Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lars & The Real Girl

We recently re-watched the movie "Lars and the Real Girl". Rob and I really enjoy this movie - it's a different role for Ryan Gosling (who doesn't love Ryan Gosling??) and it's a really, quirky, thought-provoking, refreshing movie. I'm not sure everyone would love it (it is quirky) but we really do.

We hadn't seen it in a few years and not since we've been married. This time around, I had a completely different take on it. This time, I was a lot more intrigued with two of the main characters in the movie - Lars' brother and sister-in-law, Gus & Karin.

(Any Parks & Rec watchers out there? Yes, that's Mark Brendanawicz.)

They live on the same property as Lars and they are some of the only people who interact with him on a daily basis. They are a totally "normal", healthy, loving couple who have been married a few years and are expecting their first child. So basically in the same life stage as me and Rob which is probably why it caught my attention. 

One of the things that Gus & Karin realize throughout the movie is how they got so wrapped up in their marriage that they missed out on opportunities to love and reach out to their brother, Lars. It made me ask myself if Rob and I could learn anything from that. 

My immediate answer was no - we are both actively involved in ministry both in our full-time jobs and the ways we serve outside of that (neighborhood ministry, our families, our homeless friends, hosting people in our home, college students, etc). But then I started thinking of ways that we've created space in our life or how we spend our time and I tried to think of it with a fresh perspective.

I think I can tend to fall into a rut and feel like I'm giving to/serving/loving others just because I am giving to/serving/loving Rob. I spend a lot of my time investing in my spouse and in a healthy marriage. I think of ways to make him feel special or loved, I lay down my preferences on how I want to spend our down time, or I use my extra energy to clean our house so that he doesn't have to help me with it later. I love thinking of new ways to surprise, bless, and love him. And please hear me - those are all good...great things. They keep our marriage healthy and the ways we give to and serve each other are a lot of the reason why we enjoy our marriage so much.

But I think I realized that we need more balance with it. While we pray for and work towards and strongly desire a healthy long marriage, that's not all we want to be about. 

Ultimately, we want our lives  (and by extension, our marriage) to be about the mission of God. We want our lives to be centered around, obsessed with, and driven by the good news of Jesus. We want the success of our lives to be Christ glorified through us and the advancement of His kingdom through us. And the great news is that a healthy and long marriage is a by-product of us pursuing that together. Whether we are single or married, the more we can take our eyes of ourselves and the more we are able to put them on Jesus, the more satisfied we are in Him and the more glorified He is in us. This helps foster healthy lifestyles, marriages, homes, perspectives, and relationships. It's what we were created for.

So that's what the Lord is currently teaching me through this quirky little movie! PS If you are interested, it's on Instant Streaming on Netflix! (If you are wondering if you would like it, and I know you, shoot me a message and I'll let you know if I think you'd enjoy it :) ).

Friday, January 18, 2013

Gender Reveal Party

My sweet best friends threw me a special party to celebrate and announce the gender of baby Shields! It was so.much.fun. I was giddy excited about it all week and could not wait to hang out with all my favorite girls, plus get to tell them all whether we were having a boy or girl!

Shannon and Ashley went ALL OUT with the decorations and little details. I teared up when I first walked in and saw everything. They made me feel so special and loved - it was such a sweet night - one I'll remember for a long time. 

Check out these adorable decorations! There were little lips for girl and mustaches for boy :) The group was evenly split down the middle boy vs girl. She even had little cards for people to fill out with wishes for baby Shields. They were so thoughtful and sweet!

We ate dinner pretty quickly and I tried not to say much because I did NOT want to give it away by accident :) After dinner, Ashley cut the cake (she made it so I had told her the gender ahead of time). Everyone turned around so they wouldn't see until it was time...

And then VOILA! It's a girl!!!! Best. reactions. ever.

We sat around and talked for a long time - discussing only the most important things (including the Bachelor, of course). It was such a sweet time with friends and I loved having everyone together. One of my best friends even drove in from Charlotte just for the party!

Team Boy vs. Team Girl

Thank you everyone for making it such a special experience! I love you all so much!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

It's a girl!

By now, I think everyone and their mother knows we are expecting a sweet baby girl! :) I'm not meaning to draw it all out but I did want to document all of the special moments and events of our first pregnancy so I can remember them in the future. So sorry if this ad nauseum for the rest of you :) 

On Thursday morning, January 10, we had our appointment to have an in-depth ultrasound, where we would get to see our baby again and hopefully find it if it's a he or she. We were so excited! One of the reasons we chose to find out early instead of waiting to be surprised is that I had heard that it makes the pregnancy/baby much more real for the father when they know what gender it is. It all is very real to me (my whole body is completely different and I can feel her move inside of me) and I was excited to for Rob to feel more apart of it. 
On our way to the appointment!

We actually had to wait an agonizing 45 minutes in the waiting room because they double-booked our appointment. We tried to be patient but we were both almost too excited to sit still. 

The ultrasound tech didn't tell us the gender of the baby until the end of the appointment...which normally would drive me crazy! BUT we were so overwhelmed and overjoyed at getting to see all of her arms, legs, fingers, toes...everything...that we didn't care at all. I teared up several times throughout the appointment because I was just so grateful that the Lord blessed us with this gift and that everything looks totally healthy and normal! I was also so surprised at how big she is already and how we could see all of the body parts already...it was so awesome. Not to mention - sweet honey child was doing somersaults in there! I don't think she sat still for a single minute. Love it.

I knew pretty early on that our baby is a girl - or at least I was fairly confident. So the tech finally confirmed my suspicions at the end and announced that we have a sweet baby girl! Rob was shocked and so excited - he's wanted a girl the whole time but really thought it was a boy. It was such an amazing feeling - of course I cried :)

Here are some pictures of our sweet little girl!

Our favorite one.

Here's a shot of her face facing us...so you'll see dark spots that are her eyes, nose and mouth. We got to see her open and closing her mouth and one point - so precious!

Cutest little foot!

We also got to 3D/4D pictures too but we thought it was kind of alienish so I'm not going to post those :)

After we found out, we celebrated by going to Target to pick up our first baby girl item! It was so fun and overwhelming to look through everything... we eventually decided on some little baby shoes. They are PRECIOUS and so tiny!

The next night, we had my family and Rachel over to celebrate the good news and tell them the gender of the baby! We decided to do the reveal first thing when everyone got there because I am terrible at keeping secrets - I had already told Sandy the night before completely by accident. 

Rob came up with the idea to fill dark balloons (we chose black) with pink paper confetti, string them up high, have everyone pop a balloon, and see confetti streaming down everywhere! It was really fun to plan out...and slightly less fun actually stuffing the balloons :) haha

I was doubtful that the black balloons would be "pretty"...and I was right :) Haha they looked very similar to Dwight Schrute decorations a la The Office. (see here) But I still loved the idea.

We even hung one low one for Finley and Cole to pop. It makes me laugh so hard every time I see it!

When everyone came, we had them pop the balloons! Sorry we didn't get a picture - there was a lot going on :) And yes pink confetti went everywhere but it was totally worth it. And also Finley cleaned up most of it...he was very focused on getting it all picked up :)

We also had everyone mark whether they thought it was a boy or girl before we popped the balloons. Lots of girl votes - which is hilarious because almost everyone else outside our family thought it was a boy :)

Here's the whole group! So thankful to have so much love and support from our families! Also everyone is wearing the color of the gender they thought it was - a lot of pink! 

I like this one because of Finley and Pat...but Anna and Rachel are covered up.
Just awesome. 

We are so thankful for a healthy sweet little girl!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Pregnancy Update - 19 weeks

I feel sooo awkward every time I take a belly photo :) But I know I'll be glad for them someday!

Pregnancy update - Week 19

How Far Along: 19 weeks

Size of baby: A large mango

Gender: It's a GIRL!! :) (More on that later this week)

Movement: More and more little pops every day. When we had our last ultrasound, it was amazing to see how active our little girl is - she was moving the entire time! I still get excited every time I feel her move.

What I miss: Sleeping on my stomach! Two nights ago, I finally reached the point where I can no longer sleep on my stomach which is how I always fall asleep. It's definitely an adjustment but right now I'm exhausted enough by the time I go to bed that I'm still getting sleep :)

What I'm loving: I feel like you can actually tell I'm pregnant now, instead of just looking like I'm gaining weight :)

Symptoms: This past week I had pneumonia which was challenging. But I got some good rest at home and my primary care physician gave me some pregnancy-safe antibiotics to knock it out. Feeling much better and much less congested now! Still nauseous but hopefully that will be decreasing soon. I've started getting leg cramps in the middle of the night, and my gums have been bleeding alot when I brush my teeth. So...I think I've covered almost every pregnancy symptom except maybe back pain? Bring.it.on.

Cravings: Still loving potato-y & salty things. Ice cold water is my best friend. Starting to get my sweet tooth back a little bit and am loving ice cream. Also sparkling grape juice - so yummy.

Best Moments this week: Finding out we're having a girl! Rob really wanted a girl and so I was so excited when we heard the good news. Either way - we were so thankful and joyful that everything is healthy and normal! We also LOVED sharing with our friends & family (again, more on that later this week).

What we are looking forward to: I don't know about "we" but I am looking forward to registering and starting to plan the nursery!

Notes: I feel extremely happy and content these days, despite my body still being out of whack. I really am cherishing the moments of being pregnant and don't want to wish them away or rush through it. Rob and I have started making lists of things we want to do together in our last few days pre-kiddos. We really want to cherish this season and make the most of it.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Pregnancy Update - Weeks 13 - 18

I realize I've been pretty bad at doing pregnancy updates and I really want to remember it all! So I'm going to try to discipline myself to do these little surveys more often :) Also, it is way hard to remember to take a picture of your belly every week! Props to those of you mommas out there who stayed on top of it. I've already missed a week so I feel kind of relieved that I already know I won't be perfect at it :)

Weeks 14 - 17 of baby bump

Pregnancy update - Weeks 13-18

How Far Along: 18 weeks today!

Size of baby: Size of a Peach (13 weeks) to size of a Sweet Potato (18 weeks)! I'll be honest, at this point, all the produce seems to be about the same size :)

Gender: ?? Find out next week!

Movement: I first felt the baby move right at 16 weeks! It was such a great feeling. It just felt like a little pop in my stomach. Since then I've felt the baby move alot, especially in the evenings. I love it! Can't wait until Rob can feel it too :)

What I miss: Sleep (right now with being sick, I'm not getting a lot). I miss eating whenever I felt like it instead of eating on a schedule to maintain my nausea. I miss having energy! But I feel like overall - my spirits have been much more "up" this past month (despite the sickness) which has been a huge blessing.

Symptoms: I've been sick with one thing or another since I've been pregnant - right now, I've got a bad head cold and can barely speak/breath without coughing/blowing my nose/sneezing. So sleep is not the greatest right now. But I'm thankful I can still go to work! Also still nauseous all day every day although the doctor assures me that it will be gone by 20 weeks *fingers crossed*.

Notes: I still feel like some days it looks like I'm not pregnant at all and somedays I look SO pregnant. It's giving me a bit of an identity crisis :) Love anytime that someone notices my baby bump (I work with a lot of guys so they are not so discreet about noticing my belly). Also, we have a girl name that we love but we are nowhere close to coming up with a boy name:)

Cravings: I have loved potatoy things for the past 2-3 months and that has not stopped. I LOVE fries, baked potatoes - really anything like that. I also really love anything that's very cold - Rob always makes fun of me for getting so excited about an ice water. It just really makes the nausea feel better. I even love walking outside to the cold air - it instantly makes me feel better.

Best Moments this month: Feeling the baby move! Having time at home with Rob - our last Christmas together before we have a little one crawling around. Also loved hearing the baby's heartbeat again!

What we are looking forward to: Finding out if our baby is a "he" or "she" next week! And it's been awhile since we've had an ultrasound so I can't wait just to see our baby again and see how everything is developing :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

DIY Tea cup candles

Me and my sisters have a new Christmas tradition (2 years in a row makes it a tradition right?). Since there are so many of us and none of us have struck it rich yet, but we really want to get everyone a present, we have decided to do $5 presents amongst the sisters. It's awesome because it's not a lot of money but it gives everyone the opportunity to be creative to find things you can get for just a few bucks.

Last year, I lucked out with an Old Navy Groupon. I used that as well as some things I already had to give each of my sisters a shirt plus a craft - homemade chalk boards for some and pretty votive candles (with lace, ribbon, etc decorating them) for the others.

This year, I wanted to make something for all of them. I stumbled upon this Martha Stewart craft and decided to give it a whirl! I love how they turned out.

-Tea cups - I found the teacups on Amazon - which was a huge relief. I wanted some teacups and I actually wanted them to be blue so I totally lucked out.
-Candle wicks - I bought candle wicks from AC Moore but you can find them at any craft store.
-Candles or wax to melt - I bought some 2 inch pillar candles at Walmart for a dollar each. I ended up only needing 3 candles for 6 tea cups, but that's because I used every bit of the wax on every candle, shaving it all the way down to the wick.
-An old glass or vase to melt the wax in
-A large pot

Step one - shave down the candles so that you can melt the wax down into liquid form.

It helps to shave the candle rather than just cutting into chunks because it melts MUCH more quickly if it is in small shavings, rather than big wax chunks.




Step two - melt the wax in an old glass or vase that you don't mind ruining (it's really hard to get completely rid of the wax in the glass/vase once you melt a ton of it in there).

I just boiled a large pot of water and then put a tall old vase in there filled with wax shavings.

Step three - while the wax is melting, prepare the candle wicks in the teacups. 

I chose to get the longer candle wicks just to be safe, but I probably could have gotten much shorter ones. My main goal was to make sure the wick was centered and straight.

Step four - pour the melted wax into the teacup and allow time for it to harden.

So easy! The first few teacups, I hadn't melted enough wax to fill the cup but it was no problem at all. I just melted more wax while the other wax was hardening and poured it on top once it was liquid. I actually think I had more success doing it in layers that way than all at once (some of my teacup candles  had little air pockets/holes that I couldn't seem to get rid of even by pouring more wax on top of them. Those were the ones that I just poured a bunch of wax in at once, rather than in layers. That's my theory but it could be for a totally different reason :) ).

Having just poured the wax in (which is clear when it is liquid)

 And once the wax has hardened! Beautiful!! 

All six completed candles! (one for my mom of course)

Voila! Easy beautiful Christmas present for just $5. Now I just need to make one for myself...