Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you


Baby Powers ultrasound #1 ~ December 15

Since I found out I was pregnant in mid-October, I have most definitely experienced the full gamut of early pregnancy symptoms -- extreme fatigue, nauseau, headaches, heartburn, and other gastrointestional unpleasantness (which shall not be described further here)...  We saw the bright pink plus sign on the pregnancy test, but there is absolutely nothing in this world that makes the reality of a new life being formed inside your body a reality like seeing the baby during the first ultrasound.  Absolutely, positively breathtaking.  Hearing that strong heartbeat and seeing the formation of those precious limbs is so amazingly reassuring when you can't know what's going on inside your womb.

Apparently Baby Powers is happy and right at home in there -- she was kicking and floating around with a beautiful ease.  At one point the baby was face down and brought a hand up close to its face which disturbed its equilibrium and quickly brought her right side up again.  We both smiled and laughed at getting to see this little one performing gymnastics in all his comic glory.  :)   

When we saw Lucy's first ultrasound, she was only around 8 weeks old and she was tiny.  You could hardly make out any features at all and she looked more like than a peanut than a human being. The ultrasound for this baby happened between 12-13 weeks, and the amount of development that occurs within just this short time span is remarkable.  We could see the heart and a nose and lips and arms and legs. And by now it has fingernails and fingerprints and kidneys...  Did I mention how amazing the miracle of life is?

As we were leaving the appointment, I turned to Andrew and asked him what this baby's nickname was going to be (Lucy's was "Peanut").  His immediate response: "Peanut II."  Duh. Of course.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Merry Christmas, Mr. Powers!

I had the honor of attending the annual Tara High School Christmas concert last week to see Mr. Powers and his students in action. After our babysitter got to the house (thanks again, Amy!), I rushed like a crazy person across town through the cold, rainy night to get there on time, only to find that I first had to sit through the following -- the beginning, intermediate, and advanced orchestras, the hand bell choir, the show choir, the ladies ensemble choir, etc. -- in order to hear the band's performance.

I tried to remind myself that all these people were stuffed into an overheated and crowded auditorium full of screaming babies waiting patiently just to see their child perform, and settled in to enjoy the show. One of the ten choirs sang a slow, sort of wistful holiday tune called "Somewhere in My Memory" while their baby pictures flashed on the screen behind them. I'm telling you, I completely lost it and started bawling thinking about how one day WAY TOO SOON it will be us watching Lucy in a similar program with her baby picture smiling out at the audience. I chalked it up to the pregnancy hormones and tried to pull myself together since: (1) I was sitting in between two complete strangers, and (2) I remembered that my child is only 18 months old.

Once the band finally started playing, Andrew surprised me by joining in with his jazz band ensemble to play the guitar. They were so cute up there and you could tell that these boys thought they were way cool to be part of such a group. The band played classics like "The Christmas Song" (they sang the last line a capella) and "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer".

Side note ~ don't you just love the "teacher look" Mr. Powers is shooting them in this picture?


Then he took the stage and directed the entire Trojan band in some holiday tunes like "Silent Night" and "The Ultimate Christmas Sing-a-long" (a duet with the choir). I love to watch him conduct. :)


You can tell the kids really love and appreciate Andrew for all of his hard work, and despite the occasional grumblings to the contrary, I can tell that the feeling is mutual. Many of the parents and grandparents came up to the stage after the show to compliment him on his dedication and on the progress the kids have made this year. Great job, Mr. Powers! We are so very proud of you.


video

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thanksgiving road trip, parts III & IV

This post is outrageously late, but as my mother likes to say, "Better late than never." So... we continued our road trip by pulling into the Big D on Wednesday afternoon where Mom (Nana) and Glen (PawPaw) treated us to a really yummy Mexican dinner -- Lucy's favorite!

Part III

Aunt Michelle held down the fort while we waited for a table.


Getting Lucy to hold still for a proper picture these days is like trying to wrestle a deranged and highly pissed off monkey. At least Nana & I were having a good time!


We had cabin fever after our delicious feast on Thanksgiving (featuring Glenn's amazing smoked turkey and ham and my pumpkin cheesecake), so we headed to Breckinridge Park in Richardson to let off some steam. Uncle Allan volunteered to accompany Lucy down the "big slide" and realized that he'd have to take her through the tunnel to get there.


Lucy went plowing straight down the hill in order to get to the ducks. She spent the whole time we were there yelling, "Quack, quack!". Of course, this resulted in the ducks flying away as fast as they could... which led to a major pouting/crying session. :)


We headed back to the park the next day for PawPaw to take pictures for the Powers Christmas card -- this was by far my favorite outtake.

Part IV

On Saturday, we began our journey back home and made an overnight visit to see Honey in Natchitoches. Lucky for us the annual Christmas Festival was already in full effect! We strolled the river to see all the lights, enjoyed some meat pies and crawfish pies, and visited some of the truly unique downtown merchants.


This psychedelic Christmas tree was gigantic and really interesting to watch -- we hung out under its branches while watching Lucy doing the "toddler butt dump" dance to the local band performing on a nearby stage.


Honey made us a delicious breakfast the next morning while Andrew and Lucy checked out all her old picture albums. So precious to see her point to pictures of Andrew when he was little and exclaim, "baby!". She called all the pictures of PopPop "Daddy" -- to be fair, he did have brown hair and a constant beard at that age!

We finally made it home on Sunday afternoon (after a speeding ticket fiasco) and Ella was beyond thrilled to see us! We have so incredibly much to be thankful for this year -- most notably our large, extended family who loves us without fault and the promise of new life.

P.S. Did I mention that we're really, really looking forward to staying home for Christmas?

Lucy's BIG news


I'M GOING TO BE A BIG SISTER! Hooray!!! I'm so excited to have a new baby to play with.


At least I was until I found out that Mommy's almost 12 weeks along which means that my little brother or sister has the same due date that I did (June 25) and might even be born on my birthday. I don't want to share my birthday! I'm still a really big deal, right?

My Daddy is secretly thrilled at the idea of only having to pay for one party. :) I get to see pictures of the new baby for the first time on Dec. 15th. I'll share them with you soon. Yeah!
Love, Lucy

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Thanksgiving road trip, parts I & II

We embarked on our Thanksgiving road trip to north Louisiana and Texas for the holiday -- packed up the baby and the dog and all of our gear and got ready for lots of "hugging necks" and great food. Our first pit stop was Boogie & Pop Pop's house in Shreveport where Charlie cooked up a delicious batch of his infamous chicken sauce piquant.

Lucy talked Boogie into getting her a snack before dinner. Actually, Lucy opened the pantry door, grabbed the box of Cheerios, sat down on the floor and stuck her hand in there. By the time we caught the little thief, her cheeks were so full of cereal that she looked like a chipmunk.

Lucy entertained Pop with her antics after supper. She's his only great-grandchild and he just delights in her every word and action. That's three generations of trouble right there. The next morning we were off to Tyler, TX to see my grandfather...


Lucy got to play on the porch swing with my cousin Heather's baby boy, Branson. They're only about a month apart so it was really fun to see them interact. We had a few minor tussles over the Elmo (aka "Elbow!") guitar, but they got along great other than that.


Pappaw on the swing and front porch he built by hand


We had Texas Roadhouse BBQ for lunch which turned out to be a really nice departure from all the traditional Thanksgiving fare. I'm so glad we had this special quiet time to share with Pappaw -- my grandmother passed away this summer and he is still having a really tough go of things. They were married for 57 years and I can't imagine the loneliness that would follow losing your life long partner. We are so proud of him for learning to cook and do all the other things he used to depend on Mammaw for. His faith is slowly and surely seeing him through the darkness, but I know the holidays will be really difficult.


On the way to Dallas for the next leg of the trip -- we have no Dairy Queen in Baton Rouge (yes, it is a huge travesty), so it's our traveling ritual to stop for a Blizzard when we're driving through the Lone Star State. Stay tuned for the rest of the journey...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Another brick in the Walls

A colleague and I were recently charged with heading up to my old stomping grounds to lead some professional development workshops for teachers in the Caddo parish school system. These schools have all been labeled as AUS or "academically unacceptable" for years of low test scores and the pressure being put on these schools to reverse their performance quickly is intense, to say the very least. The Dept. of Education (that's my boss) is putting pressure on the school district which is putting pressure on the administrators who are putting pressure on the classroom teachers who are in turn putting pressure on the students... Not exactly your ideal workshop audience! I did encounter some hostility and resentment from a few staff members at the four schools I worked with, but for the most part I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at the attentiveness of the teachers and their willingness to do anything to help their students succeed.

As in any profession, there are certainly lazy educators out there that are merely working for a paycheck. I've seen them. But after traveling the state the last few months and seeing first-hand the passion most teachers have for their work (and being married to a teacher who is completely dedicated to his job), I continue to be dismayed by those who paint teachers as the primary problem in public education rather than the professionals that they are. Sigh... stepping off of soapbox now.

In any case, the definite highlight of my time in the Port City was a chance to visit with the Walls family -- on a school night! We ordered some Johnny's pizza and Jennifer and I got to catch up while the kids played (well, Caroline watched Lucy destroy everything in sight and Jack perused the toy catalogs for what Santa will bring him for Christmas). I truly delighted in getting to see these two little ones in action -- Caroline is a lovey dovey baby and a big eater for being such a tiny thing and Jack is an enthusiastic story teller with a great vocabulary who loves to laugh. What an amazing thing to see all of the best qualities of old friends embodied in their children. Thanks again for having us. Hopefully we can return the favor soon!


Jennifer & sweet Caroline


Trying to round up this wild bunch into one cohesive picture took a little while!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

October, the condensed version (aka "the world's longest blog post")

It's been over a month since my last blog post, and I have to admit that it's been pretty easy to backslide with the frenzy of activity around here. The last few weeks have been such a blur between all of our professional and personal obligations, and I literally can't remember the last time we had a free weekend at home to do simple things like clean the house or get pictures off the digital camera. I've been traveling like a maniac for work, Andrew's been busy with football band, we've had lots of company, etc. So... here is our October in review, the (kind of) condensed version.

LCSS Conference

It all started out with my commitment to chair the Louisiana Council for the Social Studies (LCSS) Annual Conference -- I won't go into specifics, but let's just say that it was an inordinate amount of work to be carried out in a relatively short time period and it almost drove me into an early grave. Other than losing a lot of sleep and having to recover the proposals and registration forms lost when my work bag got stolen from the car (augh!!!), I think the overall event went really well.

Here I am with the LCSS president and LA Secretary of State Jay Dardenne (right) -- he delivered an excellent keynote address on his top 10 recommended Louisiana books, introducing each book by pairing it with a song by a Louisiana musician.

Audubon Aquarium

Honey came to town to help out with Lucy during my conference weekend, and after it was over we all headed down to New Orleans for a little sightseeing. We had a shrimp po-boys and gumbo (Lucy loved mine and ate half of it) for lunch at Landry's and then spent the afternoon on the Riverwalk and in the aquarium. In hindsight, we should have saved some money and just taken Lucy to the park to run around all afternoon because all she wants to do right now is escape (see photo #2 below), but we still had a good time.








First Tigers tailgate -- LSU v. Auburn

Lucy donned her super cute LSU cheerleader uniform and we hiked (literally walked for miles) to campus for her first tailgating experience. She seemed to like all the booty music blaring from various speakers and tents and danced in her stroller, but was a little unsure about the crowds. We did manage to meet up with the Chaney clan for a bit at Jack's family tailgate spot and enjoyed the beginning of the cool fall weather, but... we quickly learned that toddlers + tailgating = trouble. :) We'll definitely try again next year.


Halloween

After a quick trip down to New Orleans to pick up my bridesmaid dress, we headed over to the James household for some trick-or-treat fun on Halloween night. They have the perfect neighborhood for it -- filled to the brim with young families. We loaded our little ballerina into the John Deere wagon with our sweet friend Cooper (the little golfer) and cruised the neighborhood at sunset. They seemed much more interested in the Goldfish crackers handed out at one house than the candy, which was fine with the rest of us! Lucy loved her tutu and has since played "dress up" with it several times.




P.S. I also made a trip to Shreveport during this time to present a 3-day workshop in the Caddo parish schools system. More on that adventure to come in the next post... Whew!