and then I cried

I am not one for posting sappy (or even hilarious for that matter) videos, but for whatever reason, these two videos resonated with me this week and both gave me complete chills.

I am already married and have been for ten years, my father is still alive and well, but you can't watch these and not feel at least a little tug of emotion.

bride's family dances with her one by one to represent her father who just passed away

Father walks daughters down aisle before he passes away and can't be at their actual weddings.

My computer hates me and wouldn't let me post actual video today, so all I have is the link, but trust me, they're worth it.

But prepare your tissues;)

The Awkward Level Gets Kicked Up

a whole other next level with a picture I found this weekend,  the whole "awkward" family photo award may just go to my mother and I. Some people would run in shame from this picture, burn all evidence(as my mom thought she had and I found a few wallets;) but due mainly to the fact that I am really awesome now...I know no such thing as shame. But before the goodness, I will give you the rest of my monotonous weekend details because I know you can barely wait.

I headed up to Virginia this weekend, to my homeland or as I know it to be, God's Country...Got to see my family and hang out. I also had the terrible treat to accompany my parents to have our cat put to sleep. She was 17 years old and having mini strokes. Basically, it sucked people. But I am glad I could spend time with the momma to keep her mind off things. 
Love this flower my sis in law got my mom!

Saturday night we ate dinner at one of our favorite Lynchburg stops, Rivermont pizza. So very yummy. and my nephews are so funny. They really keep my laughing. 

Sunday I snapped a few pictures from my parent's yard. It really is so beautiful and I think I may be spoiled and take for granted how gorgeous it is.

 The huge fire pit that we spend a lot of time around and my brother sings and plays guitar.

Then Wiki was ready to head back to Raleigh, but not before we took my grandparents out to eat at a Halifax tradition. Was pretty yummy. 

Wiki headed back and I stayed the night with my grandparents before coming back this morning. They have been married 65 years and I love every second I spend with them!

But as promised, what this whole post is really about. I see your awkward and I raise you this...

A litte Barefoot Blue Jean Night

Ok. Ok. That's a lie. I wan't barefoot nor was I sporting any denim...but Jake Owen looked rather dashing in his jeans and really, isn't that all that matters?

After being out of town all week in Boston for a funeral, I flew home Friday night just in time to head out for the show to see Jake Owen and Jason Aldean with one of the besties. And the weather was perfect! 

And even better was a discovery we made at the concert. If you are the DD you get two free sodas. That is a saving of ten bucks, people. Yes, that's right I just got excited about drinking soda vs adult beverages. and no, I don't have a fever. I was the driver and it was a 45 minute trek to the show and I am taking no chances. Plus, my company was actually three people as Nicole was rocking a twin belly. Since she is 7 months along, we are pretty sure the little ladies enjoyed a nite of Jake and Jason. At least according to their kicks;)

and I will admit...some of the looks her belly produced in other people was hilarious. and so many guys took a moment "to give her props" for coming out to the show in her "condition" ahaha and then when she would say her due date was November, people's eyes would get really big. Hey, she looked gorgeous and is all and I do mean ALL belly.

Saturday was a day all to myself, shopping or baby shower items. pretending to be crafty and being somewhat successful at it. While I caught up on some of my shows that I had missed  the last two weeks of being away from home. 

Burn Notice...I have mixed emotions as to how I feel about its ending, but mainly if anyone watched it...Was the house at the end the house from the movie The Holiday?! Looked like it.

I was also catching up on all the Britney Spears sightings from my hometown in Virginia. And laughing at each person's thoughts, Some positive, some negative , but almost all wondering what she was doing in our area. And I found it amusing mainly bc I had known she was coming for quite some time and was prepared. She is dating David and well, David is my sister in laws cousin and his sister got married this past weekend.  Did you get all that;) All I know is that my S-I-L was in a wedding weekend that involved Britney. So basically this means that Britney and I are far from being bestest friends.

And then yesterday I got to spend it at the "good neighbor" festival in our town. My cousin's husband was the entertainment and while he and the band played, I got to catch up with her while seeing some of my favorite boys. 

and then I got some fun news that Maker's Mark had featured one of my recipes for their weekly Sunday Brunch tweets.

Can't believe we are at the midway point of September already! Where does the time go?!

Thirsty Thursday LinkUp

Today on my other blog I am co hosting with Kristin from Hopelessly Ever After. I am bringing you a twist on a classic cocktail that is super simple and really yummy. 

So head over and link up a cocktail or any adult beverage that you enjoy. Your post doesn't have to be from today, just link one up and link back to the party somewhere on your page.

Infertility Prayer Project:Carol's Story

Today's infertility journey is coming from a sweet girl that I have had the opportunity to meet and converse with due to the lovely land of blogging. Carol from Keeping up with the Kaune's is sharing her emotional trek to becoming a mommy to adorable little Kennedy.

If you are visiting from her world today, welcome! I am Maddie and I started the Infertility Prayer Project as a way for women to share their stories and build each other up, whether they suffered a loss, dealt with getting pregnant but succeeded or are still in the midst of trying to become parents. You can read about my personal story here and why I started this project. I will let her take it away from here.
My husband Nick and I have been married since October 2nd, 2010. Nick is 5 years older than me (34 years old now, 32 when we started trying) and he wanted to start having kids fairly early because of his age. This thrilled me. When I was 6 years old, I had two goals for my life, to be a teacher and to be a mommy. I was the little girl who always played with baby dolls and still secretly played with them at 12 year old.  I have worked with children all my life and I have been a third grade teacher since 2006. Here is our story:

April 2011: Stop taking birth control. We decide to not really "try" yet because we had a big beach trip planned the first week of June with our good friends Adam and Jessica. This was supposed to be our "last hurrah" However we had the attitude that if it happened, it happened. 
Mayish 2011: Can't remember exact date but period started and it was on day 28, right on time.
June 4th 2011: Period, 32 day cycle this time. Start officially "trying this month."
July 8th 2011: Positive pregnancy test. We are thinking “wow, we are those lucky people that get pregnant right away!”

July 12th 2011: Visit to OBGYN. We had a trip planned to Oregon that week to visit family and wanted to make sure everything was okay before we left. HCG level is only 47. Doctor is a little concerned because based on date of last period I should be 4 weeks along, but says to enjoy the trip and we will test again when I return. Needless to say, I have fun but worry the whole trip. Thank goodness my mom is there to calm me down a bit. My symptoms during this time are minimal, just really tired and slightly tender breasts.
July 21st 2011: We return from Oregon. My HCG is 262. The doctor (we ended up switching because she was just absolutely terrible) tries to assure me not to panic yet. I have done nothing but research HCG levels while we were in Oregon. I know that my HCG should be higher at this point but she just kept telling me there was nothing we could do but wait. I wish she would have checked my progesterone looking back now. I also wish I had asked for a sonogram to make sure everything is okay.
July 25th 2011: I start spotting. I call the Dr and the nurse tells me not to worry. Spotting is normal, especially if it's brown, which this was. In the next couple of days the spotting starts getting sorta clumpy so I call back. She schedules me for an appointment on August 1st for a sonogram.
July 31st 2011: I wake up in the middle of night gushing bright red blood. I know immediately it's over. :(
August 1st 2011: We go in to have a sonogram. The tech is incredibly rude to us. The Dr. comes in and tells us in a monotone voice without even sitting down that we have had a miscarriage. I can't stop crying even though I knew that was what she would say. She tells me I have already passed most of the tissue and will not need a D and C.
We end up switching doctors in mid August not sure of the exact date. We love our new doctor, who tells us that he is "old school" and prefers that people wait 2-3 cycles before trying again, just to be on the safe side. We agree.  Meanwhile it seemed like every single person I knew was announcing a March pregnancy which was when I would have been due. L I remember having to block some people from my news feed because it was just too painful to read their posts.
Labor Day weekend: We get carried away and have unprotected sex.
September 17th: Positive pregnancy test. At this point, I have a bunch of different emotions. I am scared because I haven't even had a period since my miscarriage but I am also hopeful. My sister in law's sister got pregnant right after a miscarriage and had a healthy baby. 
End of Septemberish: This time around, I have major symptoms, nausea, throwing up, really sore breasts and major fatigue. I go into to get my HCG checked. It's 1043!!! We are so excited! I never even got that high with my 1st pregnancy. My progesterone is in the normal range, but on the low side of normal so just as precaution my dr. puts me on progesterone supplements. We go back in 48 hrs to see if it doubles and it's 2280, so it more than doubled, which excites us even more. 
October 11th 2011: Our first sonogram. We are of course thinking we are going to see our baby. The tech is honest and tells us she sees a gestational sac but no fetal pole. She tries to comfort me by saying that maybe I am not as far along as I think. The doctor is more straight up with us and tells us that the sac is measuring at 7 weeks, there should be a baby at this point. He tells me to come back the following week for another sonogram just to be sure. I also have my HCG checked and its around 32,000, which is should have been higher at 7 weeks. We are absolutely devastated. Even our doctor says he actually had really high hopes for this pregnancy. Not only am I devastated but I am confused. I had no spotting at all and I had waaay more symptoms which usually people say is a sign of a healthy pregnancy. How can this be happening?
October 17th 2011: 2nd sonogram, still no baby. We make an appointment for a D and C for October 19th.
October 19th 2011: I am an emotional wreck. My husband and the sweet anesthesiologist pray with me in the pre-op room. I feel a little more at peace but still very sad. Hubby and I talk and decide that this time, no messing around, we have to have protected sex until I have 3 cycles. We cannot put ourselves through this again. Of course, I am completely panicked also thinking there is something wrong with me. They did testing on the tissue from the D and C and everything comes back clear. Hubby and I decide to genetic testing just to be sure. Both of us come back clear. Praise the Lord. Our doctor tells us now all we have to do is wait. He thinks the first time was just a "fluke" and he thinks the 2nd time it was just "too soon." When he performed the D and C, he said he removed quite a lot of tissue and thinks some may have been leftover from the 1st pregnancy.

The holiday season was a very hard time for us. At first, I had a major pity party for myself. I cried, got mad at people who were pregnant and cried so more. Finally after a long talk with my pastor’s wife, I decided to just give it all to God and just PRAY. I read the story of Hannah and her infertility in the book of Samuel over and over again and meditated over the words. The prayer team at my church prayed for me as well along with our good friends, Jessica and Adam and our families.
November 29th 2012: Period finally comes
January 4th 2012: Period comes. 35 day cycle this time.
February 19th 2012: Period FINALLY comes. I am excited that we finally get to try again but a little scared because my cycle was 45 days this time. I am worried that I am not ovulating regularly and also thinking about high school when my periods were really irregular. My senior year I got on the pill and have been on it ever since. I call the Dr. to ask if I should be worried. He tells me that my cycle is probably still just adjusting from all the crazy changes that have happened in the past year but that he would recommend taking ovulation tests just to be sure I am ovulating. Lucky for me, my mother in law had already bought me FIVE boxes of ovulation tests. (My husband is one of 5 kids, he's the only one who hasn't given them a grandchild yet, can we say pressure?!?!)
March 5th 2012: I ovulate on day 15! We are excited because I ovulated.

March 28th, 2012: Positive pregnancy test. So many emotions at this point. Terrified, happy, scared, excited, nervous.
I go in for testing for my HCG levels and they are normal but again, progesterone is on the low side. The doctor puts me on progesterone supplements. I cannot stress enough to people that have been having miscarriages, make sure your doctor is checking your progesterone. My first doctor didn’t even bother to check. All she was worried about was my HCG levels. Looking back, I really wish I had demanded a sonogram sooner with my first pregnancy knowing my levels were so low. I would have rather found out sooner than later.
4-19-13: We go in for our sonogram. I am so nervous.  To make matters worse, when we pull up at the doctor’s office, there is an ambulance and police car in the parking lot. Someone had gotten run over! Nick and I pray for our baby but also for the elderly man who was hit. I am a ball of nerves at this time. We go inside and we didn't have to wait long surprisingly before the sonogram tech called us back. She spread the gel on my belly and immediately said "ohhh yes, there is someone in there!" and then I heard the sweetest sound ever, the heartbeat of our baby! I cried! The heartbeat was nice and strong, 159 BPM. We got a video of the heartbeat and I listened to it over and over again. On June 28th, we found out were having a baby girl. We decided on the name Kennedy Hannah. Kennedy is a family name and I picked Hannah from the story in the bible that helped me restore my faith that yes, I would be a mommy one day. On 11-28-12, our sweet, wide eyed baby girl was born at 7:39 pm. The number 28 will always be a lucky number for me. I found out I was pregnant on March 28th, found out our baby was a girl on June 28th and she was born on November 28th , when I was 28 years old! She  was 6 lbs 6 oz and had a head full of dark hair. I can’t even find the words to describe the feeling of holding her for the first time. I have never loved someone so strongly.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking. How is this infertility? Yes, I have been blessed that I was able to get pregnant very easily, however, the struggle for me turned out to be keeping the baby.  A co-worker of mine told me I had no idea what infertility was like. It took her 19 months to get pregnant and she has PCOS.  She has never had a miscarriage. She really hurt my feelings when she said that. I am not trying to say that my situation was worse. However, I was attached to those two babies the minute I saw that 2nd line on the stick. The love I had for them was instant. The feeling when you find out they are gone really feels like losing a loved one. I think there are different types of infertility and having multiple miscarriages is one.

Here is my advice for people who may be going through similar situations
*Pray, pray, pray. Everything is better with prayer. Read the bible.  Ask people close to you to pray as well.
*Get your progesterone checked!
*If your HCG is low, ask for a sonogram. You can look up normal HCG levels online. The most important thing is that your HCG levels should be doubling every 48 hrs.
*If you feel like something’s not right, be assertive! I wish I had stepped up more with my first pregnancy. I felt like since it was my first time, I should just sit back and do whatever they said. I had a very insensitive doctor and she and her nurse kept trying to sugar coat everything and tell me it was okay. I had a bad feeling it wasn’t, things I was reading online said it wasn’t and guess what, it wasn’t!
*If you have already had a miscarriage, wait 3 cycles before trying again! I know a few people that have been blessed to get pregnant after not even having a cycle or after 1 cycle. However, I really think you need to give yourself time to heal, mentally and physically.
Having two miscarriages was the hardest thing I have ever had to go through. However, it made me appreciate being able to get pregnant and have a baby so much more. It also made me realize that God is in control, not me. I will always have a special place in my heart for people who are struggling with infertility. Please know, I am praying for you even if I don’t know you. Every night I pray for women who are struggling with this. Don’t give up. Keep praying. If there is anyone who can make it happen for you its God. He did it for me and he can do it for you too. I have faith.

*A big thanks to Maddie for letting me share my story and for recognizing that there are many forms of infertility!

Thanks so much for sharing your story today, Carol. And yes, there are so many ways to experience infertility. When your heart longs for a baby and your arms remain empty...I am pretty sure that qualifies...
But what a beautiful baby you have now!

Warm Salsa & Queso Dip

I am pretty sure this is one of the most popular recipes I ever make. It is really easy and it is really, really good. It feeds a lot of people and those people usually leave really happy. I first stumbled upon this idea from Wiki's cousin, Izzy. She is a sweetie and who knew a 14 year old beauty would bring me one of my favorite dishes to date.

We were up in Boston last year for her birthday and as I watched she pulled out cream cheese, salsa and shredded cheese. I was only randomly paying attention because...I don't eat salsa. Gasp. yes, I am that strange person. Here is the deal...I don't eat cold dips. Just not a fan)except for sweet dips) I love queso, but it needs to be piping hot. Like I said...strange bird.

Anyhoo, after gossiping and catching up with the family, I noticed she put it in the oven and 15 minutes life was changed. You probably think I am exaggerating.'d be wrong. Oh my gosh. So good. and after I came home and needed to whip up something quick for a football party, I remembered this dip. and of course, in true Maddie fashion, I switched it up...but just a tiny bit.

8 oz cream cheese, softened
jar salsa, any flavor
jar queso (or make your own;)
shredded cheese blend

Spread the cheese on the bottom of a (somewhat) shallow baking dish. Pour Queso over the cream cheese, followed by the salsa. Top with shredded cheese and bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes or until cheese is bubbling.

Serve with chips or veggies. And you can thank me later.

****adaptions. having made this way north of several times, I have tried it a few different ways.  Add some shredded chicken and you have dinner. I have done goat cheese instead of cream cheese(lessen the cooking time just a bit) I have done a goat/cream cheese combo(by far my favorite version) I have used green salsa instead of the traditional and once I used the actual "queso" cheese and crumbled it on top. Melted really nicely, you can find that brand in the Spanish aisle normally.

All I know is that if you doubt me, yous should Just ask my cousin, Lindsey about this dip. She may be beyond picky..and she is now a tried and true addict of this dish. Do it for your next party and you will be glad you did. I promise.

The Contentment of Being In Limbo

For the past few weeks I have basically felt in a schedule limbo. And what I am about to say may come across as whiny and if so, I am sorry if it does... I am trying so hard to find contentment in the moments when I crave what I do not have.
This lake is less than a mile from my house and after driving by for years and never stopping, earlier this Summer I stopped...just to take it in. I often forget to do just that

Extensive travelling can be exhausting. My house feels in disarray, my friends seem like strangers and there are so many endless errands I need to catch up on and oh yea, tomorrow is back to Boston. In the last 8 weeks I have been home one weekend and only 19 days total. 

and I don't even want to start on my October, November and December trips.

 And yes, I get how awesome it is. I love the places we get to see and explore. and that we can afford the opportunity to do so. But it also means we have to do so frequently because so many of our friends live far away and with the exception of my lovely cousin, Brandy, none of our family is close. So in order to see them, we have to travel to participate in life events. and that means forgoing the monotonous details of regular life that can often be taken for granted.

Sometimes I just want to have no plans, I want last minute pop up decisions. I want to be a regular attender of my own church instead of visiting All of God's houses in the known land. I want to have karaoke nights whenever instead of planning to meet my local friends for dinner or lunch a whole month out. Because that is my life right now. And when I am home, Wiki is working. Leaving way before the sun comes up and often coming home way after it has set. Travelling for meetings and overseeing new construction. and so my life is about the opposite of order.

And there is another reason we travel. We don't have kids. Sometimes I think I use the travel as an escape from that knowledge. Perhaps if I keep myself busy, I won't concentrate so much on the days that aren't filled with the pitter patter of little feet. That the extra room at our house that would fit a crib so perfectly doesn't yet. I am not sure. Do we ever really know even our own intentions...fully.

I just feel in limbo. and actually I am not complaining or whining because I do love the travel. and it means seeing some of my favorite people. I simply wish there was more time to balance both. 

I am blessed with a life some would kill for. I have an amazing husband. I have family and friends who truly love and care about me.I live in an amazing area with tones to do(if only I was around;) And for the most part I am satisfied. 

Limbo isn't always bad...I just need to figure out how to grab hold to my now moments and appreciate them for when they are gone...I will miss them.

Richmond and...a giveaway.

Our travels continue. and I am almost over it. but just almost;) I still have Boston{again} South Carolina, Virginia and Cincinnati in the next month and then I am only sporadically hitting the road.

But this past weekend we hit Richmond again.And we were able to spend time with my brother and his wife for her birthday. A much over due trip and we enjoyed every moment. I spent so much time there growing up that, perhaps, I took it for granted, but my love has been officially reignited. I adore the old neighborhoods with homes that must have the greatest stories to tell. The art scene is alive and vibrant.

and the food. Oh, you know how I love a good foodie scene and Richmond far from disappoints. There really is so much to do in this charming town. Wiki loves it and says it reminds him of a "smaller Boston"

Here are just a few of our stops this particular trip.
The lucky strike tower. All reovated and apartments, condos and restaurants.

L.B. & Aim while we waited for our brunch at Millies.
an hour wait. Well worth it!

Street art on the canal walk

One of the oldest and largest Iron Works ever built. Now a museum.

The James River and beach area of the old ruins, off the canal walk.
Wiki and I stopped in for Sunday service at this beautiful church

Architecture of the city

A Worhol piece at the Museam of Fine Arts.
One of the best I have been to in the country.
and I have been to lots;)

A Piccasso

The lobby of the incredilbe Byrd theater. Absolutely, hands down, zero questions asked...
the best place in the country to see a movie! If you ever find yourself in Richmond, you must catch a show.
End of discussion.

and this last shot is one of many from our stop to Maymont Park, which deserves a post of its own and will get one. But at least you can get a small gander as to how lovely it is.

you can check out my foodie blog today for a place you must try out the next time you are in Richmond or Short Pump area, Tazza Kitchen.

and today, on my facebook, I am hosting a giveaway:) You can win it by liking my page and sharing on your timeline.

Click here to enter. It will be open for a week and will close next Wednesday!

I am offering some Paul Mitchell products via my girl, Elizabeth and then a few extra items added in. 

Linking up for Wildcard Wednesday

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