Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Playing in SoCal

Well--- most of you who saw the pics of the mess of a studio we moved into (as far as the amount of stuff we had to organize) probably believe we are spending every spare moment shoveling out! Thankfully, however, this is not the case, and we have become much more organized in our space!!! I promise to include some new apt. pics very soon!

But- we also wanted to show you some of the beauty of SoCal within which we have played as we rest and enjoy Sabbath on Saturdays (this is the day Brian has chosen to do no school work and we explore, nap, hang out with Maggie in new spots, etc.) are some of the most recent adventures!

First, the Cobb Estate- we live in the foothills and can see the mountains pretty much all of the time- it's crazy! One of the first Saturdays we were here we drove to Altadena- just a few miles from our house to check out the Cobb Estate, which is an old hotel (now in ruins) where you can enjoy beautiful hiking overlooking Pasadena and LA. We are still adjusting to the colors here- greens and browns, tan and rust. I do miss the fall leaves quite a lot, but we love the warm temps and the fact that we are still wearing Chacos in late Oct.!!! Nice!

Yes, Maggie can drink from a CamelBack! A skill Brian will be teaching our baby as soon as possible as well! ;)

The pregnant lady can hike! ...just not too fast!

The smoggy city- we are very close to LA...even in the woods!

And then...our favorite place in the world-- East or West coast...the beach!

This is actually Ventura Beach- we were there one Sat. in the middle of Oct. with Brian's Dept. - students, faculty, and the Dean and his wife (who actually leads the wives group I attend, so it's fun that we are both connected to them). This beach is about an hour from us- what a change from Morgantown!! and is actually very similar to our East Coast beaches...

...a group of us spent time relaxing, enjoying the sand, playing soccer, eating fish and chips at the harbor nearby, and generally lounging. Some folks swam (I was not one of them- those of you who know how much I hate cold water are probably not surprised!).

It was a great day- now we have several more nearby beaches to explore- although I think we'll be avoiding Malibu for a while. Thankfully, the news here today looks like they have managed to contain several of the fires and are allowing residents that were evacuated back into their homes. The city of Pasadena has emphasized we are not in any danger (we are about an hour away from Malibu), but have restricted activities at local schools for outdoor sports due to the air quality. Today it is not too bad- yesterday we could see the ash in the air, and it has been very, very hot- in the 90s. We continue to pray for the displaced families and firefighters as well as a heavy, heavy rain.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Baby's first pic- 19 weeks!

Well, it's not actually the first picture, since this baby has had its picture taken almost every week with the weirdo bleeding. But, it's really the first picture where you can tell that we are having a baby! :) This is the one the dr.'s gave us and then one a little closer- sorry about the quality- scanning isn't always the best, but thought everyone might like to see the little one nonetheless!

Today was our big 19 wk. appt. and Dr. Morrison said everything is going very well! Yea! The baby is doing well and all the measurements are perfect- nice! Movement is good and we could see the heart beating, but not the sex, which is good since we want to be surprised.

The really, really good news is I haven't had any spotting at all since last Wed. and the dr. said if I make it to Monday with no bleeding then I can begin looking for a job. This made me very happy!!! He still wants me to watch my activity and such, but said things are looking really, really good. He isn't sure if the progesterone has stopped the bleeding or if time itself has really made a greater impact, but as long as we aren't having any more bleeding life can resume a bit more normally.

He still is watching my placenta- it is just a bit close to the opening of my cervix, but he feels pretty confident this will take care of itself as the pregnancy progresses and the uterus expands. So--- needless to say we are thrilled!! and so very thankful for all of your thoughts and prayers- please keep praying!!!!

We also talked about the kind of labor and delivery we want- surprisingly here in CA they don't have many practices with both dr's and midwives, which is what we had in Morgantown. Midwives here mainly do home births, which I am not comfortable with in our 566 sq. ft. apt. :) Maggie is so relieved!!

He seems very open to what we want- I can move around during labor as much as I like and we can really direct the way this goes as long as there aren't any life threatening complications for me or the baby, of course. So, all in all very good news- we are getting excited and it is beginning to settle in that we are in fact having a baby- who will be here in March (or Feb- I was 3 wks. early, but the left coast Shope's are notoriously late, so we're banking on this baby being late- perhaps just in time for Brian's birthday on March 17th) or maybe early like its mama- maybe March 2nd on Sarka's birthday! Who knows?

We apologize for the lack of activity here lately- our internet at the apt. is having problems and makes it difficult to post pics from a public computer. I will try and get some up of the apt. as we progress- it looks much different from the first pics posted here. Thank God! ;)

All in all we are very well- Brian is enjoying classes and started his personal training job this week. Very exciting! I have an interview for an HIV/AIDS education/advocacy/case management position with the Pasadena Health Dept. on the 23rd and am looking forward to applying for other positions as well.

We love to hear from you- pls. feel free to post a comment or let us know how you're doing!!
Much love...
Megan for the Shope's

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

And two weeks later...

We are much more organized, have taken advantage of the great nook storage, and can (almost) see the light at the end of the tunnel. Our kitchen is totally unpacked, our shelving unit has been constructed, and Maggie is still mad.

Brian's classes are going really well- he loves the material and is really engaged with his classmates and professors. I'm really proud of him! He works very hard to keep up with his reading, and I am actually also reading some of his books. :) Once a
student, always a student!

Our big news lately besides getting settled and into more of a routine is that I went to the doctor and the baby is doing well!! We had an ultrasound Sept. 26th (my Mom's birthday!) and the spotting that is continuing has not affected the health of the baby. He/She is comfy as ever and lookin' good. The dr. we're seeing here was recommended by another Fuller wife originally from PA who is due with her 3rd child any moment. Thanks, Heidi!!

Dr. Morrison is very efficient, but warm, and is concerned about the dark spotting that continues. They put me on the fetal monitor to determine if I was having any contractions that I couldn't feel, but I am not! The ultrasound showed my placenta may be a bit close to the opening of the cervix (low-lying placenta previa). So, at this point I am on light duty, not allowed to pursue looking for a job or seven sets of tennis, but not on bed rest. Yea!!! Additionally, when we were still in Morgantown any additional walking or movement/activity seemed to increase the bleeding and was incredibly frustrating. You should've seen me riding the motorized cart in Target shopping for Taryn and Todd's wedding gift the week before we moved. ;) Yet, at this point, I have been doing a bit more- walking to campus, going to the store, etc. and the bleeding has not increased. This is so helpful for my state of mind- it is really good to get outside and have a bit more freedom and control over my body.

Dr. Morrison also put me on progesterone to see if that would stop the bleeding and we will determine the next course of action at our next appt. on Oct. 16th, when I will (hopefully) be cleared for pursuing work and Brian and I will have another ultrasound pic to place on the frig.

The belly at this point is getting bigger!! Here are the much anticipated shots...

Compare these to the 8 wk. shot - whoa! Seventeen weeks is quite a change!

Eight weeks and the non-maternity capris...

Seventeen weeks and the maternity skirt...

The baby can now hear us and we are reading and playing music. Favorites are Dr. Seuss (with Daddy's voices) and Jack Johnson CDs. We also read recently in the pregnancy book that the baby can also hear Maggie barking at this point and this will help he/she sleep through such disturbances upon arrival. Wow- it's pretty crazy all that's going on!

We are both learning a lot and are more and more excited the further we get- the 1st trimester was pretty stressful with all of the bleeding and scares, but now we are relaxing a bit and falling in love with our child.

I have ups and downs each day- I expected to be working and it is difficult to not know if I will be able to do that at all until the baby comes. I had actually already applied for several jobs before we went to the dr. and am now getting calls about interviews and openings. It makes it hard to be here all day in the studio, so I am planning outings and trying to get things organized. It's funny, I thought I had already dealt with these issues of identity and value, patience, etc. while in Philly- I supposed I have much more to learn!! Some days I am fed up with things not going according to my plan and weep and yell, "enough already, Lord!!"

I am slowly meeting people- Brian is really good about introducing me to his classmates on campus and at functions. I am also going to the weekly wives club meeting. I jokingly call it that, but it's actually a really great support network of spouses who have already been down this road and those of us who are currently navigating this process of settling in and making friends. I am thankful for their support and encouragement!

Brian also just accepted a job as a personal trainer at 24 hr. fitness- a gym very close to our apt.! He went for the interview yesterday and they offered him the position on the spot (I was not at all surprised)! He accepted it this morning and is really working so very hard to provide for our family in the midst of some of these unexpected adjustments (me not working) as well as his first few weeks of seminary. I am so thankful for him and can't tell him enough how much I appreciate him!

Well that's probably more than enough ramblings for now...I think we are finally caught up with the pics- more will be on the way as we finish organizing the apt.
Peace and much love...
the shope clan

Where are we going to put all of this stuff????!!!

The afternoon of Monday Sept. 17th the truck arrived with all of our belongings. We had mixed feelings about this- we were excited to sleep in our real bed again, but unsure just how the space would work out. Brian had contacted Fuller about the possibility of getting some help moving since my lifting days are over until March, but it was the first day of orientation for many programs so schedules were quite full (his orientation didn't start until Tuesday). So...we proceeded on our own- I carried the light picture frames and bedding and small items. My husband, without one complaint, unloaded the rest! Thankfully there was a hand truck in the truck and he was able to load many boxes and wheel them over to our first floor place (we were thankful that we didn't have to go upstairs with everything!).

We were feeling pretty good at this point- things were going smoothly and I figured since we had this much in the apt., there couldn't be much left in the truck, right?

This is Maggie hiding in the nook trying to scheme a way back to WV to live with Nanny or Auntie Janine. :) She's not so excited about the studio- esp. after we started bringing in all of the stuff!!!

The spatial guru himself, the amazing Brian Shope! He really does have a knack for figuring out how to fit things in the least amount of space- the moving truck was packed really well and we actually only ended up using 7 of our allotted 12 ft.

Reality can be a kick in the gut, huh? After seeing what was left in the truck I proceeded straight to the bathroom to have a good cry. I did take a picture frame with me to unload and my kind husband, upon my return, says to me, "I know you were in the bathroom crying. It doesn't take that long to move a picture frame." Hmmm- the pitfalls of being married to your best friend who knows everything about you!! :) I am pregnant, which does entitle me to a good cry now and then-- even for reasons such as being overwhelmed with all that is in the studio and all that still had to go. :)

OK- now we're finally finished and Maggie is glaring at us in rage. We made rows to navigate to the kitchen and bathroom and headed to California Pizza Kitchen for much deserved cold beer (for Brian) and Chinese dumplings (for me- a strong craving lately). :)

Maggie decided maybe she'll stick it out for a week or two since we did bring her bed ,she gets to go on walks with her Daddy 3 times a day, AND there are many doggies here at which to bark. Woof!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

390 N. Madison Ave. Apt. 4

After weeks of asking people how much square footage they had in their apts., our time was finally here to see it for ourselves- our wonderfully spacious 566 sq. feet!!! Right. We arrived at the apt. and got the keys just in time for me to burst into tears as soon as I walked in the room (yeah, it's pretty much a room). Well, we also have a kitchen and a "nook" for dressing with lots of storage, and a bathroom! Actually more than we need. I consoled myself (my husband is much better about these things than I) with thoughts of families in Tanzania living in much smaller spaces and prayed for contentment and grace. It IS a really nice apt. with beautiful trees and landscaping right outside our door. Take a look...just remember these are the "before" pics. :)

Our spacious living room/bedroom/dining room...

Our kitchen...

The dressing nook/closet/storage- yea for storage in a studio!

And our bathroom (picture the shower and tub on the left)...

Our humble abode...

The view outside of our door...

Our side of the complex...

We are so thankful for the green that we have access to every day! When I lived in Philly I mourned the loss of the color green so much that Brian planted grass seed in pots and mailed it to me for my birthday so I would have something green in the city. :) Every day I'm thankful for the beautiful plants and trees that are surrounding us just outside our door and down our street.

Our first meal in our new place Friday night consisted of a pizza from Pietro's- where we met a really nice family originally from Pasadena who welcomed us warmly. We spent the weekend sleeping on the futon (sorry, Maggie) and navigating around our new neighborhood and city.

Our first stop Sat. morning was the Corner Bakery Cafe for coffee and wireless to let our families know we arrived safely and made it through the first night. We were still suffering from a bit of car lag? :)

We did get some groceries and planned how we would arrange the space once our furniture arrived Monday. We also went to a dessert Sat. night for Fuller students and families, which was a lot of fun. We met some really nice folks and felt better after checking out the campus, which is 3 short blocks from our apt.!!

Most Fuller students and their families live in Fuller housing, however, since we have Maggie this is not an option. We are actually really happy about the way things turned out, though. We have met many of our neighbors and are excited to be in a place where we are close to the Fuller campus, but not totally isolated in the "bubble". Our neighbors are families, elder folks, singles- an eclectic mix of interesting people. Everyone on our side of the complex (there are actually 3 complexes) has a studio and we are humbled when we complain of the space to find that the family upstairs with a baby and six year old also functions in this space. Hmmm...sometimes a little perspective is all that's needed.

It's hard to believe we've been here just over 2 weeks now- I'm a bit slow in posting the pics- sorry about that. There are more to come- the moving process and the infamous belly pics that have been heartily requested by so many. :) Hopefully I'll get those up tomorrow. Until then...

California bound

The drive from NM to AZ varied quite a bit. I told Brian after we left NM and were en route to AZ that I felt like we were in Maryland with all of the pine trees and hills .

I thought my theory about Maryland was pretty good...until we saw the saguaro and the brown mountains and the tumble weed. Oops!

We arrived in Pasadena without too much difficulty around 6pm Friday Sept. 14th. On the way we passed a huge wind farm, which Brian loves, so we took many pictures- we'll spare you the wind farm slide show. :)

The signs to Pasadena were welcome and we only thought we were lost once. Overall, the trip was really, really good- we really enjoyed our time together seeing everyone on the way and talking and reading Harry Potter #7 in the car. Fun stuff. I think we were both ready to finally arrive at our new place, though, and begin this adventure.

Last stop--- Arizona!

Our final stop before arriving in Pasadena was Queen Creek AZ to visit brother Dave, sister-in-law Traci, and our niece McKayla. It had been 9 months since we had seen them- the reunion was sweet! We spent time out of the car(!!),catching up, and playing with McKayla. We are really excited to be only 6 hrs. away from our family on this side of the country and will spend Thanksgiving in Phoenix for the first time.

Monday, October 1, 2007

New Mexico here we come!

After our stay in TX, we traveled to beautiful Rehobeth, NM (near Gallup) to stay with my Mission Year teammate Tressa and her new husband Seth (they were married in June!). It was so great to see Tressa and meet Seth! They showed us around and took us to a Navajo restaurant, which was great! We also got to see Tressa's classroom (they are both teachers) and the school where they love their students.

It was great to see Tressa again- we hadn't seen each other since our time in Philly 6 years ago!! Brian and Seth endured much reminiscing and laughing about silly stories from our time there. I can't believe it's been 6 yrs.!

We loved the drive- it was amazing - the changes in landscape were much more dramatic and we loved seeing the different colors and plants. Maggie also enjoyed herself, as you can see! :)