Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My Brother the World Traveler

For anyone who is interested or doesn't know, I'm the oldest of 3. My sister, Clare, is the youngest and lives in Conway, AR. My brother, Charlie, lives in Missoula, MT; however, he and his girlfriend, Oriana, spent the last few months in Oregon working on her family's ranch. They did this so that they could save up enough money to spend the next few months in Asia. Charlie has always been quite the adventurer and he and Oriana left last week for Bangkok. If anyone is interested in reading about their journey, check out their blog at gonethai.blogspot.com or click on their link under my Blog Buddies titled Sawadee... It's been tough over the last few years to see him very often, and the last time I saw him was in May of '07 when my dad and I went up there for his college graduation and a week of man time. Below is a picture from that trip. Love you bro, you guys be safe and keep us posted!


Monday, December 15, 2008

Wake Up, I'm Pregnant!

So it's been 3 months since my last post and a lot has happened in that time. I kept meaning to post some updates, but the longer I waited, the harder and more overwhelming it got. Leave it to a life altering event to provide me with the proper "kick in the pants" I needed to finally get after it. I know I tend to be wordy, and people have always said that I make a three ring circus out of everything... well, I have no intention to do anything different here.

It was Friday morning, November 7th, and I was asleep. Emily was up getting ready for work, which is typical. What was not typical was the way she kept asking me when I was getting up. I still had like an hour to sleep and she was all "hey when are you getting up?" "I'll get up in a little while." A few minutes passed... "so, when are you getting up?" "Babe, I'll get up in a few minutes." Another few minutes pass and she says "Hey, are you gonna get up?" "Seriously, how many times are you going to ask me that question?" Then the light comes on and I opened my eyes and saw this:


Then, after I rubbed my eyes, I saw this:


Needless to say, we are both very excited. Emily told her family pretty much right away because she knew that she wasn't going to see them until Christmas, but we waited and told my family over Thanksgiving. We told Dad and his wife Deborah, my sister Clare, and the Walkers (Dad's sister Debbie and her family) when they were here in Longview, and then we went and had brunch with Mom in Tyler and told her. My brother Charlie lives in Montana and we called him with the news. Everyone is very excited. This will be Emily's parents' NINTH grandchild, my parents' first, and my Aunt Debbie just became a grandmother too. In fact, she had just flown back from England where Abbey and Clark had Caleb.

It's been really fun over the past month as we gradually got to tell more and more people. We've definitely started the "preliminary" stuff. Our friends Marc and Dana just had their baby, Jake, in Phoenix and we visited them last weekend. Emily is doing great given the situation, although I don't think she tells me how she's really feeling most of the time. In her case, the whole "morning sickness" thing should just be called "sickness" because it seems to be pretty constant. She's a trooper though and isn't letting it keep her down too much. Last Thursday was her first official check-up with the baby doctor. I met her at the office and he came in and did his thing. After some questions and a little calculation, he said we were at about 8 1/2 weeks, when we were thinking it was more like 7 1/2. We weren't even sure if he was going to do an ultrasound, but he was all for it. When he gelled her up and put the transducer on her belly we could immediately see it. It looked like a little jellyfish and in the middle was the heartbeat, as clear as day. I've heard all the stories about how having a baby will change your life and I think I have a healthy respect for that concept, but nothing can explain the feeling I got when I saw that little thing fluttering away. Total joy and emotion. When I got to the doctor's office that day, I didn't even know if we were going to have an ultrasound, much less see a beating heart! What a surprise!

So here we are now, almost 9 1/2 weeks into pregnancy. It's so weird, because it seems like we just found out yesterday. I made a comment to a friend of mine tonight about how it was still pretty early, and he said "not really, you're almost through the first trimester, that's 1/3 of the way". WOW! Time really does fly by. July will be here before we know it. By the way, July 16th is the projected due date. My birthday is the 24th, so it should make for an exciting month. I told Emily she might have to hold out and have the baby on my birthday... she didn't like that idea. People keep asking me if I want a boy or a girl and my response is that I just want a healthy baby... and when he gets older he'll be the best big brother ever. Wait... um... I mean she'll make a great big sister. We'll know somewhere around 19 weeks when Em has her first full ultrasound. Until then, the doctor has said that everything looks 100% perfect and all we can do is pray that the baby continues a healthy development. We'll keep everyone posted on the latest goings on. Please keep Emily and the baby in your prayers.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cyber Rose

I would have liked to post this earlier today but it was not possible. Today is September 18th, 2008, which means that Emily and I have been married for 6 years and 4 months. Isn't that adorable?! It's our month anniversary! (insert teardrops here) During our dating years and for the first few years of our marriage I religiously gave her a long-stem rose on our little "anniversaries". Not a huge deal, just something to make her feel special and let her know that I was thinking about her. I'm almost ashamed to say that my little tradition has all but fizzled. Well today I just wanted to something to show her and everyone else how much I love her. I can not imagine a better wife and friend. I'm a very lucky man so I thought I'd list some reasons why.

First I'll start with 5 things that I love about us and our relationship. 1) We share, or at least endure, many of the same interests. For example, I cried during The Notebook and P.S. I Love You... yeah, I said it... and she came with me to the 13-hour Lord of the Rings movie marathon and the midnight premiere of Indiana Jones. 2) We love spending time together, but have no problem doing our own thing. 3) We rarely argue, and if we do we always talk it through and it usually ends in laughter. 4) We share many of the same morals, beliefs, and opinions when it comes to religion, politics, discipline of our future children, etc. 5) We make each other laugh... a lot. We were sitting on the couch the other day and one of us said something that made us both laugh and Emily looked at me and said, "I'm so glad we're fun." I agree.

Now I'll list 5 things that I love about Emily. 1) She has the biggest, most amazing heart. Any of you that know her know what I'm talking about. Em always puts others before herself. A quality that many people, myself included, do not always possess. 2) She is an AMAZING cook! Which works great for me because I don't really like to cook and I'm not very good at it. 3) She is extremely supportive and always manages to cheer me up and help me see the positive side of things if I'm down. She is like this with friends and family as well. 4) She is freaking hilarious and has the best laugh of anyone I know. If you are around her when she laughs, you will instantly be in a good mood no matter what. 5) She is freaking gorgeous! Are you kidding me? Just look at the picture.


So there you have it. A handful of reasons why I feel very blessed. I guess this is my cyber rose to you this month. I love you Emily, happy mini-anniversary!

Monday, September 1, 2008

P90X Update.

Well, I originally intended to give an update on our P90X adventure every week but it hasn't really worked out for me. That doesn't mean that we haven't been getting after it though. Yesterday marked day 1 of week 7, which means that we are halfway through the program. I'm proud to say that we have not missed a workout yet... well, with the exception of yesterday. It was a 5 hour drive back from Brownwood and we didn't get home until almost 9pm. We were pretty exhausted and decided that since we are both off for Labor Day, we will do both workouts today. We've been very consistent (we even took it to Gulf Shores!) and since we won't actually be missing a workout, we agreed that this was acceptable and not "skipping".

As far as the program goes, here are some of my thoughts. P90X is the absolute real deal. It is intense, it is hard, and it is doable. You absolutely get out of it what you put in. The hardest part was making time the first week but now it is just part of our daily routine. We both enjoy it very much. I've never looked forward to getting up in the morning, or getting home from work in the evenings to work out. I think it is because of the results. I can feel the difference in my body, and see it in the mirror a little more every day. We both can. I would highly recommend it to anyone. Those of you that we've talked to about it, thanks for your support. I'll try to update a few more times before we're done and I'll for sure post at the end, maybe even some pics... if Em will let me! :) Now I'm going to bed because it's 1:30am and I have to get up early if I'm gonna hack it with Emily.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

What's that Smell?!

From baby humans to baby skunks (see slideshow for more info), the last two weekends have been really fun, interesting, and kinda stinky for me and Emily. We got to spend both with very good friends that we have not seen in a long time. Last weekend, Gwendolyn and John came to Longview with their 4 month old girl, McCollum. Gwendolyn and Emily met at OBU and have kept their friendship strong over the years. She married John a few years ago and they live in north Arkansas now. I've only been around John a handful of times, but he's a great guy and we hit it off right away. They are definitely two of our favorite people and we wish we could see them more often.

This weekend we went to the big city of Brownwood, Texas to help Dalton and Kristen break in their new house. They just moved there from Columbia, Missouri and are about to have a baby. Kristen is teaching biology and Dalton is coaching tennis at Howard Payne. Dalton's family and Kristen's mom were there as well. Dalton and I met in college. We pledged S together, roomed together for most of college and then for a year after college in Little Rock. We were groomsmen in each others' weddings, and he's one of my best friends on earth, but I consider him more of a brother. Kristen, Gwendolyn, and Emily were all Chi Deltas at OBU.

Here are some pics from both weekends. Enjoy!

John, Gwendolyn, and McCollum

She's a cutie!
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Sushi at GZ's
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McCollum got to kick it with our nephew, Garrett, while we were eating.
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Brownwood, Tx.

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John and Gwendolyn, McCollum is beautiful. Dalton and Kristen, I'm sure that bun-in-the-oven Hutchins will be too! We had a blast with you guys the past few weekends. Thanks for being such great friends. We feel really blessed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Gulf Shores 2008

Every summer the entire Pope family packs it up and heads to the beach. It's been a family tradition since Max and Margaret got married and I believe they've only missed one summer since. And for anyone that knows Max, this is the only week out of the year where he actually does nothing. I know it's a shocker, but he actually defines "relaxing" when we're there. We always say Gulf Shores, when in actuality, we usually stay in Orange Beach. Gulf Shores is a few miles down the road and is better known in the Pope clan as "Nerd Beach". Speaking of the Pope clan, just look at the picture below and you'll see what I mean.

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It's a pretty routine vacation that I know Em and I really look forward to every summer, and I'm sure everyone else does too. Things have mellowed out in the last 7-8 years, with 8 kids and all, but we have an absolute blast regardless. And Liz is a big help and great relief to some of the parents. Entertain the kids for a free trip to the beach... no brainer. To give everyone an idea of what a typical week at the beach is like with our family, I'll just share a few things from this year. There is a show that comes on HDNET here called Beachgoers Exposed. I saw an episode recently and they did this whole bit on families/groups that go to the beach and take everything under the sun with them. They claim an area, they set up tents, and they pretty much live on the beach. Well we've always had a tent set up, but after this year, I think the verdict is in. We are officially "those people". Eighteen people, a giant wagon carrying 2 coolers, beach chairs galore including 4 super high tech "zero-gravity" chairs (eyes rolling), a kiddy pool, kites, 2 little baby tents, and four 10'x10' party tents put together to make one massive shaded area. Once the "structure" is up, activities include laying in the sun, relaxing in the shade, napping, visiting, iPodding, reading, trafficing kids back and forth from the pool, building sandcastles, and flying kites. I think Faber read about 10 books on the beach. I read half a book and Emily actually read an entire novel in one day. I'm such a proud husband. Mason and I flew our stunt kites and schooled some guys in the group next to us that had no idea how to fly theirs. Amateurs. A little bit of shopping, a movie, eating out a time or two, it was a great time. The water was pretty murky the first 2 days... lots of seaweed and jellyfish. It cleared out the third day and the waves were still pretty big, so Mason and I managed to get some nice body surfing in. The water was very clear and calm the rest of the week. We got some good pics, but the slideshow function will only let me include 50 pics, so I made two. Here is the first one.



It is inevitable that whenever we are around all of these kids, there is always a "question of the month". Well it was a 3-way tie this time between Anna Kate, Maxwell, and Olivia & Maxwell. I don't think I've ever heard a kid ask "why?" as much as Anna Kate. "Adam, what are you doing? Sitting down. Why? Because I'm tired? Why? Because I played on the beach and built sandcastles all day? Why? Because I wanted to. Why? Because it was fun? Why? It just was. Why? BECAUUUUUUUSE!!!" And every single time a plane flew over with an advertisement banner, which was approximately every 20 minutes, Maxwell asked "what does that say?" He was very enthusiastic and determined to know the information that those planes were carrying. And between Maxwell and Olivia, I think I heard "Adam, can we build a sandcastle?" about 200 times. And of course by "we" they meant "me"! As you'll see in the pictures, they were really excited and motivated to help for about 5 minutes, but somehow always ended up "supervising and/or spectating" with Papoo! It's a good thing I like building sandcastles. We had a wonderful time this year. My only complaint, as usual, is that it always goes by too fast. But then, next year will be here before we know it.

Monday, July 28, 2008

P90X-Week 1 Complete!

Emily and I started a workout program last Sunday called P90X. The name stands for Power 90 Extreme and it is 90 days of some of the most hard core exercise I've ever done. Em heard about it through a family friend in Crossett that has been doing it and is apparently getting major results. She has been talking about if for a few months but I was resistant to it at first because I didn't want us to spend the money on something that was just going to sit in the closet. After all, we all know how my Bowflex quickly became the Noflex! Not to mention, it's six days a week for at least an hour and, last time I checked, we have other stuff going on, like jobs, sleeping, breathing, etc. So when were we gonna have time to do it? But Em was pretty persistent and seemed really motivated so after some deliberation we ordered it online. I never really planned on doing it because I work out fairly regularly with a friend, but when we got it in the mail, I was pretty impressed. It's very high quality stuff. Guides, books, charts, "how-to's", recipes, workouts, DVDs... everything we would need to get started from an information standpoint. It's all home exercise so all we need is dumbells, bands, and a pull-up bar. We already had the bar and bands, so we just picked up some dumbells. After reading through everything with Em that first night, I got kind of excited too and we decided to do it together. Quite a committment, but a great way to keep each other motivated. We're following it to a T as much as we can, the workouts for sure. We're kind of doing our own thing on the nutrition side, but eating healthy and feeling great. Last Sunday was day 1 and we picked Saturdays as our "off" day. So yesterday we officially started week 2! I can honestly say that in a week's time, we both feel great and are already visibly noticing changes. The workouts are very intense, but in terms of time, we've just made it part of our daily routine and it hasn't been a big deal. We are both getting home each day, or getting up in the mornings, excited to pop in the next disc. Emily has been working really hard and is doing great. I'm really proud of her. I'm sharing this info, not to brag, but so that friends and family know what we're up to and can offer words of encouragement if they want. Every little bit counts. We'll keep you posted on our progress every now and then.

The Big 31

Thursday was my 31st birthday and I thought it would be a good idea to throw myself a party. I say I threw it, but Emily pretty much did everything. She prepped all the food and made the house look pretty. I had to do all the really hard stuff like make the the invitations and set up the Wii in the living room. The party was Saturday night at our house and I think we ended up having around 20-25 people. I had a blast and I hope everyone else did too. We grilled burgers, visited with friends, and played Rock Band and Wii Tennis til the cows came home. It never ceases to amaze me how, even in a group of adults, if you break out those games everyone turns into a kid again. I got to see some childhood and college friends from out of town that I haven't seen in a long time and it was a great chance for them to meet some of my Longview friends. Em and I are really lucky to have so many great friends and I wanted to share some of our fun with everyone. Enjoy the pics!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Kids Say the Darndest Things!

Em and I went to Atlanta over the 4th of July weekend to see Hudson, Melissa, Olivia, Maxwell, and to our surprise, Abigail! The doctors said she wasn't due until sometime this week, but apparently she had other plans. Baby Abigail "Graced" us with her presence (sorry, I couldn't resist) around 3:17 am on July 4th, 2008. Hudson picked me and Em up at the airport and took us straight to the hospital. We hung out there for a little while before he took us and the kids back to their house. After a 2 hour nap, Hudson went back to the hospital and we wouldn't see him, Mel, or Abigail for another 24 hours or so. That's when the fun began. We took Maxwell and Olivia to see WALL-E, which was pretty cute in a "political comment on the sad state of humanity disguised as an animated kids movie" sort of way. Then we went to Chic-Fil-A for dinner and headed home to play Wii, where Maxwell proceeded to destroy everyone in bowling! This kicked off a weekend full of playing Wii and resulted in the question of the year, which was most definitely "Adam, can we play the Wii?" If there is a world record for the number of times that question gets asked in a 3-day time span, Olivia and Maxwell SHATTERED it! It actually worked out great for me though, because most of the time they wanted to watch me play instead of play themselves. Who knew? It was cloudy and kind of rainy most of the time we were there, but we got a little sunshine and Emily and I had really been looking forward to taking the kids to the pool. I almost fainted when we said "hey let's go to the pool" and the response was "Noooo! We want to play Wii!" We practically had to beg them to go swimming!

I know this post is long, but we had so much fun and there's so much to say. So from here on out, I'll try to summarize everything else we did and then explain the reasoning for the title of this post. We hung out, watched TV, played Wii, ate ribs that Hudson made on the Big Green Egg, swam a few times, played more Wii, went to Dick's Sporting Goods and Marble Slab, looked at baby Abigail, ate watermelon, held baby Abigail, played some more Wii, did sparklers and snappy-pops (well, some of us did), looked at baby Abigail some more, and got pounced on very early every morning by two crazy kids! Oh, and did I mention we played Wii? So during all of this activity, when you're with Maxwell and Olivia, you're bound to hear some funny stuff. I thought I'd share a few comments that made me laugh. I already mentioned the question of the year... well, the quote of the century was when Emily was working on Abigail's letters. She was sketching the design on a piece of paper and there were these little paisly, swirly things. Olivia walked up and said, "That looks like germs." That made me laugh very hard and I wrote it down right then so I wouldn't forget it. Another good one was when we were at Chic-Fil-A. Maxwell really wanted a brownie with ice cream for dessert. Well, his brownie was probably big enough to satisfy all four of our sweet toothes (Or is it teeth?). He gets about halfway through the ice cream and is full, turns to me and says, "Adam, I think next time I'll just get the brownie without the ice cream." Hilarious. And last but not least, we're sitting at the table eating ribs and somehow get on the subject of eating meat. Olivia makes a comment about being a carnivore. I asked her if she knew what that meant. Big mistake. She replies, "Yes, a carnivore is someone that eats meat." I told her I was impressed and she said, very matter-of-factly, "I learned that in pre-k." I'm sure there were many other comedic moments, but this is getting ridiculously long so I'll leave any others to Mel.

We had such a wonderful time in Atlanta. Hudson and Melissa have 3 beautiful children. Olivia and Maxwell are so well behaved and so much fun. Maxwell has such a sweet heart. I've never seen a 5-year old that thinks so much of others before himself. And Olivia is so smart that it's almost hard to believe. They are going to be such good examples for Abigail to look up to as she gets older. Thank you guys so much for having us. We can't wait to see you at the beach!!!



He's trying so hard!
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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Surprise!

Our friend Dana turned the big THREE O on the 15th, but she and Marc were on vacation so we celebrated last night. It was a surprise party and I have to give Emily credit for the planning and execution. Dana thought she and Marc were coming over for dinner with one other couple when, in fact, there were about 20 people. Hiding that many cars is not easy, so I had Marc tip us off when they were en route and we all stood out in our front yard and waved as they came up the street. Dana didn't catch on to the surprise until they were actually in our driveway. GREAT SUCCESS! I'm pretty impressed with Em too, because she's terrible at keeping big secrets and she held on to this one for 2 whole weeks! Impressive. Everyone had a great time. We grilled burgers and dogs, visited with friends, and played Wii and Rock band like there was no tomorrow! Hope you enjoy the pics. Happy Birthday Dana!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Weekend in the Big "C" to see baby Grace.

And by big "C" I mean Crossett, Arkansas. So Emily's sister Meredith and both of our sister's-in-law are/were pregnant at the same time. Mer had baby Garrett in May, Amber had baby Grace last week, and Melissa is due with Abigail in July. Three up, three down. Once they're all here, that will be a grand total of 8 nieces and nephews, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren in the Pope family, depending on your perspective. Like I said, all these kids have been great practice; however, some might say they've been great birth control too! I'm not saying that, but some people might have. Anyhoo, I hadn't seen Grace yet, so Em and I made a trip to Crossett this weekend to see her. Meredith was there with Garrett as well. Here's som pics... enjoy!

Baby Grace

Emmy and Grace

Grace and Garrett
(They did this pretty much the whole time we were there.)

Every dog needs a newborn for a pillow.

Seriously, that's enough. Get that camera out of my FACE!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Plunge

I've always had an interest in doing a blog, but not enough to take the plunge. Emily's sister Meredith and my cousin Mike have been doing family blogs for a while now and I guess you could say they've inspired me. Em and I are going to try and do this together and see how it goes. Hopefully we'll have enough to say to keep family and friends interested in life at the Koelling house. I'm sure things will get more interesting whenever we add some rugrats to the mix!