Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Favorite Thing #547: Cheap Entertainment

Is it not obvious why I married him? This post also features Gunter's Favorite Thing #3: The Ping-Pong Champ Shirt.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Temporary fix

Okay, this will have to do for now. Since I named the blog "My Life in Black and White" I feel as though I must keep it at least somewhat...well, black and white. So I'm a bit limited on my backgrounds, but I'll figure something out.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Blog background question

Can anyone see my black and white blog background? All I see on my computer is white. Not sure why.

A mile of stones

It’s been a week of milestones for the Akridges. (Well, if you count 3 as a “week of milestones.”)

Dear Grandmother celebrated her 78th birthday on Sunday, just cause for a Bailey family shindig at my uncle’s “barn.” Some of the highlights included Grammama’s older sister getting to come, a DVD of family pictures, my first time playing Rock Band and, of course, good food.

Here's Grammama and her sweet sister, Christine.
Aren't they cute?!

Gunter makes fun of me for standing with my hands clasped.
Notice where I get it from.

My brother/nurse-on-call likes to check my growth progress.

Here's the whole family: (left to right) Benjamin and his girlfriend Amber, Gunter, me, Cousin Nicki, Aunt Pam, Cousin Courtney, Dear Grandmother, Courtney's boyfriend Danny, uncle's wife Lucy, Uncle Charles (pronounced Chahls), Mama and Daddy.

On Monday, we paid off our student loan. Goodbye and good riddance, Sallie Mae! That might not seem like a big deal to anyone else, but it felt so good to no longer have that hanging over our heads! We’d really been looking forward to that very last payment in our rearview mirror. Dave Ramsey would be so proud! …At least of that part of our finances...

Last but not least, yesterday was our 3rd wedding anniversary. It seems like we’ve been married for a lot longer than 3 years, but not in a bad way. If I could go back in time, I’d give my life away to this man over and over again without hesitation. I told him that, too. I knew he was an extraordinary and admirable man when I married him, but the longer we’re together, the better he gets.

As for the rest of the week, we’re working on finishing an Israel paper, getting the house in some semblance of order, making a short beach trip, catching up on my Baby Bargains book and getting together for my brother’s birthday on Saturday. Oh, and cleaning the remnants of the Outback out of the back of Gunter’s vehicle.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Kreativ? Who, me?

Well, whaddya know -- a blog award! Just when I thought I was totally boring everyone with the baby posts, I am deemed "Kreativ." And from such a sweet, funny girl as April Reed! Thanks, April.
So, here are the rules...

1. When given the award, you list 7 things that you love.
2. Pass the award on to 7 bloggers you love and be sure to tag them and let them know they've won.

7 things I love:

1. Family gatherings. One day this week, I hope to post some pictures from my Dear Grandmother's surprise birthday cookout yesterday. Daddy and Aunt Pam are the family photographers, so I have to get pictures from one of them before I have any to post.
2. Weekends (or weekdays) at the beach. A third anniversary trip to the beach could be in the works for this weekend, but no time to think much about that until the VBS clinic is over and the Israel paper is turned in!
3. Checking items off my list. Just a simple "delete" on my calendar gives me more of a sense of accomplishment than it probably should. I checked a big, BIG one off this morning. Maybe more on that tomorrow.
4. People who truly love me. These are the people who don't just say it but the ones who give of themselves to show love, even if we haven't spoken in quite a while. I got a phone call from a friend in Opp last night offering an act of kindness that still has a smile on my face this morning.
5. Nestle Instant Breakfast. Why do I have a feeling that I've blogged about this before? I look forward to drinking this on the way to work almost every morning. I just wish I could manage to drink it more slowly so I could enjoy it for longer than 5 minutes. Vanilla is my new favorite flavor.
6. Working together on ministry projects. I don't always think of church work days and such as fun activities...until I get there and get started. Anything to do with manual work is not my wimpy self's cup of tea, but I love time spent getting to talk and relationships made over dusty stacks of yellowed choir music or bottles of Windex.
7. Going home time. Gotta grab one last snack before I hit the road.

I hereby bestow the Kreativ Blogger award to the following worthy individuals who have probably already received many such rewards:

1. Jen @ Hey, y'all!
2. Heather @ Now I Am a Grownup
3. Christi @ Two Peas in Our Pod
4. Tony @ Tony Dye's Point of View
5. Melissa @ My Blue Morning
6. Melissa @ My Life as it Happens
7. Penny @ Daily Dose of Dribbles
To visit these blogs, please see my blog list on the right.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Nance's Pasta Salad

Of all the (many) dishes I could devour all in one sitting, this one would probably be in the top 10. Once again, it's a recipe courtesy of my friend Catherine and her mother, Nancy.

For another outstanding Cat and Nance recipe, click here.

I'll be fixing a big bowl of it this weekend (and will probably eat most of it myself if anyone else dares hesitate to get a helping).

Nance’s pasta salad
1. Boil colorful pasta noodles (I use rainbow rotini). Be sure to salt water well. Drain pasta.
2. Stir in Italian salad dressing, enough to coat noodles.
3. Add ½ cup sour cream, ½ cup mayo and 1 packet dry ranch seasoning. Mix well (and add more Italian dressing, if needed, to mix).
4. The rest is up to you. Some good ingredients to add are sliced black or green olives, pimentos, cheese cubes, ham pieces and cherry tomatoes.
5. Refrigerate until chilled.

One great thing about this recipe is that it doesn't take very long and it's very simple -- a good thing for me, since I will be making it on the same weekend that I am attempting to recreate the Australian Outback. As is illustrated throughout the Bible, God never seems to call the equipped...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

New life and more new life

My favorite holiday has come and gone. Don’t get me wrong – Christmas is probably the most fun, but there’s something about that whole victory-over-sin-and-death thing that gets me every Easter.

Here we are at church, I believe the first Easter we’ve even remotely matched. Because this is the South, Easter dresses still tend to be a big deal for some people, but I don’t have to have an Easter dress every year. Usually, I just wear something springy. This year was a little more difficult as I only have a couple of dresses that fit, and maternity dresses that look decent are not easy to find. Mama bought me this dress before I started showing, and I have concluded that when you’re pregnant, dressing like a big Minnie Mouse might not be the best idea.

We spent a beautiful afternoon on Gunter’s mom’s back porch, a.k.a. what should be the location of the next Southern Living photo shoot. Family gatherings like that do me good because I know we’re going to be there a while, and I have nothing to do while I’m there but sit and enjoy people.

Of course, growing up at Bailey family gatherings, it’s ingrained in my belief system that holidays = you can eat as much food as you want, as long as you’re relaxing on the back porch. So I blame my pleasurable and carefree upbringing for the sugar overload that made me feel bad Sunday night. When you’ve been drinking almost nothing but water and doing your best to eat on the healthy side of the fence, your body has trouble handling such extravagance.

In more recent news, Gunter and I went to our first childbirth class last night. It wasn’t as fun as I had imagined, but it was good for me. I wonder if I was the only one who got woozy when the subject turned to bursting of membranes. I know I was the only one the teacher/nurse laughed at because I partially covered my eyes during the epidural video. I am such a medical wimp. And I don’t get much sympathy from my chemo-veteran husband.

The baby kicked a lot during the class, as if to say, “NO! Don’t let them do it!”

All I can say is, most of those girls in the class are a lot closer to all that than I am. I actually wore a shirt that made me look more pregnant, since I’m starting these classes so early. From the looks of things, some of the others probably should have started sooner.

I enjoyed seeing the labor and delivery rooms, postpartum rooms and the nursery. In fact, I’ve never seen hospital rooms that nice. They look more like big rooms in somebody’s well-decorated house (not mine).

Well, lunch is over, so I'm back to work. Happy Wednesday (that feels like Friday but it's not)!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Thoughts from Beth Moore

Today, Beth Moore writes about trading the hem for the real Him -- temporary healing vs. the complete healing we'll receive in Heaven. It's long, but if you quit halfway, you'll miss the best part.

Cancer paints an ugly, brutal picture of the effects sin has on humanity. And yet, no matter how bad the situation, those who belong to Him still have hope and still glorify Him with their lives, cancer or no cancer! Nothing exists with the power to escape God's victory.

Beth Moore's "Thinking about Death and Healing"

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Baby gear Q&A week: Question #3

First, an update on the questions I've asked so far...

Nursery furniture became a topic of discussion around supper tables at church last night, and apparently, Our New Baby is THE place to buy baby furniture around here. I've also gotten an e-mail recommending Our New Baby since my first baby gear post.

So now I'm interested. I wonder if smaller stores like that might be willing to negotiate on prices. After I got a little bit of practice at the Jewish market in Jerusalem, I'm itching to put my haggling skillz to use and shop for baby stuff Dave Ramsey style! Unfortunately, I doubt I'd get very far with big stores like Wal-Mart... "I'll give you $4.50 for this pack of diapers... Okay, this $5 is all I have to spend. Take it or leave it."

*This is actually the Arab market, not the Jewish market. I was too busy looking for deals to take a picture of the Jewish market.

Though some moms I've talked with love convertible furniture (crib that converts to toddler bed that converts to full size), others don't recommend it. One mom said her daughter chewed up her bed "like a beaver" before she turned two, and now she's stuck with said chewed up bed at least until she goes to college. Another said she got the changing table that flips over to become a dresser, but because the drawers go both ways, they don't roll very easily. Another mom bought a convertible set for both children and likes it, but at birth, her son was already too big for the changing table.

So we'll see. We probably won't do any serious baby shopping for the next couple of weeks, but some browsing might be in order.

On to today's question topic -- bedding!

If all they say about SIDS is true (that all you're supposed to have in the crib is a fitted sheet -- no stuffed animals, bumper pads or blankets), why do they sell all these fancy bedding sets? Doesn't make much sense to me. Do I need a bedding set or just some fitted sheets and curtains?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Blog design

I couldn't help but mention that I'm tired of the way my blog looks, so expect a refresh sometime soon. I wish I knew enough about HTML to design my own template and apply it, but I can't quite get it right between those two steps. Regardless, I'm hoping for a semi-makeover in the next week or so...or so. Stay tuned.

Baby gear Q&A week: Question #2

Thank you all for the great comments on my previous post! Let me just say that I love April’s suggestion, and I’ll be looking for a copy of “Baby Bargains” this weekend. Until then, just for fun, I’d like to continue our week of baby gear Q&A.

If you haven’t had a baby recently, you’re probably wondering, “What’s with the space ship?” If you have, you probably already hold an opinion about this little contraption of controversy, the Diaper Genie.

Is it a disposal disappointment or essential equipment? How would you rank the smell factor?

Talk about having a baby changing your life! I can't believe I'm blogging about dirty diapers or their smell.

A friend at work just got one of these, a Diaper Champ, and she swears by it. Supposedly, you can use regular garbage bags, and even her 5-year-old can operate it.

And then I have a friend who is a fan of neither. Diaper disposal around his house was simple – tie them up in Wal-Mart sacks, toss them in the kitchen garbage can and take out the trash every day.

What do you think? Do any of these pail in comparison to others?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Comments for a good cause

Wow. I could NOT look at this thing every day. It’s even heart-shaped. Ahem.

Though it still might be a little early to begin registering or buying stuff, I’m one who likes to research, browse and mull over my options before making any kind of purchasing decisions. (This could be one reason why my best shopping buddy is my mom – perhaps the only one with enough patience and endurance!)

So, here’s the start to a whole series of baby gear questions. I have so many, I’ll break each topic into a separate blog post on a separate day. You won’t have a hard time believing that I am a first-timer through and through.

Hopefully, I’ll get some good volunteered information that will help someone else reading the blog, as well, instead of the less desired effect – causing those of you already tired of hearing about baby stuff from avoiding this site like the plague.

My first inquiries have to do with nursery furniture. The more browsing online I do, the more confused I become. Just take cribs for example. You’d think buying a baby bed would be a fairly simple task. You just pick out which color you want, right? Wrong! Oh so wrong.

Do I need a standard crib, a convertible crib or a mini-crib, whatever that is? What are some good things to look for/bad things to avoid in a crib?

I’m pretty sure I know what a bassinet is used for, but what’s up with cradles? Are they just cribs you can move from room to room?

I figure a changing table and a chest/dresser are both must-haves. Any advice on those?

Because I’m tight with moo-lah, my first inclination is to go for the least expensive, but maybe I’m wrong. Any recommendations on where to get furniture? Wal-Mart, Target, Babies R Us?

Comment away! And if nursery furniture is not exactly your area of expertise, don’t worry. We have several categories left to go.

Your efforts will not be in vain. Remember, you are commenting for a cause! My sweet baby will thank you on behalf of her clueless mom.

Friday, April 3, 2009


A very active girl, according to the ultrasound tech, who had trouble getting her to be still enough to measure. (Since my ultrasound was around 8:30 a.m., I hope it’s a sign that she’s an early-to-bed morning person like her Mama.) She weighs 10 ounces and is about 6 inches long from head to bottom – right in line with my August 25 due date.

We saw all her little bones and organs and got to watch her move for a while. She put her hands in her face, she shifted and bounced and stretched…It’s still hard to make the connection that what I saw on the monitor was actually going on inside me. I haven’t been able to feel much until this point, but now that I know where her feet and hands are, it seems like I’m realizing that a lot of what I was feeling was not digestion or blood circulation but was actually tiny aerobics, especially those little feet right behind my belly button.

Needless to say, we are quite excited about having a daughter, though we would have been just as happy to have a son. I’ve always wanted a daughter so we could hopefully be as close as my mom and I are.

To answer your next question, she has no name just yet, but we’ve been tossing around a few. I’m not sold on any of them, so don’t be surprised if it’s still quite a while before we settle on one for sure. That many possibilities are not good for my indecisive self.
We were especially happy that everything still looked okay. Isn't it amazing how God takes a single cell (remarkable in itself) and causes it to grow, not just into a bigger bunch of cells but into a complex being with specialized organs, a spine, fingers and toes, and a personality...miraculous! You've come a long way from the blob you were, Baby!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Exile is only temporary

I have a friend who is going through a pretty rough time right now, but she’s getting closer to the light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Though the situations differ greatly, thinking about her brought to mind a time in my life just a little over a year ago when I thought the light at the end of my tunnel was too far out of reach.

That night, after Gunter had been stomped down by chemotherapy for months, and with several more treatments to go, I hit my emotional rock bottom. As he slept fitfully, I sat on our den floor and squalled. I felt so desperate, so sick of it all and terrified at the thought that it might not end with these 12 treatments. The frustration led to stress on our relationship and some communication gaps that I was having trouble dealing with.

I grabbed my Bible and turned to one of Gunter’s favorite verses, Jeremiah 29:11. I had heard the verse quoted many times, but I had never realized the situation it spoke to nor the verses surrounding it. Here is what I read that night:

“For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill my good word to you, and bring you back to this place.

‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

‘Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.

‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

‘I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into
exile.’” Jeremiah 29:10-14

I know it was a promise to God’s chosen people regarding the Babylonian captivity, but that night, it might as well have had my name on it. I knew that exile wouldn’t last forever and that we would be restored.

Life has more hard times in store, I’m sure, but they won’t last forever. That’s what kind of a God we have – One who wants to give us a future and a hope, no matter what our particular “exile” is. We might not all get back to the Promised Land at the same time (Daniel spent the rest of his days in Babylon), but His people all have future and a hope nonetheless.