Day 2 of 31 Days: A List Post

Today's challenge of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog is to create a list post. I've spent all day thinking about what kind of list I should make, and decided it's a good day to make a list of what I'm thankful for.

1) HubbyButt. He's my best friend and I am so grateful God has blessed me with him! 
2) My growing belly! I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome last October, and I actually have 2 cysts on my left ovary (sorry if it's TMI, but that's the way it is!), which can make it very difficult to conceive. After being put on a diabetes control medication called Metformin, we conceived Princess. We are so blessed to be expecting our little girl!
3) Our home. When we got married a little over a year ago, we were living in a studio apartment. When we got pregnant with Princess, we were still living there! We had no idea where we were going to put her until one of the families at our church approached us about renting a home they owned. Our little house is so cute and, again, we are so blessed to have it!
4) Air conditioning! We live in central California, and temperatures have been hovering around 100F for the last few weeks. The a/c at my job has been broken since we hit 100 the first time, and was finally fixed today! Praise God!
5) My job. As much of a pain as it is, I am so blessed to have a job, especially in this economy. To know that I can take up to a year off to spend time with my daughter and still be able to come back is so nice, and I am so so grateful to have that!
6) Friends. Even if they're just online, it's nice to know that I have people I can turn to when I need to laugh or cry or vent. As pitiful as this sounds, I really miss having people I can call up to just hang out with anytime. One of the things I'm most excited about, as far as leave goes, is being able to join a group or two at church. Hopefully, God will bless me with some female companionship soon!

Day 20: A Hobby of Mine AND Day 1 of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog!

Well, if you can't tell, blogging is my newest hobby. I'm really enjoying having a place to communicate with other people that may or may not be interested in what's going on and what I'm doing. As a baby blogger, I'm still trying to figure out what I want to focus on once I finish 30 Days of Me, which is why I've signed up to take part in the ProBlogger Summer Challenge, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, which just happens to start today. 

Today's challenge is to develop and write an elevator pitch for my blog; a quick little sell, if you will. I'll be writing two pitches: a short tag-line pitch, as well as a longer, more in-depth pitch. Here we go (PLEASE feel free to leave comments; I know I need the help!):
       The daily adventures of a baby-wearing, cloth-diapering first-time mom.

My long pitch:
       Hugs&Kisses is a place where I'll be sharing stories of how my life changes every day. As a soon-to-be new mom, my life is about to flip upside down! I'm excited to share my adventures, my photos, my recipes, and my joy!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Day 19: A Talent of Mine

I don't know if I'm particularly talented at it, but I love photography! I took a year of photo classes in high school, and I just fell in love with the art of it. I love to go out and spend time with God and nature and my camera. I may not take the best photos, but it's something I really enjoy and can't wait to practice more once Princess arrives; I'm trying to convince HubbyButt I NEED a digital SLR...he's not sold yet. 

I took one photo just over three years ago that I never got printed (I was kicked out of my dad's house and when he was throwing all my stuff on the lawn, he neglected to check under my bed and throw in my $300 Konika-Minolta...). Before I moved in with him, I had been nannying for a family with two little girls in northern California. One the first nice day of the year, the sun was warm and it wasn't raining, I took the girls outside to take pictures of them for Mother's Day gifts. One picture of the then-three year old was absolutely beautiful: she was picking dandelions and sticking them in her hair. I got this shot lined up where it really looked like she had a halo of dandelions; the lighting was perfect, the redwoods behind her were glorious and the look on her face was beautiful. I'm really sad I lost my camera with that roll of film in it, and that I'll never have the chance to reclaim it.

I love taking pictures of people and nature. I would really like to take off to the Sierras sometime in the fall or late summer and just spend time hiking and being with my family and taking pictures of God's handiwork. Some of my favorite pictures to take are close-ups of flowers. I just adore the diversity of colors, textures, sizes, all that. I also love how I can focus in on just one flower in the middle of a large group and have all the others out of focus.

I can't wait until Princess arrives so that I can start to document every little aspect of her; her physical features, her personality, how she grows a little more every day.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Day 18: Whatever Tickles My Fancy

I have no idea what's tickling my fancy today. All I can think of is the heat. I live in California's Central Valley, and we've been averaging around 100F for the last week. Add to that the facts that I'm 32 weeks pregnant, I have to wear long pants and a vest at work, AND the air conditioner at work is out, and it's too hot to think. I mean, I stand at work counting the safe before I do anything else, and I'm drenched in sweat within 5 minutes. I'm kind of worried that I'm going to get so hot and so worked up about something stupid that I'm going to go into labor at work; I have contractions at work every day because it's so hot, so it's not THAT much of a leap from contractions to full on labor. Heck, even the stock guys at work ask me if I'm feeling alright! When an 18 or 19 year old kid is able to notice that the supervisor is in pain (no matter how much I try to hide it...), you know it's not a good situation. 

Our union rep came in the other day and said that since there's already a work order in progress on the air, there's nothing she can do other than ask for more fans throughout the store until it's fixed. I almost want to ask my doctor to take me off work a few weeks early (by the time the paperwork would be done, it'd be just two weeks before I'm supposed to go on leave anyway). I know that's probably over-reacting, but I can't walk around the store for five minutes without being drenched and in pain. 

Okay, enough whining from me. That's what's tickling my fancy today.

Day 17: An Art Piece

This one is really hard for me. Not because I have a lot of favorites, but because I don't have any favorites that I can think of off-hand. I really think anything can be considered art if you look at it long enough and with the right frame of mind. I do really like abstract photographs, like the one I posted previously. I think things that really catch a moment in someone's life or a mundane instant during the day are really the most beautiful pieces of art. 

What I think "art" comes down to is our desire to be eternal in one way or another. The great sculptors and painters will live forever, or as long as someone keeps admiring their work and talking about it. Their art may not last forever, but their legacy will live as long as just one person cares enough to care. 

When I was 13, I was blessed enough to be able to go on a tour of Switzerland, Italy, and France, and I fell in love with the Vatican. I'm not Catholic, but everything that I saw in the two days we spent there just blew my mind, even though I went in 1999 and everything was in scaffolding, as Rome and the Vatican were preparing for the new millennium. A couple years ago, my mom got me this book for Christmas. Now, I'm not really a fan of the "coffee table" book, but this is one that I really LOVE. Every piece of art presented in the book is just amazing. One thing that I really like about the book is that each painting is presented with detailed information: the painter, the commissioning Pope, the year commissioned and completed, the style....the list goes on. There's also a full chapter on the Sistine Chapel, which I think was probably my favorite part of Vatican City.

Now I've gone off on a total tangent.... I'm thinking I may have to dedicate a post to pictures and stories about my trip to Europe!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 16: A Song That Makes Me Cry

I have a few answers for this one. Being in my third trimester (Princess will be here in about 2 months!), EVERYTHING makes me cry! The song that instantly came to mind is by Steven Curtis Chapman. It's called "Cinderella" and it makes HubbyButt cry too. The song is a daddy singing about important moments in his baby girl's life and how important it is to take every advantage of every chance to dance with his baby and hold her in his arms and just let her know how loved she is. You can see the official video here. When we first found out I was pregnant, we were really hoping for a boy, and then this song came on the radio and we both started crying. I remember HubbyButt saying that someday he'd like to have a little girl to dance with, and that's when my heart really changed to desiring a girl - and that's what God has blessed us with! I almost think that song was God's way of telling us we were having a little princess, long before that could be seen on an ultrasound. As soon as HubbyButt said what he did, I knew that I was having a sweet little girl (this happened at about 9 weeks along).

The second song is also about dancing. "Skin" by Rascal Flatts makes me cry every single time. HubbyButt had never heard it until a few weeks ago, and he started crying listening to it. I can only pray our family is never touched by serious disease; and that if we are, God would give us the grace and strength to get through it as a family. Here's the video:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Having a Mary Heart in A Martha World

 I was just looking around on The Happy Housewife's blog  and found a blogger that's going to be hosting a book club, starting August 11th, that's going to be reading Joanna Weaver's Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. I've tried reading this book on my own in the past, but I've never been able to make it all the way through! Hopefully I'll be able to stay motivated by reading it with a group of other women!

If you're interested you can sign up here in the comments. Then, just click on the picture to the left and buy the book, and you're all set! 

I'm really excited and hope you'll join us!

Day 15: A Fanfic

Wow, I haven't read a fanfic in probably ten years, maybe longer. I know back when I was really into them, I would spend hours reading Harry Potter and Backstreet Boys fics. I even started writing one where BSB somehow ended up at Hogwarts.... It was odd and I didn't get very far. 

Will I ever get back into reading fanfics? Probably not. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 14: A Nonfictional Book

Right now, I'm reading The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp. My mom, who has been a labor and delivery nurse for the better part of twenty years, bought the book for me after showing the video to her patients for the last few years. Basically, Dr. Karp makes the case for what he calls "the missing fourth trimester," or the first three months of a newborn's life, and how to calm your baby and make her transition from the womb to the world a smooth one that's painless (well, relatively) for everybody. He uses examples from non-western societies where colic is rarely, if ever, experienced, making the case for baby-wearing, swaddling, breastfeeding, shuushing, and basic cuddling. 

 As a first-time mommy to be, I'm really enjoying reading this book. I've been reading it since May, so I'm definitely taking my time and really absorbing what Dr. Karp has to say. The thing I'm really not sure about as far as if I'm going to be able to do it is swaddling. I remember my mom trying to teach me how to swaddle my baby dolls when I was little and I could never get the hang of it. If I couldn't swaddle a baby doll that didn't move, how am I ever going to swaddle a real life baby that wiggles all over the place? I know they have products to help make swaddling easier, but I really want to save as much money as I possibly can, especially since I won't be getting paid between Thanksgiving and the middle of January. 

Overall, I think what Dr. Karp offers is really good advice, and I'm so glad my mom got this book for me! As always, if you have any advice or tips, please leave them in the comments!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Day 13: A Fictional Book

Hmm...Well, right now I'm reading Stephen King's The Stand. I'm really enjoying it, but it's taking forever to get through! I've been on a bit of a Stephen King kick for about a year now, and have made my way through Carrie and Under the Dome, both of which I really enjoyed. I also made it almost all the way through The Shining, but got too freaked out at the end to continue. I think cabin fever is one of my greatest fears. I mean, as much as I love HubbyButt and spending time with him, I don't think either of us would make it through a long winter if we had to do so with no other human contact the whole time. I would probably go crazy and kill us both, just like in The Shining. I REALLY enjoyed Under the Dome, King's latest novel. It took a good month (maybe longer) to read, but I'm so glad I stuck with it!

One of the things I LOVE about Stephen King is that he essentially writes about human nature and how we deal with things we're faced with. He's able to create common-sense heroes, and I love with that. The people that are able to keep their cool in intense situations are always the ones that come out on top, at least in King's world. I love love love psychology, and I think King's novel are essentially psychological thrillers; he really digs in and develops his characters.

If you have any suggestions or favorite books I NEED to read, please let me know! I'm a voracious reader and will read just about anything you put in front of me!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Day 12: Whatever Tickles My Fancy

I'm THRILLED about what tickles my fancy today. We'll be cloth diapering and we finally got Princess' first cover! We don't have a good place to buy diapers here in town, so we'll be using gDiapers. I haven't heard much bad feedback on gDiapers, and I'm thinking the all-in-one style is really going to work for us. When we told my in-laws we were primarily going to cloth diaper (I don't mind using disposables if we get any at our shower, but I'm not going to make a point of spending money on them), my mother-in-law got this scared look on her face. She'll be taking care of Princess once I go back to work in mid-January, and she's TERRIFIED of CDs! Thankfully, the gDiapers are pretty similar to sposies, and even have disposable liners, which we'll keep in the diaper bag. Part of the reason we bought the single cover is so that we can show HubbyButt's family how easy they are to use.

It's basically a three-layer system. On the outer layer you have (of course) the cover. Covers come in a whole bunch of different patterns and I really would like to try to make a couple of my own covers, just to save a bit more money and so I can match them to Princess' outfits without having to shop all over the internet. The covers are washable, which is awesome. The second layer is a vinyl liner that snaps into the cover. This layer is supposed to catch anything that leaks through the final inside layer, the liner. gDiaper liners come in two styles: reusable and disposable. The reusable liners are hemp, and these are what we'll be using while we're at home and running around town. The disposable liners are what I'm really super excited about. You can toss them, flush them, or compost them, so there's no waste if you decide to compost (I probably won't be composting just because we're renting and I don't want to start a compost pile in the backyard, but once we buy our own home, I'll compost for sure!). Like I said before, we'll keep the disposable liners in the diaper bag and use them for long trips and whatnot, when it's not pleasant to keep dirty liners in the car. The disposable liners are way more worth the money than sposies: gDiaper sposie liners come in a pack of 40 for about $15.

A big part of our decision to cloth diaper (well, my decision really, since HubbyButt doesn't care either way) is that we'd like to have a large family - 5 kids or more. We'll only have to buy all the cloth diapering supplies one time, and then we're set! Sure, I'm sure I'll buy more covers and liners with each child, but we'll really only be spending a lot of money one time, rather than a couple times a month, like we would with sposies.

If anybody has cloth diapered in the past, or is now, and has any tips whatsoever, PLEASE let me know! I'm sure Princess, HubbyButt and I will have quite a few adventures in cloth diapers, so I'll keep you updated once she arrives.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Day 11: A Recent Photo of Me

This photo was actually taken on my birthday, just over a month ago, at my friends' wedding. At this point, I was 26 weeks pregnant. I was so blessed to be able to enjoy the wedding - it was so nice to see old friends again, especially on such a special day for them! When this picture was taken, the bride was dancing with her dad and I was fighting back tears (I know you can't tell, but it's the truth). I don't even remember this picture being taken! A few weeks after the wedding, the bride posted the pictures on Facebook and I was, of course, looking at all of them when I saw me, not even expecting to. It took me by surprise and kind of shocked me, especially that it's actually a fairly good photo of me! She even tagged HubbyButt and Princess!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day 10: A Picture of Me Taken More than 10 Years Ago

Wow! I asked my mom to send me a picture that was at least ten years old, and she sent me one that's NINETEEN years old. This was taken at my fifth birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese. The boy in the picture is my mom's best friend's son, Brandon. Brandon and I spent our entire childhood together - it seems like all the pictures of me around this age and younger feature Brandon. Our moms always hoped that we would get married, but that didn't happen. I remember I used to chase Brandon around his grandparent's house trying to kiss him; he would eventually run inside the house and lock everyone out until I left.

It also seems like all of my birthday parties until we moved to Bakersfield when I was six were held at Chuck-E-Cheese. I think it was actually the day this picture was taken that Brandon gave me a ring for my birthday; I put it on and went to play in the ball pit (always my favorite) and the ring fell off and was lost forever.

I don't think I'll ever take Princess to Chuck-E-Cheese on my own accord. If there's a birthday party or some such thing, she'll probably go, but HubbyButt and I much prefer John's Incredible Pizza. Not that the food is better, but the games and whatnot are much more fun. At the local one here, there are bumper cars and go-karts, as well as all the games. It's all inside and never as cramped and busy as Chuck-E-Cheese.

What were some of your favorite birthday parties growing up? Would you do the same for your kids, or something different?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Day 9: A Photo I Took

Again, I'm going to have some fun with this and post two different pics. This first one is more recent; I took it in Morro Bay in April of this year when HubbyButt and I went over and met my cousin and her boyfriend for dinner. This was taken right around sunset, but you can't tell because the day was really overcast and rainy - basically one of those days when it's really nice to curl up with some cocoa and a really good book. What you see in this picture is fishing net on a giant reel; the white things are buoys. I just love the contrast of all the colors in the net against each other and against the steely sky and black reel. I would really like to be able to zoom in on the netting a bit to show off the texture of the net and the buoys and the reel itself; I think rust is just a beautiful texture when photographed. I'd also really like to submit this to the county fair here; our county always has a really big photo exhibit.

This second photo is one I took while in Huntington Beach at our church's annual women's retreat last October. I had just gotten my new camera (well, new to me anyway) and was getting back in the groove of manual focus. I had no idea when I took the picture that the sun was hitting the railing like that! When I picked up the prints, I was amazed. What I was trying to do was just follow the line of the stairs and the rail, and I ended up getting this really cool picture of a ray of light landing right in the middle of the photo. It's these kinds of pictures that I love love love to take. That's one reason I prefer film to digital: You never know exactly what you're going to get, and you're surprised when you get your prints back. Often, you forget exactly what you took pictures of and are reminded of good memories and good times when you get your prints.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Day 8: A Photo That Makes Me Sad

I know it's odd that this picture makes me sad, but it does. This was taken a little over 2 years ago, when I was living in Sacramento on my own. I was at my lowest weight ever, 145 pounds. I was able to wear that outfit for the length of about 3 months before I gained too much weight to wear it anymore.

This picture makes me sad because I looked so good and I'll never look like that again. I was really happy with my body at that point and I'd love to get there again.

I think this picture also kind of captures my independence in one shot. I had my own apartment in midtown Sacramento, I was on the Dean's list at school with a 3.9 GPA, and I was working full time. I was able to take care of myself and I was doing just fine. I had great friends around me, but I didn't need them to provide for me (not financially, anyway; my friend Kat was ALWAYS there for me emotionally and I'm forever grateful to her for helping me deal with stuff I was unable to deal with on my own); I was just starting to date and I was just really really enjoying life.

Not that I don't enjoy my life now. I LOVE my life. I love being a wife and mommy-to-be, and when Princess arrives, I'm going to love being a mommy. I love my job (most days) and I love the way my family has grown. I do want to get back in school and earn my degree, but I know the chances of that happening are really low, which makes me sad.

Most of all, I want to get back to that weight. I still have the jeans (they're the only ones I've ever bought from American Eagle) just in case they ever happen to fit again. Once Princess arrives, I'm going to start running again, since that's what got me where I was in this picture. I'm already eating better since Princess likes fruits and veggies and doesn't have much of a sweet-tooth. Hopefully I'll be able to keep up the good habits Princess has made me start living once she arrives. I want to be healthy for her sake; I want her to know how to make the right choices in taking care of herself; I want her to enjoy healthy habits so she never has to deal with body image issues like her mommy has.
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Monday, July 5, 2010

Day 7: A Photo That Makes Me Happy

Right now, I have 2 pictures that make me happy. The first was taken last June, when HubbyButt and I decided to spend some time taking pictures in the park. He tackled me and started tickling me, so I couldn't decide if I was supposed to laugh or be angry. Hehe. I really really love this picture. As our friend Wendy put it when talking about another picture taken the same day, "In 20 years you'll look back on this one and remember the new love glowing in your eyes!" I think we got married a week or 2 after this picture was taken, and Wendy's right, there is new love glowing in our eyes; we just make each other so happy!

This second one is the first one taken of Princess where she actually looks like a baby. Her heart was nice and strong even then. The day this picture was taken the first time we ever heard our little girl's heartbeat. I'll never forget the way HubbyButt's face lit up when we heard that, or the way I felt at that moment. I just knew there was a little miracle living inside me, and that everything was going to be okay. One the day this picture was taken, I had lost 25 pounds and was still vomiting more than once an hour (sorry if it's TMI, but this IS my blog, lol); after seeing our little miracle and hearing her heartbeat and really knowing that she was okay no matter how sick I was, I started getting better. I only vomited one more time that day and was released to go back to work the next week; I was able to eat again and started getting back to health. So, it's more about the sound I associate with this picture that makes me happy, but it's still a picture that makes me happy!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Day 6: Whatever Tickles My Fancy

What better day than the 4th of July for my first "What tickles your fancy?" I love the 4th, not because I have any traditions that I keep, but there's just a festive air about the whole day. It seems that people are more patient and understanding and grateful for one another when they take time to be grateful for the independence we as Americans are blessed with. It probably doesn't hurt that a lot of people are off tomorrow as well, and therefore don't have to worry about partying it up tonight, but c'est la vie.

I suppose I do have a small tradition that I've developed over the last few years (or my whole life, if you ask my mom). Since I don't have a steady group of friends to go out and do things with, I have no problem (I almost prefer it now...) staying home in my jammies watching the Boston Pops. I love seeing the big groups of people all gathered together, just celebrating their independence and the fact that they can all get together in one place and not be suspected of criminal activity or something.

I must admit that I'm really excited for next year, when Princess will be here. I think all holidays get a little more fun and exciting when you add a child to the mix. At this time next year, Princess will be just about 10 months old. I'm sure she'll be scared of all the loud noises, but I can just imagine her little face, enraptured by the fireworks. Personally, I was TERRIFIED of fireworks until I was in high school. I remember one year my dad took my brother and myself to the fireworks display at the local junior college football stadium, and on the way home we saw a house that was on fire; I don't think I'll ever forget seeing the destruction that can come from festivity and stupidity. I was only about six or seven at the time, and that image has just stuck with me.

I am so grateful to all members of every military branch that are currently serving and that have served in the past. Their bravery is astounding, and it's something I don't think I could ever do. Thank you for protecting your country and putting your lives on the line, I don't think that gets said enough. My prayers are with you and your families.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Day 5: My Favorite Quote

Sheesh, this one's hard. I don't know that I necessarily have a favorite quote. One saying I try to live and work by is, "Live beyond reproach." The district manager at the company I work at closes all his emails and meetings by reminding us to manage beyond reproach, and I think that's a pretty good way to live your life. I try to live my life like someone is always watching me, judging what I do, and I make decisions based on that. For example, I'm not going to put myself in a situation where, for instance, potentially embarrassing pictures of myself could be taken and put on display on Facebook for everyone to see, including my boss and coworkers. How can I be an effective supervisor if everyone that works under me has had access to pictures of me, say ... dancing provocatively with someone that's not my husband? I would be the subject of everyone's conversation in that case, and no work would get done; I would no longer be an asset to the company I work with, and I could lose my job as a result. I tend to see things in the big picture, and I can see situations begin to snowball and know exactly how they're going to end up, and I'm not going to put myself at the center of that snowball if I can help it. Now, I don't try to take myself too seriously, I do like to go out and have fun, but I know when to stop, and I think that's part of what living beyond reproach entails. I also think that when people can no longer come to you with questions not only about work, but about life in general, because they're no longer comfortable talking to you about those things based on things they've seen in you, that's not a good thing. That's one thing I really enjoy about my position at work: I'm not a store manager or assistant manager, but I'm a part of the management team as a whole; I am a superior and I think people that I work with are able to trust that what's said between myself and them will stay between myself and them, I'm not going to tell the whole world about so-and-so's problem at home.

Overall, I try to live the way I think Christ would want me to live. I may not follow all Ten Commandments all the time (I know I have a cursing problem), but I'd say I set a good example most of the time. Yes, I have bad thoughts every now and again, and I know that there are some things in my life that I need to forgive and forget and move on from, but I try not to let them interfere with how I live my life and how I lead others. I try to lead by example and live beyond reproach.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Welcome to the Third Trimester!

I'm taking another day off from 30 Days of Me to groan a little. It's happy groaning, because I'm thrilled to be pregnant, but it's groaning nonetheless.

Right now, I'm 29 weeks and 4 days; almost 3 weeks ago, I started my third trimester. On Friday of week 27, I felt my first Braxton-Hicks contractions (basically practice contractions). At 28 weeks and 5 days, I had my own little victory party when I discovered that I will probably be able to nurse with little to no problems (I don't wanna go too TMI here, but I was just REALLY excited, and still am!). During the last few weeks, I've found that I'm swelling quite a bit, especially in my hands; and that I tire out much faster than at any other point in my pregnancy (the first trimester doesn't count because I was so sick all I did was sleep and vomit). My belly aches, my back hurts, and I don't think my wedding ring will be coming off any time soon, unless HubbyButt pulls it off in the middle of the night when I'm sleeping and not as swollen.

I've also been having these really odd dreams; they're not scary, just ... weird! Like, the other night I dreamed that a bunch of the hooligan kids out where I work all brought their bikes and skateboards into the store I work in and basically turned the place into a stunt park, and I couldn't do anything because I was too swollen to chase them around and get them out of the store, so I just sat in the office and watched this swarm of teenagers come in and wreck the store on the security screens!

I've also been really, really emotional lately! HubbyButt and I saw Toy Story 3 today, and I cried every time Andy's mom came on screen. HubbyButt admitted to crying at the end (I won't give the ending away in case there are people that haven't seen that NEED to!), but I cried the whole time! Every time I talk to my mom (who lives twelve hours away and therefore can't see my growing belly and feel Princess move inside of me), I cry! I manage to not cry when I'm talking to her, but as soon as the call ends, the tears start. Heck, I cried when I bought Princess her first diaper yesterday (we're cloth diapering and Babies R Us has single covers on clearance)! I'm just very very overwhelmed by everything going on around and in me lately; I don't know how long I can keep this up without having a serious break-down!

I know it's only going to get more intense before it gets better, and I am so grateful to God for enabling me to get pregnant and have this experience, as much of a roller coaster as it has been. From losing 25 pounds in the first month after finding out I was pregnant thanks to hyperemisis gravidarum to crying at cartoons, this has been a wonderful journey, and I can't wait to meet Princess in just about ten weeks!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Day 4: My Favorite Book

Grrr! Another broad topic! I've read so many great books, I don't know if I can pick one favorite. I'm a huge fan of the Harry Potter series, but I've also read all the Twilight books. I've also read quite a few books by Ayn Rand, which I really enjoyed, although I don't quite agree with everything she stands for. In fact, I think one of my favorite non-series books is her novel We The Living, which is the closest she ever got to an autobiography. There's just something ... almost haunting about the way she writes and develops her characters and plots. Although her books are really long, they suck you in and you get totally absorbed in the world she creates in them. I mean, Atlas Shrugged is 1069 pages (the copy I own, anyway) and takes months to read (I think I read it in five months?), but is totally worth the time and effort! Plus, if you're looking for scholarship money and have the motivation to sit down and read either Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead, The Ayn Rand Institute holds an essay contest every year.

I'm always looking for new books to read, so let me know of any recommendations! I've got maternity leave coming up, and I'll have a full month between leaving work and starting mommy-hood (well, I'm supposed to anyway...), during which time it'll be way too hot to do anything but read, so give me some ideas!

Also, HubbyButt isn't home and I can't figure out how to link through the photo! If anyone could PLEASE tell me how to do that, I would REALLY appreciate the help!