Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2011 Christmas Card

It's the holidays...and that means a wacky, weird, and wonderful Copeland Christmas card experience!

We decided to save a bit of money this year and upload it in PDF form, but I think you'll enjoy it nonetheless. If you have trouble reading it, please contact me or leave a comment and I'll come to the rescue.

Without further ado, click on the link: 2011 Christmas Card


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Decor

YIPPEE! The semester is over. I submitted my grades, and I'm quite excited for some down time. :)
Adam and I have been finishing our Christmas shopping and I think we've done pretty well. Yesterday was some holiday madness. Literally. We got mad at each other while we were running to drop off the car for a check-up, to the post office to mail packages and get stamps, to various stores to pick up gifts/gift cards, to Petsmart for a nail trim for Oliver, all while wrapping/packaging presents, doing laundry, getting our Christmas card together, and more. However, I'm lucky to have a husband who'll forgive me and who will even admit that I was right about not needing all the extra packaging materials! I love the holidays, but I know that Adam and I haven't felt fully able to enjoy our holidays yet because of work and other everyday things. I'm free of teaching, yes, but Adam has had a very hard semester and he's still not done yet. However, I'm glad that we can hug and comfort each other, make each other laugh, and convince each other not to let the small worries get in the way of a fun time. Wow--writing at 6 a.m. when you can't get back to sleep, does apparently make me a bit maudlin!

Anyway, we decorated our townhouse around Thanksgiving, but have been adding to it in bits and pieces. Here are some pictures! Enjoy!

Our gingerbread houses and reindeer-land

Makeshift mantle for stockings!

You have to decorate every tree with lights, don't you? Plus, some stuffed animals!

Our Christmas tree

Trying to get a better angle/color perspective...I probably failed, but it looks GREAT in person!

And, finally, our outdoor lights. Adam did help me hang them this year (usually, I like to do it all myself because I LOVE hanging Christmas lights). But it was nice to have help...and not be in danger of falling! Usually, I love the dangerous possibilities, but I'm tempering that for the baby's sake.
So, there you have it. Our decorating. And, yes, I'm a colored lights person. Hey, they remind me of my childhood and are just fun....but, to those white lights people out there: your displays are delightfully elegant. I just don't know if I can ever be that elegant. Luckily, Adam says that we can have whatever kind of lights and however many I want since Christmas lights and decorating make me so happy. I wonder what he'll say next year when I make him part of the display and buy him a tie that lights up! Just kidding....the tie will be from Oliver and Baby Copeland!  :)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Forgotten Hallowe'en Post!

Oh dear. I completely forgot to load these pictures onto my computer! Well, we had a lovely Hallowe'en. Last year, one of Adam's administrator's suggested looking at Target for dog costumes on November 1st. So, we looked, found this outfit (for $1.50), and I've been waiting a year for Oliver to wear it. So, he went as a Roman chariot, carrying a little gladiator charioteer.

Oliver usually doesn't like costumes, but I think he liked this. It helped that the costume didn't require anything to put on his head. Instead, it just strapped around his body, and I think he liked it. He didn't even try to roll to move it off---maybe he wants to carry little people on his back? We'll have to test that out when Baby Copeland comes.  :)

I went as someone who didn't have a pulled-together costume, so I wore lots of skull-n-crossbones gear (yay, ChiO!) and my green cloak. Here's a clip of me walking my perfect little man! Don't mind the background noise; just appreciate how happy and adorable Oliver looks!

And, not to worry, I found another good find this November 1st. Since we'll have a crawler plus a dog, they can probably use the same type of costume. I'll probably let Oliver decide if he wants the Chariot costume or the new one.  Baby will be happy with either, right? heehee!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Visiting the White House

I've been very lax in my postings. Though I could blame the pregnancy or my work schedule, I won't. I'll just mention them and hope that you take pity on me.

Anyway, I'm catching up and had to post about this fantastic visit to the White House Gardens!! It's kind of getting embarrassing how often Adam and I have been near President Obama. First, we saw him leaving the Lincoln Memorial on Cherry Blossom weekend; then when Adam and I were waiting at the Kennedy Center for Les Miserables, a helicopter flew over head and that had to be Obama, of course; and, finally, we get to visit the White House on 10/15 and no security guard could say definitively that Obama wasn't there. I mean, I get that destiny is trying to throw us together, but I think destiny is working a bit hard. Let's just relax, and it'll happen.  :)

Anyway, back to the story. Adam's parents had come up to visit for the weekend. On Friday, we went to the Green Valley Book Fair (which was awesome! great deals!!) and out to eat. On Saturday, I had to work at the Arboretum in the morning, but we planned to perhaps go to a pumpkin farm and maybe explore a cave near Harrisonburg. However, on Friday night, my wonderful, well-connected friend, Jen Beil, called to say that she had extra tickets for the White House Garden tour! If we could get them from her house, we could be on the White House grounds! Needless to say, we jumped at the chance.

I still worked a few hours at the Arboretum but got to leave early (all of my coworkers were excited for us). Then we packed some lunches, hopped in the car, and started the drive. About halfway through the drive, my mother-in-law realized she forgot her ID (which Jen had said we would need) but we didn't have time to turn around to get it. So a lot of our trip was spent plotting ways to sneak her into the White House grounds and/or convince the guards that she wasn't really a threat to national security. Should I be writing this on a public blog? C'mon, national security peeps, my m-i-l is the sweetest person in the world and, even though she speaks Portuguese quite fluently, I'll personally vouch for her!  :)

We arrived in D.C., got on the metro, got to Union Station, took a shaky cab ride to Beil's place (I think the left rear tire was just an visual illusion on that car and served no fundamental purpose...at least that's what it sounded like), picked up the tickets, and got to the White House about 20 minutes before our scheduled tour! Right on! As it turned out, we didn't have to show IDs! (When people picked up tickets, they had to bring identification but, because our tickets were courtesy of a bunch of tickets sent to workers at Congress, we didn't have to follow that initial protocol. And, just in case someone unsavory is reading this, we did still have to be scanned, etc....so don't get any ideas that White House security is lax. It isn't!!)

Here's what we saw:

Roger and Teddy in front of  a Dept of Treasury building

Entering White House grounds!

Adam's favorite picture...but, hey, I wanted a drink at the White House!

Jacqueline Kennedy planned this section of the gardens.

The Obamas! (Ok--this is a picture of a picture of them....still, it looks pretty good, eh?)

If you are hopeful enough, it almost seems like someone could be looking out of this window at you!

Some beautiful plantings...

My favorite picture of the day: Hubby, White House, Roll Tide!!

This looked like a peaceful spot for a glass of lemonade or to solve a nuclear crisis.

The Rose Garden (strangely devoid of a whole bunch of roses), where presidents sometimes have press conferences. It's right next to the Oval Office for that reason.

Adam and Teddy looking at the Oval Office and the Rose Garden.

Goodness, I look a little pregnant.  :)

This is a picture peering into the Oval Office. Look closely....there's a picture of Lincoln there!! How cool!

I figured, security is taking pictures of me; I'll take pictures of them!

Oval office...there's a light on!

Obama can see Malia and Sasha's playground from the Oval Office. How sweet! :)
Also, a little toddler broke away from his mom and ran up to the swingset; the guards weren't mean, 
but the toddler was distraught that he couldn't play there. So cute.

Starting to leave the grounds.

Eagle on the gate

We had a wonderful time at the White House gardens, but did have to rest up a bit that evening. Roger and Teddy left on Sunday, but we're so glad we were able to share this experience with them!

Les Miserables

(A much-delayed post....but enjoy!)

Adam is a freak for Les Miserables. He's read the book (the only Hugo I managed to slog through was The Hunchback of Notre Dame), and he has seen the musical in Nashville (twice), Huntsville, and London. So, when we heard that the 25th anniversary production of Les Mis was playing at the Kennedy Center in D.C., we jumped at the chance to go. In preparation, we watched the PBS 25th anniversary concert on tv, so Adam would have an excuse to sing Les Mis music all day every day I could learn the music.

Our tickets were for the afternoon performance in early October. There were two potential problems: One, we didn't know the time the Bama game would be played that day when we bought the tickets (luckily, it was a night game! so we made it home in time!) and, two, my pregnancy had been causing me nausea pretty much 24-7 and I didn't think throwing up in the Kennedy Center would be all that classy. By chance, about a week before we went, my nausea had reduced to just happening in the evenings. Yay!

So, on October 8th, we dressed up, drove to DC, parked at the Kennedy Center, and explored a little bit.

Two of my ChiO sisters and fellow Hanover College alums met us at the Kennedy Center Cafe for lunch. It was so wonderful to see Jen and Lauren, and to catch up on all that was happening. Sadly, we were chatting so much that I forgot to take a picture! After a surprisingly delicious lunch, Adam and I went into the Opera Center. We got there just a few minutes before the production started, but didn't take pictures per Opera Center's request. It was BEAUTIFUL, though! And our seats were excellent; we had our own row of two seats, so I could sit on the end, ready to jump to the bathroom if it was necessary, without worrying about disturbing anyone.

The production was absolutely enchanting. The actor who played Jean Valjean had a magnificent voice, and, really, all of the cast members were superb. My one small complaint was that I didn't think the actress who played Fantine was quite as great as Susan Boyle during "I Dreamed a Dream." (Fantine seemed to go a bit fast and cut short some of those long notes.) However, I still had a few tears there and for several songs, and I know I just can't blame the pregnancy!

It was a brilliant afternoon, and I'm so glad I was able to share this production with my husband. I'll leave you with some powerful words and, if you're like Adam, you've already been singing the whole time you were reading my post, so just go and figure out a time to see Les Mis in person sometime!

"Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade, is there a world you long to see?
Do you hear the people sing?
Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring when tomorrow comes!"

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pregnancy: The First Trimester

Adam and I decided to try to get pregnant this summer, but I have to admit something weird. I've always been surprised when I reach should-be-(somewhat)attainable goals. I know this cements me as a supreme worrier, but that's how I am. For instance, when I was 8, I just *knew* that I wouldn't be 16 and I definitely would never be 23. It made me sad, but I was pretty stoic about it. Then, lo and behold, I was 16! and 23! and much older!

Another example: After my college relationship fizzled and I saw how dreary the dating world was, I was pretty sure I wouldn't ever get married. Certain events that occurred in the fall of 2007 cemented my feeling that I wouldn't want to ever condemn a person to a lifetime with me. Luckily, therapy helped with those feelings! Fast-forward a year and I meet Adam. Add another year, and I'm engaged. 5 months later, I'm married--to the most fantastic, caring guy out there. Wonders never cease!

So, finally, I've just always thought that I might have trouble getting pregnant. There is no basis in genetics in my family for this weird thought. Also, I haven't been diagnosed as having anything permanently wrong with my reproductive parts. I was just *sure* that I wouldn't be able to get pregnant.

All of that to say: Geez, I'm one lucky lady. I've got a supportive husband and a healthy body.

So, we found out fairly quickly. I missed my period, and took a pregnancy test the next day. I kinda had a hunch, and, yep, the test was positive. It was a weird, surreal moment that was mostly happy. (Hey, I'm going to admit that I was pretty bummed that I couldn't enjoy wine for quite some time. Sigh. The baby better appreciate my sacrifice!) Anyway, I was only about 3 weeks pregnant at that time. We took another test at 4 weeks and, yep, still pregnant.

Whoa! It says "pregnant!" That's the first pregnancy test I ever took!

Here, Adam takes a pic of me taking a pic of the test!

So, I called the place (Shenandoah Women's Health Center) that I wanted for an OB. My normal doctor is not an OB, so I knew I'd have to go elsewhere, and a friend had recommended this place. They told me that I could make an appointment, but it would have to be after I was 8 weeks pregnant, since that's the typical amount of time where doctors start to see pregnant women. To me, that was a little frustrating--I wanted a professional opinion and to ask questions and everything. I guess I kinda felt like I "caught" the pregnancy super-early, so I should be rewarded in some way. I'm such an idiot. So, long story short, appointment made for 8 weeks along.

Week 4: Odd tugs in my abdomen, it was like painful stretching. I told my sister (a nurse), since I wanted to know if I was experiencing something that I should be worried about. She laughed, and said there were lots more weird things to come. Even now, my twinges at 4 weeks seem like pleasant memories...

At 4 weeks and 118 lbs....sigh, I will miss this body. Though I plan to get it back!!

Week 5: Nothing new. I traveled to the Biltmore Estate with my Arboretum coworkers, so we could examine the gardens. My coworkers found out when I had to refuse to do the wine tasting at the Biltmore; it was easy to diagnose because they know how much I love wine!

Week 6: MORNING SICKNESS! This sucks. So hard. I don't want to have any more kids after this. Seriously. Severe nausea, throwing up, hating every food and every smell in the world. It is THE WORST. I seriously do not know why people think it's so amazing and adorable to have morning sickness because it is horrid. I'm not going to pretend I'm the first person ever to have morning sickness, but I'm not going to pretend like it isn't that hard. It's wretched and debilitating and miserable.

Week 7: Even worse. Had to have an emergency appointment at my doctor's (2 weeks early). Adam took me there, and they immediately did an ultrasound to check on the baby since I hadn't kept anything down for days. Luckily, the baby could be seen, the heartbeat heard, and everything looked good! Yay! What an amazing thing to see and hear the little person growing inside me--also, totally weird!! So, that was happy. The doctor was super-nice, and gave me prescriptions for a couple of nausea medications. (Thank you, modern medicine! I had tried ginger, peppermint, everything under the sun!) Then, they hooked me up to an IV and gave me a bag of fluids. I started to feel a little better during the IV, and could even eat (and keep stuff down) the rest of the day. Also, I had lost about 5-7 lbs, so, yeah....things had been rough.
On the plus side, we told our parents and siblings. Adam kept telling his family I "wasn't feeling well" and I could barely talk on the phone, so we just wanted to get the news out on the table and be honest. Plus, we had a nifty picture to show!

Baby Copeland at 7 weeks! plus heartbeat! 154 bpm!

Week 8: Thank you nausea pills. I've reduced my dosage because I don't feel as bad all the time. However, I still don't really care for food. I mean, I can eat now and that's good. But food doesn't taste that great and I'm still nauseous and feeling lousy. I feel like I'm never going to like food ever again, which makes me sad. I'm back to my pre-pregnancy weight of 118. So that's good.
Exhaustion, still here!

Weeks 9 & 10: Nausea still here, but it has decreased a bit more. I haven't taken my pills for awhile because, as long as I eat something every 2 hours or so, the contents of my stomach stay down. Still, I hate food; I hate the smell of food; I hate thinking of food and/or smells. I'm sad and feel like I'll never like food again. :( Every now and then, I still throw up. Also, almost everyone who came into contact with me between weeks 6-10 found out that I was pregnant. Other teachers, my department head, friends, students....and they "found out" because I told them. Or because they saw me puking in the restroom. Classy, huh? Hence, we decided to tell friends and make it facebook-official a few days earlier than planned because, well, if my students knew, then friends should know!

Week 11: Had a little spotting, which was NOT fun. It wasn't bright red blood, which was good, and we were able to talk to my doctors on the phone rather than going into the ER or the office. They determined that it was normal because it didn't last very long, but yikes!

Week 12: Had another check-up. Everything seems to be going along fine, and we got another look at the baby and the heart and all that jazz. I have gained a whopping 2-3 lbs during the whole first trimester, so that tells me that this nausea needs to go AWAY so I can keep food down. However, I do have a little pregnancy bump and much larger breasts than usual. So I guess the poundage is being distributed properly? Oh, I'm still feeling nausea (it's worse in the evenings, which pretty much ruins any dinner plans). I threw up so violently on Friday, that my throat still hurt on a Sunday. Hmm, yeah, not so wonderful. I've had to start re-taking my nausea medications.

Me, at week 13 (because I got lazy and didn't take a picture earlier)

Our baby at 12 weeks! Just hanging out in utero. :)

Overall thoughts: Pregnancy is almost exactly like the worst hangover you have ever had. One, you're responsible for the conditions that caused it. Two, you feel nauseous, dizzy, tired, crummy, over-emotional, scared, and grumpy. (Or at least I do!) Three, you pray to whatever source you can to stop making your body rebel against you. However, there is one major difference from a hangover: This hangover-from-the-underworld NEVER ENDS! At least, for me, it's lasted for more than two months. Not fun. I would also like to file this complaint: When you tell people that you're pregnant and have morning sickness, they usually cluck their tongue and say "You poor thing....but it's all worth it!" or "Well, morning sickness means a healthy baby!" And then they go about their day, perfectly healthy and happy, while you go about your day trying not to die of lack of food/nausea and trying not to be disgruntled with the way your body is actively working against keeping any nutrients down. For me, pregnancy (at least in the first trimester) has not been fun or cute or adorable. I am hopeful, though, that the second trimester will bring relief and more happiness. Please, please, let the nausea go away!

I do have the best husband in the world. He lets me languish on the couch and brings me food and drink, caters to my whims, comes with me to the doctor, and just is the best, most supportive partner you could ever imagine. I'm so thankful to have him....and Mr. Oliver, who cuddles up next to me on the couch and comes to check on me in the bathroom.

All that said, I'm glad to be pregnant and happy to be giving life to a little human who will share genes from a handsome, athletic, brilliant, adorable specimen of manhood (Adam Copeland!) and me. I just hope that my body stops killing me with this nausea. Sorry if my brutal honesty has been too much for you...I promise to not whine about my pregnancy too much. But, wow, it felt good to get this off my chest!