Monday, August 31, 2015

Fall 2005, Never Forget (Part 1)

I'll be the first to admit that my memory isn't the greatest, especially with details and when time is involved.  But, Fall 2005 is a semester I will never forget.  The year 2005 in general was a pretty big one for me - I graduated high school, enjoyed a super fun celebratory cruise with my family and two good friends, and as most high school graduates do...I started college.  That last part, the starting college part, is the part I will never forget.

For months, my mom and I visited colleges all over the state of Louisiana.  Just when we thought we'd found the perfect place, I decided to check out one last school, mostly because the school required all scholarship recipients to attend a day-long event on campus in order to learn the value of the scholarship they received.  It was one of those, "Well, we may as well," type of things, expecting no big "wow factor" in return.  As it turns out, wow-factor indeed.  Not only did this school offer me the largest scholarship of any other, everything I saw/experienced there shouted "this is the place," and my mom and I just knew in our hearts on the drive home that day, Nicholls State University was the place for me.

Fast forward a few months, that first week of school was a little rocky.  I expected to know no one going into the semester, but just before school started one of my best friends from home decided to attend Nicholls too!  The issue?  He was a guy, so we couldn't room together on campus.  Somehow, I'd been assigned to share a room with a Junior who already had her friend group very well established (they shared a suite with us, actually), and was also practically engaged to her boyfriend.  Awkward, much?

Social media wasn't a "thing" in 2005, so this is the only photo I could find from that semester.
Of course, I'm second from the right, and Jen is on the far right of this photo.
As the first week came to a close, I asked around about switching rooms, and whether there was anyone (a freshman) willing to share with me.  An acquaintance offered one of her friends, and though I had never met the girl (we're still great friends, 10 years later, by the way!), I figured anything was better than the current situation, so I agreed to make the switch.  The one catch was that we'd have to move out of our first floor hotel-style (indoor access) rooms across the building to a second floor motel-style (outdoor access) room that was much more dated.  It was also Friday, by that point, and we both planned to leave campus for the weekend.  We went with it, however, and scrambled to haul all our stuff across the building, setting up only the bare minimums before we peeled out for the weekend.

We changed our room arrangement nearly every semester, so I couldn't tell you which version this was!
I didn't go too far, however.  My parents met me at a campground about mid-way between our house and the school, with plans for my mom and I to do some shopping and setting up the dorm room while my dad and brother spent the day fishing on the lake.  As my mom and I navigated the Walmart (on Saturday, August 27th) aisles looking for the perfect "homey" finishes to our now cold, grimy room, we started to notice something a little unusual.  As typical for a Saturday, Walmart was packed that day...but people weren't buying just anything.  Shopping carts were filled with supplies - water, bread, batteries, generators.  What was going on???

At about the same time we noticed something was awry, my dad called and said that we really might want to consider heading home that afternoon instead of the following day (Sunday) as planned.  He said he kept hearing that there was a storm headed toward Louisiana and it didn't sound good.  At the time, the "cone of uncertainty" included all of Louisiana and he would feel much more comfortable if we could get home to prep the house in case it took a turn more for the west.  And, in the event that evacuations were ordered, my parents definitely didn't want to be on the road in all of that traffic.

At that point, I don't think I'd even heard there was a storm in the gulf, much less one headed our way.  I guess that fresh-college life had kept me out of the loop on those things (and remember, this was before social media was a thing).  We had so many questions - is there time to take our purchases and go set up the dorm?  Do I stay at school when my parents leave town?  Do I go home with my parents?  Will we even have school on Monday?

Without really knowing what to expect, my parents decided it would be best for me to go ahead and come home with them, following in my car so I could get back to school when necessary.  We just all figured it was better to be safe than sorry, and professors would understand if I missed class out of extreme caution.  I packed a few things, and figured I'd be back on campus in no time.

Magnet letters totally became our thing, right, Jen?
Little did I know, my world was about to change.  (To be continued...)


Monday, August 24, 2015

Brooks, Garth Brooks

I know, we're all terrible at posting during the summer.  I just joined the party like everyone else, right?  Yeah, we'll go with that.

About a month ago, Alex and I went to New Orleans for the weekend.  As a longtime fan of Garth (and upon the recommendation from Kara), we scored tickets to his first concert in Louisiana in EIGHTEEN YEARS.  Well, I guess technically it wasn't his first concert because he ended up doing four concerts in the span of three days, but you get the idea.

Everyone and their mama that lives in the Gulf Region was in NOLA that weekend for those concerts.  In fact, originally Alex missed out on tickets for the Saturday night show, but a few minutes after they sold out, a second (late) show was added, so that's what we got.  As it turned out, a friend of mine got early show tickets before the late show was an option, and wanted late ones instead, so we agreed to swap.  It was really a much better fit for both groups, honestly.

We both worked on Friday morning and then began the nearly 5 hour drive south early that afternoon, rolling into the hotel parking lot right at dinnertime. Typically, we do not "do" hotel restaurants but thanks to Alex's dad (somehow) we were considered reward members which included 25% off the menu.  I was feeling pretty "hangry" (exhausted, hungry, cranky) at that point, so we took advantage of the offer and then settled in for an early night.  Heck - we don't have a TV in our bedroom so watching TV in bed at hotels is always an attractive idea for us.

Saturday, I was feeling less than energetic and not at all interested in navigating the city (really, NOLA is just a big navigation headache), we decided to have brunch at a little hole in the wall cafe across the street from the hotel.  Tic Toc Cafe was totally adorable and really hit the spot for exactly what our bellies needed. It was also really awesome to see the staff recognize all the locals, calling them by name and remembering their "regular" orders.


Again not wanting to stray, I sat by the pool as Alex cooled off there for a while in the afternoon.  My friend met us to exchange the tickets and then we got ourselves together and were on our way.

Our awesome friend, Cam, told us about this super nifty app/website called ParkMe which finds parking spots near certain locations, allows you to "book" a spot, pay beforehand, print the ticket and have a guaranteed spot available waiting for you upon arrival.  Given the nature of two Garth Brooks concerts in Downtown New Orleans, we loved the idea of having a guaranteed spot to park, so we gobbled that one up.  It made life sooo much easier once we got down there.  And while our plans to kill time eating dinner at Walk-On's (re: thousands of other people had the same idea), we happened upon a trendy little pizza joint called Blaze that I would totally go for if I encountered another location sometime in the future.

Admittance to the concert and finding our eats was easy-peasy, but I almost had a heart attack when we found our seats.  I knew we were sitting in the third level but I didn't realize how huge and high that stadium was!  My anxiety really picked up and I wasn't sure I'd make it through the concert.  Alex asked a nice looking older couple a few rows lower than us if they would switch but they didn't go for it so I had to suck it up.


Garth was amazing (of course) - and Tricia Yearwood too - but I can't help but think I would have enjoyed the concert tons more if we had been in a smaller arena or sitting lower.  I did hear he recently added some shows in Little Rock this December so maybe we'll look into trying again.  Or not.  It is what it is.

Sunday morning we knocked out 9 a.m. Mass and then hit the road headed north all over again, with plans to attend a work event (free food/booze) for Alex later that night.  All in all, we enjoyed our little getaway, but I'm glad it's over and the craziness of summer travel is drawing to a close.  I'm pretty ready for regular schedules and a little less chaos in my life.

Hope all is well with you!

- Lauren

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Follow Up to the Fun

Hey there.  You all are amazing, I just want to say that.  The response to my previous post was overwhelming!  So many kind words were shared and I just want you to know I appreciate the gesture SO much.  Also, it's worth noting that was my most viewed post ever!!  Again, THANKS.

I did receive a few requests for some kind of follow up, so I'll backtrack a little and bring us forward to present too.  At some point, I will try to share our TTC story, but I have really struggled with finding the words, so I won't make any promises right now.

First, how did I keep the news a secret from my husband?  Well, it was only two days, and I did have a friend or two available to entertain my "IS THIS FOR REAL" and "AM I DREAMING THIS" moments.  At one point I decided I better buy another test because surely it wasn't a good idea to trust the results of just one test.  Thank goodness two pink lines appeared almost immediately that time.  No third guessing there.

Sorry if you're one of those people who don't like test pictures. 
Alex, was however, a bit on the suspicious side (because: NFP) but I was mostly able to avoid any blatant questions/lies in the short time before orchestrating the reveal.  He was most suspicious about the sudden/random urgency to drive 2 hours for a "photo shoot" at the last minute.  Waiting until the end of the photo shoot to actually share the news really helped because he'd given up hope that something was fishing was going on by that point.  #winning

We had our first doctor appointment at around 6.5 weeks, or that's what the baby measured then anyway.  The doctor's original calculations would have put me closer to 7 or 8 weeks, but my calculations were spot on from the measurements (again: NFP).  I couldn't believe me eyes when we saw the little heart flutter on the screen for the first time.  It was the coolest thing ever!

Three weeks later, we got a second set of pictures via internal ultrasound and that time we got to hear the actual heartbeat.  We were even able to take home this super adorable little photo series where the blob-looking image had evolved into something that actually had a head, torso, and four limbs.  The photo was incredibly clear and we started referring to it as our gummy bear (see the resemblance?).

Also, the photos served more than just as a means to reveal the news to Alex.  We used them to reveal the news to our parents too!  Using the same "practice photo shoot" story, we told our parents we had some semi-professional photos we wanted to share with them.  Each time, we would start with general couple-like photos and then click through to one with the "We're having a baby" sign and pause, waiting for them to get it.  They didn't get it immediately but once it registered in their brains, the cheering began.  We'd then proceed through the series of photos, explaining the reveal and letting them get a kick out of Alex's response . It was great.

Now, we're past the 13 week mark and the photos were used to create an announcement card that was sent to family and friends, then shared on social media.  For your viewing pleasure, I present:
As for how I'm feeling, I think some days are better than others.  I don't think I'm entirely past the queasy, fatigue stage, and recently the headaches have started.  People tell me that's normal, and I really hope it is because if I give myself too much time to think about it, I start imaging the adenoma on my pituitary growing out of control since I'm no longer taking medicine to prevent it from doing so.  (Prayers, maybe?) Aaand...I MIGHT be starting to develop a bump (probably not.), but my pants are definitely feeling tighter and so my search for maternity-comfort has begun.  At the very least, I may be living in flowy dresses for my work conference next week.

Don't look for a bump here - this was taken in early July.
In any case, this post is getting super long so I'll stop there.  Next time we'll switch gears as I share about our weekend in New Orleans for the Garth Brooks concert last month.  ...Can't let the blog become everything baby, now can we?



P.S.  I know for some this type of post can be uncomfortable, difficult, or just plain painful.  Please know that we recognize this and pray for those of you who may struggle with infertility (any variation thereof) and/or infant loss.  Our hearts go out to families affected by these struggles each and every day. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Fun Photo Reveal!

Remember last month when I said I had something I wanted to write about but I couldn't just yet?  Well, today is your lucky day!

Mid-June, Alex and I met my friend Dawn in Natchez for the day so she could practice taking our photos for an upcoming engagement shoot some her friends had asked her to do for them. It was totally a last minute thing, so Alex was a little suspicious, but he went with it.  I know you want to see the fruits of her labor, so scroll on!

Dawn also gave us each a 1/2 sheet of poster board so we could write a note to one another.  She said it was to help her practice with the posters as props because her friends were planning to write their own vows.

Do you see where this is going yet? got it.  I have been stringing you (and Alex) along this whole time!! This whole photo shoot was orchestrated to reveal our pregnancy to the unknowing dad-to-be!  Scroll on to see the action unfold!

Still absolutely clueless...oh that smile is about to change drastically.  

Yeah, he threw down that poster with gusto, and literally ran away!!!  I'll save from you any more of those blurry and unprofessional photos because, well, in the words of Dawn, "my shutter speed wasn't set fast enough for that!!!"  

Here, he recounts all the reasons he was suspicious about this day trip and photo shoot.  It was Father's Day weekend, after all...

Untucked shirt and all, he finally took a breath and allowed excitement to take over.

Sooo........there you have it!!  We're having a BABY!

Because I know the questions will start coming, I'll just go ahead and list a few of them for you:

  • We're due February 19th...which is exactly between Mardi Gras (Feb. 9) and Leap Day (Feb. 29).  My original calculation was for February 20th, so I'd be 100% fine if we found ourselves with a due date baby.  But please, no Leap Day birthdays!!!
  • As of yesterday, we're 12 weeks along, so here's to hoping all the typical first trimester symptoms are on their way out and energy/appetite is on the way in!
  • No, we don't plan on finding out the gender, so no reveal parties to plan on here.
  • No gender reveal = no name reveal either.  I would like to settle on first names with the same initial to leave open the possibility of monogrammed gifts, but we haven't been able to 100% agree on anything that works for that yet (and that's my fault, not his).  
  • Also, we don't have any "bumpdate" photos yet because I'm not exactly the thinnest girl on the block and therefore whatever "bump" that's growing most definitely still looks more like chub and less like baby.  Maybe in a few weeks.  Maybe.
Ahh, all the things!!  I'm so excited to finally share this with all of you.  It's been SO hard keeping the secret when commenting on some of your blogs, but I can ask for all the advice from you wonderful moms out there! 

Let the fun begin!

P.S.  I know for some this type of news can be uncomfortable, difficult, or just plain painful.  Please know that we recognize this and pray for those of you who may struggle with infertility (any variation thereof) and/or infant loss.  Our hearts go out to families affected by these struggles each and every day.