Saturday, December 26, 2009

five christmases

Christmas 2005. Been married for just a few months, we decorated our little apartment with a hand-me-down tree and stockings I bought for $5 each at Kroger. (We still have our Kroger stockings!)
Christmas 2006. First Christmas in a new home. We had friends living with us at the time...






Christmas 2007. Daisy was just a few months old, and we were so nervous she would eat the ornaments! Little did we know she wouldn't start that until this year ...




Christmas 2008. All dressed up for a western Christmas party. Can't believe I don't have any pictures of our tree that year!


And, Christmas of 2009. Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....


Got home from school tonight and Adam had done our outside lights! In the freezing cold! All by himself! Don't they look great! We might add some around our pathway, too! I love the holidays!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

family thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! We've had an awesome week, with much more free time than expected. I was supposed to work on Thanksgiving and the day after, but I got cancelled all but a few hours on Thanksgiving afternoon. Adam's entire family has been in town -- all three sisters with husbands, kids, and dogs in tow. Although I missed the big feast, word is that there were almost 40 people at my mother-in-law's house and she had the full spread. I did get to eat leftovers on Thursday night and then had a real Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday with my mom. Got to see an aunt and uncle from Dallas that I hadn't seen in years, enjoyed a steak dinner at my dad's, went house hunting with my sister-in-law, ate at Cheddar's with our friends, helped teach my nephew how to ride a bike, played about 100 rounds of peek-a-boo with my niece, watched my dog swim in the pond by our house when it was 50 degrees outside, got a new car!, bought a Christmas tree, watched a silly movie with my husband, slept in 'til 8:00 every morning, made some delicious fudge, brought a Thanksgiving dinner to some folks who don't have much of anything, played the rhyming game with nephews at Olive Garden, ran in beautiful weather, went to church, played at the park, and enjoyed every moment of my time off. It was an awesome week. I am truly truly thankful for friends and family this season. For an amazing, selfless, generous, husband who is my best friend and favorite person. For a home filled with people and dogs and food and laughter. For a relationship with my dad stronger than it's ever been before. For a mom who is following her heart and her dreams and who is happier than ever. For the opportunities to go to school, go to work, do what I love and learn more about that. For friends who feel more like family every day. For a God who loves me, and for the little things in life that remind me of that. Happy Thanksgiving.

This picture pretty much sums up my nephews and niece. I had tried all week to get a picture of all of them - together - with me! And we finally got one .... sort of. I love love love Abigail in the back, smiling for the camera! Isn't she precious!

The boys.

Abigail on my couch. :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

lately

I have about 2 blog readers. Ironically enough, one of them is my mom and she knows what's going on in my life anyhow, so she doesn't in any way need my blog posts as updates. But, as loving mothers do, she asks all the time why I have not updated my blog. :) The reason is simple ... there's not much to update! Most of my time these days is spent doing one of three things: studying, working, or sitting in class. Just right now, in fact, I am writing this blog when I should be playing an online lecture. I am sitting on our love seat, in my PJs, Daisy curled up at my side, with a bowl of cereal on one arm of the couch, my computer in my lap, and a binder on the pillow next to me. There are class notes spread out all over the living room. I've got my colored pens handy and I'm about to start taking notes on a pharmacology lecture from home. This is my life. And I am so thankful to be living it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

happy 50th birthday mom!

SURPRiSE, momma! We surprised my mom last night with a big party to celebrate her 50th birthday, which is on Monday. It was a great time, with great food and even greater people. Thanks to my wonderful friends who helped get everything together. We had such a blast cooking and decorating and scheming and laughing and just being girls! The guys had fun, too. The first thing Adam said this morning was, "we need to have another party!" I wasn't too great of a photographer last night but this was my favorite picture ...

People tell me all the time that we look alike. I've never really seen it before. But after looking at this picture, I could deny it no longer! This is crazy! :) And it's a great compliment, mom. You are so beautiful. Your spirit is so genuine, your heart so selfless. You are an amazing woman. You are my best friend. When I am fifty, I hope I am only half as amazing and beautiful and sincere and brave and kind as you are today. Happy Birthday.

ten for texas

Yesterday morning was the Ten for Texas -- a 10 mile run through The Woodlands. My Dad and I have been training for it together, and we finished! It was great weather and a fun event. My friend Meghann ran the race really fast. Here are a few pictures!


Can I just say how proud I am of my Dad! A few months ago he decided to shed a few pounds, so he got into the gym and started working out. Several weeks later I asked if he would run this race with me and, without hesitation, he said YES! And there was no looking back. He trained his butt off and finished strong! My Dad used to run all the time, but it's been years since he was consistent. This renewed love for the sport is great for his physical health and mental well-being... so, God willing, he will be strong and healthy to see his grandchildren grow up! No, there's no news of grandchildren, I'm just saying... I'm so proud of you, Dad!

Now we need to sign up for another race. Any suggestions?


Friday, August 28, 2009

vote for us!

Hey everyone --

Our friend Shauna, who happens to be an awesome photographer & artist, is holding a little competition. Please support her business by checking out her BLOG and becoming a fan of Shauna Maness Photography on Facebook. Several days ago, she held a "Wall Call" and took some pictures in "mini sessions" of some kids and some couples -- Adam and I entered the competition and we need your votes to win!

And as awesome as it would be for us to win a FREE SESSION and 50% off our pictures, it's not really about us, but about supporting our friend as she kicks off her killer photography business here in our area! She and her husband have recently moved back home after spending some time in Germany ... So visit her sight, become a fan on FB, and give her a warm Texas, Welcome Home!

She photographed our wedding four years ago, and her talent and business have done nothing but GROW since then. If you're looking for a photographer for your kids, a wedding, your family, or any important event -- Shauna is your girl. She's amazing! She is fun, super creative, authentic, easy to work with, and crazy talented!

About the competition -- there will be a winner from each category (kids, older kids, and couples) so vote vote vote vote on your favorite image from her selection. And while you're at it, check out some of her other work! You can vote via Facebook, after you become a fan of Shauna Maness Photography, or straight from her BLOG. Look for Wall Call information. Check it out every day for the next week for fun little surprises. Be prepared to be impressed -- did I mention she is super talented?! So pass it on, spread the word, and enjoy browsing!


Thanks everyone!
Jen

Friday, August 14, 2009

abby and the chocolate bar

This week, we welcomed our friend Abby, all the way from Pittsburgh, PA! She's a Texas girl at heart, and needed a few days to get back to her roots. Me, my mom, and Abby filled two days full of activities and then I had to go back to work, while Ab and my mom finished out her trip. Just wanted to post a few pictures. Here we are at The Chocolate Bar. :)

This is Abby and my mom -- Ab is modeling some of their merchandise.

Unfortunately, we never got anyone to take a pic of the three of us, so it's just that awkward two-at-a-time with the same scenery type of photography. Still, a great memory! This girl and I go way back!

And lastly, this is just me and my mom. She's the most wonderful female on the face of this planet. And I love her so much!

Friday, July 24, 2009

happy four years to us!

Yesterday was our fourth anniversary! I can hardly believe we've been married for four years! Looking back on the past four years, one truth is oddly apparent. And I've said this before -- I never realized how difficult the first year was until I recently realized how wonderful things are now. I look back and I think, I just thought I loved you then, or I just thought things were fun then! We are not perfect people. We both mess up. We have rough days. But overall, we have an incredibly sweet, unbelievably easy, wonderfully intimate, best-friends-forever, let's spend all our time together kind of marriage. I am so fortunate. My husband is awesome.

So he had a date planned for our actual anniversary -- Thursday. I had him all tricked to think that he had to plan the date. When really, I was being very sneaky. I planned a date for Wednesday. Wednesday was a great day anyway because we closed on our house! Finally! It's a long story but we were still on our construction loan and we had to get that converted to real, 30-year kind of mortgage. Ask Adam for details. Anyway, it was very difficult because of how jacked up things are right now in the mortgage-slash-economic world. So closing was a big deal. When we were done we came home and I had our fancy clothes all set out! It was a big surprise! We changed clothes and went into Houston where we ate a yummy dinner. At dinner, I surprised Adam with this:

Tickets to Cirque du Soleil's Saltimbanco! I bought them on Craig's list at the last minute, got a killer deal that came with parking and a pass to the Lexus Lounge at the Toyota Center. Adam was shocked! We've always wanted to go see this show together, but had never done it. I think he was just glad that I planned something this time -- took him out! We had a blast!

Then again, we always have a blast. I didn't get any pictures that night but here's a few just for fun!


I love you, Adam!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mexico Missions 2009

July 10-18 was one of the most amazing weeks I've had in years. Adam and I went to Irapuato, Mexico, with Crossroads to work with La Roca (a church in the city) by encouraging their pastors, teaching their church members, doing extreme church makeover with a construction team, and reaching out to their community. Adam was on the construction team ... they completely renovated the La Roca building to be more functional for the people who meet there. And I did vacation bible school and some prayer walking around the communities in Irapuato. We met some amazing people and had some amazing experiences. But more importantly, we fell in love with missions and the church all over again .... Here are a few pics from our week.

My new friend, Kara -- the best travel companion EVER. We worked at VBS together each morning. And on the last day, we had the most killer adventure. Against all rules, we took a cab by ourselves! to the street with pottery so we could shop! It was so fun. But even better than shopping was the way that Kara challenged me. She has an amazing testimony and she made me think outside my box. She opened me up to a world of trust and love and acceptance. She is the real thing, folks. Thanks, Kara -- you're amazing.

The guys on the construction site. Wish we could have gotten more before/after pics of their work. They took a church from hardly-even-functional to amazing. They worked long hours every day, and loved every minute of it.

Just a glimpse of our VBS site. We had over 300 kids on the last day.

Two of my favorite locals! :)

Dinner at Sanborn's. Delicious restaurant in the city.

Kathryn and I "testing" that day's craft. We made pinwheels and the kids loved them!

So sweet.

Really cool story -- in the afternoons, we went to the city slums. This is a dangerous community. Lots of drugs, gangs, poverty. This picture is in front of this lady's home. That blue that you see is her shelter. This woman (the one in the middle) welcomed us into her home with open arms, so thankful for our good news. She asked lots of questions about Jesus, and with the help of an interpreter and by the guiding of the Spirit, we told her of saving grace and taught her how to pray. We went back to see her every day after that and one afternoon she introduced us to her neighbor. We had a similar conversation with her neighbor and taught the two women that there is power when we pray together. We challenged them to get together to pray for their families, their community, each other. They even practiced praying so that when we left, they would be able to do it themselves. Oh there is so much I could say about all this, I don't even know where to begin. The bottom line, lives were changed and will continue to be changed as these women gather together to make a difference.

Thank you, Jose. It was an awesome week. The other night, Adam and I were brushing our teeth -- the bathroom was quiet except for our brushing. Adam stopped momentarily and looked at me. And in all seriousness he said, I miss Mexico. I miss Mexico, too, babe. We'll be back.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

baked chicken flautas

I suck at baking.  But I'm a great cook!  I made this recipe last night, after some inspiration from this one.  I've actually never tried this one, but thought it sounded delicious.  I didn't have all the ingredients, and I really like to put my own spin on things, so I cooked these last night and they were awesome!  Enjoy!

Baked Chicken Flautas

3 chicken breasts
1 small tub of light cream cheese
handful of cilantro
2 green onions
a few fresh jalapenos (from your own garden, perhaps!)
garlic powder
chili powder
cumin
sea salt
1 lime
corn tortillas
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350.

Cut up your 3 chicken breasts into chunks - about 4 pieces/breast.  Put them in a pot, add about 1/4 cup of water, put the lid on, and let them cook on medium heat.  They'll take about 20 minutes to cook all the way through, but they'll be nice and tender this way.

Meanwhile, chop your jalapenos.  I used 4 very small jalapenos from my father-in-law's garden and they were HOT.  So adjust as you wish.  Chop your fresh cilantro.  Chop your green onions.  (I actually use scissors and cut the green onion from the tip all the way down -- it's so easy!)

When your chicken is done, take it out of the bowl and pour off the extra water/juice.  Put about 2/3 of your tub of cream cheese into the hot pot, but turn the heat off.  Using two forks, shred your chicken.  Now toss the shredded chicken and all your chopped veggies into the pot, and turn the heat back on to low.  Add some lime.  I used just under a tablespoon, but I love lime.   Mix well.  Add your seasonings to taste -- I used about 1/2 teaspoon each of cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder.  No need for salt right now.  

Swat your husband's hand for trying to steal from your yummy chicken salad mixture.  He'll have to wait for the finished product. 

It should look a little something like this:

Can you believe I actually took the time to shoot a pic of my food?  Ha!  I am no photographer.  I cook better than I shoot.  So even though this picture isn't one for the high-gloss cover of REAL SIMPLE or something, cook these anyway.

Now, it's time to make your flautas.  Put about 4 tortillas in the microwave with a damp paper towel and heat for 25 seconds.  They should be steaming hot and really flexible.  You don't want them to crack as you roll these suckers up.  If they're a little soggy because you put the wet paper towel directly on top of them, that's okay too.  Sogginess will go away.

Put about 2 good forkfulls of chicken mixture into each tortilla.  I really stuffed mine full, because Adam likes things meaty.  Well, and I only had so many tortillas!  Repeat until all your chicken mixture is gone.  Or until you run out of tortillas.  I made 12 flautas.

Roll the tortilla as tight as you can and put it seam-side down onto a cookie sheet.  Recipes like this are the only reason I even own a cookie sheet.  Because I don't bake, remember?

When they're all settled on the cookie sheet in nice neat rows, brush the tops lightly with olive oil and sprinkle sea salt on the top.  (This part of the recipe I really did steal from here.  And it was such a great idea!  Actually, I've made several things from here, and their recipes always turn out great -- so you should stalk their blog.)

Bake for about 10 minutes.  Then turn the bake feature of your oven off and turn on the broil.  Broil on low for about 6-7 minutes, to brown the tops just slightly.  Now you're done!


I served these with black beans and a garden salad.  Delicious!  

Sunday, June 21, 2009

happy father's day!

I forgot to get pictures of the Father's Day celebration with my side of the family.  But here's a quick pic of Adam's dad with his two youngest at our Father's Day lunch!  Can't you tell they're related!  :)

chocolate chip disasters

Last night, some friends of ours came over for dinner and we were joking around about how I did not cook dessert.  And how I never cook dessert because I totally suck at baking.  If Adam and I want dessert, which we usually do!, we eat ice cream from the freezer or go to TCBY for sorbet with gummy bears - totally awesome, by the way! get psychedelic sorbet, it's the one that looks like Play-Doh, and cover it with gummy bears, delicious!  About a year ago, I just quit baking altogether, because every single time I baked, it turned out disastrous.

Adam agrees.  You should see the smirk on his face when this subject gets brought up.

One time I tried to make chocolate chip cookies but they all ran together to form some kind of burnt, bubbly-on-top dough soup that didn't even taste good.  When I make brownies, even from the box, they're burnt on the bottom and mushy on the top.  And even if I use one of the pre-made cookie dough varieties, I always put the cookies way too close together so they bake into one big clump and it's not a pretty sight.

I used to put all the blame on my oven.  We had a really cheap oven in our other house and I complained that it was the oven that ruined all my creations.  Then we got a new oven, and the same things still happened, so I quit baking.

Anyway ... back to dinner the other night.  Caroline says, with all the confidence in the world, "I make great chocolate chip cookies," and she does!, "I'll show you how!"  So after dinner, we went to the store and got all the ingredients.  Even bought the butter that says, great for baking on the box.  

We were so confident that we would achieve cookie success that we even made a double batch!  My plan was to take some to our neighbors, and she wanted to take some home for her in-laws who were coming to visit the next day.  We followed the recipe to the T.  And Caroline is a rule-follower, we did not deviate one single bit.  (See, me, on the other hand, am not so much a rule follower, especially when it comes to cooking.  I take many creative liberties that usually work in my favor.  In fact, I'm a really good cook!  I just suck at baking.)

Here's a few shots of us in action, courtesies of my husband.


We put those cookies into my super fly oven and set the timer.  The directions said 9-11 minutes so we checked the cookies after 8 minutes.  No where near done.  

At 11 minutes, still dough.

At 14 minutes, still dough.

At 18 minutes, not much had changed.

We went on like this.  I think that first batch was in there for something close to 30 minutes.  And when we took them out, even though they looked really light and mushy and pretty, they were hard.  Really.  They looked mushy but they were hard as rocks.  We had to scrape the little suckers off the pan because they stuck! so they didn't even turn out pretty after all!

And the second batch burnt to a nice smokey crisp after being in the oven for like 15 minutes. 

Did they taste good?  No, not really.  I lied and said, oh they have good flavor but they really didn't.  In fact, when Caroline left, I threw my half away because I knew we'd never eat them.

Can you believe this?  So pathetic.  Caroline really does make good cookies.  I've had them.  But with me, she too was cursed to suck at baking.  

So I think we'll stick to sorbet with gummies or vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup.  It's pretty hard to ruin that!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

meet daisy

So I promised my friend Kathryn that I would never post stories and pictures of my dog on this blog in a sorta wanna-be-mom kind of a way, as if my dog were half as cute as this family, or this one, or this precious face...


And I'm sure that being Daisy's mom isn't anything at all like being a real mom.  But with the whole grad school thing, being a real mom is going to wait a while.  Sooo, I post stories and pictures of my dog.  on my blog.  Sorry Kat.  (And that very Seuss-ish rhyme was for you.)

Allow me to introduce you to Daisy, our two year old Weimaraner.  You may recall this little peanut from facebook pics a few years ago...



Well, Daisy loves to run, jump, fetch, sit on the couch, ride in the car, run, chew bones, catch ice in mid air, run, shake, roll over, run, play with Shelby, eat sticks, run, and go running with me.  But until today Daisy hated hated hated hated to swim.  Ever since we moved into the new house she's been terrified of the pool.  

One time Adam threw her in the pool just, ya know, to see, and even though she made it out just fine, she stayed at least three feet clear of Adam for the next several days, terrified that he would throw her in again.  

A few days ago, we decided to entice her into the pool with her very favorite... a pink frisbee.  And, after lots of running and barking and being spastic, she got in to fetch the pink frisbee!  And swam back to the edge!  So we've been practicing every day for the last few days and today we had breakthrough.  

I took her out to the backyard to play and fetch the pink frisbee in the pool, which she did, very well.  And then I decided to swim a few laps.  I know I know it's not really a lap pool but why not burn a few calories while I get some sun, huh?  So I started swimming back and forth back and forth.  Daisy runs alongside the pool, watching me, barking occasionally.  She gets really excited when we swim.  

And then there was a splash.  She jumped in right behind me, and started swimming next to me.  And she swam back and forth and back and forth and back and forth, right next to me, for like 10 or 15 minutes!  She had gotten in the water without the enticing pink frisbee!  

I was such a proud mama.  Umm, dog-owner.  

I laughed out loud, the whole time.  I couldn't believe she had gotten in!  Our dog who was terrified of the water!  I got some pics of the pink frisbee catching.  I promise this is the last time I post dorky pictures of my dog.  on my blog.  Okay, I don't promise anything.     





Dorky or not...  She is the best.
 

Monday, June 1, 2009

the most wonderful weekend

Let me just start out by saying that when we were building the house, and I was finishing the semester, and Adam's work was crazy busy, we spent very little time together.  And if you know us, you know that we l-o-v-e to spend time together.  We kept saying, "when we get into the house, things are going to change."  And, "just wait 'til this summer, we'll get back to being us again." 

Well, things have been better since we moved in.  Dinners at home, a date night or two, gettin' back in the groove.  But nothing compares to this wonderful weekend, where we really jump-started the romance!  Our whole weekend was one big date!

I worked on Friday with Michelle, one of my dear dear work friends.  (I hate that saying, because she's my friend outside of work too but work is where we became friends.) So after we got off we met our husbands at a sports bar near the Galleria and had a wonderful dinner.  We got home really late but Adam surprised me by having the house all clean and the hot tub working!  So stayed up half the night eating ice cream in the hot tub and it was wonderful!!

We got up on Saturday morning and drove to San Marcus for the day.  Can I just say that I married a man who will drive me three hours to shop for eight hours only to drive me three hours home?  Yea.  We had a blast.  We went to the outlet mall on a search for a few things for the house.  We had no luck at Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware outlets so we ended up doing some clothes shopping. Very successful.  But the best part was being in the car together, walking around together, eating lunch together.  I don't think we ever left each other's side.  Except when Adam was taking forever at the Oakley store and I walked across to Crate & Barrell.  It was so great.

Well, we left the outlet mall and couldn't decide on a dinner spot.  So we drove to Austin!  Just to eat dinner!  We used Urban Spoon (if you don't know what that is, you need to get an iPhone) which directed us to a little hoity toity Mexican restaurant called Manuel's in downtown Austin, right off of Congress.  It was delicious!  We had the nicest dinner. 

We even hit a TCBY on the way out of town for some sorbet with gummy bears, our favorite! and drove home late that night.  We had to go pick up our puppy, who was at my mom's for the evening.  Thank you, mom! And Thank you, James! for taking care of her while we were gone!

Then ... as if we hadn't had enough of each other ... we woke up Sunday morning and went for a nice little family walk.  We explored some of the walking trails around here, and even got off the beaten path for a little bit to walk through the woods.  We came home, put on our suits, and layed out by our gorgeous pool.  It was better than any vacation I've ever taken! Except maybe our honeymoon.  Adam grilled burgers and we ate our lunch with our feet in the pool.  Fantastic.

In the afternoon, my friend Kelly came over with her three munchkins and we played in the pool for several hours.  We entertained the boys and everyone had a blast until the middle munchkin had a major allergic reaction to Daisy and we had to do Benadryl and a bath -- but even that wasn't too bad.  

We ended our wonderful weekend by running and riding, I ran, he rode, and a short visit with some more friends, and a Kroger sushi dinner.  Man!  We were exhausted!

I am so thankful for this weekend.  I kept saying - I feel so spoiled!  And I am!

Thank you baby, for an amazing few days.  I love you so so much.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

pediatric nurse practitioner program :)

Well, it's official. I've been accepted! I start the PNP program at UT Health & Science Center in August! I had a meeting with the director on Monday and I got to ask a ton of questions. We also decided which courses I'd be taking each semester. Dr. Busen is wonderful, and I'm really looking forward to getting started! I told Adam that even though I had a feeling I would get in, finding out for sure was even more exciting for me than when I found out I got accepted to nursing school. It's like the last leg of this long journey is really going to begin. I'm doing it!

I remember when Adam and I were engaged, and it was my senior year at A&M. I had decided that I wanted to be a nurse practitioner. It's going to take so long! It's so much work! How will I finish school and start a family? Will I really make it? It's been four years and I've gone through prereqs, the BACC2 program, a year of work and grad school classes, and now I will begin the last little bit of this journey! If things go as planned, I will graduate with an MSN as a pediatric nurse practitioner in May of 2011, at the age of 27. I really, really love what I do. And I really feel like God has called me to this field very intentionally. So... after taking the summer to lay by my pool :) and do some shopping for the house, and work some overtime, I will start the fall with my nose in a book. I want to be the best nurse practitioner this world has ever seen!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

we've moved in!

Saturday was the big day.  Thanks to my dad, mom, father-in-law, and some buddies, we're all moved in!  Just wanted to share a few before and after pics.  I know it's hard to visualize because we changed the house so much, but this will give you a good idea.  :)

This is the entry way, right in from the front door.  We added the arches, notice the beautiful wood floors ;) and the blue paint!

         This was that same entryway before we bought the house...

     This was the kitchen when we bought it ...

        And this is the kitchen now!  :)

I will update more as we get settled in.  I'm still playing house.  :)


Friday, May 8, 2009

moving days!

Wednesday was May 6, the day I've been counting down to!  My finals were finally finished!  Stress relieved!  (I made all A's!)  And it was time to focus on packing...

Now, I sit in the middle of boxes, my whole house (almost!) is packed, and we're about ready to start loading the truck.  We'll spend our last night here on Thorngrove Lane before moving to Water Elm tomorrow.  It has been such a busy two months, and this is the culmination.  Adam and I are exhausted, a bit overwhelmed, but mostly just full of joy and excitement.  What a wonderful life we live.

I can't believe we bought this house three years ago.  Packing takes me down memory lane, and images from the last three years come back to me.  We moved into this house the day before our One Year Anniversary in July of 2006.  For that matter, I can't believe we've been married for almost four years!  We've had two different families live with us for extended time here, we've had tons of company, parties, a baby shower, lots of dominoes (right M&M?), several Monday night small groups, lots of fetch, lots of cooking, lots of American Idol dinners, and much, much conversation.  What a great home.... 
       Bye-Bye first house!  Bye Thorngrove Lane!




Sunday, April 26, 2009

vaccines and autism

I've had several very interesting conversations over the last few days regarding autism and vaccines. First, at work yesterday, I was talking to a pediatric nurse practitioner about some of the changes they're making to the vaccine schedule and how we seem to be seeing an increased incidence of pertussis and meningitis in our community. Last night, we had dinner with some friends and the topic came up again. Thanks, Cheryl, for inspiring this post!

I AM NOT AN EXPERT. AND I AM NOT A MOMMY. But I do feel a huge responsibility, perhaps even a calling to help educate our community about pediatric health issues, so that's what I'll do now. Please understand that the following information is here to help you educate yourself. I'd be happy to share my own opinion, but this is not the place. In the meantime, if you're at all interested in this topic, grab a Diet Coke, wait, don't! my next soapbox might just be on the dangers of artificial sweetener, and a comfy chair, put your laptop in your lap and READ!

My friend asked me last night where she could go to research this topic. I will list reputable sources here. Please, please, stay away from Google because you will find tons and tons and tons of opinions. This is a very hot topic right now -- everyone and their mamma has an opinion. But look first at real evidence. Look at unbiased data, not the soapbox blog of some celebrity who thinks she's got it all figured out. And after you've exhausted the evidence, make an informed choice about whether or not to vaccinate.

And pray. To the moms and dads out there, pray that God will give you wisdom and understanding and conviction about your decisions to vaccinate.

First, search the CDCs website. They're a really great source of information and have done an excellent job of providing information that the public can actually use.

I found this chart - it's a great overview of the studies that the CDC has supported regarding this topic. It's a quick way to see the results of multiple studies. A quick explanation - Thiomersal is an organomercury compound used as a preservative in things like immunoglobulin compounds, eye products, nasal sprays, tattoo inks, and vaccines. It is probably what the public is calling "mercury" in vaccines, and it's caused much hype. Many of the studies listed in this chart refer to Thiomersal, so you'll need to know what it is. With a few exceptions, Thiomersal is no longer used in the U.S. to preserve vaccines, but was used up until 2001 in routine infancy vaccines.

The following is copied from the CDCs website, and I find it very informative:

What are other Federal Agencies doing related to vaccines and ASDs?

In 2000, CDC and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to put together an independent expert committee (the Immunization Safety Review Committee) to review evidence about whether vaccines cause certain health problems and to report their findings and recommendations. The committee studied evidence about 1) the theory that MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine causes autism and 2) the theory that vaccines with the preservative thimerosal cause neurodevelopment disorders, including autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and speech or language delay. To read the IOM report,
click here.

NIH National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)NICHD has a website about
autism and vaccines, which includes research being done by NIH. You can get more information about autism and autism research related to vaccines by calling the NICHD clearinghouse at 1-800-370-2943.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)NIAID funds
thimerosal research to better understand what happens to thimerosal once it enters the body and how this compares with current knowledge of methyl mercury pathways.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)FDA’s website provides a thorough discussion of
thimerosal in vaccines, along with frequently asked questions (FAQs) to help you find the information you need quickly.

And if you're interested in reading a full research report, try this one:
Lack of Association between Measles Virus Vaccine and Autism with Enteropathy: A Case-Control Study

I like this article, too. It looks like the transcript of an interview. The MD really explains things in an easy-to-understand manner, including what will happen if we do stop vaccinating.

Patricia Stinchfield, CPNP, puts it this way, "when you care for the sickest of the sick, the bias is strong in favor of vaccination," but "parents and many providers today have never seen these diseases so the benefit of vaccines is invisible." You can read her full report here. I empathize with her opinion because I do take care of some pretty sick kiddos, and preventable disease is heartwrenching. Just ask the little baby in my unit right now with pertussis who coughs and coughs and coughs...

I would love opinions, stories, sources, information, comments! So feel free to post! But remember that the decision to vaccinate is personal and what works for one mom and baby might not work for another. As always, thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

tile and mechanical trim


So I'm still getting used to my little "video camera" on my new camera.  Sorry that it's a little whacky.  I forgot that you can't tilt the camera unless you're okay with the view being sideways.  Anyway, this is video I shot today from our house.  We move in SiXTEEN DaYs!


video

Sunday, April 19, 2009

cabinets and a beautiful pool


Housework is progressing so nicely!  I will say that this is the craziest thing we've ever done, and there have been so many trying moments!  But to see the house come together like it has is so much fun.  This week we got cabinets and trim.  Oh yea, and the pool is looking so much better!  





     This is a picture of the backyard when we bought the house.  The pool was a big black hole.

And here is the pool today!  Keep in mind that the previous owners told us it would cost upwards of $10,000 to get the pool back in working condition.  We've spent under $1000 so far on chemicals and tools.  We did all the work ourselves (with the help of Tex Sun's pool school, of course!) and we are making remarkable improvements!  We can actually see the skimmer on the bottom now!  So exciting!

Paint is next ... and I love paint!


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

What a wonderful Easter.  It was a whirlwind weekend but so precious!  We went to Louisiana to visit Paw-Paw and Jean, headed to the country for a picture-perfect family reunion and crawfish boil, and then rushed home so Adam and I could get back to work on Monday.  I wish Paw-Paw had the internet so he could read this, but it was so wonderful to see him.  

In the midst of all things crazy, house and work and other house and school and work, it was difficult for both of us to give up this weekend to go see family.  And the minute I laid eyes on Paw-Paw, I knew we had -- beyond a shadow of doubt -- done the right thing.  

So my Easter was a precious reminder of the value of family and the importance of priority, the importance of love, and the importance of people.  How much more valuable was this weekend with my grandfather than it would have been at home, crossing off my to do list?  Such simple truth, and yet, so powerful on this beautiful weekend.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

introducing .... my new sister-in-law!

I am so excited and honored and proud to announce that I have a new sister-in-law!  Meet Jennifer (she has the coolest name ever)!  My brother flew home from Washington on Sunday with his new WIFE!  And she is terrific!  She is beautiful and wonderful and so fun!  Today, Marlow took us to have our toes done.  It was the most relaxing hour of my whole week!  I can't wait to get to spend more time with our new Jennifer, and get to know her like family!  

Now ... my brother just has to convince her to move to Texas!  :)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

we have walls!


Today we started sheetrocking, so our new house has walls!  Aren't they beautiful!  Adam and I worked really hard all morning at the house and then we got dressed and hit The Woodlands Art Festival and had a yummy dinner together.  It was such a nice date, we haven't spend a whole day together like this since we bought the house and our lives got nuts.  Anyway, after our date we went to Water Elm, as we like to call it, to see how far the guys had come with sheetrocking.  They almost finished!  It is so neat to walk through it now and get a feel for the layout when you can't see straight through the studs.  


Speaking of studs .... :)


And this is me celebrating our soon-to-be living room.  We'll have a fireplace!