Monday, December 29

Christmas 2014

Well, we've officially survived our first Christmas as a family with four children!

It was a perfect few days. Until of course I got the stomach flu, because I have to get sick every Christmas or it just wouldn't be Christmas.

The babies really had no idea what was going on, but hey, I did it all for the pictures—and then of course forgot to take pictures!
Literally the only picture I've got of the two of them together on Christmas. #momfail
We enjoyed some lovely meals with family, opened some presents, shuffled to Atlanta, and shuffled back to Montgomery. It was eventful and uneventful all at the same time.

I've dropped the ball on keeping this online record of our daily disasters, but am going to make it a goal in 2015 to at least write down their monthly updates. (We're going to pretend I did a two month update and just skip right on over to three on January 7th. When did my children turn three months? Was I not just like the biggest pregnant person ever five minutes ago?)

Friday, December 12

Alex's Time at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta—Egleston

Seven days feels like a lifetime. "We've come so far," is Mark's new favorite thing to say when I even want to broach the subject of our stay at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta—Egleston.

As I've said before, my littlest little love Alex had a congenital intestinal condition called intestinal malrotation. He didn't show symptoms and it was by the grace of God we found out about this life threatening condition the way we did. So in the hours and days following his operation I just kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Our experience at CHOA was wonderful. The staff was fantastic, the facility clean. However, and I say this with complete conviction, I never want to go there again, ever.

Squeaks was slated to arrive Friday at 11am for a 12:50pm surgery time. He was not to have anything (no Pedilytle, no water, no nothin') after 9am. By the time we got to Egleston he was not pleased. Then we found out that an emergency had come in and that child needed our doctor and our OR. We had been pushed back an hour and had a new surgeon. Which freaked me out a little, but I was fine to roll with it. A children’s hospital will really put life into perspective for a person.
Alex with Dr. Meisel before he went back to the OR.
Fast forward the longest hour of my life, up to this point at least, to me handing my starving child to a sweet RN with the promise of "see you soon." At ninety minutes the phone rang in the cold, sad, but somehow still cheerful, surgery waiting room for A. Anderson's parents. "Still working," the voice said. I think I spoke but honestly I can't remember.

Dr. Meisel, our new surgeon, had told me between 90 to 140 minutes was how long the surgery should take. When 140 minutes hit I was ready for the phone to ring again. I was ready to hear that my tiniest love was okay. The call didn't come. As my dear friend Anne told me before the surgery started, it's hell in the hallway. I was in hell indeed.

At the three and a half hour mark, I really started to worry. I started to play out the scenarios in my head. I started to cry.

At four hours I somehow found my voice and spoke to Mark, "What if… What will we do?" Mark and I prayed together for our son and Dr. Meisel. We didn't address what if.

At nearly four and a half hours, Dr. Meisel walked into the waiting room. I saw him and my heart fell to my feet. I'd seen only one other doctor come into the waiting room in the six hours or so throughout the day I’d been in there. That doctor didn't bring good news. I was preparing myself for bad news.

Dr. Meisel opened with, "Alex is in recovery and doing well." I think I actually screamed. Just thinking about this makes me want to cry all over again. 

There was more damage than the original scans showed, and it took a lot longer than expected, but Squeaks was going to be okay. He was stable and we could see him shortly.

Of course he was moved from recovery to his room during shift change and we didn't get to see him in that thirty-minute window. I tried not to jump out of my skin. When he was finally wheeled into 4226, he was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen while simultaneously being the scariest thing I'd ever seen.
With his various machines and tubes, he looked like those kids on Grey's Anatomy—except it wasn't a kid on TV I was looking at. It was my son.

There was a flurry of activity and honestly I don't remember much. Except when Dr. Meisel strolled in the next morning and delivered some good news. Later that afternoon the tube going down his nose to pump bile and stomach acid out of his stomach could possibly be removed and we could, finally, feed him, not long after.
 He was so hungry, I could just tell, he's an Anderson after all. I knew he wanted, needed, food. But I also knew feeding him could be a challenge and I was scared. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.

The other shoe never really dropped. He had small steps back, but he seemed to hit every milestone. He checked every box with vigor. He wasn't his usual chilled out self, I couldn't even get him to smile while we watched Coach Saban hoist up another SEC Championship trophy for our beloved Crimson Tide, but he was getting better.

When we were discharged, I remember looking at the nurse with tears in my eyes. She simply reminded me he was okay, I was okay and we were all going to be okay. Anne, one of my biggest cheerleaders throughout the entire process, shared similar sentiments. The other shoe wasn't going to drop.

He's got some scars, everyone knows chicks dig scars, but otherwise he's completely unfazed. I am forever changed, but he is completely unfazed.
Dr. Meisel was able to repair his damage laparoscopically, so he only has four small incisions. Instead of one long one.
Since he didn't show symptoms of his condition I never really knew the breadth of how it affected him. Before the surgery he would struggle to eat, taking the full suggested thirty minutes to feed, and made a dirty diaper MAYBE once every two days. Now? He's all about showing off those expensive, brand new intestines, farting and making dirty diapers every two hours or so. He sucks down his formula like a champ.
He's okay. I'm okay. The other shoe didn't drop.

Thursday, December 4

Alex's Diagnosis

I don't know where to start. So I am just going to word vomit and hope somewhere, along the way, I make sense. As a doctor recently told me, when you ask questions, you have to then hear the answers.

Alex has a congenital intestinal condition called intestinal malrotation. I refuse to call it a birth defect because Alex is not defective. This means that his GI tract does not function in the way it should. His intestines do not rotate the way they should and other elements of his GI tract are not placed in the correct spots. Untreated, it can be a life threatening condition.
Malro via
Normal via
For most people, finding out you have "malro" as it's commonly called, is when you are vomiting bile and part of your intestines have already become obstructed and, possibly, died. By the grace of God, this is not how we found out about Alex's condition.

Alex, in the beginning of his little life, just wasn't eating as well as his brother. In fact, he was barely eating at all and not making a dirty diaper. He was fussy at feedings and seemed to always draw up his legs after spitting up. Ever the nervous new mom, I mentioned it to the doctor at a checkup, after he lost over a pound in two weeks.
At his smallest, Alex was just 5 lbs.
Reflux is common in boys and in twins. The doctor thought that could be the issue, but, just to be safe, ordered an upper GI on my sweet eleven day old. When the boys and I strolled into Baptist East hospital that day I never thought my world would change.

Alex took the upper GI like a champ, but it showed malro and would need surgery before things got too far. He is not symptomatic, beyond a few warning signs, so we had some time. Though, every single time he makes a dirty diaper, spits up or vomits, my stomach falls, as each time could be a warning that the malro has cut off the blood flow to his lower gut. Every single time means part of him could be dying.
Thankfully, now he's gaining weight, however, it bothers him to eat, so he's usually a little extra fussy at times.
Alex will undergo surgery at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta tomorrow. Dr. Heiss, our version of a Christmas angel, is going to help heal him. He will be under general anesthesia and the procedure can take a few hours. But, Dr. Heiss is the best of the best, and I feel confidence and peace about it. Everything will be fine.

We are so incredibly lucky to have caught this early, but my tiny little man still has to have the surgery to correct it. And that scares the hell out of me. 

Every malro story is different, and I am very, very lucky that we are not one of the "bad" ones. As a dear family friend, whose little girl was an emergent malro baby, told me a few days ago, "Scary is scary. You have the distinct challenge of anticipating this and worrying ahead of time; we didn’t have to do that."

My prayer tonight and tomorrow and every day is of gratitude. Thankful that I had this little voice I listened to when people told me, "babies spit up; it's normal." wasn't right for my baby. I'm thankful I can talk to Anne, because she's right, there are no pain Olympics, we've still got a mountain to face, even if hers might have been bigger. I'm thankful for modern medicine, Dr. Heiss and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, because as their tagline says, they are dedicated to "all better."

Tuesday, December 2

Thanksgiving 2014

Before I get this started I should say one thing: I absolutely hate Thanksgiving. Between the food, I'm really not a fan of most casseroles or root vegetables, and the general do nothing but eat all day thing, it's never been my holiday.

Since I can let Mark talk me into pretty much anything, this year we celebrated Thanksgiving at our house and then headed to Atlanta to watch the Iron Bowl and visit with family. I might hate the food and the whole idea of Thanksgiving; I loved spending time with my family.

For Thursday night, it was a very Chew dinner. Everything except dessert was one of their recipes. I think the turkey turned out "okay," Mark said the dressing was incredible and the mac and cheese I've made a zillion times and is always a hit. Dessert was pronounced the best thing I've ever made. I am going to call this whole adventure a win. Though apparently it is damn near impossible to get a good picture of my children together.

Friday was low key with the drive and spending time with my Momma and Papa. Momma and I scooted out and, of course, did a little shopping while all the boys bonded.

Saturday was the big game and well, we all know how it ended. Watching the Iron Bowl with the biggest Alabama fan I know, my Daddy, is one of my favorite traditions of the Fall. I couldn't picture a more perfect day with all the people I love. Having all the cousins together for the first time was really fun!

I can't wait until F&A are a little older and they can all say "ROLL TIDE!"
Apparently Johnson kids never wear shoes! Melt my heart all these babies together.

Friday, November 21

Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites
When I was home I spent a lot of time watching television, staring blankly at books and falling asleep with my eyes open. Now that I've been back at work for about five whole minutes, I mean days, I find myself trolling the internet and laughing at stupid things people put on Facebook, like the video of Kevin Hart telling Jameis Winston to "stop doing dumb shit." Also known as procrastinating.

Here's what I've been favoriting this week:

ONE— The Cinderella trailer is out and it is everything.

TWO—Wednesday I got a peek at F&A's newborn photo shoot. Holy shit, I made some really adorable people. 

THREE— Everything about this article on Scary Mommy: 12 Things I Thought About Babies...Before I Had One but especially, "Maternity Leave will be a nice break from work." I remember thinking about all the things I was going to do on maternity leave and how much I was going to love getting things done. HA!  It was a miracle to get dinner made most days. And then there was that one time I had to remind myself to go outside because I hadn't gone outside in four days. 

FOUR— Baskin Robbins, like many places, celebrated Veteran's Day with a special nod to the military. was odd but also didn't stop me from devouring the ice cream. Food coloring comes in brown?

FIVEI mean, really. 

Monday, November 17

Boys, don't hate me.

Today I went back to work. I left you. But don't worry, I'll be back!

Spending six weeks at home with you guys was something I will never forget. Not just because of the sheer boredom I sometimes felt, or the bone deep exhaustion, or the time that Fitz got poop on my sweater, the wall and his own feet, no not because of that. Well, maybe because of that. 

But now I'm back to work and you're hanging with Miss Fannie. And being your momma is just one of my many titles, not my only title. I have thought about this day for many months and surprisingly it wasn't the hot ass mess I thought it would be. I was only marginally late for work. Fifteen minutes is total progress! I didn't cry when I closed the door, or when I was in the car. In fact, I felt oddly at peace—like this was how it was supposed to be. Which, honestly, I haven't felt in, uhhhh, seven months or so?

You're going to grow and change so much under Fannie's watchful eye and I am going to miss it. I'm sure I will miss some small milestones, big ones too. I know I will have plenty of "Momma Guilt" when those things happen. But I also know that when I come home at night I am going to be so much more present with you than I was these last few weeks. I will no longer take feeding time, when you stare up at me with those big brown eyes, for granted. I'll even be more present for your diaper changes. Okay, that one's a lie, I’m still pawning off the green shit on your father as often as possible. 
There are so many adventures we've yet to go on, so don't worry, every morning when I shut the door, I will be back.

Wednesday, November 12

One Month

A little late, but what matters is that it's here!

On November 7th, Fitz and Alex turned one month! It's incredibly hard to believe it's been over thirty days since y'all came into the world. It feels so natural to have y'all in the house. It seems like you've been around forever. I can barely remember what life was like before. I mean I can, but I feel like it was a different kind of fun.
In your first month you've celebrated Halloween and by default, learned how embarrassing your Momma truly is.
You also began the complex relationship of boys and their dogs.
Fitz, you constantly are warbling away at your brother in the crib and I'm convinced you're already starting to tell secrets. You, my future little H-back, are weighing in at a solid seven pounds, seven ounces, which is one pound and two ounces more than your birth-weight. You're a tall little dude at 21 inches. Because of your constant noise, I've started calling you Fuss Budget, or simply Budget. Sorry 'bout that one kid.

Alex, you're my little fighter. You've had some tummy troubles which resulted in you dropping some weight and the nickname “Shrimpy” by some. Though you've found your groove and now tip the scales at six pounds five ounces, a pound and an ounce more than your birth-weight. Almost as tall as your brother, you're 20 and a half inches long. You're built like me and I have a feeling you'll be a long, lean one. I call you Squeaks, as you are constantly squeaking when you're upset. Squeaks is better than Shrimpy, right?

I can't wait to see what the next month holds. Hopefully we will all three get better at taking photos.

Friday, November 7

A New Normal

October was a pretty big month for me. I had some babies.
Homeward bound!
That's so weird to actually say. On one hand, it feels like it was just the middle of the summer and I was a hot pregnant girl dreaming of October. Now it's November: Fitz and Alex are nearly a month old! WOAH. I also lost nearly 60 pounds in eight days. WOAH.

I won't go into too many gruesome birth details, because who really wants to know that the first words out of my mouth after seeing Fitzy was “What the F are we going to do with a baby?”, but I will say I'm really glad I'm not going through that ordeal again anytime soon! If ever.

Though, I would think that losing three liters of blood, and subsequent blood transfusion, would turn ANYONE off of an activity...

The hospital was a blur after their birth but look at how awesomely cute they were.
Oh look my husband is super cute too!
They've already changed so much. They've already grown so much. They are just so awesome. 
I'm not going to even pretend like I remotely know what the hell I'm doing. But I do feel pretty lucky to be their Momma. Though maybe not at the 3am feeding time. 

It's almost time for me to go back to work, five weeks sure did fly by, and while I'm excited to get some adult interaction again, I am going to miss mid-morning snuggles and long afternoon walks to the park.

Finding a “new normal” has never intimidated me, and over the next few weeks hopefully we will quickly fall into our new normal. If not, well, there's always gin. 
That's not even half the bottles we go through in a day...

Thursday, August 28

The 80 Thoughts You Have During Pure Barre, Pregnant

Recently, I came across this post about the 100 thoughts you have during Pure Barre class and basically laughed my seat off/nodded right along. I mean it pretty much describes every class to a T. From rookie to veteran, some version of most of those thoughts runs through your head during the hour-long workout. I mean we all do KIND OF look like we're having sex during back dancing. 

However, lately, I've noticed that my thoughts have changed slightly. I'm WAY more desperate to think, "okay, I can do this." than before. So, while some of the 100 thoughts still apply, I thought I'd update the list a little.

The 80 Thoughts that Run Through Your Head at Pure Barre When You're in Your Third Trimester
(I really need a shorter title.)
I mean, the socks are basically perfect.
  1. Okay, the thermostat is set at 76 today. You can totally survive that without fainting.
  2. One day I’ll get my old body back, and then I'll finally buy some Lululemon. 
  3. Why does every woman in here but me have on Lululemon?
  4. I really wish I hadn't had that milkshake at lunch. 
  5. Pay attention fool, you're kneeing yourself in the belly. 
  6. Rock back on your tailbone? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA 
  7. First set of curls. You got this. You've still got abs. Somewhere.
  8. Remember to drink water. 
  9. You're about to give birth, you can plank for ninety seconds.
  10.  …okay maybe you can't plank for ninety seconds.
  11.  No, you can. Hang on to it. Fifteen seconds. 
  12. It's totally okay to cry during side arm plank right? 
  13. Why is the "wrap and reach" giving me vertigo? 
  14. Oh goodie, F’ing push-ups. 
  15. Drink some more water you're redder than a tomato. 
  16. More push-ups. Yay.
  17. You did like 90% of the push-ups the instructor called out. 
  18. You're basically indescribably awesome little momma. 
  19. Shit. Tricep dips. 
  20. Do I look this whale-like when I'm sitting at work? 
  21. My feet are looking nice and balloon-like today. 
  22. I really want a shortbread cookie. 
  23. My arms are so strong! 
  24. Why don't my arms look like this at home? 
  25. These two lb. weights are heavy. 
  26. If I can't lift four total pounds, how am I going to lift a baby? 
  27. Yes! I got called out for good form. 
  28. Wait, was it good form or hang in there? 
  29. Either way, I’ll take it. 
  31. I totally shouldn't have had that milkshake at lunch.
  32. First thigh, it’s a marathon not a sprint. 
  33. Think about how small an inch is. 
  34. Don't punk out of this first one. 
  35. Don't punk out of this first one. 
  36. It's almost final ten. 
  38. Why do people stare when I slide into a spilt? 
  39. Left side, you're about to be my bitch. 
  40. …maybe not. 
  41. Seat work. I can do this. 
  43. I am so having a cookie after dinner. 
  44. Pretzel. This is going to be fun.
  45. Who is breathing so loud? 
  46. Crap, I think that's me. 
  47. Left side! Strong Side! 
  48. …that’s from a movie, I think. But which one? 
  49. Remember the Titans! That's the movie!
  50. Abs against the wall, aka, folding your giant boobs into your giant belly.
  51. It feels so good to stretch my legs.
  52. I should be tucking harder but this stretch is really lovely. 
  53. Shit, fast abs. Don't do diamond. Don't do diamond. 
  54. Of course, freaking diamond. 
  55. Mmmm, back stretch! 
  56. Center of the room, almost to the door! 
  57. C curve with a giant belly looks really odd. 
  58. I look like a teeter totter. 
  59. Strong arms up; you can do this! 
  60. Time to rock some upper body curls. 
  61. YES! I still have strong abs in there. 
  62. Lower body curls. RIIIIGHT. 
  63. I wonder if the lower body curls tickle the baby's head? 
  64. It feels so awesome to arch my back.
  65. I hate this arm/leg stretch preggo modification. 
  66. I might topple over. 
  67. Was I supposed to do 12 or 15 on each side? 
  68. Everyone looks like they are having sex. 
  69. I wonder if I look like this having sex? 
  70. {stifled giggles; dirty thought about husband.} 
  71. These songs always make me miss college and cheap kamikaze shots.
  72. I don't remember this making the side of my seat burn so much. 
  74. I love the stretching. 
  75. I really love the stretching.
  76. Rock up? More like wiggle and look sort of like a fish out of water. 
  77. My whole body feels awesome. 
  78. I think I just meowed when the instructor stretched me. 
  79. I feel amazing. 
  80. Ah, yes, this feeling. This is why I come every day. 
Linking up with Katie for Healthy Habits!

Tuesday, August 19

Dear Boys, be fearless.

Y'all aren't even here yet, and I already have so many things I want to teach you, show you, give you. But as I think about how different everything is going to become in the next few weeks, for you and for me and for your Daddy, one thing sticks in my mind. I want you to be fearless.

I won't pretend to take your health for granted, so if you are listening in there, stay in as long as your little lungs need I'm sorry it's so cramped..., but I want you to be fearless starting right now.

This morning we will go out into the woods of middle Tennessee and you will experience yet another logging operation. you'll feel my heartbeat quicken when I first get out of the car and smell the diesel and fresh air, and again, when I hear the feller-buncher, delimber and skidder, and all the other big machines working for the first time—all the machines you'll one day become fascinated by, I hope. But then you will feel my whole body relax as I find my rhythm with my interview, as I move about the tract taking pictures. As I find my own fearlessness.

Momma has made her fair share of mistakes. Daddy, too. You'll soon learn that we're all stained with Original Sin and nobody is perfect. We will all continue to make mistakes. But it's not letting these mistakes define us that is truly important.

It's about finding that fearlessness to try again, after we fail. To learn when to push. To always be pushing. That's what makes us great. That's what makes us fearless.

Plenty of people in your life will help shape you into whomever you'll end up being. I personally want you to be a smart set of tennis players with sweet smiles and a little mischief in your eyes. I have a feeling that Alex will end up being the one, besides me of course, that knocks some sense into you, Fitz, every now and then. But what do I know? We don't know each other extremely well at this point.

I do know that over the last eight months, the three of us have been through Hell and back. We've struggled. We've been sick. We've been sad. We've traveled. We've gotten stuck in an ice storm. We've eaten every chocolate chip cookie known to man.

I've tried to be fearless: For y'all and for me. So now it's soon going to be your turn. Be fearless for me. Don't let someone tell you you can't do something. Don't ever accept no as an answer. Have the heart of lion but the compassion of a lamb.

Learn from my mistakes and my successes. Give me some slack when I can't give you everything you want, because of this reason or that reason. Recognize I am just trying to handle the uncharted waters of being y'all's Momma. I will always fight for you. But, for it to work, we've all got to be fearless.

Are you ready? Because I think I might be.

Thursday, July 31

Healthy Habits During Pregnancy: Pure Barre

I've been #addicted to Pure Barre since I took my first class at the Montgomery studio on February 6th, 2013, two days after they opened. I've taken over 200 classes in the last year and a half.

200! 100 of them in less than one year, and the other 100 while pregnant with twins, which doesn’t make me a rock star, but I thought I’d humble brag there for just a minute…Go me!

As with everything in my life, I find that I thrive on routine, and PB is no exception. When I first started taking classes I was in a different place life wise. I was working two jobs, traveling pretty consistently, had a bustling social life dating all the boys I could find and enjoying being me. I hesitate to say "being a young professional" because what does that even mean?, but I guess you could say that’s what I was? I took classes at 5:45am three days a week for over a year, and only one class after work a week. It was the perfect start to my morning, I felt better about the day and found myself not as tired or "slow to start" at work.

Now, my routine has obviously changed, as I can't ever seem to drag myself out of bed before about 7:20 at best. I take classes after work each day. While I miss getting a good start to the day and coming home from work around 5 with the evening to get some "chores" done, it was important to me to maintain PB as part of my daily life, even after getting pregnant.

I feel like I have to "make time" for Pure Barre now more than I ever did in my "previous" life. As a person that took to classes like a fish to water, never noticing that I had to make time before, this was disappointing. Though, I stuck it out and couldn't be happier about it. Classes have gotten harder as my belly has gotten bigger. In fact, watching me tuck, especially during the section of abs against the wall under the barre, is really a sight for sore eyes. But the classes have greatly improved my stiffness.

I was always flexible, and haven't lost any of it since getting pregnant, so being able to stretch daily really helps. I have a lot of round ligament pain, back pain and, sadly, all the other pains many have, and I've found this to be my relief. Sadly, the budget doesn't allow for the weekly prenatal massages that I've been told by other moms-to-be are ABSOLUTE LIFESAVERS, eyeroll on those bias.

Pure Barre is my go-to recommended form of exercise for anyone: pregnant or not, former dancer or not, super strong or not so super strong. It really works, with the added benefit of a mind escape and improved flexibility. And what lady doesn’t want improved flexibility? Classes are simultaneously fast and slow and will keep you on your toes for all 55 minutes.

I don't know what life will look like once Fitz and Alex make their way into this world. I've read plenty of things about "Momma guilt," being intentional and the whole working versus staying home thing, and how sometimes expensive exercise classes get tossed aside for "more important things."

A friend of mine, and fellow PB'er and ironically enough twin boy mom, once told me that you have to find out what works for your particular family and just go with that. Pure Barre makes me feel good; it is one measly hour a day and helps me be my best self. It's beyond a healthy habit, it's part of who I am, and I just can't see myself giving it up.

**Linking up with Katie Did What for Healthy Habits!

Friday, July 11

Spilling the Beans

When I finally let reality set in, that I was going to be having a baby, followed very, very quickly by having another baby, aka the big T word, I decided that a lot of the Pinteresty preggo things weren't in the cards.

I haven't kept a weekly journal. I didn't announce our littles at 12 weeks, probably because I wasn't actually sure I was preg at 12 weeks but I digress a smidge. I try not to be overly HEY I AM PREGNANT OVER HERE PEOPLE on social media (or in real life!). But there was one thing I was certain I wanted to do: a gender reveal.

I knew from the beginning that I wanted to find out the babies' gender, it helps so much with planning. But it also is very hard to be kept a secret with twins as I have an ultrasound at every appointment and with so many doctors and nurses to be seen it can be hard to be kept neutral.

I wasn't exactly sure how I wanted to do the reveal, or who it would be to exactly, but I knew I wanted to do one. With how schedules worked out, we ended up finding out about the boys the day before Mark's birthday, the day we were going to Atlanta before continuing on for our mountain weekend in Blue Ridge.

I decided to tell my Dad, my bestest bestie Mallory and a few other close friends and family over the phone after the appointment (they couldn't stand to wait) but I decided to do the reveal with my Momma and Stepdad. I looked at Pinterest at all the different ideas and didn’t really like any of them—seemed a little trite and not really me.

Enter: “Spilling the Beans” Dinner
My Stepdad grilled some flank steak, we had some comfort food sides, and my Momma did a "reveal" tablescape.
 I swear she was all about the tablescapes before tablescapes were a thing. I love the little animals she picked! Of course I already knew we were about to be diving head first into blue and little animals for the next long while...
I bought two mason jars at Michael's; painted the insides solid black and decided to fill them with the correct color "beans" for each baby. I labeled each jar with gender-neutral tags and ribbon.
After dinner each one of my parents got to open their jar and "spill the beans." I don't think I have ever seen my Momma eat that fast in her entire life: holy shit talk about impatient. 
I believe a solid caption here would be "Mark you bastard." Or "One more to go! GIMMME SOME PINK!"
The look on their respective faces pretty much says it all. My poor Momma.
We have videos of each one opening the jars that immediately send me into laughing fits, and I can't wait to show Fitz and Alex when they are old enough to understand! It was a great beginning to this wild ride of twin boys.

Wednesday, July 9

Summer Reading: June 2014

I'm going to be hard on myself for a minute. Which I know is a terrible idea—especially pregnant. BUT I didn't meet my summer reading goal for June. I read only one book. I got through a stack of magazines I've been "meaning to read" but in terms of actual books, I just knocked out one. And in the process, disappointed myself. But hey, one is better than none? I don't really have any reason I didn't read more except the ever present Fitz and Alex Notebook of Things to Take Care Of.

That won't overwhelm me this month though! Over the long weekend I started a new book and I've got two work trips in the pipes for this month. It's looking like I will get back on the reading tract!

The book I did read for June was Summer Blowout by Claire Cook. I loved it.
Cover via Amazon
Definitely in line with what I normally read, Summer Blowout was easy and enjoyable. I could relate to the complex family dynamic and loved that the book was partially set in Atlanta. It would be a perfect weekend read: some drama, lots of humor and a few twists you might not exactly see coming. I'm also a sucker for strong female leads with rag tag dogs by their side. Go figure.

Interesting side note, Cook is the author of the book Must Love Dogs, which should sound familiar to a few folks thanks to the lovely Dianne Lane, John Cusack movie of the same name. I now want to both read the book and watch the movie for the eleventy billionth time.

Let me know if you read Summer Blowout, I'm always looking to talk books with people! And, as always, I'd love to hear some suggestions on what to read next!

Monday, July 7

Currently (Vol. III)

It's been a crazy few weeks, and I know it will only get crazier. So in an effort to unscramble my brain a bit, I'm going to try to be better about keeping up with a weekly Currently. post. Who knew that babies required so much attention and details and to do listing and don't forget this listing, BEFORE THEY EVEN WERE BORN. 
Thinking about: Still on the redoing my house thing. Though this weekend I got to start on a very special room: Fitz and Alex's nursery! There are still oh so many things to decide, and it's been frustrating. It continues to be frustrating, thanks to this thing called a budget, BUT my Momma and I found some fabrics this weekend that I fell in love with, so it's slowly but surely coming together. Even Mark approves of the ikat print for the curtains, saying, "Those things sort of look like arrowheads, so I like it."
Reading: I am being a little hard on myself, but I did not reach my June goal of reading three books. After I finished Summer Blowout, which I loved by the way, I sort of stalled. I worked my way through a few magazines, but didn't pick up a book. I found myself being overwhelmed by the Fitz and Alex Notebook of Things to Take Care Of. This weekend though, I started reading The Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell by Loraine Despres and am loving it. Though as I was reading last night I realized that parts of the book seem really familiar, and I think I might have already read it. But I'm not 100% sure, so I want to finish it out. The story is definitely a perfect one for a sassy Southerner like myself. The historical fiction aspect of the story drew me in with page one, I  recommend it wholeheartedly!

Listening to: Still enjoying some silence and the occasional dog bark.

Watching: Suits. If you don't watch, I suggest you start. Immediately. Here, I'll give you a teaser.

Thankful for: Many, many things always, but this week I am especially thankful for my sweet friend Shelby who took these beautiful pictures of me that helped me "share my secret" last week. 

Monday, June 30

I've been keeping a secret...

It's a big one. And I've been terrible about keeping it. Because I have never been one to live my life in the slow lane, the #johnsonandersonadventures are about to change in a big way.
The Anderson fraternal twin boys, yes fraternal twin boys, will be making their way into the world smack in the heart of Alabama football season, in the middle of September.
Twin! Boys! Holy! Shit! Nothing to do but laugh at this point.
After the initial shock wore off for some, if it will ever wear off for me I do not know, the entire Johnson/Rubin/Anderson family has fully embraced this new normal.

I'm definitely excited, and I definitely had fun messing with my Momma doing a little "gender reveal."  
Her twin boys oh-shit! face
There are still so many uncertainties, so many things I have no flipping clue about. I find new things to worry about every single day. Like the babies aren't even here yet and I'm worried about buying them each a car for their 16th birthday, might be an example.

Don’t even get me started on the whole mess of actually being pregnant. So many things about the miracle of life really, really suck. I had a really rough time for the first four months or so, but now I think I’m cruising along, relatively speaking. I still hurt pretty much all over, all the time. And I still struggle with the wearing elastic waist pants on a daily basis thing—but my god! Those things are like manna from heaven on my widening body.

I don't know what the future will hold. I don't know what it's going to be like tomorrow, next week or next year. But I do know that I am surrounded by love and that's all I can ask for.
I have a feeling these twins are going to love the people twins.
Well, that and a few more hours in the day to more adequately adjust my pure barre to cookie eating ratio. Yes, I'm still keeping up with my daily pure barre routine, because I really need the exercise AND the cookies to keep me sane. 

Special thanks goes out to my sweet friend Shelby for taking these fun pictures of me and hue studio for having some floaty preggo friendly tops in their massive sale last week. 

Monday, June 23

Currently (Vol. II)

Linking up with Jenna and the Mama Collective girls for a little update.
Thinking about: Still working on the house. I made a big dent in getting our bedroom and closet a little more organized (another big bag to Goodwill! Yay!) But it still feels like the house is a bloody mess. I know I just need to let it go and be fine with "whatever" but I am really struggling with wanting it to look, be, a certain way. Apparently, I am a little bit of a control freak and when Mark puts things away it gives me serious anxiety. Go figure. This is going to be a long process, but it's looking better after every weekend. Still need a few things here and there, but the master bed and bath are basically done! Victory is mine!

Reading: A backlog of People magazines from like May. I should probably be ashamed, but honestly, I like the book reviews and sometimes they have really good recipes. It's also helping to clean off my growing stack on the coffee table.

Listening to: World Cup soccer, barking dogs and my own thoughts. Lately, and I don't know why, I've been tuning out a lot of "noise." I still have the radio on in my car, but I don't think I actually hear it most of the time. Sometimes I just really appreciate the silence. I think that comes from too many years of living alone. I go through phases; it's either all silence or the radio/tv/ipod constantly. Right now, I am firmly in the silence phase.

Watching: I haven't gotten really into a show lately, so I'm on the hunt for recommendations. Something I could binge watch on Netflix would be nice! It seems I stick to my standby favorite Criminal Minds, when I have some time to kill eating lunch, folding laundry, etc. However, Mark and I did watch a movie this last week we both loved, which god! what a rarity!, starring, ironically, Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake.

 Runner, Runner was action filled for Mark and had some witty dialogue for me.  Since we watched it via Showtime On Demand, it was nice to have a "movie night" without it costing anything. I definitely suggest you watch it, if the opportunity presents itself. It didn't get rave reviews from the critics, but we liked it. Full disclosure: this is by no means a chick flick, or chick flick pretending to be dude friendly. It’s a movie about online gambling set in Costa Rica. It gets a little violent at times.

 Thankful for: 2/7ths of my little family tuckered out after getting some baths in the summer heat. The fact that one of the cushion covers was in the wash just makes this picture that much better. Please note how desperately I need to order a new couch. I mean hello ugly mother in law hand me down, YUCK! 

Wednesday, June 18


Is it just me, or do you hear Dolly Parton's voice singing, "workin' nine to five," every time someone asks you about your 9 to 5 life? No? Just me? Okay, moooooving on.

Today I am linking up with Sarah for the #9to5TotalSocial to talk about one of my favorite things: the glam life of #WoodsBarbie.

Venus Trapped in Mars

If you're new around here, you might not know what I do for a living. I'm a writer and magazine editor, sometimes crappy photographer and social media poster. I work for a small trade magazine publishing firm that puts out seven different magazines in the forest products industry. What does that mean, exactly? 
That's me down in the center, but I bet you figured that out.
I'm responsible for contributing feature articles, photos and columns to all seven magazines. I also "shepherd" one of the magazines, which means I am responsible for culling the entire thing together every month. So I read every page about three million times over, write the editorial at the front, check the pictures and hassle the other writers and PR people to get their stuff in on time. Along with a few others, I contribute to each magazines' blog, Facebook and Twitter. I also run a Facebook and Twitter just for #thehardhatdiaries related adventures. Each month I also put out an e-newsletter relating to two of the magazines. Holy crap, written out like this, little #WoodsBarbie has quite the list of responsibilities. Did I mention I was the only girl in the department? And one of the few women in the industry? I am. 

 HOWEVER, thanks to this job, I get to travel. A lot. All over the world. It's actually sometimes awesome. Sometimes it isn’t, but sometimes, it really is. Setting my own schedule, traveling the backwoods of this country (and spreading my wings all the way to Finland) has given me a lot of opportunities that others can only dream of. While I might complain about my job, I am very fortunate to not have to sit in a cubicle all day, every day, 52 weeks a year. 

In the past three years I've been… 
All over the South and learned that we are in fact, living stereotypes sometimes.
This is a real place in Mississippi.
 To Michigan to discover that while you need a jacket no matter the time of year, it definitely does not suck up there.
I just couldn't get over the gorgeous blue sky!
Operated countless pieces of heavy machinery and power equipment, to further solidify the personal belief that I am in fact, a total badass.
There is also video, if you need more proof.
On the trip of a lifetime to Finland, where I realized sometimes a charmed life isn’t what you thought it might be, but that doesn’t make it any less charmed. I also realized I would like to move to Europe pretty much as soon as possible.
Literally on top of the world
My "9 to 5" isn't like most peoples, in fact on the road, it can sometimes be 6 to 3! I love what I do, even if it means doing something I never thought I would. Because what little aspiring writer from Atlanta dreams of being around this all the time?

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