Monday, July 26, 2010


Well hello there, old blog. I bet you thought I'd forgotten about you, didn't you?

Well, I didn't. I'm just busy.

Last week? I can't even remember last week. Apparently it wasn't noteworthy enough to blog about. Or it was too busy. Must have been one or the other. Oh yeah. I do remember the part where my car broke AGAIN (exact repeat of the week before) and had to be towed AGAIN and Matt and I had to carpool to and from work in Athens AGAIN for three days and then it turns out it was the starter (the week before it was only some connection to the starter) that had to be replaced and steal all my monies. Ah, oh well. At least it runs again.

I do remember this weekend though. We went to Charlotte to visit Kristina and James and love on their sweet new baby, Adoration!

I think the weekend can be summed up with three thoughts: Food. Baby. OMGIT'SSOHOTI'MGOINGTODIE.

Here's Matt on Baby Duty. :) He was definitely a natural.

I definitely tried to steal the lion's share of Baby Holding Time. I mean...unless Adoration absolutely HAD to be eating, then I pretty much needed to be holding her. As you can see, we got to be BFF pretty fast.

We ate lunch at this awesome restaurant, Cabo Fish Taco. Guess what we ate?

Fish tacos! Well, except for Adoration. She dined on milk instead. She's so un-adventurous.
Later we went to Amelie's, a bakery recommended by none other than the Pioneer Woman herself. And also recommended by Kristina. It was basically heaven on earth. PW don't lie-- the salted caramel brownies were the stuff dreams are made of. I will now spend the rest of my life trying to recreate them in my own kitchen.
Check out that link above if you want to see pictures of (some) of the things we ate. Matt & I had the salted caramel brownie, the lemon teacake, a cinnamon stick, and a raspberry tart. I also sampled Kristina's napoleon. And then I felt like my life was complete. Or at least it will be if I can have one more of those brownies.
Here's a rare shot of Adoration SLEEPING in the car. She prefers to spend her time in the car screaming at the top of her lungs and making really sad chin-quivers.

And here's Stine and I after church yesterday. Another great part of the weekend was when Stine had four huge bags/boxes of clothes she was going to give away and then she let me have first was like a free shopping spree! The dress I'm wearing in the pic above was one of the many excellent scores I made.

Um, also Kristina made PW's Cinnamon Rolls. (Have you noticed a theme here?? We like to cook and eat stuff that is REALLY not good for you, especially if it's recommended by PW!) We ate them for breakfast Saturday, midnight snack Saturday night, and breakfast Sunday. And that was only a HALF-RECIPE. And there were 4 of us!! They were pretty amazing.

In between eating and holding the baby, we dropped in on a 1-year-old's birthday party, perused a local art gallery, went to church, shopped at Trader Joe's (bestillmyheart), watched Gilmore Girls, and played two rounds of the DVD board game version of "The Price Is Right." It was basically a perfect weekend.

And now, after a long day at work, I am about to go pay for all my fun at the gym. A little bit anticlimactic, but necessary. Happy Monday! (hahaha, yeah right.)

Friday, July 16, 2010

mother-daughter bonding

It's been a week full of wedding planning, that's for sure. My sister is having her wedding in Augusta, where we grew up and our parents live, but she currently resides in Columbia, SC. That means that really my parents are busy planning the wedding. This is an interesting scenario all around, let me tell you. First of all, my sister is surprisingly uninformed about any and everything having to do with weddings. You'd think she'd never stumbled upon an issue of Bride magazine or watched an episode (or marathon) of Say Yes to the Dress. Sort of an anomaly amongst the 23-year-old-girls-in-serious-relationships set, if you ask me. The only thing she really cares about (related to the wedding, of course) is that it be a huge party with loads of dancing and karaoke. When asked her opinion on invitations, she replied, "Do you really have to have invitations? Can't we just like...let people know? Text message? Call 'em?" You'll get a similar response when asking about pretty much anything else, too. So anyway, this has meant that my mom is the one doing the bulk of the planning. Ironically, my mom has never taken much part in planning a wedding. HER mom planned her wedding (30some-odd years ago), and I planned my own Mom's pretty out of the loop about what's what. This mean she calls ME, having been the most recent planner-and-participant in many weddings.

Finally, my hyper-organized wedding notebooks and spreadsheets can be of use to someone. I KNEW they would someday!!

So it's been fun this week, giving my "expert" opinion on all manner of wedding-related things. I seriously think I've had more phone calls (let's call them Wedding Related Phone Calls- WRPC) with my mom this week than I have the whole rest of this year! This has also led me to feel somewhat hypocritical, given my previous rantings about how people spend too much time planning weddings and not enough time planning marriages. Go figure. But she is going to have a wedding, and it may as well be done efficiently, and who better to advise on efficiency than me, right?? Right.

Anyway. So today (my very last glorious Friday off, sadly) after a delightfully indulgent trip to City Salon & Spa and a couple of WRPC with Mom, I sat down to catch up on a show I DVRd last week-- Strange Pregnancies (on Discovery Health). I think my obsession with alarming pregnancy shows is pretty obvious, right? There's no Baby Story for's only I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant, or I'm Pregnant And..., or this latest one. Hopefully I will never actually EXPERIENCE any of the alarming conditions I'm addicted to watching shows about! (Except for the not knowing I was pregnant. That would be fine. I'd be happy to deliver any day now, thankyouverymuch!) So anyway, this Strange Pregnancies show was pretty off the chain. Especially this one story.

So homegirl (let's call her Mary since I can't remember her name) is in like her early or mid-30s and she's just gotten married. Now, earlier in life, Mary had terrible uterine fibroids which prompted an emergency hysterectomy at a young age. So she's known ever since then that she won't be able to have kids. Since she and the husband still really want kids together, they're pursuing their options. They had some terrible adoption experiences (the kind where you're supposed to get your baby the next morning, nursery's ready, then the birth mom changes her mind). They looked into surrogacy, but it was (is) prohibitively expensive. I mean, without even taking into account the cost of the in vitro fertilization that will get the surrogate pregnant, just the HIRING (paying) of the surrogate is like $50k. Ridiculous. I mean, not ridiculous-- I understand it's an important job to bear someone else's child. I just mean ridiculously expensive for an average person. So Mary and Bob are stuck-- they don't know where to go next.

Enter Mary's mom, Lisa. Lisa, who is 55 and has gone through menopause, tells Mary that if it is even possible, which it may or may not be, she would be happy to try to act as their surrogate, for free. When they interviewed her, Lisa was like "who wouldn't do whatever they could to help their daughter?" and was so humble about it, it was really neat. They debated for awhile whether it would be a little too weird having Grandma bear the grandkid, but ultimately decided it was worth trying.

So as it turns out, you can be "brought out" of menopause. And apparently your uterus doesn't really age much. So doctors thought there was no reason Lisa couldn't successfully get pregnant with the grandkid. So then it's months and months of hormones and crazy stuff for both Mary and Lisa, and finally they're ready for their first IVF. Now keep in mind that IVF is extremely expensive-- at least $12k per try. And don't even think insurance is gonna cover any of that. So Mary and Bob have both taken on second jobs to try to fund this last stab at having kids. So for the first IVF they transfer one embryo. Two weeks later, Lisa sees the dreaded not pregnant on the pee stick. They do a second IVF 6 weeks later, this time transferring 2 embryos. They know this will be their last chance because they have absolutely no money left and nothing left to sell. Unfortunately, it's another negative. Lots of tears and wringing of hands.

They've got nothing else to do. They're completely broken.

And then this philanthropic organization in Cleveland hears about them. Apparently this organization is expressly dedicated to funding IVFs for couples who have already experienced multiple failed IVFs and are out of money. So this organization offers to pay for another round of IVF. Mary, Bob, and Lisa don't even know if they want to do it. It's just too emotionally draining. But then they decide to take them up on it-- they do have three embryos left, after all.

This time they transfer all three embryos. And this time they get a POSITIVE.

They're ecstatic. Their first ultrasound, at 5 weeks, reveals it is twins. They're even more ecstatic.

At 9 weeks, Lisa starts bleeding. They tell her it's because her rusty ol' uterus is having to expand a lot, but they do another ultrasound anyway. Guess what? One of those embryos decided to split up and become identical twins-- now she's carrying TRIPLETS!!!!

So, then you get to see the craziness of the rest of the pregnancy and the nail-biting birth, but the end result is three beautiful girls (two years old now) and very happy parents and a very happy granny. The end. Great story.

So immediately I had to call MY mom. I mean...she's pretty anxious for some grandkids. Like us, she's not happy that we're not so much good at having them on our own. Now, even though I can't seem to get pregnant, my doctors say that once I do, there are no indicators I'd have any problem keeping a pregnancy. Nothing at all remotely like the situation in this show. So when I call my mom, explain the show, and then ask her "would you do that for me?", it's a purely hypothetical question. I hope it's one I never have to ask.

But lucky for me, my mom loves me a lot. And she really loved being pregnant. "Of COURRRSE I would!! Oh my gosh!! Being pregnant is the best thing in the world! I would do anything I could to help you, and I would LOVE to do this if it would help!!!!"

", Mom!! Thanks!! Hopefully that won't be necessary, though."

"Oh, but I would just LOOOOOVVVVVVVVEEEEE to!! I would be pregnant all the time if I could! I just think that's so amazing that it's even possible! But how great would that be!?!!"

"Yeah, but don't you think it'd be a little bit weird? How would you explain it to like...your other future grandkids...the ones you DIDN'T bear?"

"Oh, we would just say that God put Erika and Matt's baby in Granny's tummy."

So, apparently Mom has it all figured out. Her enthusiasm for the "plan" was actually a little disconcerting. I'm starting to think she'd rather bear my kids for me. If we ever have to go the IVF route, I'm going to have to keep those little embryos locked up in a secret location lest Mama come steal them!

I'm just kidding, of course. I'm very glad to know that my Mom will do anything it takes to help us achieve our dream of parenthood. I think I'm going to hold her to her commitment, too-- not by asking her to be my surrogate, but by hitting her up for money to fund these stupid treatments! Ha! But maybe I'll wait til she's done paying for the sister's wedding.

So that's that. WRPCs and crazy pregnancy stories and a few trips to Target and Publix and that's been my day. Tomorrow my mom and sister are going dress shopping (in Columbia) and I'm sad to miss out on that, but I am participating long-distancely by picking out online dresses I think she should try out. Then she can picture-message me pics of her in them, and I can feel like I'm helping out.

So, question of the hour: Would you ever consider being a surrogate? If so, for whom? Strangers? Or just a close friend or sister (or daughter)? And don't worry...this is purely for the sake of conversation. If I personally ever need a surrogate, I think we all know who has dibs on that job!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I had an interesting conversation with one of my students over breakfast today. To set the scene (and help explain the sure-to-be-strange formatting of my typed-out conversation), please understand that almost all of my students are Hispanic. The particular students I'm mentioning right now spoke absolutely NO English less than a year ago when they started pre-k. At this point, they are perfectly fluent in school-related English (they speak no English at home, so they often don't have the vocabulary for home-related things...but "school" stuff they're fine with). They often find it amusing, though, to converse with me in Spanish, since they can "teach" me and "help" me and-- let's face it-- laugh at me.

If I type in italics, it's because that part of our conversation was in Spanish. I may or may not actually attempt to type out the Spanish. If my spoken Spanish is pretty iffy, my written Spanish is all but awful. So forgive me. :)

Also, please keep in mind that four-year-olds are huge copycats and unintentional liars. I mean, if you say you went to the beach yesterday, so did most of the class. If one person has a pet pony, they all do. Shockingly, if you believe what they tell you, every single one of my students has ridden in a space ship!! Crazy, right? So if I sound mean or skeptical, it's only because...I am. :)

Girl A: Mrs. B, I have two daddies!
Me: Oh...really? Two daddies? [please know that this doesn't really sound that far-fetched. I really was curious!]
Girl A: Yes! Dos papas? Dos!!
Me: Wow. Where do they live?
Girl A: One lives with me. The other...en Mexico.
Me: Wow... [we talk about this for a few minutes. Girl B has been listening in the whole time.]
Girl B: I have two daddies, too!
Me: No you don't. [She doesn't. I know her family a little bit.]
Girl B: Yes...I do! Dos papas, tambien!
Me: Well, where do they live?
Girl B: One...he lives with me, in Georgia. The other...[her voice drifts off as she points to the ceiling and lifts her eyes skyward]
Me: Huh? He lives in the sky?
Girl B: Yes...
Me: Well...what are your daddies' names?
Girl B: My daddy that lives in my house...he name John Doe [obviously I'm making that up]. Doe!! Like my name!!
Me: Yeah, I know John. What about your other daddy? The one who lives...[point to ceiling]?
Girl B: Well...I do not know how to say his name in English.
Me: That's okay. You can say it in Spanish.
Girl B: [getting shy]...I do not want to say it.
Me: Just tell me!
Girl B: Jesucristo?
Me: Ohhhhh! He IS your daddy! Who told you about Him?
Girl B: My mommy.
Me: Well, your mommy is very smart to tell you. What does your daddy do up in the sky?
Girl B: He sees if people are doing the right thing.
Me: Well...yeah. Where else do you learn about Jesucristo? Do you go to church?
Girl B: [blank stare]
Me: a la iglesia?
Girl B: Yes!! [incredulous look coming over her face] Do you know my daddy, too???
Me: I do. I am so glad you know him!!
Girl B: But Mrs. B, what do you CALL him?? You say Jesucristo or Dios?
Me: I can call him that. Or I call him God. But it's the same. La misma. It doesn't matter.
Girl B: You go a la iglesia?
Me: Yes!
Girl B: But I didn't see you there!
Me: Well there are lots of churches! I go to a different church than you. But we learn about the same God. Did you know that I have even been to churches in Mexico?
Girl B: [jumping out of her chair] In an AIRPLANE??!!?!
Me: Yes!
Girl B: And it is the same...[pointing to the ceiling]...the same one as here.
Me: Yep.
Girl B: Wow...[looking off into the distance]...well, Mrs. B, I have a Hannah Montana necklace!!

:: end theological discussion ::

Friday, July 9, 2010


I've shared my thoughts on marriage a lot lately, I feel like. Or maybe it's just that I think about it a lot. At any rate, I feel like my eyes and my brain are always searching out and categorizing marriages I see and hear about. I'm looking for inspiration-- for tidbits to cling to, to tuck away for future reference. I'm looking for what not to do. I'm a hoarder of marriage information, I guess you could say. The good and the bad.

This morning I wanted to quickly share with you a story that will melt your heart and show you a picture of what I think God really had in mind when he created marriage.

When I was in high school and college, Jessica was one of my very best friends. Our whole group of friends (band-related, mostly...therefore awesome) tended to congregate at her house all the time because a) she was an only child and therefore we were unbothered by any other siblings, and b) her parents were the best. Steve and Judi were like everyone's second parents. They couldn't have been happier that at any given time there were 7 teenagers eating all their food, drinking all their Diet Cokes, and lounging all over their furniture. Many of my fondest (and silliest) memories take place in Steve & Judi's living room.

A little over a year ago, Judi was in a horrible motorcycle accident. The kind where it's a miracle she left the scene alive. The kind where she spent months in the hospital in a basically vegetative state. Head injuries. Spinal injuries. A thousand broken bones. Truly the stuff nightmares are made of. One minute she's a thriving wife, mother, and nurse, and the next...this. Talk about turning your world upside down.

Steve and Jess started a blog right after the accident to keep family and friends informed. Through Steve's honest and real posts, I've watched Judi make gains and losses, progress and have a setback. I've seen a family willingly give up almost everything they knew for the sake of their mom and wife. Last week was Steve & Judi's 30th wedding anniversary. In his blog yesterday, he related that they had always planned to make a big trip to Alaska to celebrate their 30th. Obviously that can't happen right now, and he tried to explain it to Judi (who is unable to speak) and thought that she understood. And when he told how they spent their anniversary instead, I couldn't help it-- I was bawling.

THIS is marriage, friends. THIS is a man committed to his wife-- for better or for way, way worse. Steve's commitment to Judi-- to praying for her, to doing whatever it takes for her to make progress, to being with her and surrounding her with love...this is what it's all about. I can only hope that if I were in a similar situation that my faith and my devotion would be as strong.

I've been unusually comforted and inspired by a passage from Lamentations this week. I know...Lamentations? Not usually the place I look for comfort and inspiration, right? Well as I've been reading this I suffering is not NEARLY this bad. And so although I still try to cling to the hope that Jeremiah describes, in a way I feel like I can't really relate because I haven't suffered anything like this. It's like I'd be way over-dramatic to think my "suffering" was really that bad. As I read it this morning, though, thinking about Steve and Judi...I don't think this would be an exaggeration for them. They have truly (and are still) suffered. But I feel like Steve's words have encouraged me in much the same way this passage has: check it out. (PS these are random excerpts, with my own emphases added. Check out Lamentations 3:17-33 for the full text).

Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is...I cry out, "Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost!"...I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease...I say to myself, "The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in Him!"...The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him...For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love.

Anyway...those are some random thoughts I had this morning, but if you have a minute, would you pray for Steve & Judi? She has come such a long way, but she has a very, very long journey ahead of her. They need a lot of strength, and they certainly wouldn't turn down a miracle.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

and sarah makes three.

I feel like my family has exploded practically overnight! And by "exploded" I mean 'grown'. Not...broken into a zillion little pieces. Last night my little sister Sarah got engaged to her boyfriend of forever, Mark. I'm so happy for them!

Sarah and Mark last year. PS My favorite part of this pic is how Sarah's dress is blowing...I think that is so pretty!! :)

In case your math skills are lacking (like mine usually are), let me help you out.

We have Stephen (Matt's younger brother) & Jessica's wedding in Spring 2011.

And Amy (Matt's younger sister) & Tom's wedding August 28, 2010:
And now my sister will be having a wedding in December 2010...that makes THREE sibling weddings in the next less-than-a-year. WHOA!! Lots of fun ahead. And lots of dresses. And tuxes. And presents. And dancing. And cake. Oh my!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

lonnnng weekend

I mean, for realz long. FOUR DAYS long. That's my kind of weekend, folks. Plus, it means that this next week is better than usual, too-- three days of work followed by three days of weekend (I don't work Fridays, remember?) it makes for two great [short] weeks! Yay!

Unfortunately, I don't have many pictures. I have pics from Friday and today, but sadly the camera battery died on the Fourth...doesn't that just figure? Oh well. So we'll start with things that have pictures.

Friday night we went to an outdoor concert in a nearby small town, Monroe. Abbey Road Live was playing-- they're a Beatles cover band, so it was pretty fun. Luckily it was a nice cool evening and we had a good spot to plop our picnic blanket and lawn it was a lot of fun!

Check out those sweet Beatles-esque suits. Classy, huh?

There were actually several much cuter pics of the two of us...but in all but this one I had a BIG HUNK OF BLACKBERRY (read: huge black THING) stuck in between my teeth. Mortifying. Thanks a lot for watching my back, Mattie. (Or my teeth, as the case may be)

The weekend went extremely well, meal-wise. Saturday morning we started with my all-time fave Edna Mae's Sour Cream Pancakes. I've made these (from Pioneer Woman's cookbook) maybe five times now? And every time I do, I convince myself more that no other pancake will ever satisfy me. Trust me, do yourself a favor and make them. And then invite me over to eat them with you. Better double the recipe, come to think of it....

Saturday night I tried a new recipe, which was a smashing home run. So much so that as we were finishing up dinner, Matt asked when we could have them again. And then he asked for them for lunch on Sunday. And then dinner. And then he's mentioned them several times since. So um...I think it went over well. Check out the Poor Man's Crab Cakes which involve no actual crab, only zucchini. Which happens to be dirt cheap. Which only adds to the appeal of these tasty pseudo-crab cakes. Anyway, they're awesome. If you're planning on making them, I'd mention a few things I did differently(as a result of reading a few other recipes and comments on recipes), so let me know if you want a few tips. Sadly, I have no pictures of the ones I made. They were gone too quickly.

This morning I wasn't feeling well, so as I lounged and moaned and watched even MORE episodes of House Hunters in the living room, Matt took it upon himself to bake PW's French Breakfast Puffs. We're talking about from-scratch pastries here, kids. By MATT! With NO assistance or urging from me! They were totally awesome, and also TOTALLY healthy, I'm sure. But I can't be too sure, since I didn't help make them. So actually I think they were pretty nutritious. They ought to have been, since we didn't eat them ("breakfast") til almost 1pm. Ha.

There was more awesome food at our Fourth of July extravaganza, but I have no pictures of that, sadly. The only other thing I have photo evidence of from this weekend is the time we spent working on refinishing our china cabinet! I got Mattie a power orbital sander for his anniversary gift (that was a totally not selfish present, right??). You'll notice who is the person actually USING the sander.

Well...some stuff still has to be sanded by hand. And I'm just so weak and frail, I could simply nevah handle all that super exhausting hand-sanding, right?? Right. :) I'll play my "girl card" when it suits me, thanks. Anyway, things are coming along just swimmingly. I estimate this project will be completed around Christmas. Ha. Maybe. Here you can see one of the sanded upper doors (we took the glass out, obviously) compared to its non-sanded mate. Nice, huh?? We'll be staining them a very dark espresso color to (hopefully) match our other dining room furniture.

On the Fourth we enjoyed spending time with lots of our friends (and their accompanying children/dogs) at the Van Pelt's house. The boys constructed the World's Largest (or at least the East Side's Largest) slip-n-slide. It involved tarps, sprinklers, pool floats...and lots of crashing into trees and bushes. I, being of sound mind and body, chose to cheer from the side lines. I think that going through the physical and emotional trauma of major knee surgery and rehabilitation once is enough for my lifetime, thanks.

While the boys and kids acted like crazy people on the slip-n-slide (and two kiddie pools) I helped hold babies and eat food. Those are things MUCH more up my alley. I also had some interesting conversations with kids, such as when I was with two 5(ish) year old girls on the back porch at night. A frog was hopping in the bushes and one girl caught it. It kept jumping out of her hand and she kept picking it back up and making her friend scream (friend wasn't so impressed by the frog). After like 5 minutes of thinking she had probably killed the poor frog, I convinced her to put it back down and let it "go home". Before she did, she said "but can I kiss him first?" And I said "NO!" And she said "but why?"...and I really couldn't think of any good reasons...I think the thing about getting warts is an old wives I said "well, I guess you can." And so she did. Three times. And she seemed rather sad that the thing just kept on being a frog and not turning into a prince. So she let him go. And then I told her mom, who was properly horrified and amused that her beautiful child was outside kissing frogs under my supervision. Hahaha. It was great.

So all in all, a great weekend. And now it's only a few days until the NEXT weekend starts-- yay!!