"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined."

-Henry David Thoreau

Friday, August 31, 2012

It's a boy!

We found out we are having a baby boy! We are so blessed. It's hard to admit that you kinda are leaning toward wanting a certain gender, considering you can't pick and either way it's your child that you are going to love no matter what, but Zach and I were both secretly and not-so-secretly were hoping it would be a boy. I mentioned about three weeks ago that I was thinking boy...and I had tried really hard to keep an open mind about it. Then, the day before our appointment I thought it again. Then I dreamed all night that it was a boy. So, by the time the ultrasound lady got around to showing us just what the gender was, it really wasn't a huge shock. I thought Zach would react a little more, but he had a calm and collected smile on his face when we found out (he told me later how nervous he really was!). He told me that the whole day before he had been feeling like it was a boy too. I can't really tell if we had some sort of intuition or just hope, but there is a little boy growing inside!

Look at our sweet little baby!

I didn't realize the ultrasound would take so long. They checked so many different sizes and measurements to make sure our baby didn't have indicators of any handicaps and that he was growing and healthy. It was SO comforting to see the ultrasound because I had started to fret some since I felt our baby move many weeks before but hadn't since. I'm afraid of being a worrywart mom, and I try to stay reasonable, but it can be kinda hard! Zach and I finally got to feel the baby move together! It was a few days after the ultrasound and we were laying in bed. I was trying to see if I could feel him when I did! Again, I first thought it was air movement, but it was repeated and in the same spot. I hurried and told Zach so he reached over and felt it too! He has gotten so cute as baby and I have progressed! He rubs my tummy and talks to it all the time. He always states how there is a baby in there. I think he still gets pretty nervous about being a dad, but he takes it in stride and he is going to be an adorable dad.

A little about my pregnancy:
*I finally stopped feeling constantly sick about 2-3 weeks ago.
*Meat always smells bad to me...I'm really paranoid about it anyway, so the first time I noticed the smell with chicken, I basically threw it all away. Then I smelled it with hamburger and sausage, neither of which were bad, so I probably wasted all that chicken! :( I think it's just the meat smell I am sensitive to, because I don't have any other strange issues with smells.
*Still dreaming a lot, but they aren't as dark. More like they just make me tired.
*Wake up 2-3 times a night to go potty - not loving that.
*People have said I've "popped," because the belly is sticking out more.
*Running is getting even harder! I stop about every half mile to walk a bit, and I hold my belly sometimes when I run. I go about 2.5-3 miles consistently. I am almost ready to stop biking completely because my balance is feeling a little off and I don't want to risk it. Time to find a maternity sport swim suit!
*Feeling overwhelmed at the thought of buying all the baby stuff - financially and because there are so many choices...how do you choose the safest/best/inexpensive/stylish/etc..???? We haven't bought anything besides diapers!

Here I am at 19 and 20 Weeks:

Wow! At the halfway mark...now we are on the downhill!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Surprise Anniversary Cruise!

As I mentioned before, Zach had to be gone for work on our anniversary. On the actual day, he sent me a sweet text first thing in the morning, and I of course thought about my mister all day. I was pretty bummed we couldn't celebrate! Then I had this inspiration to surprise him with a vacation! I couldn't decide if it was the best idea in the world, or not...but, I couldn't get it out of my head. So...the planning began. It would be a cruise, out of Florida so we could visit my aunt, grandma, and Lindsey as well. (I was buying the flights, so I might as get as much use out of them as possible, right? Especially since flights to FL have doubled since 3 years ago!) I chose a cruise because we/maybe just I have wanted to go again ever since our honeymoon. I found one that stopped at Key West, Cayman Islands, and Jamaica. All places I wanted to see! It was perfect. I was overwhelmed with excitement and planning. First I made sure he could get leave, checked with my work, checked his school stuff, and booked it! As his return got closer, I started to worry he wouldn't like it or wouldn't want to go. He had been gone for two weeks, so I knew he probably wanted to chill at our house. I tried to plan around that and give him a full day at home before our traveling began, but I still worried about it. He surprised me by catching an earlier flight, so he arrived home 2 hours early, totally screwing up my plans to set up a sweet scavenger hunt, but I liked his surprise. Unfortunately, by the time I got around to hiding all the pictures for him to find and put it all together, he was exhausted and prevented a huge display of excitement from him. I was so worried that it was a bad idea since he travels so much already, but as I asked over and over again if he was excited, he assured me that he was.

First stop: Grandma's House! We got to enjoy a dinner with her and Stan and some nice visiting. I think she loves Zach so much because he shares a deep love for cats....I forgot that he might go a little crazy at having two cats wandering about. I came into the room a few times to find him laid out across the floor, either petting one of her cats, or trying to coax it out to come play with him.

The next morning, Lindsey, Tanner, and Aunt Bop came over for brunch. It was great to visit and catch up. Aunt Bop and I always talk about how our family can be apart for years, but when we get together it is like nothing has changed. This time was no different. I love that our extended family has always put so much effort into being a part of our lives, ever since we were babies. People always thought it was strange that we didn't have a huge family (at least by their standards...several aunts and uncles, hundreds of cousins, second cousins... etc.), but for me, I have always felt like the lucky one. I don't think the closeness of our whole family is very common.

Next stop: The ship! Stan and Gramma brought us to our ship. We got there a little bit later than our last cruise and experienced the VERY long line of travelers. On our honeymoon, we basically walked right on to the ship, without much waiting. It wasn't too bad though, and soon we were all settled on and feeding my hungry belly. We headed out on deck as we sailed away...

The first night on the ship, we went to the Welcome Aboard show, and low and behold, Z-Dub got picked to go up on stage. We saw it coming. At first I thought I would try to get him to go, then I tried not to make eye contact with the guy so he wouldn't pick Zach, but he picked him anyway. I was laughing so hard I felt bad, so I grabbed the camera because I knew he would want pics. When the guy had Zach introduce himself, Zach convinced them to pull me up on stage too! They asked me if Zach was a romantic guy, which I said yes to, of course. The director then instructed Zach to practice his sexiest walk. Zach had to say "Brandi, I love you more than...(he picked sushi)" and then sexy-walked all the way across the stage and pulled me into a big ole smooch in front of everyone. It was grand. We were famous the rest of the trip, mainly he was. All the ladies kept asking if he really is a romantic man, so I had to keep up the facade! Jk, jk. He really is quite romantic, at least at times... The director gave us some complimentary wine for his performance, which we left to the housekeepers on the last day...

Our next destination was Key West. I had always wanted to go there because my parents went there as teens and spoke of it's splendor. We did an excursion with kayaks and snorkeling, both of which were entertaining but somewhat of a dud. But, thankfully the excursion ended with us trying to find dolphins, and we found a ton! Zach had never seen a real life dolphin before, so it was sweet. They would swim around the boat and in front of it. It was awesome to see them in their natural habitat.

Excited for our first excursion:

The island behind Zach is where the bums and hippies live. They call it Christmas Tree Island because it lights up at night with all of their fires.

Best pic of our dolphin friends:

Check out that prego belly - yep, I totally wore a bikini. I was too cheap to buy a maternity swim suit and nothing else was comfortable...

I love the look of Key West:

They had these weird statues all over...I tried to find explanations to see if they were historically significant, but I started to think it was just for tourists' amusement. The naked ladies...yeah, pretty sure it is just for a photo op. Pretty disturbing really. I almost couldn't take the picture!

Such a cute little place. Totally touristy, but that's okay. I tried the infamous key lime pie for $5. Smallest piece of pie ever, but now I can attest that my mom's is as good as the genuine stuff!

Quick note about the following pic - it was right after I had a bit of an emotional breakdown. Probably part pregnancy hormones, but I was stressing myself out so bad that Zach was having a good vacation and this surprise was good idea that it was making me have a bad time! The poor guy had to deal with the tears and the constant asking if he was happy and having a good time. He gave me the sweetest kiss on the side of the road and stayed patient with his mood-swinging wife. I'm a lucky lady...

We had a sea daybefore our next stop, so we found stuff to do around the ship. I found a candy store and we hit up the casino. Too bad we didn't make out like bandits, but good thing we only used a little cash!

It was also the first formal night. I bought a new dress before the trip to try and help my handsome husband have a decent looking companion. The only problem, we weren't impressed with the food! Total bummer.

Zach thought a pic on deck would be cool, but I knew with the wind and my hair it would not be so hot. At least it's a laugh though!

The next day = the Cayman Islands. This was probably the stop I was most excited for. Not really sure why...but it was my favorite place! We got up early and took the tender to catch our excursion.

It was a very picturesque place with gorgeous waters. I wouldn't mind vacationing there for a few days to explore more and to snorkel!

We hopped aboard a little Toyota van along with several others... and then they kept piling them in! Seats were folding down left and right and out of nowhere. Zach made the comment that the vans would not be safe to use in America, and they really wouldn't. Speaking of which, our bus overheated about five miles into the drive...so we all unloaded and hung out til another bus came to get us. Quite the adventure really.

We first went to swim with the sting rays. I had heard this is a must-do, so we booked the excursion. I was really excited because I knew if they took tons of tourists, that it is pretty safe. Zach hated how crowded it was, but I thought it was awesome. The sting rays seemed to like bigger groups and they would come swim up on people. I freaked out the first time I touched one - they are just kinda scary and then it was all slimy! But then I started trying to touch more because it was so cool! Zach got some good photos holding the sting rays, but he wouldn't kiss it for the promised years of good luck...

Next we went to a turtle farm. It was actually pretty informative and I learned that they eat turtles like chicken. In soup, as fillets, the guy listed like twenty meals. They breed the turtles for that purpose even. Weird, considering in America they are protected. We got to hold little babies. This was so fun because they flap their arms like crazy, but the second you stroke their neck they calm down. Strokin' the gubby!

This is the breeding pond. They had just fed the turtles so they were gulping down their food. When they eat, they take a bite, then whatever water was included shoots out the top of their nose area. I found it quite funny.

We bailed a little early from the farm to try and find a place to snorkel, since the water was so amazing, but much to our chagrin, there was no beach close by. Just really rocky, unswimmable beach. But... we found this cool pier and saw crabs running all over the rocks.

As I googled stuff to do in Jamaica, the Dunn's River Falls seemed a good place to plan on...so we did. It was poring rain while we had breakfast on the ship and only got worse as we got off to find the excursion. We were given the option to get a full refund and go back on the ship...we were kinda tempted but decided it would still be a blast and an adventure. I'm so glad we did! Jamaica is a beautiful island as well, but the dwellings and the people are dirtier and poorer than the Cayman Islands.

Since prego ladies can't climb the falls due to the risk of falling, I got to take all the pics. Zach had to buy water shoes - we definitely weren't going to rent the gross ones- and we paid $17 bucks for shoes that were falling apart by the end. I took this picture since his getup was so stylin':

The problem is, I now hate this picture because do you see the sign in the background? Yeah, shoes = $10. One booth over and we wouldn't have wasted that extra 7 bucks! At least Zach still wears them for everyday activities... :)

Here are the pretty falls:

It's not everyday you get to take pictures of your husband holding hands with another attractive girl...I wouldn't exactly say it was the highlight of my trip... but I almost successfully talked myself out of any anger or jealous feelings...

The worst part of the falls was every single person that helped you wanted a tip, and would basically beg for it. One guy who made us follow him to watch the climbers came up to me after and told me that I needed to tip him. How he did it was so awkward and bum-like and make me feel really weird. That sounds insensitive, I know, but I'm not exaggerating when I say almost anyone who talked to you tried to get money from you. It drove me nuts. Then, on the way back to the bus, the only way out is through a little homemade market of tons of shops...same story here. We were literally out of money and they would not stop asking and trying to trick us into buying their wooden figurines or cheap trinkets. They thought we were lying and would give us a "gift" and then try to get us to pay. When we said, "No really, we have NO money," they took the gift back. Not exactly the hospitality they were pretending to have....

Next we went to Dolphin Cove. It was cool - definitely another tourist attraction, but they had big nurse sharks in one of the pools and dolphins in another. The dolphins were swimming in a circle in a group of four, so we got to watch them swim around and around, and they would peek at us as they passed.

Zach got to hold parrots for the first time and they liked him. The one of his left shoulder was nibbling on his neck, cheek, and ears during the whole photo shoot! We got to see some cool creatures in this little pond. Starfish, sea urchin, other things I now can't remember...

Zach always makes the best faces!

We also snorkeled at their little beach. There wasn't much to see and the water wasn't too pretty from the storm, but it was still a blast swimming around with my mister. I almost didn't do it because it was still kinda stormy, but Zach convinced me to, and I didn't regret it. I think the coolest fish I saw was sand colored and the only way I saw it was it's eye, because it was exactly the same color as the sand. It looked like a floating eye!

After Dolphin Cove, we went to the shopping center. Totally ghetto. I wasn't a fan. It was way crowded and smelly (mainly the people who smoked) and no worthy souvenirs. We soon headed back to the ship. We decided to walk since it was pretty close, and that was an experience in itself. There were dirty people on all the sidewalks trying to get money...bum looking guys asking if you want a smoke and sketchy women asking if you want your hair braided, but in a creepy, I-don't-really-think-they-braid-hair kind of way...I was trying to figure out if it was a code for prostitution or something...but I guess I'm not into that scene enough. I'm sure glad we went, but I don't really plan to ever go back!

The last day was a sea day...and the day we got the most sun. Zach went to chill in the hot tub, so I headed down a level to hang out in the adults only Serenity area. It was here that I met a friendly and talkative couple from Canada. I spent a long time talking to them, then Zach came down and we talked some more. They were intrigued with our military insight, and they shared some political opinions. It was really interesting to note the subtle differences between our two countries. I headed off to grab lunch, got back and they were still chatting. Definitely a good way to spend the day and get some sun. We layed out a little longer after saying goodbye, but ironically, I wasn't as diligent on the sunscreen this day out of all the days, so I finally had to call it quits and head inside.

We had a relaxing day, I think I hit up the gym (which I am proud to say I did 3-4 times on our vacay...), watched Aladdin at the outdoor theater with popcorn and ice cream aplenty. Then we got dressed up and went to our last dinner.

Afterward, Zach wanted to go out on the deck. We had seen the news of a tropical storm in our path, and the night before I woke up to some serious ship rocking. As we were relaxing outside, it started to rain and the deck cleared off. We watched the ship head straight into a wall of rain, which was pretty exciting. So, after dinner and by the time Zach mentioned heading outside, I was skeptical. But we went, and it was so cool! The storm was getting pretty crazy, the wind was blowing so hard it was pushing the rain back up and over the ship. It's hard to tell in the picture, but trust me when I say it was awesome. It's not normal to see rain flying up!

Luckily, once we got to the port the next morning, it wasn't AS bad, and we were able to debark in a safe manner. Lins and Tanner came to get us and we went to spend the afternoon with Grandma and Stan. Aunt Bop had to work because of the storm, so we missed her. But, it was enjoyable to just be able to chill out and chat with everyone, since this may be out last trip to Florida for a while. Overall this trip felt like somewhat of a farewell trip. It felt like a farewell to the summer because fall is just around the corner, a farewell to all our family there for possibly a while, a farewell to big fancy vacations since we won't be able to afford them when I quit work, farewell to newlywed-hood (on our anniversary cruise newlyweds were dubbed 0-3 years), and also a farewell to our childless life together since here comes parenthood!