Tuesday, December 31, 2013

17 Weeks

How far along? 17 weeks & 6 days

Weight gain? Ending 2013 with a weight gain of 13 pregnancy pounds

Baby is the size of - an onion

Maternity clothes? When your own papaw asks you if the doctor has the due date right because you look like you should be farther along than you really are...yep, it's safe to say, maternity clothes are being worn.  LOL  Gotta love my papaw!

Stretch marks? Still in the clear when it come to stretch marks!

Sleep?  Sleep?  What is that? 

Miss anything? Only the previous mentioned misses

Cravings? Nothing new on the list of cravings.

Anything make you queasy or sick? The smell of deviled eggs.  I completely lost my appetite the other day after opening the fridge and catching a wiff of his deviled eggs.  They were even stored in a container and I could still smell them.  It will forever remain a mystery to me how anyone can eat those things!  YUCK!

Symptoms?  Headaches....shocking I know, but they seemed to have taken a turn for the worse this past week.  I'm blaming it on the stress of moving.

Belly button - in or out? In and wonky

Wedding rings - on or off? ON!

Any movement? Mr Pibb had this kid kicking the other day!

Happy or moody? Happy :) and absolutely exhausted

Looking forward to - Closing day on our new home!  Also next Wednesday... Boy or Girl?!?! 

Interesting week 17 fact - Your baby is about as wide as your palm, about six inches tall, and weighs about four ounces—about as much as a bar of soap.  Your baby is now covered with a downy layer of lanugo, which swirls in fingerprint-like formation over its whole body.

Our 1st Christmas in the same country TOGETHER

Word of advice, NEVER plan to close on a house around Christmas or New Years!  The holiday season is busy enough without all that added stress and I feel that our first Christmas season physically together was dimmed to all of the stress with the bank and knowing we had to move.  We are excited for the move no doubt, but it's been overwhelming to say the least.  Closing day on the townhouse is Thursday and we close on the new house Friday.  What a relief it will be to say, "it's finally done." 

We had several friends & family show up this past Saturday to help us load everything up.  I can't believe how we much stuff we had in such a tiny space!  I'm very grateful for all those that helped us, I don't know how we would've done it without them.  It's bittersweet selling the townhouse, it was the first home I purchased.  We are living with my parents until the house closes.  Most would complain about that fact, even if it is very short term, but not us.  We enjoy each other's company so it's not bad. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

16 Weeks

How far along? 16 weeks

Weight gain? I haven't checked since the last doctors appoint, which was a 10lb gain.  Not bad for the first trimester I don't think!

Baby is the size of - an avocado

Maternity clothes? This week I went from having over a handful of pre-pregnancy jeans that fit to having only two.  None of the others will button.

Stretch marks? Still in the clear when it come to stretch marks!

Sleep?  Thanks to my pregnancy pillow, I'm finding it more and more easy to sleep at night.  I LOVE IT!!!  Now if only I could get my dog to understand it's mine, not his!  He always manages to wedge himself in between me and the pillow!

Miss anything? Being able to go to my closet and pick out anything I want to wear.

Cravings?  Nothing new on the list of cravings.  Still eating my weight in Cuties daily.

Anything make you queasy or sick? Just those darned headaches. Go away!

Symptoms?  Headaches still; I don't think these are ever going to go away.  I've never been one to be drug down by headaches so I'm not liking this one bit! I've been having some pain in my pelvic area as well, I'm pretty sure that's due to the fact that I have a desk job and I'm sitting most of the day.  My hands are tied when it comes to that, there's not much I can do.

Belly button - in or out? IN! Although, from this point on, were just going to refer to it as looking wonky.

Wedding rings - on or off? ON!

Any movement?  No notable movements to report this week.  I can't wait till I start to feel the baby on a daily basis!

Happy or moody? Happy :) for the most part with a side of stress. This is our last week in the house.  Next weekend we will be packing up all of our things and going to live with my parents for at least a week until our new home closes.

Looking forward to - Christmas!  I can't believe that it's this coming week!  It's been such a stressful time the past few weeks, I think we've been so wrapped up with it all that we've forgot to stop and really enjoy the Christmas season this year.  Kinda makes me sad.

Interesting week 16 fact - The baby is growing hair, lashes and eyebrows.  The baby is also able to hear us now thanks to the tiny forming ear bones.  And taste buds are forming.

Dad-to-be loved the Preggo pillow too

So this past week, I feel like I've got some things rolling as far as the baby goes.  We picked up a baby crib, glider rocker and ottoman last weekend while we were in Winston-Salem visiting with family.  We are so grateful for their kind hearts and that they passed on their girls' baby furniture to us!

We booked a birth photographer.  It wasn't a very hard decision to make.  I want those first pictures of when our baby enters the world and obviously, I won't be able to take them.  And personally, I think a family member would be too emotionally attached to the situation to get all of those pictures that I long for due to them being wrapped up in the moment as well.  I emailed several area photographers and we ended up booking with my first choice.  I have no doubt that the pictures are going to come out amazing and we'll treasure them beyond words.  And if you are wondering, NO, the photographer will not be getting the doctor's view of the birth.  I don't want to see that and I'm sure no one else would either!  I've been working on an idea board on Pinterest to share with the photographer, even though I'm almost certain that we are on the same page as to the pictures that we are wanting.  Here's a link if you are interested in looking at what we have in mind Birth(day) Photography

As far as a gender revel, we are still up in the air about that one.  I know that it would be really exciting for everyone in our family to get together and find out what our little one will be but at the same time, it couldn't come as a worse time for us.  We close on our house the Friday before we find out on Wednesday (Jan. 8) so we know things are going to be super hectic till we get everything organized.  We are still juggling with the idea of it in our minds, but we're not sure that we will do a big reveal or not.  However, if we do have one, we already know the theme and how it will be done.

Here's a peak at our soon to be home and yard! We will have a yard!!!

Monday, December 16, 2013

15 Weeks

How far along? 15 1/2 weeks

Weight gain? 10 lbs at the last visit to the doctor last week

Baby is the size of - an apple

Maternity clothes? I'm finding them increasingly more and more comfortable

Stretch marks? Still in the clear when it come to stretch marks!  I've read reports and most say that if you got them in your early years you are likely to have them during pregnancy. I still have several noticeable stretch marks from puberty, praying I don't add anymore!  

Sleep?  Toss and turn, toss and turn.  Lord only knows how many times I wake up at night.

Miss anything? I must admit that it would be nice to have a glass of wine while kicked back on the couch with all the Christmas lights on and a movie on TV, but I'll survive.

Cravings? This past week there was one day that I HAD TO HAVE a Bojangles cajun chicken biscuit & seasoned fried, but then again, that is a craving prego or not from time to time!   There was another day that during lunch the only thing that sounded appealing to me was an apple covered in peanut butter and Pampered Chef caramel sprinkle mix! Yum!

Anything make you queasy or sick? Just those darned headaches. Go away!

Symptoms?  I mentioned the headaches again to the doctor at our appointment last week and she seems to think that they are tension headaches and there's really not much that can be done for them.  Ugh.  I seriously feel like I've been punched in the right side of the head!

Belly button - in or out? IN! Although, from this point on, were just going to refer to it as looking wonky.

Wedding rings - on or off? ON! They get tight from time to time, but I'm not taking them off (for now)

Any movement?  I felt the baby once this past week, how exciting!  Usually by the time I slow down enough to feel the baby, I fall asleep seconds later!

Happy or moody? Happy :) for the most part with a side of stress. Bank of America knows how to get my blood boiling when it comes to the house loan, but I turned over that stress to John so I can start focusing on baby things and less stressful issues.  Thank God for my husband, I never would've thought he'd be the calm one of the two of us!

Looking forward to - Christmas!  This is the first year that John & I will be spending Christmas together!  We've always had to Skype on Christmas as we opened gifts from one another since he was in Afghanistan.  I'm thankful for the distance that we had when our relationship first started since it forced us to learn how to communicate with each other but I'm so thankful to have him home now! 

Interesting week 15 fact - At 15 weeks, the skin is still thin and transparent, but the baby has developed a thin layer of hair to help protect the body. This layer of hair is called lanugo, and it is present on every part of your baby's body, even finger nails! 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

14 Weeks

How far along? 14 weeks

Weight gain?  7lb gain and holding (for now)

Baby is the size of a Lemon

Maternity clothes?   I'm finding them increasingly more and more comfortable

Stretch marks? Still in the clear when it come to stretch marks!  However, a bit of cellulite is showing up…Boo!  I've been using my Mary Kay Extra Emollient Cream at night and Vasoline Aloe Gel the rest of the time.

Sleep?  This past week, I went to bed way early two nights in a row and slept completely through the night!  I felt amazing after those nights!  The other nights, now that's a different story!

Miss anything?  Other than the previous mentioned, nothing new to add.

Cravings?  I'm still stuck on Cuties.  Mozzarella sticks and salsa was also a must have this week.  The other day John came home and I was eating a pickle and drinking a glass of milk.  Minutes afterward I was like, "Did I seriously just drink a glass of milk and eat a pickle at the same time….ewww!"  Hello weird food combos!

Anything make you queasy or sick?  Just those darned headaches.  Go away!

Symptoms?  Headaches, please go away, I'm begging.  Acne, UGH; I've always had a problem with it but this week it's flared up something fierce! Between the headaches, sleepiness, weight gain and acne it's really hard to feel pretty a lot of days.

Belly button - in or out? IN!  Although, it's starting to look a little wonky.

Wedding rings - on or off?  ON!  They get tight from time to time, but I'm not taking them off (for now)

Happy or moody?  Happy :) for the most part with a side of stress.  Bank of America knows how to get my blood boiling when it comes to the house loan!

Looking forward to - January 8th!  We find out if we are having a boy or girl! We also have another appointment on Monday just for a check up and to hear the baby's heartbeat again.  I'm excited since John will be able to come this time!

Advice I think I'll pass on - One of the workers at our OB office told me that if I didn't feel like eating, it was okay.  Test had been done on babies born to women while in concentration camps and they did just fine.  She then followed up with the fact that I may not fair so well if I don't eat because they baby will take everything possible from me but who in the world tells this to a pregnant person?!  Ummmm…I think I had to pick my jaw up off the conference room table I was sitting at before I left that day!  WORST advice hands down I think that I will hear throughout this pregnancy!  EAT, GAIN WEIGHT, BE HEALTHY FOR YOU & BABY!

This week I had a birthday, I celebrated the 3rd anniversary of my 29th birthday. What a difference a couple years can make in how we celebrated.  This year, I worked on my birthday and afterwards met my husband for dinner at Ichiban and a movie.  Ichiban is always a great place to grab hibachi and sushi.  Before you flip out, NO, I did not eat raw sushi!  I did have a "Bonsai" Roll, which is made of avocado, cream cheese and crab wrapped in cucumber.  YUM!  It's my absolute favorite roll and I'm thrilled that I can eat it while pregnant! After dinner, we went to see the animated movie Frozen.  It was a cute movie but I was rather disappointed that most of the funny parts were in the commercials.  It was a great night though, I always enjoy getting out and spending time with my husband! 


We did get together at my parents house to celebrate with the family the day after, since it was a Friday and everyone could be there.  Me & the baby enjoyed a cookie cake and an ice cream cake, YUM! 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Pineapple Casserole

It's not always an easy task trying to come up with a dish that the majority of a crowd will like, especially when it's not the "usual," but this dish, definitely scored high!  

Pineapple Casserole

2 large cans chunk pineapple
1 C sugar
6 T plain flour
6 T pineapple juice
2 C shredded cheddar cheese 
1 pkg/sleeve Ritz Crackers, crushed
1 Stick butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350.  In mixing bowl, combine sugar and flour.  Add pineapple juice to make a paste.  Add pineapple chunks and stir until completely coated. Add cheese and mix well.  Place is baking dish and sprinkle cracker crumbs on top.  Pour melted butter on top of the crackers.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

12 Weeks (Going on 13)

How far along? 12 weeks… tomorrow we enter week 13 (according to our due date)

Weight gain?  I weighed at the doctor's office at my appointment on Friday and I'm now at 144 (gasp, yes, I just publicly posted my weight) which, according to their scales, is only a 7lb gain.

Baby is the size of a - Plum!

Maternity clothes?   I broke down and bough a few things this past week.  Hopefully, I'll be able to meet up with a friend soon that has offered to let me go through her maternity clothes!

Stretch marks? Still in the clear when it come to stretch marks!  However, a bit of cellulite is showing up…Boo!

Sleep?  I've been waking up a lot more at night.  I'm not a fan of this, I love my sleep!

Miss anything?  Other than the previous mentioned, nothing new to add.

Cravings?  Cuties!  Apparently, I have a newfound addiction to Cuties (those little clementines).

Anything make you queasy or sick?  Just those darned headaches.  I thought I was starting to get over them, but this week is proving me wrong.

Symptoms?  Headaches, please go away, I'm begging.  Acne, UGH; I've always had a problem with it but this week it's flared up something fierce! Between the headaches, sleepiness, weight gain and acne it's really hard to feel pretty a lot of days.

Belly button - in or out? IN!

Wedding rings - on or off?  ON!  They get tight from time to time, but I'm not taking them off (for now)

Happy or moody?  Happy :) for the most part with a side of stress.  We signed a contract for a house this past week.

Looking forward to - January 8th!  We find out if we are having a boy or girl! And of course the upcoming holidays.  I've been dying to put the Christmas tree up but it won't be up until at least this weekend.  I'm certain that I would leave the Christmas decorations up year round but I'm just as certain that my husband would never go for it!

Best pregnancy find:  We took a trip to Pigeon Forge over the weekend for some shopping and a show with the church at the Smoky Mountain Opry.  I found some great finds on the clearance rack at the maternity store!

Friday was a super exciting day, it was the first time I got hear the baby's heartbeat!  Talk about a surreal experience!  John wasn't able to take off from work so mom and Tabitha joined me for the appointment.  Mom was thrilled to join!  Since John couldn't make it, I had Tabitha record it on the iPod so he could at least hear it later that day.  I was so excited for him to hear it that after the appointment, we drove to his work and I surprised him!  He glowed all over when he heard it!

A few pictures from the Smoky Mountain Opry Christmas Show

Sunday, November 10, 2013

11 Weeks & Recalling the First Weeks

How far along? 11 weeks

Weight gain?  I made my way down to my parents' house this weekend, but forgot to weigh myself.  I'm starting to think that maybe we do need a scale at home!  I'm thinking my weight is the same if not less than last week.  Seems that this week I lost the "bloat."  I went to bed one night looking pregnant and woke up the next day with a tiny little pooch.  So not much in terms of "bump watching" this week!

Baby is the size of a - Lime

Maternity clothes?  Still haven't broke into maternity jeans but I do have some plain long sleeved tees to add to the wardrobe.  They are super comfy and I love the fact that they are longer length.

Stretch marks? Still in the clear when it come to stretch marks!

Sleep?  I sleep fine through the night but I can't wait for the day I wake up and actually feel well rested!

Miss anything?  Piping hot showers or a nice hot bath.  Yep, I miss those…

Cravings?  All this week I was dying to make no bake chocolate oatmeal cookies, I finally broke down and made them.  I think I'm going to have to start making a weekly batch.  YUMMY!

Anything make you queasy or sick?  Just those darned headaches.  They are slowly getting better but gosh I'm so over them!

Symptoms?  Only systems are the splitting headaches and sleepiness.  Pregnancy brain steals my mind every now and then.

Belly button - in or out? IN!

Wedding rings - on or off?  ON!  I just got major compliments on them this past week!  I love when I get compliments on my rings, my hubby did GOOD!

Happy or moody?  Happy :)

Looking forward to - We have an appointment this week!  I don't think we have another ultrasound but I'm hoping that we'll at least get to hear the baby's heartbeat!  It's apparently a hour long appointment of family history and paperwork, surely they can toss something exciting into the mix!

Best pregnancy find:  My sister-in-law Heather gave me some books to read; one was Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth about Pregnancy and Childbirth by Jenny McCarthy  OMG, it's hilarious!  I definitely recommend that all women read this book when they are pregnant!  Definitely gives you the humerous take on the not so funny side of pregnancy and childbirth!

Telling our parents was so much fun, and such a relief (it's hard keeping a secret like that)!  I took 3 at home tests because we all know, one is just not enough!  I called my OB/GYN the next day to schedule an appointment.  We had to wait over two weeks to be seen, TWO WEEKS!  We were so excited, knowing we were going to have to wait two weeks seemed like an eternity!  We decided that we weren't going to tell our parents until after our first appointment, because those 3 tests might've been inaccurate (yeah right).

The following week we were heading out to FL for vacation!  While we were there we bought a pair of baby flip flops to take a picture in the sand with ours (this would be part of how we broke the news).  We had a wonderful time visiting with John's gramps in The Villages and then we headed off to Siesta Key.  Siesta Key was absolutely beautiful, we will definitely vacation there again!  We had a little studio villa in the middle of the village which was perfect!  We were right in the middle of the beach and all the restaurants and it was an easy walk to get to either.  I was just starting to feel the early signs of pregnancy.  I swear every time we got into the car to travel somewhere, I would be out like a light.  I could not hold me eyes open the second I was the least bit still!  My energy was zapped, but I was determined to get the most out of our vacation and that we did!  The following are just a few pictures from our vacation.  Hopefully, I'll get a chance to blog about soon.
Sunset on gorgeous Siesta Key
The Ringling Mansion

The much anticipated appointment date finally came.  I was so nervous, not about the being pregnant but I knew there would be needles involved on this first visit…ekkk!  I'm such a huge baby when it comes to needles, something that I'm going to have to get over while pregnant I know!  I was just in weeks earlier for a regular 6 months visit and little did I know, I was pregnant at that time!  It was so exciting getting to see our baby during the ultrasound.  I enjoyed watching John's face more than the screen to be honest!  He had perma-grin the entire time!  Seeing the heart beating was absolutely amazing.  I can't wait to hear it!  Once the pictures were printed the happy, smiling, blissful moment of the appointment was over, off to the lab we went.    I was so proud of myself, didn't break out in to a cold sweat or anything while the technician drained what felt like the last drop of blood I had out of my body.  Whew, I had made it .  We got up and headed to checkout, I was feeling like a champ.  I had started the checkout process and beginning to schedule our next appointment when all of the sudden it started, first the in and out hearing and vision followed by the cold sweat…oh geezzz.  I quickly found a seat and sucked on a sugary sucker while John finished scheduling the next appointment.  Note to self, from now on, carry sugar packets or a soda to every appointment! 

Once we got home and I started looking at the pictures of the flip flops I started thinking something else needed to go along with it!  So, we bought some clear pacifiers (because we didn't want to be biased about the sex of the baby) and I had the flip flop pictures printed in wallet size at Walgreens.  On the backs of the picture I added some card stock (to make then more sturdy) and wrote a little message to the grandparents-to-be.  The message said, "Dear grandmomma & granddaddy, please hold this for me incase I need it when I come visit!  Knowing mom, she'll probably forget!  See you in June!  Love, Baby Bratz."  I cannot begin to tell you just how much fun it was when they realized what the message actually said and meant!

Monday, November 4, 2013

10 Weeks

Fall definitely came to its peak over the weekend!  It’s been absolutely gorgeous in Asheville, NC the past few weeks.  Yesterday we enjoyed the day outdoors at Biltmore.  We absolutely love it there.  We have season passes so we go there often. We walked/hiked over 5 miles yesterday.  With so much color and beautiful sights, it's hardly felt like we walked that much!  Fall is no doubt WNC's highlight season. 


How far along? 10 weeks!
Total weight gain: I don't have a scale at home, but at last check I was up 9 lbs  
Maternity clothes? I'm quickly learning that soon I will be in nothing but maternity clothes.  Everything now, even pants that used to be loose are now starting to get really snug.  The grey & white sweater (in the pics) is a maternity sweater and it feels so cozy!
Stretch marks? No, I think if they had started already I might be a hormonal mess!
Sleep: I can't get enough!  I don't have problems sleeping, it just never seems to be enough!
Miss anything?  E-N-E-R-G-Y
Movement:  I haven't felt that baby so far, but I believe that I have a couple weeks to go before I will start to feel anything
Food cravings: Milk and sweets.  I try to control the sweet cravings, but some days, it's impossible!
Anything making you queasy or sick:  The only thing that makes me feel sick or queasy is the horrible, HORRIBLE headaches I've been having.
Gender: We will find out sometime around Christmas!  (Then let the baby buying explosion begin…hehe)
Symptoms: Non-stop tired and headaches are the only symptoms I've had so far 
Belly button in or out? In!  And for those wondering, yes, the belly ring has come out!
Wedding rings on or off? On
Happy or moody most of the time: Happy for the most part.  I've had some moody moments, but nothing out of the norm.
Looking forward to: Geezzz at this point I really don't know what I'm looking forward to the most!  It's all so exciting!  I'm really looking forward to getting my energy back so I can actually enjoy pregnancy and not feel like I'm in zombie mode the whole time!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Philly Cheesesteak Green Peppers & Seasoned Cucumbers

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Green Peppers
2 Large Green Bell Peppers
1 Small-Medium Sweet Onion
6ozs mushrooms (if desired)
2 Tbs. Butter
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
2 Tbs. Garlic Powder (or Minced Garlic)
Salt and Pepper - to taste
8 oz. Thinly Sliced Roast Beef
8 Slices Provolone Cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Slice peppers in half lengthwise, remove ribs and seeds. Put hollowed out peppers on baking sheet or in an over safe dish and prebake for 5-10 minutes. If you prefer more “crunch” in your pepper, only prebake for 5 minutes (or don’t prebake at all).

Chop onions (and mushrooms, if desired).  Sauté over low-medium heat with butter, olive oil, garlic and salt/pepper in a large pan.  Sauté until onions (and mushrooms) are caramelized (in other words, nice & tan).  This takes around 20 minutes.

 Remove prebaked peppers from the oven and add a slice of provolone cheese to each pepper.  Next add the thin sliced roast beef mixing the onions in with the roast beef and you stuff each pepper.  I overstuff each pepper a bit because the meat will actually shrink during the baking process.  Once all peppers are stuffed, add a slice of provolone to the top of each one.  Place back into oven and bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes.

For a side we had cucumber.  Blah you think?  Not hardly!  Check out this recipe and you’ll be keeping cucumbers in your fridge all the time!

Seasoned Cucumbers
1 Cucumber
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Lemon Juice
2 Tbsp Chili Powder
Salt & Pepper, if desired

Cut the cucumber into slices and then quarter.  Add all ingredients into a bowl and mix.  Refrigerate until chilled.

(Pictures to follow soon)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

There's No Place Like Home

Well Toto, there really is no place like home!  I'm still in disbelief that we packed up our townhome and moved, well drove it to TN, only to bring it right back.  I cancelled the transfer, he cancelled his interview and we followed our hearts and decided that we were going to stay in Asheville.  I honestly can't say that I'm disappointed at all about it.  I was looking forward to new things but being married and having a husband that is home with me every day is "new" enough for me! 

So what did happen in TN that was bad enough for us to decide to move back to Asheville within 30 minutes of us being in TN?  Well, nothing major happened if that is what you were thinking.  Everything was lined up and the transition seemed that it would be flawless.  We drove straight to the apartment that we had decided to call home for the next year, went over the contract, signed all paperwork, got the keys and that's when it all went downhill.  We excitedly went up to our top floor "luxury" apartment only to be met with disappointment, EXTREME DISAPPOINTMENT.  It was a far, far, FAR cry from what we saw online.  It was beyond disappointing.  As we sat in the middle of the living room floor, on carpet that felt more like plastic, it was hard not to absolutely lose it.  John gave me a big hug and kiss and said, "Lets go home, lets go back to Asheville."  With that, all was well and we went back to the apartment office and asked that the contract be shredded.  Of course the apartment staff "could not believe" that we didn't like the apartment.  I seriously thought she might shed a tear or two after hearing our thoughts of her "wonderful" and "luxurious" apartments.  

So here we are, back in Asheville.  I got to keep my job and he quickly picked up a job.  This definitely wasn't where we thought we would be, but we are definitely not disappointed!  We will live in our townhome until we find a house.  We are in no huge hurry to get rid of it, after seeing the so-called luxury apartment, we feel like we are living by royal standards.  We definitely have a new appreciation for our little place we call home.   

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What Did You Just Say?

So this is it, the last week I will spend being half a world away from my husband.  The wait is almost over and it seems so surreal.  Everyone asks if I’m excited…umm…is that even a valid question?  OF COURSE I’M EXCITED, I’m ecstatic!  This journey subtly tagged as “contract work” has really opened my eyes to the lack of understanding that the general public has for not only our military & contractors, but for the families supporting them from the home field.  Some questions or comments that you hear literally want to make you smack the person they are coming from.  Seriously, a book should be written on what NOT to say to the spouse of someone deployed to a warzone.  So what are some of these comments and questions you might ask?  Here are just a few….

·         Do you worry about him?   Gezzz, let me simmer on that for a minute…. Yes I worry about my husband; he’s in a warzone for crying out loud!  You tell me you worry about your husband’s transit to work daily and you ask me if I’m worried about mine.  Really?!

·         Do you miss him? Would you miss half of your heart if it was missing, I think so!  I miss him, but life does not stop without him.  I can’t sit down and have a pity party for the duration of his deployment.  Just because I’m not a sobbing mess doesn’t mean that I don’t miss my husband.

·         You’ve got it made making all that money.  Never, I repeat NEVER say this to a contractor’s spouse.  A fury unlike no other may be unleashed on you if you do so consider yourself warned from this moment on.  You can’t put a price on having someone physically home with you plus, the paycheck isn’t as high as you imagine I’m sure.

·         Don’t you get lonely? Of course I get lonely, especially at my age when the majority of my friends are married and have families.  You find your circle of friends get smaller since you are considered the “odd wheel” or you’re not asked because it may be uncomfortable for you and you are rarely invited out by them because of that.   Hey people, why not be a friend when a friend is needed the most?

·         There are PLENTY of jobs here in the states; he didn’t have to go overseas. I’m still waiting to find out where this sea of jobs can be found (along with hundreds of others)………. End of story.

·         When we first moved our relationship past the “friend” stage he’d send me flowers and things.  Never refer to gifts as him “buying your love.”  Your husband/boyfriend takes you out to dinner and buys you the occasional flower bouquet every now and then and I don’t refer to this as him buying you so what is the difference?   If my husband wanted to fill our entire house with flowers/cards/gifts so be it!  It made him feel better when he wasn’t home to take me out on dates.

·         How connected can you be if he’s never around? After conversations with numerous people, I’m confident in saying that I’m more connected to mine than the majority that live daily with their spouse.  We communicate as opposed to many who just share air space. 

·         My husband travels for work so I know exactly how you feel.  If your husband is in a work zone where he is surround by people whose goal in life is to kill and destroy people like him, there are mortar & rocket attacks, he lives in a tent, has no access to a hot breakfast or decent meal, threats of not only terrorists but vipers (not the cars) and scorpions, he’s gone for months at a time (for some spanning over a year) then yes, yes you know how I feel.  Otherwise, shut it!

·         You’ve not seen your husband/boyfriend in a few days or a week or a month…. Really, you get absolutely no sympathy from me…NONE. 

·         He’s “just a contractor.”  This statement has chapped me every time I hear it.  Do you know that there are more contractors than troops SERVING in war zones now?  Do you know that they are just as much at risk as military?  Do you think they are bullet/rocket proof just because they are a “contractor?”  My husband, as well as so many others, have sacrificed more than you could imagine so be grateful and don’t discount their sacrifices for our country.

·         During our family loss, “you need him here, can’t he just come home?”  This is no 9-5 job people.  No, he can’t just come home.  Do you realize how many deaths, holidays, important events, births, etc that our troops and contract workers miss as part of their duty to our country?  Don’t be naive and think that just because you can ask for a day off, that they can.

As this chapter of our life comes to a close, I can’t help but be thankful for all the things that I have learned from it.  I know that every day together is a gift and should be treated as such.  I know that sacrifices are made daily in the war zone and the home front.  I’m excited about what the future holds for John & me as he adjusts back to civilian life.  My daily prayers will remain with those who are still in waiting for their loved ones to return home.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

New Direction

In the past week and a half, our direction finally has direction.  If anyone knows us well and our situation, that statement will make complete sense.  After all the months of trying to find our next place and where we would finally start our lives together, in the same country, same state and same home for the first time permanently, we finally have a "where" and that is NASHVILLE, TN!  During the planning of our wedding, I would've never imagined that this would be the place we would call home, but it is and I am thrilled about it!  It seems like it's the place that we are meant to be at, there's just too many signs saying, "you belong here." When does this life begin?  In three weeks, THREE WEEKS.  My first day on the job is July 15th!  I'm still in disbelief that this is really happening.  We are looking forward to our new location and most importantly, I am looking forward to having him home!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Vegas '11 Memories

I about had a meltdown when I realized that our photos from our first ever trip to Vegas were gone!  Luckily, I had them on FB so while the picture quality is not there, the photos are.  So thankful that Shutterfly was able to pull from FB.  I will not rely on this method ever again, but this was a lifesaver.

You'll love Shutterflys award-winning photo books. Try it today.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

In His Time

I read a quote tonight that said, "If you want to know where you heart is, look at where you mind goes when it wanders."  Where does your mind go when it wanders?  For me, mine goes straight to my husband.  So much that I often times wonder what in the world I thought about before him!  I feel like a kid most days with this overwhelming crush on him.  He came into my life and it was no longer "my" life, it was OUR life.  He's my biggest fan and cheerleader and I am the same to him.

Lately I've been frustrated about finding a job in Charleston.  It's what I focus on daily, I literally stalk the government job postings for openings in Charleston.  After months of trying, I finally got an email saying that my application had been approved and that it was being sent to the Charleston VA for a possible interview.  [Anyone that has ever went through the process of applying for or transferring inside the government knows how this is not a quick or "sure thing" process]  Oh how my world completely lit up when I read that email, I was literally jumping with excitement when I read it!  I was so excited to get that call, but it never came.  Tonight, I got an email saying that the position had been filled.  Absolute heartbreak.  I wanted to call John right away and tell him the "horrible and disheartening" news, but I had to wait till he woke up and called me (darned timezones).  When John called I was upset and rather discouraged.  Instead of falling into the well of hopelessness that I had let myself start sliding into, he told me that it just wasn't meant to be and that the perfect job for me would come along.  He told me they don't know what they are missing.  He told me all the things I needed to hear and not because he's my husband and he feels obligated to do so, but because he really does believe in me.  I really don't know what I would do without him, seriously.  The closer the time comes to when he said he would be home, the more nervous I get about the fact that I don't have a job already lined up in Charleston.  We've lived our lives apart for so long, I don't want to continue once he is stateside.  I've been trying so hard and honestly, overlooked who was in ultimate control.  So here's my declaration to God and everyone else as a witness, I'm completely turning it over to Him, COMPLETELY.  I will do my part such as applying for the jobs that I am qualified for and with that knowing that there is nothing further that I can do.  God will give me the job he sees fit, when he sees fit and I have absolutely no choice other than to accept it!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Wait for Me

Being a civilian contractor's wife, life is so much different than the "norm."  Over the years we have learned to appreciate every moment spent together, side by side.  During his R&R's we always plan a trip to get away somewhere.  It's hard to pick a favorite, they've each been amazing!  I've spent countless nights reliving our vacations and time together as I look through our pictures; Lord only knows how many times I've looked at them all.  I put together a little video that has just a handful of the hundreds of pictures that we have.  Also in the video are pictures that John has taken during his time in Afghanistan.  The song is "Wait for Me" by Theory of a Deadman, the words are so true to the current situation we are in.  I will wait for John as long as I have to because I know without a doubt that he is my soulmate and the one that God intended for me to spend a lifetime with.  He may not be here physically, but he's always with me; always in my thoughts and always in my heart.

"May the LORD watch between you and me when we are away from each other." Genesis 31:49

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Raspberry & Creme Swirl Fudge

With John being in Afghanistan, I'm always looking for new things to fix and send to him.  I've fixed so many different kinds of cake batter cookies that I'm sure he is ready for something other than a cookie.  Being the Pinterest addict that I am, I've found dozens of interesting and new ideas.  I've fixed him mini caramel pies, pretzel/kisses/m&m's, brownies, chocolate dipped peanut butter Ritz crackers and seasoned oyster crackers; but, I wanted something I created, something to call MINE.  After a little time in the kitchen and playing around I came up with a recipe for raspberry & creme swirl fudge.  Hope you all enjoy as much as I do (and hopefully John too)!
I just have to show off my hand etched baking dish!  My sister-in-law, Heather, created this for me for Christmas.  I absolutely love it and love it even more each time I look at it!  Thank you Heather!

Raspberry & Creme Swirl Fudge

2 & 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 stick butter, cubed
1 pkg white chocolate baking chips
1 jar (7oz) marshmallow creme
3/4 tsp raspberry oil
Wilton Red-Red food coloring

Line a 9x13in pan with foil and spray with cooking spray, set aside.  In a medium saucepan, heat butter, evaporated milk and gradually add sugar until sugar is dissolved.  *I like to heat the butter and evaporated milk to the point the butter is melted this way the sugar dissolves easily.  Once sugar is dissolved, slowly bring the mixture to a boil.  Remember that sugar, even when dissolved can scorch quickly, stir continuously.  Once boiling point is reached, boil for 4 minutes (keep stirring).  Remove from heat and add baking chips and marshmallow creme (the quicker you do this step after boiling, the easier it will be).
Set aside one cup of the mixture.  In the remaining mixture add the raspberry oil and food coloring.  In this step I prefer to just stick a butter knife into the jar of food coloring and then stir the mixture with the knife (hey, I never claimed to be a trained chef).  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.  Pour the reserved mixture (the one you set aside earlier) over the top.  Cut through the mixture with a knife to swirl.  Cover and refrigerate until fudge has set.
Remove fudge from pan, discard foil and place fudge on a clean cutting surface.  Cut fudge into 1-inch squares.  Store in an airtight container.  Yields about 2 1/2 pounds.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Meet the Bratzes

Welcome to the Bratz blog!  I'm Tanya Bratz and my husband is John.  I figure with the start of a New Year, I'd give a try to something new...with that said, hello blogging world treat me kindly!
I'll start off telling you how we became Mr & Mrs.  I'm 31 and he is 30, we were married on 10.11.12 (hehe...yep, it was on a Thursday), I live in WNC and he lives in Afghanistan.  Neither of us have ever been married and neither of us have children (in today's world, that at 30 yrs old is almost unheard of).  We looking forward to being able to live day-to-day lives together in Charleston in 2013.  
Rockefeller Center, New York
I grew up in a small town known as Marshall, NC and John became a resident there during our 8th grade year.  We were complete and total opposites in grade school and even though we only lived a mile apart from each other, we were total strangers.  Six years after high school John found me on MySpace (guess I can say good things do come from that site).  He tried so hard to convince me that I should let him take me out, but all his attempts failed, I had no interest at the time.  I only thought of him as the guy that I knew in high school and I knew that guy wasn't for me.  Little did I know that time would change my mind.  John began a career working as a civilian contractor so his time stateside was very limited, but we continued to keep in contact from time to time.  He enjoyed my photography and I enjoyed his details of life as a contractor.  In 2010, I finally decided to take him up on that offer for a date.  Through previous emails from earlier that year I knew that he would be home at the first of June (so I thought) so on 06/01/10, I emailed him and told him that I knew it had been awhile since we'd talked but I would love to see him while he was home.  To my disappointment, he had already been home for his R&R and was actually en route back to Afghanistan.  What horrible timing, right?!  But, as we discovered over the next few months, the timing was PERFECT.  Our emails quickly grew longer and more detailed with each day that passed, we're talking chapters in a novel size.  We talked about everything including the past, the present and our future goals and dreams.  Emails grew into phone calls and those phone calls would last for hours.  We seemed to always have something new to share or details that we wanted the other to know.  God's timing was proving to be impossible to deny, we were learning so much about each other daily.

On the plane, headed to Boston

As the months passed, I knew more than ever that I wanted to have that date with him.  Since he's a civilian contractor, time at home on R&R is precious and limited.  His cousin was getting married that year in Boston on New Years Eve.  He was planning his R&R around that time and wanted me to come with him!  How in the world could I say no, especially after spending the last few months talking to him daily and just knowing that he was it for me.  No first date needed, he was it, I knew it!  Our "first date" was a 10 day trip to Boston and New York followed up with a little weekend trip to Myrtle Beach, SC.  The night he was scheduled to fly into Asheville there was a snowstorm that left his flight cancelled and him stranded in Atlanta.  He was so determined to see me that night, so he rented a car and I waited for hours at the airport.  FINALLY, he was home.  I saw my future coming through the airport doors headed to give me the first of many hugs and kisses!  Things were so incredibly perfect, it seemed like we'd always been a pair and I was just waiting for him to return from a long trip.  Over the 6 months of emails and phone calls, we had time to get to know each other so amazing well.

After his R&R was over, it was back to the emails and phone calls and anticipation till we could see each other once again.  Our conversations of the future naturally started to included each other.  It's weird thinking back about it, because there was never any official proposal we just knew.  Once he started looking at rings and getting ideas from me, he decided that it was time to call my dad.  He called my dad from Afghanistan and asked for his blessing.  My dad told him that he was not giving me away, but he didn't see any problem with him joining our family.  So, in November of 2011 when he came home for R&R we had another vacation planned and a special stop marked on the itinerary, a jewelry store outside of Orlando!  There, I had the most amazing diamond ring placed on my finger.  I still think I need to pinch myself every time I look at it!

As R&R's always tend to do, it passed entirely too quickly.  Once again he was off to Afghanistan, but the wedding planning was on.  We both had different ideas of what we wanted on our wedding day.  I was the girl that never dreamed of ever being married period so the thought of having a big wedding was never a thought in my mind.  He on the other hand, like the idea of having a big wedding and inviting all of our friends and family.  Once the planning got into full force, we both discovered that even though, we'd love to invite everyone, it just wasn't feasible.  So a small wedding was in the works and I would become Mrs Bratz in 2012 while John was yet home again on R&R. (more on the wedding later)

So here we are the beginning of 2013 and I'm a deployed contractor's wife.  There's lots that I've left out in "our story" but I'm sure I'll get to those during the days that bring him closer to home.  I  long for the day to have him home with me.  It's not easy, this lifestyle we live, but we know that it's worth it.