Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in Review.

Here is to looking back at the blessings and adventures in 2013.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Baby, its cold outside.

The snow is so beautiful this year. I had another White Christmas and even played in the snow some.
We got Lewie in the snow and he seemed to love. it!


Snowball to the face.

Friday, December 27, 2013

22 Weeks.

Baby is the size of a spaghetti squash.
 8 in. 1.5 lbs.

1. Listening - to Neil read to baby every night.
2. Eating - normally! regular portions with no aversions! Good home cooking.
3. Wearing - my first pair of maternity pants.
4. Feeling - lucky.  blessed. some backaches.
5. Drinking - cranberry juice
6. Seeing - baby gifts :) snow!! bigger belly.
7. Craving - nothing :( 
8. Needing - to start working on lessons.
9. Thinking - the 12 hour car ride to Iowa was not bad. the snow is beautiful. Baby will know snow!
10. Enjoying - family. snow.relaxation.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

2013 Christmas Card.

Christmas is just around the corner! It kinda snuck up on me. 
As is our tradition, we send a Christmas card out to all our family and friends. 
See 2012 and 2011 here.
Once they have been received, I like to post it for all our online friends and family. 

 So from our growing family to yours, Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Nursery Ideas.

If you know me, you know I enjoy decorating. Of course, I have been thinking about decorating the little nursery a lot recently. I played with a couple of themes and color schemes. Considering that it has to be gender neutral, I am pretty happy with what I have come up with. 

I just searched Pinterest for a couple of hours and found a few ideas. 
I decided on "oh, the places you'll go" as a theme. This was we could include some of our travels. 
I already have a couple of these items but plan to DIY most of the rest.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Halfway There.

I have officially reached the halfway mark! 
At 20 weeks, I feel like it has been a long journey but when I look ahead, it seems like 5 months is just around the corner. I feel like I have past the nausea-induced-coma stage and am feeling much better. I even went baby shopping the other day..in a real store...with real people!
 If I'm being honest, I am finally starting to get super excited and giddy. For awhile there I thought it was never gonna end. My belly is getting bigger and I am being super attentive so I might finally feel some movement. It hasn't happened yet but I just know its gonna happen soon! 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Case Closed.

This weekend was the last Baylor game at Floyd Casey Stadium (#CaseClosed). The opponent was the University of Texas. A Big 12 Championship, the first 11 win season ever, and the first BCS bowl bid were on the line. It was a sold out crowd. Largest in Baylor history. Not even the 25 degree weather could keep us out. 

I bought Neil this ridiculously big coat! ) He never brought a real one down from Iowa. Your welcome.



We are glad to be able to tell Baby Bear that he/she was there too!


 At the end of the game there was a very good closing ceremony. To close out the stadium, they had representatives from every generation, Art Briles, and Ken Starr each turn off one of the lights. One by one the stadium lights were turned off.

All that was left at the end was the glowing of the scoreboard with "Big 12 Champions". 
It was a great way to go out. We are excited to start a new season next year in our new stadium!


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Love at first sight.

We had a doctor's appointment yesterday. First, let me say how thankful and blessed I am that Neil has been able to make it to every appointment! He brings so much excitement and enthusiasm to the room. We also have hilarious medical conversations there!!

I had been anticipating this appointment because I knew we would get to see our baby for the first time! For the sake of keeping it real, I have to say, I worried that I was not feeding baby well enough. On top of that, I have not felt movement yet so I was getting worried. (The wonderful daddy even looked up devices that you could buy online to hear the heartbeat at home just so I could have some piece of mind.) Maybe its just first-time-mom syndrome. I am so grateful to say that everything looked healthy!

Baby weights about 10 oz. and is 19.4 cm long! That's right on track.
Ultrasounds are amazing! They even showed us 4D pictures..that was crazy!
We could see the long bones of the arms and legs, the spine, and the feet!

We also had the chance to find out if its a boy or a girl. We are happy to announce...







We decided not find out. We decided this months ago but as we were driving over there, Neil said that he wanted to find out. He almost convinced me....
He wants a boy and I think its a girl. We will have to wait and see.

It took awhile to get baby into a good position, but here is Baby Bear's first photo!

Look at that little nose....

We are in love already.


Wow, that went fast. I only have a few days left in the semester!
We spent Thanksgiving at my sister's house.
Apparently its a tradition to host after you get married. I did and now its her turn. I think it's a great way to use all your wedding gifts! And boy did she!

It went great! We had a deep fried turkey, all the sides, and just the right desserts.
She got the house together and it looked so cute!


Most of all, we got to spend really quality time with each other. I love large family gatherings but that means we have to split our attention. We also brought Grandma Reyna along. What a blessing to talk with her. Getting to know her joys and passions is so refreshing. I enjoy her humor and her excitement for life. So much of who I am is passed down from her. I could go on for days but I'll save that for another post one day.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

17 weeks.

17 weeks. Baby is the size of an onion.

1. Listening - to everyone's advice.
2. Eating - small amounts of food every two hours.
3. Wearing - mostly leggings with dresses. Buttons and zippers are not my friends right now. 
4. Feeling - uncomfortable. general nausea. more energy. pregnant.
5. Drinking - lots of water.
6. Seeing - baby websites, a bigger belly, maternity outfits in my future.
7. Craving - nothing :( 
8. Needing - to register. to clean house.
9. Thinking - that I finally look pregnant. lucky. thankful.
10. Enjoying - family holidays. my cousins baby shower. indoor sports (basketball)
Thoughts from a Daddy-to-be
"jokes about pregnancy rarely go well with a pregnant woman"

Monday, October 28, 2013

13 weeks.

13 weeks down. Baby is the size of a lemon!

1. Listening - to my instincts.
2. Eating - whatever I can keep down :( in small increments. Recently, ALMONDS!
3. Wearing - mostly regular clothes with some alterations (i.e unbuttoned pants).
4. Feeling - sick for the past 7 weeks. Nausea. Dizzines. Headaches. Fatigue.
5. Drinking - lots of water. watermelon juice.
6. Seeing - a tiny tummy forming.
7. Craving - not much. I got a hankering for Neil's surprise pasta the other night and he happily make me some :)
8. Needing - energy. to be reminded that it will pass.
9. Thinking - that is all worth it. It could be worse. My body was made for this!
10. Enjoying - the emotional support of a very busy husband. nice weather that encourages exercise.
Thoughts from a Daddy-to-be
"Being pregnant is hard."
"Baby-ing ain't easy"

How He/We Found Out.

I had all these grand ideas for how to tell Neil that we were pregnant. You know the cute ones with baby gifts, pregnancy tests, or song? Well, it didn't really go down like that.

I was in my first week of a new job. On this day, all new faculty was invited to a dinner. We went, ate, had good conversation, etc. I knew I was pregnant as we sat around that table. I don't know why or how but I had this urge to get home. Now. As soon as we got through the door, I locked myself in the bathroom and took a test. I put it away to let it work and went about my nightly routine. I figured, as soon as Neil goes to bed, I'll look at the results, and plan my creative announcement for the next morning.


As I was getting ready for bed I heard Neil ask, "What's First Response?"
"Um. What? No. Nothing"

Apparently, I left the box at the top of the trash can...womp womp.

So I had to tell him.

 "Its a pregnancy test."
"Are you pregnant?"
"I don't know I haven't looked"
"Well look already"
" Ok. You read the directions and I'll look. Is one line or two lines pregnant?"
"Two lines"
"We have two lines"
"Are you serious"

His face was priceless. Excitement and awe rolled into one. Standing there in our tiny bathroom, jumping up and down.

I didn't get my cute announcement and I do wish I had a camera to capture his face but it's something I will never forget.

He made me take another one first thing in the morning...just to be sure :)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

My Sister found a Mister.

My little sister got married this month. Between keeping the biggest secret of my life and trying to fight nausea, I have neglected this little blog. I do plan to catch up so this seems like a great place to start.

Of course the professional pictures are not ready but these were a few taken by family and friends.

Neil performed the ceremony and did a great job!

 Brother and sister of the bride and groom.

The beautiful bride.

A few things I want to remember about that day:
- Tio Rick dangling his keys in the middle of the aisle.
- Marks face as she walked down the aisle.
-  feeling nauseated and trying to fit into my dress
- The toast from his brother.
- 94 degrees in October
- The cutest flower girls.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Our BIG news!

We were so excited to finally be telling our families!
Luckily, my sister's wedding brought everyone together. My in-laws and sister-in-law came down to celebrate and that make for perfect timing.

The day after the wedding, we made reservations at one of our favorite Chinese Restaurants. Dinner was great, conversation was flowing, and my emotions ran crazy as I watched our parents. They get along, they genuinely care about one another, and they were laughing together. Little did they know that they were in for our greatest set up yet!

As Neil and I sat nervously through dinner, I made my way to the "restroom". I asked the hostess to switch out our fortune cookies with some customized ones I bought from ETSY. She asked if they were funny fortunes and I told her, in my very calmest voice, "No, they are telling our family that we are pregnant." She looked at me with an "are-you-serious" face. She almost blew my cover when she squealed with excitement!

The end of dinner came. Fortune cookies were delivered. And chaos ensued!

Some struggled with the packaging.
Some tried to locate their reading glasses.
Some pushed the chair out behind them.
Everyone was so happy!

Ultimately, everyone read their fortune.

My intention was to catch it on video but I got caught up in the moment...

This will be the first grandbaby for both our parents. The first niece/nephew for our sisters. So, it goes without saying that we are all excited!

(the cookies were really good tasting and the customization was free! I got them from this ETSY store.)

Friday, October 4, 2013

What I learned in September.

I CANNOT believe its October already!

It was kind of a whirlwind of activity and emotions and it doesnt seem to be slowing down. But I want to be purposeful about slowing down so here are some things I learned in September.

I learned that
- there are enough hours in the day but my time management skills need work :(
- napping in the middle of the day is wonderful (not for time management)
- I need a couch in my office.
- I have a very supportive husband
- 3 hours is too far for planning special occassions
- arsenic in water gets WORSE when boiled!
- how to create (and not create) a test.
- we should buy extra season tickets...we have guests every weekend!

lots of pictures coming soon!!


1. Listening - to Bill Cosby standup
2. Eating - Watermelon with lime
3. Wearing - my favorite earrings
4. Feeling - inspired. anxious.
5. Drinking - fruit juice
6. Reading - blogs, assignments, how-to books
7. Wanting - fall weather. next weekend to be here.
8. Needing -  to clean house, shop for wedding jewelry
9. Thinking -  of college friends coming to visit this weekend!
10. Enjoying - fall decor, apple cider candles

Friday, September 27, 2013


1. Listening - for answers to prayers
2. Eating - Jolly Ranchers (Watermelon).
3. Wearing - my first Baylor Faculty polo!
4. Feeling - inadequate.
5. Drinking - milk
6. Reading - test, projects, and assignments
7. Wanting - to see my Iowa parents. Patience.
8. Needing - energy. answers.
9. Thinking - of how I have never had a lesson on HOW to teach effectively.
10. Enjoying - Neil for his humor, kidness, and understanding.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Milestones and Numbers.

I think I was that kid. When I was 13 I wanted to be 16. When I was 16, I wanted to be 18. When I was 18 I wanted to be 22. Then it stopped. I stopped wanting what was bound to come anyways. My dad said to me in college, "You're going to miss this". He was right.

As I'm packing to go down to San Antonio for my BABY sister's bachelorette party, I'm surprised by the emotions it brings out. She is getting married. That's a milestone in anyone's life. Luckly, I was raised without expectations or limits regarding age and milestones. And for this I am thankful.

When I think of her getting married, it has never occurred to me that she is 25. I was married at 23. My best friend is not married and she is 27. Many cousins older than me are not yet married but thats awesome! There are 16 year old moms, my mom had me at 28, my friend is pregnant for the first time at 36. Age is just a number. It should not be a measuring stick for success.  Getting married, having kids, graduating from college are all milestones that we meet when we get there and regardless of age, they are very special.

We have all been in that situation where you are buying a bridal or baby shower gift every weekend and you start to get invitations for baptisms, and 1st birthday parties. I've been there when people start asking the BIG questions. "When are you getting married?" "When are you having kids?" "When are you moving out?" Honestly,what does it matter? Are you going to be less happy for me if I wait a few years? Not in a mean way but what if the answer is, "I don't know" or maybe its, "We are trying."? Are you going to give me some advice that will get me there sooner? Will doing it sooner guarantee a better marriage, better children? Probably not. Society does this to us and we feed into it but the freedom you feel when you disregard numbers is truly life changing.

So break the mold. Take your life into your own hands and go with God's plan. We are each a testament to His grace and mercy. Relase the pressure, the boundaries, the expectations.
Buy a house or don't.
Go for your dream job or quit your job.
Go back to school or pack up and travel.
Cut your hair. Wear red lipstick.
Whatever you do, remember that age is just

Im in my 20s and I feel "50" somedays and "18" the next. What does that even mean? Why can't a 20 something enjoy knitting? Why shouldn't she wear cheetah print heels? Now I work with college students everyday and I hope they are ageless. I hope you are and I hope I am.

Do something that breaks the age limit today.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


I know I owe you pictures of my sister's shower. I left my camera at home so it might take a second.

This week:
1. Listening - to sports radio
2. Eating - Quiznos with my love.
3. Wearing - neon yellow dress, scarf and purple flats
4. Feeling - Impatient. Excited.
5. Drinking - Sprite
6. Reading - Wicked, News stories
7. Wanting - to help with the wedding. 3 hours seems so far away right now.
                      - fall weather
8. Needing - to grade projects, input grades
9. Thinking - about the temperatures for the football game this weekend :(
                       - getting to see my Iowa family in October.
                       - a yummy lunch date with former co-worker
10. Enjoying - my office

Friday, September 6, 2013


1. Listening - to stress management Cd (soothing music)
2. Eating - lots of chips and salsa. My current favorite is from Rancho Grande.
3. Wearing - glittery ballet flats
4. Feeling - anxious about Meg's shower. Lucky about having my dream job at 27!
5. Drinking - LOTS of water.
6. Reading - Same Kind of Different as me (I assigned it for a class...), Wicked.
7. Wanting - a small sofa or love seat for my office
8. Needing - to workout my arms, finish etsy orders, get my bridesmaid dress hemmed
9. Thinking - about bridal shower, September 10th
10. Enjoying - a flexible schedule; lunch dates with my bff,

Sometimes life gets too busy to catalog everything but this is an easy way to catalog life quickly! My plan is to take this inventory once a month. I'm headed to San Antonio to host my baby sister's bridal shower!!! Pictures to come soon!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

End of Summer.

It has been a flurry of activity here since we got back from D.C.

In the past couple of weeks we have....
- put my office together

- bought a kayak

- watched a scrimmage game
- hosted a bridal shower

- cleaned house
- cleaned out closets and drawers
- became a regular visitor at the SLC (baylor gym)

- run over 10 miles of new trails
- finally gotten a new Pastor at church
- attended orientation

- prepping for two new classes
- met with old friends
- made new friends

and tomorrow officially ends summer vacation in the Shanks' house. All three of us are back in school, on the same campus, everyday!

I just know we have a wonderful year ahead of us! God will work in wonderful ways this year!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

DIY Coat rack.

When I started thinking about how to decorate my office, I knew I needed a coat rack. Mostly to keep my purse off the floor and have an umbrella handy since it won't be used for coats very often here in Texas :)
I also didn't want to spend much any money. After gathering a bunch of stuff into a pile, a light bulb went off.

I used this old shutter I got at Laverty's about three years ago. I used it as a earring display a couple of years ago.
 I also had this metal coat hanger from hobby lobby that was in my college apartment.

This was the simplest DIY I have done.
The first step was to wipe everything down...the had been in our shed for a bit.
Then I decided to take off this wood panel at the top of the shutter.

 I have no idea what is was for or why I didn't take it off sooner.
 I just used a flathead screwdriver to pry it off.

I used a decorative upholstery nail to put the coat rack onto the middle of the shutter.
 The finished project.

 I like it and it will do the job!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Home is where....

...your puppies are
your books are
your fridge is
your car is
your job is
your friends are
your parents are just a drive away
your crafts are
your bed is
your shower is
your shampoo is
your husband is!

The transitions back to "real life" has been a slow one. We jump started with a car issue as soon as we got back. We had to drive in the Texas heat without AC 2 hours to San Antonio and then 3 hours to Waco. Once we got that settled, I got started doing laundry, dishes, unpacking, grocery shopping and moving into my new office! It feels like we are finally back on track and can stay on a schedule so hopefully there will be more posts coming your way. Lots of DIY office d├ęcor will be posted soon!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Week 4 in DC

This week the weather was AMAZING! Glad to be out and about all day!

I started at the Mexican Cultural Institue. It is host to beautiful murals, art, and crafts from Mexico.


I then heard that history was in the making at the Botanical Garden. I had already been there but I did not get to see the "Corpse Flower". It is actually known as Titan Arum. It is a huge flower that blooms every decade or two. There is no knowing when it will bloom and when it does, it only stays open for 24-48 hours. It also gives off a deadly smell...literally. It smells like a dead corpse.

Neil, my sister and I immediately thought of Denice the Menage. Remember that?

I started by visiting the National Museum of Women in Art. This was only my TO DO list from the very beginning because it houses an original Frida Kahlo. I avoided going for awhile because unlike most of the museums here, there was a fee. I finally decided to splurge and not only did I get to see her, but many many other beautifully powerful works of art by some courageous talented women.
 Love the colors and random pattern. I could never be so random...
This was a picture book page by page...
 This artist did a lot of work during the 60s and focused on women's rights and anit-slavery movements.
 This map of hers showed various riots during the 60s.

 The Frida Kahlo. 
I remember the first time I disagreed with a teacher. I was in the 2nd grade and our Art teacher had us studying Diego Rivera. During my presentation, I mostly talked about his wife, Frida Kahlo and how her art was a reflection of their relationship and my teacher made me do the assignment again. I tried to explain that all 25 students in the class were doing a presentation on his art and how I thought it would be interesting to hear about her. She promised that if I did the correct assignment on him, we would cover Frida Kahlo's art. We never did. I asked her about it about 5 years later and she just thought it was too graphic and complex to study in the 2nd grade. I agree now but she should not have promised...anyways....

She painted this for a friend Leon Trotsky and included that in the painting.

From there, I picked up the postcard invitations I made for my sisters shower! They are adorable but I have to wait to show you until she gets hers in the mail :)

Thanks to Facebook, I found out that a good Baylor friend of mine just moved to DC! We immediately set up a lunch date.

I spent the rest of the day shopping in Georgetown :)

I headed to Eastern Market and the Shakespeare Library. Eastern Market has a great indoor and outdoor food market and some local artist booths. Just near by was the Folger's Shakespeare Library. Some of it was under renovation, but I got to see the stage, some 1st edition books and an interesting exhibit on Nelson Mandela. How is he realted to Shakespeare? It a stretch but, when he was a prisoner, they were each allowed one book to read, not including Bibles. One of his fellow prisoners chose The Complete Works of Shakespeare and covered it in a Biblical cover so that he could share it with his inmates. Inmates were to choose a line or phrase, underline it, and sign their names. Well, Nelson Mandela was one of those prisoners. The original book with his signature was being displayed. I think its a stretch but with all the construction, they were probably needing some material...
The stage.
 The book used in the prison, with Mandela's signature.
 Some art by Mandela.

I took it easy. After yoga, breakfast, and a trip to the post office, I decided to try my hand at Watercolors.

We decided to take tour of the Capitol.
 The inside of the dome.

 The statue room. Each state has two statues of their choosing in the Capitol

 Where Lincoln's desk used to sit.

Then we took the tunnel to the Library of Congress because I had to show it to Neil. We headed down to find a place to eat and ended up at We, the Pizza! I love the name but as we were in line, the credit card machine broke so we headed up the street and found ourselves at Hakw n' Dove. It. was. delicious! I had a flat bread pizza and Neil had a sandwich called The Dip. It was the best pizza I have ever had!

We had heard that the National Building Museum was a hidden find so we stopped by. The building was beautiful and the exhibits were more interesting that I thought they would be. They also had a few play spaces, mini golf and a cafe. It seems like a good place to take little kids.