Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Farewell, 2013

Look at me, blogging on the last day of the year!  This is my 79th post of the year.  Obviously not spectacular.  Not nearly as good as last year, but on par with 2010 and 2011.  I can't promise 2014 will be a better blogging year, but I will do my best!

It's been a few years since I've come up with New Years resolutions.  Everyone knows those never work anyway.  After getting the idea from a friend, Chet and I made New Years goals in 2011 and 2012.  They were very specific, and every couple of months we would go over them.  It worked beautifully!  Last year, just before ringing in 2013, Chet and I talked about some goals, but were not too specific in writing them down.  However, we did something we hadn't done before, which was come up with a single word that we hoped to focus on all year: deliberate.  Well...let me tell you that our deliberateness didn't last long, because 2013 was full of unexpected twists and turns.

January: Nothing too spectacular happened this month, but it's always full of fun since Chet, Sydney, and I (and soon Baby Boy) all have January birthdays.
February: My sweet P-ma passed away February 26th, but most of February was focused on her waning health.  Thankfully P-ma did not suffer long; she would have hated that, and so would the rest of us.  She is happy in heaven with my Pop.
March: P-ma's funeral was held in early March, which meant a trip to West Texas for us.
April: My dad's mom, Granny Burrous, passed away April 4th.  Her passing was a little more expected than P-ma's, and I am thankful she is also in heaven.  Her early April funeral meant another trip to (East) Texas.
May: Chet left for his field exercise (a several-week long event that prepares the Battalion for deployment); my dad came to visit and accompanied the girls and me to Annapolis, MD for a super fun wedding; I discovered I was expecting Baby #3.

Let me pause here and say this is probably the point where the word "deliberate" flew out the window for me.  2013's word morphed from "deliberate" to "survive."

June: Deployment preparations were in full swing this month; we traveled to TX late in the month for a little pre-deployment vacation.
July: Our TX vacation took up the first few days of July, and then it was back to MS for final deployment preparations.
August: Chet left for deployment August 2nd ("survive" kicks into full gear); Sydney started preschool, which was a fantastic distraction from the early days of deployment.  We also found out Baby Boy was...well, a baby boy!
September: The girls and I drove to Orlando for our niece's birthday party; the girls and I drove to TX less than a week after the Orlando trip, from which Sydney and I flew to Baltimore for another Maryland wedding.  This month I mistook the word "survive" for "overdrive"; I backpedaled considerably after the September traveling and have refused to venture from Mississippi since.
October: Halloween seemed to be in full swing come October 1st -- nuff said.
November: Thanksgiving, nuff said.
December: Christmas, nuff said.

(How annoying is it that I typed "nuff" three times?)

And here we are.  I am not sorry to say goodbye to you, 2013.  You were full of blessings, but I'm ready to put you behind me and move on to 2014, a year of much change for our family.  I'm ready to welcome Chet home, ready to welcome our Baby Boy into the world, ready to move to Washington D.C., and...  Well, let's just start with that.  We'll see what the rest of the year brings.  And, by the way, I do not plan on making New Years goals or coming up with a word for the year...for now I'll hang on to "survive" and perhaps reevaluate come Easter.  Or Mother's Day.  Or Halloween.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Professional Photography

No, I'm not yet sharing those professional pictures we had made in October.  That is too much work for this week!  But I am sharing some pictures Sydney has taken with my iPhone.  I taught her how to use the phone's camera a few days ago, and she is obsessed.  (Except, I have to only let her use it when Lorelei is napping, because otherwise they fight over it.  Have I ever mentioned how much I dislike being their referee?)

I had to delete hundreds of photos that she took (she photographs speedily, as if she is capturing an Olympic 100-m dash), but I thought these turned out quite good/were hilarious:
Decorations on our buffet

More buffet decorations

The edge protector on our kitchen table

Pooh and Piglet, sitting on a shelf of her play kitchen (she arranged them like that before she took the picture)

Steam mop


Close up/different view of stool

A sweatshirt and scarf hanging from the coat rack
Can you say fancy?!  Good work, Syd!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

More about the name...

I forgot to mention this in Tuesday's post about Baby Boy's name.  Even though we kept Sydney's name to ourselves until she was born, we did cheat a few times.  If someone I barely knew asked what we were naming her, I went ahead and told them, knowing that they wouldn't share it with anyone we knew.  I even bent the rule more than that and told two of my girlfriends at work what her name was going to be.  But with this baby, we haven't breathed a word to anyone.  Not even Sydney, because if she knows, the world will know.  Several weeks ago she even asked, point blank, "What's Baby Brother's name again?"  I told her we'd have to wait to find out until he was born.  She seemed satisfied by that answer.  And whenever the cashier at Walmart asks me what we're naming him, I just tell her we haven't decided yet.

Just in case you are desperately trying to guess the name we've chosen, here is a link to a list of top 100 names for boys.  It's from the website Nameberry (the snobbiest, most awesome baby name website in the world).  You can read it all when you click on the link below, but this particular list of top 100 boy names is based on the names searched on this particular website since the beginning of 2013 (it has nothing to do with the Social Security Administration's name list).  And the name we chose is not on this list.  Muahahahaha!


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Baby Boy's Name

Don't get excited, because I'm not going to reveal what we're naming Baby Boy.  I'm just telling you we're not revealing his name before he's born (insert evil laugh here).

A couple of my friends act like this little secret is going to put them in therapy.

Anyway, you may remember that we did not reveal Sydney's name before she was born, but we did share Lorelei's name.  The reason we decided to keep the name a secret again is because Chet is gone, and it is nice for us to know something that no one else knows yet since Chet likely will not be here to share in Baby Boy's birth.

Anyway, like I said yesterday, Baby Boy is not getting his own room at this house, therefore, I was not planning on painting any name letters for him like I did for Sydney and Lorelei.  But then after shifting around some furniture in the master bedroom to accommodate for baby gear, I was left with a giant white wall.  So I decided to go ahead and do some letters.  However, I am taking the easy way out this time around and simply using Mod Podge to affix scrapbook paper (actually, it's wrapping paper) to the front of the letters, rather than hand-painting them.  Ain't no one got time for that.

Speaking of Chet still being deployed when Baby Boy is born, there is a remote possibility that he will make it home in time for the birth!  As long as everything goes well on Chet's end and as long as Baby Boy doesn't decide to make an early appearance.  Sydney was born at 39 weeks, and Lorelei was born at 39 weeks, 2 days.  We want this one to keep cooking as long as possible (well, not too long) so that his daddy can be here when he makes an appearance in this world.  So pray for that.

That's all for this morning -- I need to finish mopping the floor before the girls wake up.  Happy Tuesday!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Washington D.C. and Stuff

The "and Stuff" part of this blog entry heading gives me creative license to write about whatever the heck I want and in a completely disorganized manner.  Buckle up!

Last night, while watching the tenth-to-last episode in the 85-episode "Ugly Betty" TV series, I decided that I would blog this morning.  I didn't have it in me last night as I lounged on the couch, wasting precious sleep by watching TV, then starting mindlessly at my phone for at least half an hour before hitting the hay, but I knew I'd have it in me come morning.  I even decided, during one of my two allotted "snooze" sessions (does anyone really get up the first time their alarm goes off?) that I would blog every morning for one straight week.  Not every day, but every morning.  Because even though mornings are usually the height of my productivity, lately I've only been using my mornings to read.  There's nothing wrong with that, of course, but for the last few weeks I've had the energy to be productive throughout most of the day, and even sometimes in the evenings, so I haven't felt the same pressure to Hurry and Get Things Done as soon as my feet hit the floor.  (I blame it on nesting, and I'll write more about that in a moment.)

Speaking of books, I'm afraid my reading frenzy is slowing down, and will come to a screeching halt as soon as Baby Boy arrives.  I started the book War and Remembrance the other day, but I'm not sure that's the best book for me to tackle right now, what with the never-ending to-do list, Christmas in 9 days, the baby due in less than a month, and Chet's homecoming.  I need to shelve it for now, and accept the fact that that reading is going to have to take a back seat for a while.  Probably until Mother's Day.

I'm going to tell you about Washington D.C. before I totally lose you.

Remember in this post when I casually mentioned we were moving to Washington D.C. after the first of the year?  Yeah, that's still happening.  The original plan was for Chet to finish this deployment, for us to move to Austin, TX in May/June for Chet to start the summer semester in pursuit of his master's degree, and to have Baby #3 in a birthing center in Austin, far away from a military hospital (I can hear God laughing right now, can you?).  Obviously, none of that is happening, other than the fact that Baby #3 is on his way.  That's okay though, because, really, what do I know about making plans? 

Anyway, before Chet deployed, he was approached by his XO (Executive Officer) about a possible job that needed to be filled in D.C.  We politely declined the generous offer (ha!), but it kept coming up.  Chet and I talked it over, and knew/decided that it wouldn't be the worst thing on earth for us to take a detour to D.C. before him going to grad school, but we weren't going to volunteer.  It seemed as if the issue was laid to rest, until a few weeks into his deployment, when he got a phone call saying he was picked for the job.  The next day we had written orders to D.C.  (For those of you who are familiar with military orders, you know that this almost never happens.  Usually you are begging for your written orders so that you can officially begin planning your next move, but a lack of government funds almost always prevents you from receiving your orders until the last minute.  Unless, of course, you're in a situation where you're "volun-TOLD" to go to Washington D.C. rather than grad school.)

So, we're moving to D.C.  Where are we going to live?  Your guess is as good as mine!  Even though Chet and I lived near D.C. for four years apiece, neither of us knows anything about living in the area, especially not with kids.  Because of this ignorance, I was really stressed about the move for several weeks, but I am better now.  I've exhausted the amount of Internet research I can possibly do about living in the area, and Chet and I have settled on a list of priorities that will help steer us toward a good home for us at this stage in our lives.  And I hired a realtor.

Our main priority is for Chet to have the shortest possible commute to work.  Traffic in the D.C./northern Virginia area is horrendous, so even if you live only 10 miles from the office, you'll be commuting 45 minutes to an hour (or more) each way, every day.  And with three small kids at home, that's not something either of us can deal with right now.  That being said, we have to balance a short-as-possible commute with a home that is not in a high-crime area and that is assigned to a decent (not spectacular) school for Sydney to attend (she'll start Kindergarten in the fall of '15).  Those priorities sound simple, but it took us weeks and weeks to nail them down, and it helps to sort of have a mission statement in working with a realtor whose expertise I fully trust to help steer us in the right direction.

Here is our timeline:
1. Have baby/Chet returns from deployment (we're not sure of the order in which these two events will happen)
2. Chet, Ashley, and Baby travel to D.C.-area within the first two weeks of February to look at houses realtor has found and to sign a lease (girls will stay in MS with grandma)
3. Finalize moving details and actually pack up house to move (the moving company will pack up the house, but it's never as easy as it sounds)
4. Move to D.C. end of February/beginning of March (exact dates are a moving target at this point)

Fun, right?!

So that's all I know about D.C. at this point.  I'll keep you posted.

I mentioned nesting earlier.  Since Baby Boy is not getting his own room at this house (he'll sleep in the bassinet in our bedroom until we move, and because I want to keep a guest bedroom open for guests to come stay with us and help us survive these next few months), my nesting instincts have been focused on other projects.  Christmas and moving are two areas in which I feel like I've been able to stay more organized than I normally might have had my mothering hormones not been in overdrive.  I've also tackled some of those wishful thinking to-do list items.  You know, the ones where you're laughing a little to yourself as you write them down, knowing that realistically you'll get to those items when you retire at the age of 65...if then.  Anyway, it's been great crossing some of those things off my list, but I don't feel "done" yet.  My problem is that I keep starting new projects, and I need to finish some up before starting new ones.  Another reason I should not read "War and Remembrance" right now.

I hope I didn't bore anyone to tears.  Here are some pictures of the girls:
Reindeer Shirts

Christmas Garb

We went to see the movie "Frozen" with my friend/neighbor Sara

Syd's footed pajamas -- she wants to wear these all day every day

Listening to Daddy's voice read "'Twas the Night Before Christmas"

Christmas PJs

More Christmas Garb

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

30-34 Weeks

My dad said he liked it when I posted several belly shots in one blog post, because it's easier to see the progression.  I took that as, "Ashley, there's no need to blog every week!"

Here are my belly photos, with a few "outtakes", from the last five weeks:
30 Weeks (we see you Sydney!)


31 Weeks
32 Weeks

33 Weeks

Syd's snazzy new outfit (like me, she loves the word snazzy...she also calls the poofy things on her shoulders "angel wings" and the bow on the front of her shirt "a dog bone")
34 Weeks (I feel like I look gigantic here...I blame the too-short shirt)


I'm not even going to mention how long it's been since my last post (18 days...oops).

Anyway, I was at the computer, taking the time to update the reading list and the Christmas background on my blog (you're welcome), and Sydney asked me to help her do a puzzle (a fairly complicated 50-ish piece Cinderella puzzle where all the pieces are either navy blue, midnight blue, or royal blue).  After informing me that Cinderella loves sparkles, she said, "Whew, this puzzle hurts our tummies."  "It does?" I asked.  "Yes.  That's why you've got a big belly, girl."  Huh?

Sydney, Sydney, Sydney...where do you and all of the preschoolers of the world come up with this stuff?