Reunited and It Feels So Good!

My boys are safely home again and I'm so glad!  They got home late afternoon yesterday, so we've been spending some much needed time together today.  They had a great time, Travis said they caught 223 fish for the week (0r something like that), so it was definitely a successful trip.  Ryley had a blast too.  He is so exhausted today, he doesn't know what to do with himself.  He's basically been sleeping since the second he got home!  I'm so glad he went though, I know it was fun for him.  Here are some pictures from their trip and from the bonfire I went to with my cousins on Friday night.  We both had a great week, but it's much better to reunited!!  
Travis was very excited about this big catch, and apparently Ryley was too!  He is staring that fish down, as if it might make any sudden moves!
I love this picture!  Ryley must be searching for fish too, he just doesn't have a pole!
And this is probably how he "jumped/fell" in the water!  Travis and my Dad said that they had to tell Ryley several times to stay in the boat because everything in him wanted to be in the water.  Also, he wanted to get up close and personal with every fish they caught, so he could smell them and lick them.  GROSS!!  Again, it was so good I didn't go on that trip!
One of my favorite shots...a fisherman and his dog.  My Dad was SO glad Ryley came with them!
Again, right up there in the action!  Ryley had the time of his short life, all 4 years, this past week!  Travis said he was just in Heaven on the boat every day.  I think this proves it!
Ok, so cute!  Isn't he handsome?  And I think he looks like a fisherman here.  Oh, and the scenery isn't too bad either!
My Dad and a big catch...Notice Ryley trying to sniff it.  I don't want to know what happened next!
I went to a bonfire with my relatives on Friday night.  It was a perfect fall night and we sat around the fire drinking cider and roasting marshmellows, while the kids played night games.  This is my cousin Jenny and I.  Both of our husbands were missing, Chris is a pilot and was flying and of course Travis was in Canada.  We had a great time anyway!
This is my cousin Rhonda, and her oldest Hayley.   Rhonda's and her husband Brian are our double date pals.  We've done many a late night movie with them!  Hayley just landed a part in her high school fall musical, Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat.  Yeah Hayley!  We can't wait to see it!
This is my cousin Amy, and her husband Joe.  Amy makes me laugh like no one else.  Our sense of humor is very similar!  We're dangerous together!  And I've mentioned Joe several times on my blog.  He is a very talented artist and you can buy his music here.
This is my uncle Ron and his wife Linda.  I heard all about the family tradition of everyone being at the hospital when I deliver, no matter what time it is!  Sounds good to me!  The more the merrier!!  Ron has been at the hospital for all 13 grandkids, so I guess he knows what he's talking about!!
This is Cindy and Dan.  Cindy was a nanny for several years when they moved here like me.  The kids kept getting us confused in the dark, I guess because of the straight blonde hair??
They guys broke out the guitars and drums for some sweet background music.  This is my cousin George and my cousin Brian.  It wasn't too long before Joe was in there too!  George and Brian lead worship for our kids ministry at church, gotta love that!  
This is my cousin Robyn, George's wife, and my uncle Ron again.  Robyn went to our junior high fall retreat with us as our camp nurse (she really  is one!) which was fun for me!  She also has 2 junior highers in our ministry right now.  I would have loved to have taken a picture of all the kiddos, but they were never still long enough for me to accomplish that!  I LOVE my family and we are so BLESSED to have them here with us, and at Church.  It's so fun to do stuff like this together whenever we can.  


Wrapping Up the First Trimester

I went to my 12 week OB appt. today and I can hardly believe it! Where have these first weeks gone?? I was sitting in the waiting room, remembering my last appointment, and realizing that not only was I still pregnant, but this time I was starting to look like it!! The first time we went in, I remember thinking, "what if this is all in my head??" I knew in my heart I was pregnant, but I woke up the morning of that appointment, second guessing everything!! To make matters worse, when they couldn't hear the heartbeat (which is totally common in those first weeks) I really started to panic. My doctor told me not to, but of course I did. Fortunately, they were very sweet to me and they knew my Mother-in-law was visiting, so they squeezed me in for an ultrasound so that we could see that little peanut and watch his/her heartbeat. That day was one of the most amazing days of my life! As we went into the ultrasound room, I had a total flashback to the day I miscarried, when they performed an ultrasound while telling us, "I'm very sorry, we don't see any more signs of the pregnancy." Words I hope to never hear again. Imagine our relief and joy this time around, when we CLEARLY saw signs of pregnancy and watched as that little heart beat over and over again.

I was looking forward to this appointment today, and with good reason. My doctor told me everything looked great, totally normal and when she listened for the heartbeat, she found it! It was fast and strong and possibly the sweetest sound I've ever heard. I just laid there with my eyes closed and teary, listening to that little heart and letting it sink in that our baby is alive and growing in me. Amazing. I wish Trav could have been there for this one, but I know he'll be at the next one. Then, I asked the question I was most terrified of..."How much weight have I gained?" Now I had already prepared myself for a lecture or a gentle reminder of how important it is to "pace oneself" through this journey, because I was sure, after the way I have been eating lately, that it was not going to be good. However, by the grace of God, the news was great! I only gained 4 pounds!! "Perfect" is what my doctor actually said. So in response, I did the only think I knew to do...I celebrated by going to the grocery store and buying more food! Then I came home, ate an entire frozen pizza, a nutty bar, and took a nap. I know, perhaps an overreaction. I probably gained 4 more pounds this afternoon alone!! But hey, a girl's gotta celebrate when she can, right??

In addition to a great morning, I am reveling in this gorgeous weather, and enjoying my Friday off. I took a great nap this afternoon and now I'm sitting in my bed, blogging, and watching Oprah. Yes, I just admitted that. One thing that I have noticed in this pregnancy is how I long to do everything from my bed! I want to eat here, sleep here, blog from here, watch tv here, and talk on the phone here. And, when I wake up in the morning, I start to countdown how many hours until I can return here! I don't know why that is, but it's true. I have always loved our bed and actually we both really like our bedroom. There is something so relaxing about being in my bed that I've hardly spent any time in the rest of our house! We have these big windows in here, that let in so much natural light and of course, I worked hard to design it so that it is a restful place! I'm not sure what Travis thinks about all of this however. He likes our bed too (for obvious reasons) but I'm not sure he wants to spend all our time here, or that he wants me to be doing any eating in here!! But I can't be reasoned with right now. I'm pregnant. Most days I just go with what makes me feel good. And right now, it's doing everything from my bed!!

I'm very happy to be getting my Travy and Ryley back tomorrow. It's been so quiet around here! They have had a great week, catching lots of fish and doing guy things. I don't ask too many questions. I'm just glad he's happy and that he misses me. I have had a fun week, but I always miss Travis when he's gone. Last night I went to a fun party for the premiere of The Office, which did not disappoint!! Can I just say how THRILLED I am that Jim and Pam are finally engaged??? Travis has not seen it, so I know we'll be watching it when he gets home. Tonight, I am headed to my cousins house, with lots of family, for a bonfire and dessert! I have been looking forward to this all week, because I love hanging with my family and I am longing for a cup of hot cider next to the fire! I'll be sure to take some pictures.

Here are some pictures from this past week and from the last few weeks. We continue to be incredibly blessed by our friends and family who keep sending us sweet things and who keep delighting my soul every time I get the mail! Thank you, thank you for making this so fun for us!!

These are my new shoes.  Hello comfort.  I have been noticing my tendency to wear tennis shoes all the time to ease my aching back, so I went searching for some comfy flats that are little better looking than running shoes!  I'm sure my sisters will think these are "mom shoes" or "old lady shoes" but these days, it's comfort over style!!

This is a picture of my night stand and two of the things I cherish.  The first one is that little angel I found holding the baby.  I found it after my miscarriage and it was just one of those things that brought me comfort every time I saw it, still does.  The second is the adorable pregnant lady, that my sweet second Mom, Joan, bought me.  She sent it to me in the mail and when I opened it, I told Travis that I was hoping to get this.  I've loved it for a long time!!

This is a picture of what's on Travis' night stand.  The night that I told him I was pregnant, I bought this for him and gave it to him at the restaurant.  From the first time I saw this years ago, I always knew I wanted to give it to Travis when he became a Dad.  It's so sweet and it just reminds me of the miracle we have waiting for us.  And who doesn't love the sight of a brand new daddy holding his first baby?  Or any baby after that??

This is also what's on the OTHER side of my night stand.  My 3 favorite things.  My prenatal vitamins, my unisom and my tropical tums.  The vitamin always reminds me at night that no matter how I'm feeling, it's ALL WORTH IT!  The unisom has been my favorite thing.  Without it, I am awake several times during the night, starving and going to the bathroom.  With it, I can make it to like 4:30 or 5:00am!  I hate that it's cherry flavored, but that was all they had when I bought it.  My doctor told me I could safely take it, so I'm not arguing.  I like my sleep.  Oh and the tropical tums, you who have been down this road before, know what a lifesaver they are!  And, surprisingly, the tropical ones are actually not too bad!  It's all relative though... 

My friend Lisa, and new mother of 5, gave me this great journal, which we are loving.  It's a daily journal that tells you each day, in great detail, about what's happening with your baby.  We read the entry every night and marvel at what God is doing.  It amazes me that even in those early, early weeks, He is working on the smallest of details and knitting together that little person bit by bit.  It's also fun to pray for all those parts and processes.  Ultimately God is in total control, but I love getting an idea of what He's doing in there!!

I don't know if you can read this, but it says "For this child I prayed."  My Mom and Dad brought it to us when they came a few weeks ago.  I love it.  So simple, sweet, and true.

This is also a precious thing my Mom mailed to me.  It is a book about being a Godly Mom who takes time to nurture her kids at all stages.  But, what makes it so special to me is that she received that book from a friend of hers when she was pregnant with me.  She's held onto it for 28 years, waiting for the time she could pass it along.  I cried when I opened it.  

And of course, they also brought us this awesome Hawkeye pacifier!  I'm pretty sure this one will be reserved for special occasions only!!

Yesterday, I received a fun package from my friend Annette, whom I used to work for.  I was her nanny for her little Olivia (remember the flower girl from Jennie's wedding?) for 2 1/2 years, when we lived in NC and Trav was in seminary.  She has been such a great friend and she sent me this sweet, fleece outfit (which will be well worn in Minnesota)!!  I love it.  It's so soft and cute.  

She also sent me these fun books, which I have been pouring through today.  The girlfriend's guide is one of the funniest books!  It's definitely a much needed laugh and break from all the serious books that make you crazy with worry!  Thanks Annette!!


Missing My Boys

I don't think I've mentioned it yet, but I am home by my lonesome this week.  Travis is in Canada, on a much deserved vacation.  He is there with my Dad, a great family friend of ours, and get this...RYLEY!!  Isn't that so funny?  Ryley is just one of the guys this week!  While we were gone at the high school retreat last weekend, my Dad came to our house and picked up Ryley, and they went a little early to the resort in Ontario.  Travis left Monday morning to meet them.  

They are all doing well, catching lots of fish and having a great time.  Travis told me last night that Ryley has been really good in the boat (oh yes, he's in the boat with them for 7 or 8 hours a day), totally intrigued by the fish and trying to lick them (GROSS!!), until yesterday, when he got a little too excited and too close to the edge of the boat and HE FELL IN!!! Oh what I would have given to see that!  Ryley is a golden retriever, so the dog knows how to swim and was made for the water, but he is such a chicken that I'm sure he panicked a little and surprised himself!  Travis said the guys were all laughing like crazy and calling Ryley to swim back to the boat, then they had to lift all 80 lbs of a soaking wet dog, over the edge of the boat.  How funny!  I am trying not to think of how he must smell now, knowing that Ryley is totally having the time of his life.  It's good I'm not there, I probably would have freaked out when he fell in!!  Travis is totally calm about stuff like that, I'm sure he laughed like crazy first and then thought about what he should do.  I, on the other hand, would have immediately panicked then laughed later.  

When I talked to Travis this morning, I told him to put the phone up to Ryley's ear so I could say hi to him.  My sweet husband flatly refused and said, "Steph, he's a dog.  Don't be ridiculous.  You can say hi to him on Saturday when we come home."  I was a little irritated by that, but I guess he may have a point and I may occasionally forget that little detail!  In more ways than one, that dog has been our firstborn for 4 years now!  He has no idea how his life is going to change...

Anyway, I'm kind of enjoying this week to myself.  I wasn't crazy about Travis going, especially after two weekends of retreats, but I knew it would be fun for him and I knew Ryley was going to get some good attention and fun.  But what about me?  Why am I stuck at home??  Well actually, I have nothing to complain about.  My social calendar is full this week and before Travis left he told me, "If I'm going to be on vacation this week, then you should feel like you're on vacation too.  Don't do anything you don't want to and just relax this week.  Sleep in, go out with friends, go shopping, watch tv, just enjoy yourself."  So, I thought that was pretty sweet thing to say and therefore a license to do all those things!  I've had quite the time just putting my feet up and resting.  Tonight I'll go to our junior high youth group, because that will make Travis happy, and the rest of the week I have fun stuff planned.  But today, I'm still in my jammies and loving every minute of it!  This home alone thing isn't all that bad!!


Happy Birthday Stacie!

Today is my sister Stacie's birthday!  She is 24 today, which is hard for me to believe, since I have her cemented in my mind at about 20.  Sorry Stace, I don't know why that is??  Stacie and her husband Jesse, live in North Carolina.  Ironically, they live just a few hours away from where we used to live, but somehow we managed to miss them by a couple of years.  I wish I could have Stacie and Jesse over for dinner tonight, as I remember how it felt to be celebrating a birthday, so far from family and friends.  Will you do me a favor and please visit her blog, and leave her a birthday message?  I know that would brighten her day to get home from work and have some birthday wishes waiting for her in her inbox.  
Stacie is my younger sister, in the middle between Jennie and I.  I am 4 years older than Stace, and she is 19 months older than Jennie.  We have become very close over these last few years, and I'm very grateful for our relationship.  Stacie teaches pre-school in the mornings and runs an after school program in the afternoons.  I know that the kids adore her because she is very quiet and sweet.  Not so much like her other loud-mouth sisters!  Stace has always been one of those girls who is a very loyal friend with a tender heart.  In many, many ways, she is just like our Dad.  We've all inherited a love for our beloved Iowa Hawkeyes, but perhaps she is the most "serious" fan.  There is a story I would love to tell about Stacie, but I'll spare her the embarrassment of all the details...Let me just tell you that "someone" once ended up in the ER after throwing her shoulder out of socket, while cheering during an Iowa football game!  I don't know who thought it was funnier, the doctors and nurses or my Dad!!  Do not get in the way of this girl during an Iowa game or a Packer's game!  She means business!!  And by the way, to top it off, she was at her future in laws house when it happened!  Somehow she managed to subdue herself and not let them see how much pain she was really in!  

One of the things I'm most proud of about Stacie, is the choice she made in marrying Jesse.  These two started dating in high school, and from the very beginning, my whole family fell in love with Jesse.  He is the most fun to be around, always making us laugh and usually explaining something in great, great detail!  Stacie had her sights set on Jesse and she dated him for a couple of years in high school and all through college.  As we grew to know Jesse more and more, we saw all the reasons she loved him.  He is thoughtful, creative, FUNNY, detailed, organized, and he adores Stacie.  He also loves the Lord very much and is the kind of guy who would do absolutely anything for you.  We are so thrilled to have Jesse in the family and so glad that Stacie is building a life with someone who loves her so selflessly.  I am proud of both of them for starting this adventure in North Carolina, while Jesse is in grad school, and for making the most of their time there.  It hasn't been easy to have them so far away, but it's been great for each of them to grow and for their marriage to be strengthened.  We LOVE to have them home, at my parents house with all of us, on the holidays.  It is such a blessing to love both of my sisters and the men they married and to truly enjoy every minute we have together.   Travis and I take great joy in knowing that our little peanut is going to have the best aunts and uncles ever!  Have a wonderful and blessed birthday Stacie.  I miss you and I love you!!  Hope this has been a great day for you!  Love, Steph


11 Weeks and Another Weekend, Another Retreat!

Travis and I were gone again this weekend, this time at the High School Fall Retreat.  Travis spoke all weekend and we got to spend some time at the most GORGEOUS camp, about 4 hours away up north.  We LOVE to come to this camp because it's so beautiful, it's not at all like being at "camp" it's more like a resort!  And, because Trav was speaking, we got to really relax and enjoy ourselves.  There are benefits to this youth Pastor thing!!

This was the view from our bedroom and deck, of one of the lakes the camp is on.  So pretty.

One of the traditional things we do at Fall Retreat, is a flag football competition between grades.   There is lots of clean, old-fashioned trash talking that goes on, but it's so fun to watch!

Just so the students know where they rank, the winning grade always takes on the staff team.  Travis wants to make sure that you know the staff won this year, by 2 points!   Yeah staff!!

This is the back of the home that the staff stays in...oh yeah, it's amazing.  Just wait until I show you the inside!!  It's almost a crime that we get to come here and get paid for doing it!! 

                                                       Another view of the lake.  

Here's a view of our kitchen and the reading loft inside our house...
And here is the view of the living room...just picture me laying on one of those couches, with the fireplace going, and a hot drink in my hand!  The view from those windows is amazing...

When you walk into the front door, there is a tree in the foyer!  The house is vaulted and open, so very cool.  I LOVE all the logs and the design of this house.  Whoever did it, nailed the look!!

And this is the room where we get to stay...oh yeah, it's as great as it looks!  We've stayed in this particular room 3 years in a row and we plan to be back again next year!  That bed is so comfy, I always sleep so well when we're here!  And that is Travy, prepping for his talk.  

This is perhaps the thing that sold me on this camp...our own bathroom, with clean tile, a sparkling tub, endless HOT water, real towels and a CLEAN shower curtain.  All my youth ministry friends out there will recognize the gold mine that this is!!  Most camps we attend have less than ideal bathrooms and I always have to bring my own towels, flip flops, and cleaning products.  This is the one time when I don't have to do any of that!  It's cleaner than my own!!

Because Travis was speaking, we came up early on Friday and spent some time at the camp and then went out for dinner.  Of course I was taking lots of pictures and making Travis pose with me!!  He's such a good sport...

The main lodge and dining hall, with a great coffee shop too!

Practicing for lots of rocking in the future!

One of the many lookout spots that are around the camp grounds.

We decided that I should let you see the little belly that I'm starting to grow.  This is me at 11 weeks, in my regular clothes, which are starting to get too tight!  I read recently that if you are beginning to show at this point, it's most likely due to bloating and early weight gain.  Great.  That was really depressing to read!  It really is such a weird stage I'm in, I can see my body growing and changing shape, but it honestly just looks like I'm getting fat!  I think I'll be ready to start showing soon, just so you can tell this weight is from the pregnancy and not too many cheeseburgers!!

See all those hammocks on the beach??  I parked my behind in one of those and totally enjoyed it!!  Their beach front is so nice and what you can't see is 2 major 28 person hot-tubs that over look the water!  Can you believe that?  I never attended a camp like that as a kid!

My favorite camp speaker!

Because we were so far up north, the colors and the trees were gorgeous!  Look at that bank of trees across the lake!  I can't wait for the leaves to start changing here.  

The grounds at this camp are immaculate...almost like being at Disney world!  These flowers were so pretty.  

This was the house we stayed in...wish it was my real house!

Travy and I went on a date before the kids arrived Friday night and we went to this little bar and grill on the water.  In honor of Kelly, I took pictures of what we ate.  I chose a walleye sandwich, which was great, but a little peppery.  I ate quite a bit of Trav's meal, because it was better!

Travis got these ribs, which were SO GOOD!!  The meat was falling off the bone and the bar-b-que sauce was so tasty, I could have had it to drink!!  He was very nice and shared it with me!

We had a fun little date, but I have a few problems with this picture.  First, it appears that we are drinking a case of Bud Light.  We are not.  That box held our silverware and condiments!  Second, note to self, do not tip head back to expose growing chin and neck...Not flattering.  Third, I think my face looks bigger to me!  I was a little alarmed when I saw this, could I be looking pregnant in my face already??  The good news is that Travis looks cute as ever.