Saturday, October 28, 2017

October 2017 Stitch Fix

Greetings faithful blog readers,

Brendan and I are touched by your sweet comments and messages in response to our story. I've found the stories that feel scariest to share are the ones that most need to be heard. To be able to be candid after a year of reflection was refreshing, and I'm looking forward to sharing more about our journey soon. Fear not though: I don't plan on making this blog solely about pregnancy and baby.

So back to some normal programming: my most recent Stitch Fix.  I pay for all my own fixes, and all opinions are my own. If you decide to give Stitch Fix a try, pretty please use my referral link to sign up. I will super appreciate the referral credit. If you don't know what Stitch Fix is, this initial review explains the ins and outs. 

I needed some clothes for the cooler weather that would actually fit, so I wrote Christina a quick note about what I was looking for. My last fix was amazing, and this one started out stellar as well with the Thorne One Pocket Top and the Elizabeth Super Skinny Jean.

I never thought these jeans would fit when I saw them in the online picture, but when they came I discovered the best thing about them: elastic waist. Even though they're in my normal size, the elastic waist should make them wearable for at least another month. This top was so super soft and cozy, and I love plaid. These were both keepers (and not only keepers but pieces that I wore to work the next day!) KEEP and KEEP; Christina was off to an awesome start.

Up next, the Garret Heavy Gauge V-Neck Pullover

The name of this sweater also conveys my main issue with it: it's really too heavy for Midland, TX. We do have colder mornings, but by the afternoon, it's back up in the 70s. I already have a sweater in a lighter weight that is this same color, and there was just nothing special about this sweater to me. It was a return. 

Up next was the Sanai Striped Maternity Dress

When I just saw the photo of this, I absolutely thought it'd be the thing I loved the most. I loved the soft feel of the dress and the warm material, but when I put it on, I realized it just wasn't meant to be. When I buy a piece of clothing, it has to be versatile, and I would never in a million years (pregnant or not) wear this to work. It hugged every curve, and while Brendan appreciated it, he also admitted he could never see me wearing it. This was a return.

Up next was the Mary Knit Dress:

I was kind of bummed to see this in my fix just because my style note says I'm looking to add more color to my wardrobe; I also really dislike the sleeves and the bottom (but realize this is a current trend). The dress was also a little too big on me. It was a return, and once I checked out, I requested no more black or gray in my fixes. Hopefully, that'll help add some color to my fixes.

Despite only keeping two things, I was still really happy. Over the years (more than 3 years now!), I've found some great pieces because of Stitch Fix, and you cannot find a more convenient way to shop. I know I'll wear this shirt and these jeans a lot.

Up next, I'm giving Le Tote Maternity a try. I'm getting bigger and need things that fit, but I don't necessarily want to invest in tons of maternity wear. I'm going to try renting clothes for a month and see how that goes. I know I'll do Stitch Fix again though when I'm needing something for my next special occasion. Especially now that I found a stylist I really like. Christiana actually read my blog and sent me the most personalized note ever. I know she'll continue to send more great pieces, and I'll probably be keeping more too as she gets to know my tastes.

Here's to clothes you don't really have to shop for! That leaves me more time for...midterm grading! (Wish I was kidding, but that's my/our reality these days!)


The (Long) Story Behind Our Pregnancy

Greetings faithful blog readers,

First of all, thanks for all the love, encouragement, and support on Thursday; we are truly grateful to have each of you in our lives, especially as we take a new journey into the unknowns of parenthood.

I wanted to open up on the blog today about topics I've never written about. This post will take a turn for the personal, so fair warning: sad (but authentic) content ahead.

I guess the first thing I wanted to share is that deciding we wanted to be parents wasn't easy for us. Neither of us have "always known" that we wanted kids. We went into marriage with a decision of sorts on the family question which was "zero or two," meaning we thought we'd either have no kids or have two. I didn't start thinking seriously about the kids question until the ends of 2015 (though before that, I annoyed my cousin and mother with some long conversations on the topic which went nowhere). I'd always counted on having a few years for just the two of us before seriously considering the kids question, so that's what I did. If you've been reading the blog for awhile, you know we really made the most out of the past few years. We've built our careers and our savings, traveled, moved into a house, and most importantly, our relationship has strengthened. But neither Brendan nor I are "checklist people." We didn't want to parent simply because it was "what people do;" we certainly didn't want to go into it because we felt like it was expected or just the next "item on the checklist." When I thought about parenting, I felt completely overwhelmed by it. I knew it wasn't a fair decision to go into parenthood because I expected to "get something out of it." If I was going to do it, it'd be for the experience alone; I also knew I'd have to live with having little control (over who my child was, what happened to my child, whether my child would like me even, etc.) I already struggle with anxiety and didn't know if I could accept the staggering responsibilities and all this uncertainty. Brendan said, essentially, I could go either way, what do you want? 

I still didn't know, so I took a break from trying to figure it out. Once I stopped thinking about it so much, I ended up having three experiences that swayed me on the kid question. Written here, they sound ridiculous. That's because the conclusions I drew from them were more emotional than logical. One of them involved a little girl at the college mistaking me for her mother, another was watching a horror movie (The Babadook) with Brendan and a subsequent conversation that followed, and the last experience was a conversation I had with a wise and experienced co-worker I adore. I talked to Brendan about how I felt, and he was excited about the prospect of becoming parents too. We decided to plan one more thing that was just for us: we'd always talked about traveling to Africa, and we decided to make it happen pre-kids.

In all the prep work to leave for Africa, there were a lot of doctor's visits. I made our wishes to start trying for kids after returning known, and we picked our treatments for preventing malaria and what vaccines to get and when accordingly. We had an amazing time on safari, and since we drove over 3,000 miles across Namibia (one of the least densely populated countries in the world), we had plenty of quiet time to talk and sort through all our feelings. When we got back from Africa in August, I was excited at the prospect of taking my last birth control pill.

A few weeks later, in September 2016, I was waiting on my period. I took a test, but it was negative. I felt fine about it but a little disappointed. I knew the odds weren't high that I'd get pregnant that first month, but I'd still gotten my hopes up. A few days later, still no period. I took another test while getting ready for work. It took a few minutes, but that second line showed up. I was so excited that I woke Brendan up to show him. A May baby. I fell immediately in love. We were giddy with excitement texting each other back and forth that day.

Right away though, something didn't feel right. My tests didn't get darker. I felt panicked. I went to the doctor for blood work a couple of days after taking my home test. They called and said to come in for more blood work after the weekend. The weekend felt slow because I was desperate to know what was going on. On Monday, I was so relieved to learn that my levels were more than doubling in 48 hours: everything looked good, and my first OB appointment was scheduled for October 18, 2016.

My anxiety that something was wrong didn't go away though. I didn't experience morning sickness which worried me. I called the nurse who reassured me that everyone was different and not to worry. I did eventually start to feel some nausea, and I did grow some too, but during week seven of the pregnancy, I had a terrible nightmare that I'd miscarried. We were hopeful though: we talked nursery plans and bought a larger car; I kept a pregnancy journal and wrote in it every night. We let ourselves fall in love with this baby. The days leading up to the nine week appointment seemed to crawl, and then we were finally there.

In the waiting room, I was filled with dread. During the ultrasound, the tech asked if I'd been taking any fertility drugs. I thought that was a strange question and told her no. She got really quiet and said she needed to get the doctor. We already knew something was wrong, but I wasn't prepared for the information the doctor gave us next: it appeared I'd lost triplets early on. He said that this was extremely rare and that miscarriage was more common with a multiples pregnancy. He also explained that I was experiencing a "missed miscarriage" (a miscarriage that had gone unrecognized by my body). Blood work confirmed there was no way my dates were off; the pregnancy wasn't going to progress, and I was given two options: take pills to induce miscarriage at home or go to the hospital for a D&C. We were still wrapping our heads around the loss and now grappling with trying to make a medical decision. I felt lost, terrified, and so sad. The same day, Brendan's mom called us with news that Brendan's young cousin had died. It was just the worst day.

To me, the surgery seemed like the better option. I didn't want to feel pain or be aware of what was happening. It was a Tuesday the day we found out, and the surgery couldn't be performed until Thursday. I went to work on Wednesday; we both did. It was midterms week, and our students were preparing for major tests. I needed to be there, but it was hard to act as though it was business as usual.

Thursday morning came. I signed a lot of papers. I had to tell the hospital my religion and sign more papers about not having a living will. For the first time, I wondered if I'd made the wrong choice. It was cold in my room, and I couldn't eat all day. When a nurse put in the IV, I told him I was going to pass out right before I did. Brendan was with me the whole time; I could tell he was scared but staying calm for my benefit. I was nearly in tears before they wheeled me to the OR. I was afraid of something going wrong and suddenly very aware of how many people I was depending on. In a way, it was moving experience as I realized, for the first time in awhile, how interdependent we all are.

When I woke up from the surgery, I immediately felt to make sure there wasn't a scar (a hysterectomy is an extremely rare complication of the D&C, and I'd been worried about that). As I was coming back to consciousness, I told the nurse that I'd really wanted to be a mom to our babies. She started crying and told me I was the same age as her child. She sat with me until Brendan was able to come. We picked up food on the way home. I was starving.

The next day, I woke up and went to teach my 8AM. We both did. I put on my usual teacher persona; those three hours in the classroom were actually a relief. I felt more like myself there. My wise mentor and professor, Amy, years earlier had told me this secret: "to students you're just Professor Egan." The fact that they didn't know what was going on gave my life at least one element of normalcy.

I picked up my mom from the airport that afternoon. She'd changed her flight plans and came directly to us from a work trip. We'd had plans to visit a bed and breakfast in Fredericksburg and attend a benefit concert, but we canceled them. My mom made us get out of the house that weekend: furniture shopping, grocery store, a movie, eating out...she brought us some sense of normalcy in a really sad time. And when she left Sunday, life just went on from there. Brendan cooked, made me eat, did the laundry, and kept the house almost spotless. He did everything he could to take care of me and cheer me. I tried my best to keep going: I got my hair done, we saw my friend's play, did activities with the club we co-advise, handed out candy on Halloween, watched all the Harry Potter movies, and I healed from the surgery. In November, we met up with friends at SCMLA in Dallas. I was starting to feel a little better. Then, the election happened. I don't feel I need to elaborate on how that affected me.

Despite the setbacks, life put good in my path: I was nominated for the Teaching Excellence Award at school, and I found out I was a finalist for PANK's CHAP[BOOK] contest. The holidays were tough, but one thing I've learned about life is that you can't just stay sad. We went on because we had to, and if I looked, there was support to be found where and when I most needed it. In truth, there were also some really hurtful comments thrown my way. Bad things happening to good people is something some people just can't accept. To comfort themselves, they'll try to make a terrible experience related to you having done something wrong. It must have been something you did or a lesson you needed to learn. For every negative comment, there were more people with helpful reactions: people that sent flowers, brought dinners, and made every effort to show us we are loved. I tried to put my focus on all that love. At my post operation follow up, my doctor told me he was sure I'd be pregnant again by May (my original due date). I felt hopeful, but due to my long cycles post surgery, it was December before we could try again.

We did several things to honor and remember our loss. They're personal, so I won't detail them here, but I'll say I never will "get over it." Loss is something that changes you and it's okay. I don't appreciate when people tell me I'll have a child and forget about our first pregnancy; I don't wish for the erasure of the sadness: the sadness is because I lost but also because I loved. I also put my energies into becoming politically active: specifically in trying to protect other women from this disaster, which increases the cost of the D&C and creates more red tape and hassle during an already devastating time. Thinking beyond my own grief helped me to cope with it.

At the end of the year, I found out PANK would publish my chapbook; 2017 started with winning the Teaching Excellence Award (and with it, a spring break trip to San Francisco). While in San Francisco, we learned we'd both been accepted to the Tin House Summer Workshop in Portland. The fact that we'd both been admitted was a big deal and really gave us something to look forward to together. Things were looking up personally, though I couldn't figure out what was up with my body.

In February, I was sick for nearly two weeks, and my cycle was long; I booked a doctor's appointment. After an ultrasound, my doctor thought I may have insulin resistance and put me on Metformin. The drug had helped two of my friends conceive, so I was really hopeful about it. I instantly felt better on it. I was peeing less and needing to eat less; it also didn't make me sick at all. My doctor said it was all a good sign that the drug was working.

I wanted to be proactive about testing, and my doctor let me take the lead. My thinking was if there was a problem, I wanted to know about it sooner rather than later. I'd tell him the tests I wanted, and he agreed to do them. He never tried to talk me out of anything and really let me make my own plan. I appreciated how he listened to my concerns and looked into them. I kept track of everything in a Word document. March testing revealed everything was great on Brendan's end. We had an amazing time in San Francisco and in Napa. I really enjoyed all the wine, which was perhaps the only plus to not being pregnant. We tried two cycles of Clomid (fertility drug) and Ovidrel (ovulation trigger). Thanks to monitoring, we knew our timing was perfect each month, but we had no luck. My friends assured me everything was fine, and I tried my best to believe them.

When May rolled around and we still weren't pregnant, I was super sad. We were doing all these end of the school year activities, and I kept thinking of what "should be." Our would be due date came and went. We went to a friend's wedding the next week; I focused on being present for that joyous occasion, and my heart was happy for Memorial Day weekend. At just the right moment, life would give me something to celebrate. I'd scheduled a HSG (a test that involves having dye moved through your uterus and fallopian tubes for x-rays) for when we returned home, and I felt confident we'd finally have some answers.

The HSG was painful but not nearly as bad as I'd worried it would be. It revealed everything was healthy and fine (no blockages, no fibroids, no polyps). Brendan and I made a pro/con list and decided to give up on the idea of medicated/monitored cycles for the summer. We were going to be traveling (to Taos, Austin, Portland, Connecticut, and Maine) and fitting in appointments would have been possible but annoying. I started envisioning a new future: maybe a trip to Asia, I thought. We let the doctor know our decision and left for Taos the next day.

We had a wonderful month in Taos. We stayed busy with writing, I found a yoga studio I loved, and we spent time outdoors. Being away from the stress of the semester was much needed, but I still didn't get pregnant. I coped by booking us a romantic evening soaking at the hot springs, a massage, and a white water rafting trip. I turned 31 and thankfully still felt as happy about my birthday as ever. We headed home for a few days and then drove to Austin. We celebrated four years of marriage and then flew to Portland for the Tin House workshop. The days were long and busy, but I knew it was the week. Due to the exhausting schedule, I didn't think this would be our cycle, and I'd resigned myself to acceptance. Before leaving Portland, we indulged our love of sushi, oysters, and fancy drinks. When we flew to Connecticut a couple of weeks later, I packed pregnancy tests but only half heartily. At dinner the first night, I only drank half a beer just in case, so I know I was still holding on to a little hope.

I wasn't planning to test unless my period was late, but that first night in Connecticut, I had a dream that I was watching a positive pregnancy test develop. Brendan had already gone downstairs to make coffee; I groggily dug a cheap strip test out of my bag. I carried the test back to our room and set it down where I looked at it for the first time. I'd imagined maybe squinting and seeing a faint hint of a second line, but this was nothing like that: this was an obvious second line within less than a minute. Whoa, I was pregnant. 

I momentarily debated waiting to tell Brendan until further testing confirmed it, but who was I kidding? The moment he got upstairs, I told him about my dream and showed him the test. We took about ten minutes to let things settle in before heading downstairs. It was July 26th, twelve days shy of our one year anniversary of ditching the pill: we'd been waiting for this moment, and it was here. I quickly emailed my nurse who was super happy for us and told me I'd have to call and schedule an appointment. That'd be tricky since we weren't ready to tell family the news just yet. As thrilled and hopeful as we were, a part of us didn't want to get too ahead of ourselves. We knew there were no guarantees.

The next morning, I took a First Response test. The test line came up positive before the control line even. I took it as a good sign of the HCG increasing fast (at the same point in my cycle during pregnancy #1, my tests had still been negative).

I snuck a moment away to call the doctor's office. I purposely scheduled my first appointment for the week after a bachelorette party/bridal shower I was hosting. I didn't want to have my heart broken before my friend's big event. I wanted the party to be special and perfect, so when we got back home, I threw myself into planning and let that be a distraction. I allowed myself to tell one friend: a woman I'd gone to high school with that I'd recently reconnected with. We'd been talking about trying to conceive issues, and she was already through her first trimester. She was amazing and listened to many of my anxieties including my retelling of a horrible nightmare I had the night before my first ultrasound where I dreamt I was pregnant with a shark.

I had extremely high anxiety on the way to the ultrasound. I was hopeful we'd see a heartbeat, and I already knew the miscarriage statistics based on that first ultrasound heart rate. Perhaps that sounds grim, but I wanted to know the realities upfront. I instantly cried when I saw our baby's heart flickering on the screen and heard that beautiful sound, and I cried the entire ultrasound. There it was: one little baby sized .74 centimeters with a heartbeat of 129 beats per minute measuring 6 weeks, 5 days (2 days ahead of what I'd expected). This put us in the lowest miscarriage bracket (6.5%); I felt extremely relieved but by no means did my anxiety disappear. It'd be another two weeks until our first official OB appointment.

The next day, my morning sickness kicked in. I spent the day on the couch; I was nauseated and vomiting all day. I've never been so happy to be sick in my life! I called the daycare where we'd been on the waitlist over a year and a half (I joined the list months before we even started trying) and gave them our official due date. Our baby was the size of a blueberry at this point but already was my whole world. In the next two weeks, I had nausea most days, but only three days where I actually was throwing up. I was extremely hungry all the time but completely turned off by most foods. I'd eat macaroni and cheese and scrambled eggs but that was pretty much it. Poor Brendan took to doing all the food prep as the smell of the trash can and fridge would literally make me vomit. I appreciated every symptom as a good sign. I told Brendan I highly suspected we were having a boy!

The first official OB appointment went great. The baby measured 8 weeks, 5 days (exactly on target based on ultrasound #1) and had a heart rate of 181. We were nearly at the same point where we'd discovered the loss during pregnancy #1. The due date was officially set for April 5th, 2018. I was relieved but still afraid.

I plan to continue with the story of our current pregnancy in a future post, but I'll conclude by saying that pregnancy is an emotional roller coaster: the anxiety has been high, the love I feel for this child is immense, and the process is completely out of my control. All I can do is ask for love, prayers, and support. Some of my friends told me they'd cried when they saw our news posted on Thursday; perhaps they knew the big courage it took for me to post it.

It's not that I don't know what can go wrong, but I'm learning how to celebrate even in moments of uncertainty; it's been over a year since our loss, and I'm just now able to write our story the way it deserves to be told. It's not a story about what we've lost: it's a story about how much we let ourselves love, how we faced the hardest hurt, and how we, despite knowing that potential for more hurt, let ourselves fall deeply in love all over again.

Here's to love: even when it's hard, when it makes you vulnerable, when you can't control what happens next; Because it's still the best thing to live for.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice

Greetings faithful blog readers,

Have you ever really wished for something, so much so that when it finally happened, it felt like a dream, and you had to keep reassuring yourself it was real? That surreal space is the one I'm writing from today when I share my and Brendan's joyful news that I'm 17 weeks pregnant with our little girl, due April 5th, 2018.

In the coming weeks, I plan to write about our journey so far. For now, I just wanted to share our happy news and ask for all the good thoughts, prayers, love, and positive vibes you can send our way. 

We already love and cherish this beautiful girl so much.

Our daughter has 10 tiny fingers, 10 tiny toes, and our whole hearts.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A 40th Anniversary Surprise

Greetings faithful blog readers,

If you know us, you know we're deep in the throes of midterms. I just finished grading one set of essays, but I can't celebrate because on my to do list is: journals, discussion board, midterms, another set of journals, a class turning in essays today, and another class turning in midterms Monday. Yikes. Send help!

In addition to all the normal midterm craziness, we've been traveling for the last two weeks. I still haven't made time to unpack from our most recent trip, but I wanted to check in and tell you all about it.

On Thursday, Brendan and I celebrated 7 years together, but there was another anniversary on our minds: his parents 40th! The three of us (Annie, Brendan and I) had been planning on doing something special for about a year in honor of the big anniversary. We officially got the ball rolling in August and pulled off the perfect plan.

Step One: We'd surprise Brendan's parents with a trip to Connecticut. Annie picked us up at the airport just in time for dinner on Thursday. The parents were a bit annoyed with Annie for being late when we all walked into the restaurant and surprised the heck out of them. The look on their faces was priceless!

10/29 Edit: While they were distracted with the shock of having all their kids in one place, I pulled off step two of the surprise and handed them an "anniversary card" Brendan and I had made. On the front was a picture of a tree, and we'd glued our most recent ultrasound photo to the inside of the card with a pronouncement that "Baby girl Egan will be joining our family tree April 2018." We got happy tears and lots of hugs from the grandparents and aunt to be. It was perfect to be able to tell Brendan's family in person and is probably our favorite memory from the weekend. 

We spent the next day visiting with Brendan's grandparents and doing the number one activity on my Connecticut in the fall bucket list: apple picking!

I discovered a new apple variety that I love: the Suncrisp!

10/29 EDIT: We also went and told Brendan's grandparents our big news in person. Everyone was super happy. Fun fact: Brendan has a first cousin on each side of his family due around the same time as us, so each set of his grandparents will get two great grandchildren within the same timeframe. Since I don't have any of my own grandparents anymore, it means so much to me that baby girl will get to have four great-grandparents from her dad's side.

Finally, it was time for Step Three: Surprise Brendan's parents with a big anniversary party. This step took a lot more work! We'd mailed invitations back in August, but there was still day of work to pull off. Annie made an excuse about "needing to go into work," and arrived at the restaurant (Tony D's) early to decorate the tables with photographs of Sharon and Tim from over the years and flowers. Plus, she picked up delicious cupcakes. Meanwhile, Sharon and Tim thought we were heading to a wine tasting and a fancy dinner, so we all got ready.

We walked into the "wine tasting," and 40 friends and family greeted them with a big "surprise!" I'd say shock is an understatement! We were a little worried about their cardiovascular health after a weekend of one big surprise after another. We had an amazing meal (Calamari, bread, salad, chicken parmesan, fish, tortellini, pasta, and the most delicious cupcakes Annie picked up) and there were many champagne toasts. When the party wrapped up, we all moved to a nearby bar and stayed out visiting until 10PM.

The day was a beautiful celebration of two people I absolutely love. They've created a weird, wacky, and wonderful family I'm so happy to be a part of, and it was so heart warming to see so many of their friends and family be there to support them. We had guests fill out memory cards on 4X6 cards Brendan's cousin Katie made and slid them into a 4X6 photo book Annie picked up. I can't wait to read all the cards on my next visit to Connecticut.

Happy 40 years married (and 47 years together!) to Sharon and Tim; we look forward to celebrating many more October fifteenths as a family.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

A Few Days in Tulsa

Greetings faithful blog readers,

Brendan and I returned late last night from the annual SCMLA conference. This year's conference was in Tulsa, OK; Brendan and I have never been to Oklahoma, so we were excited to check out a new place and see our friends. SCMLA is a yearly grad school reunion of sorts for us. We love meeting up with friends now living all over the place (Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida), and we've met so many McNeese students from different years. SCMLA is definitely a conference I look forward to participating in every year (this was my 8th year presenting) because there is so much variety. I've presented on many topics from reading my own fiction to presenting my research in science fiction, teaching freshman composition, metafiction, and gothic literature. The conference always leaves me with a lot to think about and never fails to be a worthwhile experience. This year's conference felt especially busy. Between the friends that were there, we all went to a lot of back to back panels to see each other present.

We definitely have a work hard, play hard mentality when at SCMLA. After arriving late Wednesday, we stayed up for drinks with Rita, one of our mentors/professors from grad school. Then, we were up early to see our friend and fellow fiction MFA alum, Scott, read a short story. After that, we rushed through lunch before the teaching freshman composition session I was chairing and Rita was presenting on. Next, Brendan and I both presented in different sessions (Science Fiction for me and Gender and Race for him). After such a long day, we were all hungry and tired. Luckily, one of my students had made some recommendations: Bohemian Pizza and Hodges Bend Bar. We took an Uber to the pizza place, and conveniently, the bar was right across the street. It was a great evening!

The next day was just as busy at the conference: three sessions in a row that left us tied up from 1-6. We started the day by eating breakfast inside of Mathis Brothers furniture store (we were in suburbia, and the closet thing to us was chain restaurants and a shopping mall). The cafe was called Sponz and was actually really good and reasonably priced. After our long day, we did a big group dinner at The Vault, which used to be an old bank. The food was so/so, but the atmosphere and company was wonderful. We spent the rest of the evening bar hopping and checked out five different bars or so. The group favorite was The Max Retropub, which had a bunch of arcade games. I love any excuse to play skee ball and get my fortune told by Zoltar and watch Nightmare on Elm Street. Any child of the 80s would be happy in here. We ended the night back at Bohemian Pizza and Hodges Bend (great patios for having conversations and being able to hear each other) before catching an Uber back to the hotel around 2:30!

The final day, things wrapped up at the conference early and we went for a delicious lunch with friends at Prairie Brewery. Brendan was very excited about his beer flight and the infamous prairie bomb.

We walked to Glacier chocolates afterwards, and I picked out sets of several chocolates for Brendan and I to savor throughout this week. I'm looking forward to trying Island Spice, PB&J, Strawberry Champagne, Banana Split, Limoncello, and PB Cayenne. We caught an evening flight home and as usual, had a great experience (as great as flying can be) with Southwest Airlines. These days, I'm sad whenever we aren't flying Southwest!

Today is hitting us hard. We're both exhausted, but we know we have to get it together and gear up for week 7 of the semester. Brendan wins spouse of the day for grabbing a few essentials at the store and making dinner. I love that man!

Hope everyone had a fun weekend.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Brendan's Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

Greetings faithful blog readers,

First of all, what happened in Vegas last night was a horrible tragedy. I hope our nation will make changes in order to become a safer place. I believe that laws will do more to protect us than words. I believe our current system is not okay. Other than these simple thoughts, I'm extra grateful for my loved ones today. I can't imagine the loss many families are facing; I wish no one had to endure such a thing, and I believe such a country is possible. It's easy to feel powerless, but we do have power when it comes to electing our representatives, and I hope people remember that.

On a much lighter note...

Brendan and I just enjoyed a lovely working weekend. We worked on conference papers, did school work in preparation for our upcoming absences, and caught up on laundry. Even though the weekend was about working, Brendan treated us both to an amazing breakfast on Saturday morning. It set the tone for the entire day (it was another rainy one, but after a week of rain, we're finally back to sunny skies). Since it's the perfect fall breakfast, I promised myself I'd share it with you.

1 cup pancake mix (we are currently using Kodiak Cakes) mixed with 1/4 cup apple juice & 3/4 cup water (instead of plain water).
1/2 cup of apples, diced.
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves


Before starting, you can pre-heat your oven to 300 degrees, so you can keep your pancakes warm.

1.) Heat a pan to medium/high heat and use non-stick spray or oil to grease the pan
2.) Mix pancake mix with water, apple juice, cinnamon, and diced apples
3.) Prepare pancakes according to package directions on mix
4.) Whisk together syrup ingredients
5.) Top pancakes with syrup
6.) Try to get over how delicious they are (you can't!)

Cook and Prep Time (with eggs): 30 Minutes
Deliciousness Factor: 4.625 out of 5 stars (Brendan always gives these a complicated rating because he thinks he's funny).

If you are going for the spouse of the day award (which Brendan won on Saturday!), serve with a homemade pumpkin spice latte.

We also checked out Mother at Cinergy in Odessa on Saturday. I was surprised the tickets were a little more expensive until we got there and I realized it is because the new Cinergy has fancy reclining seats...not going to deny that it was the most comfortable movie seat ever. Watching Mother is a disconcerting experience, but we both enjoyed talking about it afterwards. Would not recommend it if you don't like allegories or are easily offended.

Working weekend status:
Conference paper: almost done (Stacy), 1 paper done and 1 still getting there (Brendan)
Discussion Board: Graded
Sub Plans: Prepped
Groceries: Obtained
Laundry done: 4 loads (you know I left the last one in the dryer...)

Tulsa, Oklahoma, here we come! Any recommendations? We'll be staying in the downtown area.

Wishing for everyone's week to brighten. Happy October.

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