Sunday, December 19, 2010

33 Weeks

I'm now 33 weeks... 8 months! Time has flown by! And my tummy has just ballooned... or I feel like it has anyway!


So I stopped taking pictures with fruits... I haven't really wanted to buy a spaghetti squash or honey dew or pineapple. Plus taking a picture with one might just be awkward! So to normal pictures it is.

I have been exhausted! Sleeping has become difficult. Some nights I'm restless, though thankfully I have slept for the last few.

My tummy is getting HEAVY. At the end of a long day of being active, I just want to lay in the recliner, put my feet up, and take the weight off.

I've had a few hormonal break downs... I've really been good up till now. But I think the exhaustion (sleepless nights and heavy tummy) is getting to me.

Weight gain... blah. Apparently the baby goes through a growth spurt around 32 weeks. My midwife said it happens to everyone. I'll just say that the scale definitely reflected that. Oh well. Maybe I should just embrace pregnancy and yummy holiday foods... I'm bound to lose it all quick with nursing anyway, right?

Today in church, I looked down at my hands and saw that my fingers were swollen! If my ring weren't on my hand, you'd never be able to tell. My fingers got a little tingly trying to get my ring off. I think it may be time to retire the engagement ring and stick to the band... though that might need to be retired soon too! I was so hoping to escape the swelling, being that I'm due in mid-winter. No such luck.

But I'm loving seeing a midwife. The average time spent with your doctor is 6 minutes per visit. The rest is in the waiting room or with the PA. But I feel like I get to see my midwife longer. She's not ever in a hurry to leave and always glad to answer questions. I appreciate that!

Now I'm on the search for a good pediatrician!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas

I love Christmas! The bright colors. Cool weather. Merry music. Everyone in a good mood. Holiday parties. Gifts. Family. Friends. And of yeah, lots of great deals! ;)

But Christmas isn't something everyone looks forward to.

This Christmas will be our last to go visit family (on the actual day), as next year we'll start our own traditions. So this Christmas is a little bittersweet for us. I'm so excited to do our own thing next year, but I also want to relish in the traditions I've enjoyed up till now.
  • Christmas Eve morning at the Galleria, watching holiday shoppers hustle and bustle about, trying to get last minute gifts. Then going to lunch with my dad and his siblings.
  • Our big annual Christmas Eve party.
  • Midnight church... which has recently turned into afternoon church. Who can really stay up that late and then get up early Christmas morning?
  • The gift unwrapping free for all at one house and then going to the next house and being expected to take turns opening gifts!
  • Going house to house. To most people this seems insane. And it is. Especially now with 5 families and 5 houses. But I don't know any different. I've been doing this my whole life. I will never subject my child to that because I don't think it's fair. But I'm not sure opening gifts in the morning and then having a quiet afternoon will do so well with me... we'll just have to come up with something fun to do!
So there's all that.

But then there's also last Christmas, which will now forever be burned into my memory. It was our last Christmas with my brother. And the fact that he was using was so apparent. When we came back from our trip to see family, I knew for certain that he had relapsed and that he was in deep. What do I do with that memory? With the memory of him slurring and then sleeping all day the next day? And others I can't bring myself to say?

And what about this Christmas? Silly I know - but it used to be two of us that had gotten too old for some of the big Santa gifts. Two of us that enjoyed watching as our siblings got excited about their gifts, long after we had finished opening ours. And what about family dynamics? With divorce so rampant in my family, the size of my family is always growing and shrinking... Austen was my constant. He was always there as it grew and shrank - as siblings were born, as parents divorced, as parents remarried, and as I married. There will be more people at Christmas this year, but we'll also be one less. How will it not feel like there's a void?

Every time I see my siblings together, in their pairs, I miss him. Every time our parents change the rules for the younger siblings, I miss him. And every time the shape and size of our family changes, I do and will continue to miss him.

Praying I can remember some of the good times this Christmas and enjoy loving on those around me.

And for the rest of you, I don't mean to be a downer. This year Christmas just brings with it a lot of mixed emotions. But for your enjoyment... check out this awesome Christmas picture I found from back in the day.

I was 5. And Austen was 3 1/2.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Baby Showers

It's been so fun getting ready for little "Brenleigh"! Here are some photos from baby showers! I had a Dallas shower, a church friends shower, and a Houston shower.


Dallas shower hostesses

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Calling to Adopt

As Christians, we are called to take care of widows and orphans. I love this story because this family is truly living out the calling to care for those who can't care for themselves. I've been thinking a lot about adoption lately. It's definitely something we want to do. And I think Scripture is pretty clear about God's heart towards orphans and His desire to have His people care for them.
Gn. 22:21-22; Dt. 24:19, 21; Ps. 68:5-6; 82:3-4; Is. 1:17; Js. 1:27

This video spoke to my heart.


Promo for "We Have Room" Documentary from David N. Watson on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

29 Weeks


This was taken earlier this week at one of my baby showers - at 29 weeks! I've had two now, and I have one more coming up! So exciting! More shower pics to come. But here's an update...

I am loving getting the baby's room ready. Again, pics to come... slooowly that is.

I've also been getting more tired... hi, third trimester.

Also I'm in the process of switching doctors... okay really switching from my OB to a midwife. I have been reading more about natural birth and decided that a midwife has more of the mindset I'm looking for. Not to worry - I'll still be delivering in the hospital and under great care, should anything unexpected creep up. I'm excited though to have the extra care, attention, and natural birth specialization that a midwife offers!

Oh and here's a pic from today  at almost 30 weeks...


 And PS check out my cute nephew, born two weeks ago! His dog sister Caylee got jealous and needed attention too... left to right: Brendon (my hubby), nephew Connor, dog Caylee, and brother-in-law Ryan aka the new father. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

26 or 27 Weeks

Okay I'm losing count... This picture was taken at 26 or 27 weeks, although tomorrow I'll be 28! I can't believe I'm already into my third trimester and almost 7 months! Time flies!

Brenleigh is now moving a ton! I can see my stomach moving at times. So strange!

He or she is as long as a cucumber. And I believe it! I can tell that it's starting to get a little squished... hang in there 12 more weeks!

I had a little growth spurt right before this picture, but I am pretty sure I haven't grown much since then... or the scale doesn't look much different anyway. I was shocked last time I went to the doctor though to see how much weight I had gained. Definitely a growth spurt! But now I've gained about a pound in the last 3 weeks, so it has slowed down, at least for the time being.

Other fun symptoms... heart burn (Yuck. Tums is my friend.) and leg cramps/pulls (ugh... though two bananas/day seems to help)

And I have baby showers coming up! So fun! That means it's getting close to baby time!!

And here's my and Baby Brenleigh with my California friends, Amanda and Colby!


And some fun news - my little nephew Connor Ian Lankford was born this morning! I can't wait to meet him next week when we're in town! Pics to come!

And by the way, if you haven't stopped by my baby shower at Thankfully Thrifty, do it! Tons of giveaways! Great fun! 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

SPC Champs

And my brother's team won SPC Champs!! Way to go William!


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Year in Review

It's almost my birthday! I truly love my birthday. I always get hyped up weeks before and declare it "Princess Ashleigh Week/Month." And since gifts are my love language, you can imagine that on my birthday, I'm in heaven. I feel incredibly loved. It's always a great day.

But somehow this year it doesn't seem as exciting... not sure if it's the fact that I'll be 26 (not that that's old, it's just not exciting) or the fact that I'm pregnant and there's enough hype going on with the baby or it might be the fact that things have changed over the past year.

Soon after I turned 25, we began TTC (trying to conceive). It took longer than we had planned. The journey began in November. What made it difficult is that it seemed like all of my friends were getting pregnant right away - without even "trying." Really? Who does that? I didn't face the devastation I've seen some friends face since then - with fertility testing, pills, IVF, etc. But trying to get pregnant, praying to be pregnant, and then finding out each month that you're not pregnant - it's a terrible feeling. Yet still in the end, God reminded me of His goodness.

I'm sure I don't have to remind you. But at the end of this past March, I got the phone call about my brother. He was found dead in his apartment. He had relapsed a few months before. His friends had been with him that night. They were scared. They didn't know the severity. They were messed up themselves.

Some people say during grief that they can't eat. I can't relate. I ate - enough, anyway. But I couldn't sleep, especially not that first night. My whole body ached... throbbed. And I just sat up in bed sobbing, gasping for breath because it seemed like too much to handle. My world was shattered. My brother, my oldest friend, was gone. He knew me better than most, and yet he still loved me. He was giant teddy bear. At times, I still can't believe he's gone. I'll be left standing there, staring at a picture of us, and suddenly all I can physically think to myself is, "It shouldn't be this way."

I never realized the physical toll grief takes on the body. I'm pretty sure I only made it through those first few days by God's grace - and an adrenaline rush, His design. I was barely holding on. There's no way my body could have supported a baby too. During that time, I was so thankful not to be pregnant.

That next month, friends brought us meals several nights a week just so I could catch up on the school work I had missed and try to finish in time for graduation. I battled with the registrar to allow me to graduate. Eventually, they did, but that was a battle that shouldn't have needed to be fought.

I began going to my own counseling and even attend Al-Anon meetings, while at the same time trying to pick myself back up and just make it through the rest of my internship. It eventually got easier. And thankfully none of my clients had grief or addiction issues that triggered me.

Then at the end of May, I took a test. Two pink lines. I couldn't believe it. Over those last two months, at the darkest point in my life, God had continually been whispering in my ear, "I am good." And the thing was - I didn't need convincing, which I remember thinking was odd. His goodness was the one thing I was sure of. And then here it was - a physical sign, right in front of my face. God hadn't forgotten us.

I beamed for days - weeks, even. Don't hear me saying that suddenly life was okay. Life was good. But it was still moving on. Having joy in the midst of grief was a struggle. These days, I'm doing better, and though I have my slump-like days, most days are looking up.

The baby is continually moving - so now when I think of Austen, it isn't uncommon for the thought to be followed by a poke on my inside. I guess it's a continual reminder that God's Word is real. The Gospel is not just a message of hope. Before that hope came deep sadness and longing - a desperation for some kinda of redemption.

Turning 26 has brought up a lot of emotions... one just being sadness... I'm going to be 26. Austen should be 24, almost 25. But instead, he's stuck in my memory as 23, just two days shy of 24. It has certainly been a whirlwind of a year. But I am continually in awe of God's goodness and perfect timing in bringing this child into our lives so soon after. 

My birthday is on Thursday. As luck has it, my youngest brother William is playing his championship football game this Thursday (my birthday!) here in Dallas, so my family will all be in town. I am thankful for this. I know there will be a time during the day when I'll seem distant or just need to slip away, as I wipe a tear from my eye, but they get it. I'm thankful to have a wonderful husband to stand beside me and a great family that can surround me that day.

Here's to a great birthday and a new year to come.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Me and Austen - 1991, perhaps.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Boredom

Just wanted to show off some of my fun photography skills.


Doesn't this face just melt your heart? You'd think I never take her on walks. I'm pretty sure we had already been out for over an hour that day.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

24 Weeks

I can hardly believe it's been 24 weeks! Now I'm on the count DOWN - 16 to go!! Totally amazing.

Here's the latest baby bump photo update. Technically, Baby "Brenleigh" (Brendon/Ashleigh. Like Bragelina... get it?) was as long as an ear of corn last week, but this week is an egg plant... and not only am I not buying egg plant, but I had already bought corn. So corn it is!


And right after this picture was taken, I proceeded to drop the corn on the floor. It smashed. Yuck. And my dog wouldn't eat it, so I had to bend down (a surprisingly difficult task) to clean it up.

In the past several weeks, my tummy has had a little growth spurt I think! I've been hungrier more. Bending over has gotten harder - a good time to practice my chiropractor's advice and kneel down, rather than bend. And in the past week, I've been exhausted! I thought that wasn't supposed to happen again until third trimester... anyone?

Other than that, I am feeling great! I've been walking everyday. And I decided I need to be better about squats and lunges... I have a feeling strength building will come in handy come time for delivery.

And yes, I have actually been referring to the baby as Brenleigh!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tag I'm It.

From Cait...

1.  What are you looking forward to most about having children?  What's not to look forward to? I love kids! So much fun! I'm not as much a fan of newborns as I am little kids, so I guess I'm most excited for them to get a little older and be able to communicate, have fun, and show off their personality!

2.  What is your favorite bible verse? "Serve whole-heartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not man." -Ephesians 6:7


3.  What is the most romantic thing your husband has done for you?  I'm bad on the spot at thinking of these things. But one thing he does that I love is when he'll randomly call or email me from work and just say, "Hey can I take you to dinner tonight?" I love that.

4.  Where do you see yourself in just 5 years?  Two or three kids and loving being a mom! I plan to take the NCE, get my hours, and become a Licensed Professional Counselor at some point, but I think that's more a 10 year plan!


5.  What is something you would do if you had more time on your hands? More crafts, become licensed, practice counseling, and be a Young Life leader again.

6.  What is the best thing about the town in which you live?  Dallas. :) I love the city and city-life in general. Dallas is so much prettier than Houston, where I grew up. I love the weather - I like warmth. I also love how compact it is - not spread out the way Houston is. (I'm not sure which is more normal - to have suburbs far away or nearby... enlighten me. I just know I hate how the closest suburb from Houston is 40 minutes.) I also love how Dallas was planned. It's on a grid and easy for directionally-impaired people, like me, to find their way around!

7.  What is the last random act of kindness you showed toward someone or someone else showed to you?  Oh gosh, I don't know. Sometimes I think it's even small things like having my neighbor over last night while her husband is out of town.

8.  What is you and your hubby's "typical" date night?  Not sure about typical, but a couple nights ago we went to Russo's New York for pizza and enjoyed pizza and dessert out on the patio, in this beautiful fall weather. We talked for what seemed like forever. It was wonderful.

From Venessa...

1. What is the one thing that you can not live without? So many ways to take this question... so I'll take the more casual approach. When I leave the house, if I don't have my chapstick or my iPhone, I get nervous.

2. What is your favorite childhood story? Any involving my brother. :) He used to like to tell about how I got him in trouble by "double dog daring" him to pee on the carpet in our living room. So he did it. Our babysitter told our parents but left out the part about me daring him too. So he got in big trouble. And only when in the midst of his tears, he said, "But Ashleigh double dog dared me to," did I then get in trouble.

3. What advice would you give to others that you live by?  Serve the Lord and glorify Him in all you do.

4. What is your favorite Christmas song/carol? Hark the Harold Angel Sings, or any pop Christmas music

5. What traditions do you want to pass on to your child(ren)?  Family dinners.

6. Cat or dog lover? I used to love cats. I grew up with them. When I went to college, I realized I'm actually allergic to them. I never had a reaction to them until I came home from college over Christmas, since I had had them my entire life until that point. Anyway, I quickly got over them, especially when we bought a foreclosed house that reeked of cat urine. No thanks. I'll pet them when I see them. But now that we have Sammy, I don't think I can ever go back to cats. Dogs all the way. That said, I prefer cute, fluffy, smart, normal-sized, non-licking dogs! :) Picky, much?

7. What is your favorite thing to do to relax? Curl up on the couch with my dog and read. Or take her for a walk with my hubby.

8. What goal would you like to accomplish that you have yet to do? Short term: Finish our bathroom redo. Finish getting the nursery ready. Long term: Get licensed.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

My New Toy

Look what hubby brought home from work for me yesterday!



Okay here's the story... A couple years ago, when the economy turned and we had just bought our house (great timing!), his work (a non-profit) had to give pay cuts. Bummer. And with the still-not-so-great-and-even-questionable-in-my-opinion economy, the cuts are still in place.

So I think every so often his work likes to send home fun gifts to show how much they appreciate the employees, as a sorry-we-can't-give-you-back-your-pay-but-here's-a-fun-treat type gesture. I'm a gifts girl. I'll take it.

About a month ago he brought home an iPad, which was a fun toy for him. I have an iPhone, and I think he's been jealous. So now he has his equivalent!

Then yesterday he brought home this fancy-schmancy camera! Funny thing... I had been thinking about how I wanted one of these all day... well, really for about a year, but I had come to the conclusion it wasn't happening. But yesterday I decided we needed to make it happen... with the baby, blogging, our cute dog... need I say more? And then he came home with this! I guess trivial prayers do get answered!

I know it's technically work property, but I can't guarantee I'll be willing to part with this one.

Thanks, BlueFish!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mini Aussies

I saw a miniature Australian Shepherd the other day. Precious. The miniatures range between 17 and 35 lbs. Compare that to a full-size Aussie, like my Sammy, who is 50 lbs. If the miniature is still too big for you, yes you can get a toy Aussie!

With the option of a toy or mini Aussie, I'm not sure why anyone would ever get a small dog of another breed. No offense to any small dog owners out there. I'm just obsessed with the fluffiness (not to mention smarts) of the Aussie. Look how cute!



Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Thankfully Thrifty Baby Shower



On my other blog Thankfully Thrifty (Click the button above), I have an upcoming baby shower event coming up!!! There will be reviews and giveaways, so stay tuned! And be sure to join in the fun on November 1st!

Thanks, Nicole, for creating this fabulous button!!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bittersweet




I just started reading Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist. I read her first book Cold Tangerines last year. It was fabulous. Today I began this one. I think her prologue pretty much sums up my life these past six months and the way I have come to redefine my faith.

"The idea of bittersweet is changing the way I live, unraveling and re-weaving the way I understand life. Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a sliver of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich when it contains a splinter of sadness.

"Bittersweet is the practice of believing that we really do need both the bitter and the sweet, and that a life of nothing but sweetness rots both your teeth and your soul. Bitter is what makes us strong, what forces us to push through, what helps us earn the lines on our faces and the calluses on our hands. Sweet is nice enough, but bittersweet is beautiful, nuanced, full of depth and complexity. Bittersweet is courageous, gutsy, earthy.

"Nearly ten years ago, my friend Doug told me that the central image of the Christian faith is death and rebirth, that the core of it all, over and over again, is death and rebirth. I'm sure I'd heard that before, but when he told me, for whatever reason, I really thought about it for the first time. And at the time, I didn't agree.

"What I didn't understand until recently is that he wasn't speaking to me as a theologian or a pastor or an expert, but rather as a person whose heart had been broken and who had been brought back to life by the story God tells in all our lives. When you haven't yet had your heart really broken, the gospel isn't about death and rebirth. It's about life and more life. It's about hope and possibility and a brighter future. And it is, certainly, about those things.

"But when you've faced some kind of death — the loss of someone you loved dearly, the failure of a dream, the fracture of a relationship — that's when you start understanding that central metaphor. When your life is easy, a lot of the really crucial parts of Christian doctrine and life are nice theories, but you don't really need them. When, however, death of any kind is staring you in the face, all of a sudden rebirth and new life are very, very important to you.

"Now, ten years later, I know Doug was right. I've thought about his words a thousand times in the last few years, a season in my own life that has felt in some moments like death at every turn. I've begun to train my eyes for rebirth, like looking for buds on branches after an endlessly long winter. I know that death is real, and I trust that rebirth is real too." (Prologue, Bittersweet)

I don't think it was by accident that I picked up this book.

Finishing the Race

This video is so sweet! It brought tears to my eyes. My dad sent it to me, along with a sweet message. Love you, Dad!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Yes, I get to babysit her. Often.

How precious is she?




And this is what her sweet sister drew for me:

We are all now one big happy family! Too cute!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

20 Weeks

I am now 20 weeks... well almost 21, I guess. The baby is as long as a banana! It's been kicking a lot - but not hard yet, just cute kicks. And Brendon has been able to feel it, which is fun! And I've been feeling great! Second trimester truly is bliss!


We went to the doctor today, and it is 12 oz. From what they can see, everything looks healthy! Heart beat is 144 - aka healthy. And we got to see him or her sucking their thumb - A LOT! It actually switched thumbs a couple times, I'm pretty sure, and then tried to get it's whole fist in its mouth! We told the tech that we did not want to know the baby's gender... and apparently the baby does not want us to know either because it was sitting Indian style. So the tech couldn't even tell. Although I will say, it did take a break to kick my bladder... delightful child!

Here's it's profile. There were several pictures, but this is the clearest. Little Baby Lankford has its hand under its chin.


The doctor said the placenta is still really close to my cervix (Is that right? I can't remember) - basically I kinda have placenta previa. But it's not a big deal at this point. 1 out of 10 women have it at this stage. The placenta should move up on its own and go away.

Other baby news...

The bedding came in on Monday, and it's precious!! I am excited to get the crib and put it all together.

And to say I have been researching strollers may be an understatement. I have been to Buy Buy Baby... where I have at least two more trips planned... I have been reading Baby Bargains and Amazon reviews. Why can't a stroller be light, compact, sturdy, have a great storage basket, cup holder, easily convert for two kids (for later on), and be priced well? Okay even taking off the "priced well" part... still have yet to find one meeting all of this... So here's what I'm leaning towards...





Okay so this is what I have been leaning towards and still am at the moment anyway... but let's be honest. I might change my mind. Isn't the orange cute though? And it folds up so quick and little (stroller little)! For those of you without kids, let me just tell you, strollers are fascinating! And it's unbelievable how expensive some are!! Crazy!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I THINK I could make this...


Image courtesy of Pottery Barn

When we decided we wouldn't find out the baby's gender, I thought about a Texas theme for the room. And with the bedding we already have for the full-size bed staying in the room...



...and the crib bedding I just ordered...

 Again, image courtesy of Pottery Barn.
Check out how the patchwork and stars detail matches the artwork above.


Now back to what I was saying... Given the beddings I've chosen, I think this piece of art would coordinate well. But for $200 (on sale!), no thanks.

So what do you think? Can I pull off making this? If you have an idea of how to get all those small pieces of perfectly cut wood, let me know!! The floor is now open... ideas please!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Colorado, Part 2

After visiting B's grandparents, we headed over to Breckenridge! My dad recently bought a place there, and since he was there for the week, we decided to visit him as well.



I love Breckenridge! Such a cute town! One day we took the gondola to the top of peaks 7 and 8 to eat and play put-put!




Eventually we headed home, through New Mexico, where we had some friends from church we stopped to see and stay with for a night. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of that! (Bad, photographer!) But here's a picture of our stop on the way there. We stopped at the Rio Grande Gorge. I was too chicken to go all the way to the middle though, where you can stand directly above the gorge and look out. No thank you.


And our drive back...


Sammy was tired of riding in the car.


It was good to get home!