Thursday, August 2, 2012

Downtown Houston Tour 7/28/12

Last Saturday we decided to do some site seeing in our new town. So Doug found an audio guided walking tour of downtown Houston. It was pretty neat, we just downloaded it to our phones and listened to history and cool stories about buildings and places in downtown Houston. We started in a place called Discovery Green. Its a park right in the heart of downtown. There is a playground and a pretty cool splash pad, and some cool art. And right across the street is the Convention Center. People say it look like a cruise ship, I think I agree.

Then we walked over to Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros. We didn't go in and there was a game that night so it was pretty crowded but its a pretty cool stadium.  It doesn't look as big from the outside as it really is on the inside. The field is actually below street level. There is a huge retractable roof and the stadium is air conditioned, making the prospect of going to a game in the hot, humid Houston summer a lot more appealing. The spot where the stadium is built used to be a train station. The old Union Station is still attached to the stadium, in fact its one of the entrances to the park and where the team store is located. We got to go into that part and it was pretty cool. And because it used to be a train station, whenever the Astros hit a home run there is an actual full sized train that runs across the left field wall.

Then we stopped at a cool old church. Christ Church Cathedral. Its the oldest religious grounds in Houston. It was founded when Texas was still an independent republic. Its kind of a cool little oasis in the middle the of the bustle of downtown. There is a courtyard with a fountain. We didn't get to go inside because there was a wedding but I'm sure its pretty inside. 

Then there is the Post Rice Lofts. Its apartments now but it used to be the capitol building when Texas was an independent country after it won its independence from Mexico.  The capitol building was torn down and the current building was opened in the 20's as a super swanky hotel. We went inside and the lobby is pretty spectacular. There is a 20 foot stained glass sky light. Howard Hughes celebrated his trip around the world here. Also, JFK stayed here in November 1963 the night before he flew to Dallas and was assassinated. The building was renovated and turned into loft apartments and the lower floors with ballrooms and such are used for special events.

Next are just some pictures of buildings downtown. The architecture is pretty cool.

This was just a cool tile mosaic bench that was along our walk. There is a lot of stuff like this all over downtown, a bunch of little pockets of art. We also saw this cool clock tower that had a cool story to go with it but I forget what it was. Also there is a picture of Wesley hanging in his stroller. He was a major trooper. The whole tour was about 2-3 hours and he didn't complain once. He just enjoyed the ride.

Then we came to Buffalo Bayou. It just looks like a murky river or creek to me. I'm not sure what makes it a bayou, maybe just the fact that its in the south but its still pretty cool. Apparently people canoe and kayak down it. Originally it was used for like shipping and things because I'm pretty sure it empties out into the Gulf of Mexico. Its a pretty cool spot, with lots of wildlife and vegetation right in the middle of downtown. The Bayou is actually kind of the reason for Houston's existence. This is where the Allen brothers landed and founded the city known as Houston.

On the Bayou is an 8ft tall statue of George H.W. Bush. He is from Houston and this is a monument to him. Behind him are plaques depicting key scenes from his life, such as scenes from when he was an oil man, and the Berlin wall as it was torn down and at the inauguration of his son George W. There is also a fountain that Doug, as he was backing up trying to get a picture of Wesley and me with the Houston skyline, fell into. :) He managed to keep his phone dry but everything else from his chest down was soaked for the rest of the tour.

Then we crossed a bridge across the Bayou and there is this series of sculptures called the 7 wonders, they are pretty cool. Then we went to the theater district, home to permanent professional companies in all the major disciplines such as ballet, theater and opera. Its also home to some really cool architecture. The last picture is of the JP Morgan Chase building and its the tallest building west of the Mississippi and that tallest 5 sided building in the world. It is 75 stories, 1002ft. And the elevators go 1000ft/min. We didn't see this because its only open Mon-Fri during business hours but most all of downtown Houston's office buildings are connected by a series of underground tunnels. Its 6.5 miles of tunnels that allow you to navigate the city and avoid the heat.

At the end of the tour we rode the light rail for a few blocks and then walked back to our car. We had a lot of fun and learned a lot about the city we live so close to now. And now we know some good places to take our friends and family when they come to visit (hint hint!).

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The "joys" of parenting start early...

After Wesley was born, we had a little bit of a scare. In hind sight it probably wasn't as bad as I felt like it was at the time. Wesley's respiratory rate was slightly elevated. He had to spend some time in the well baby nursery hooked up to monitors to monitor his breathing. We saw a few pediatricians and ended up staying an extra night in the pediatric unit which was also scary. It was very difficult for me to see my new perfect little baby hooked up to monitors. Needless to say, I was an emotional wreck. With all of the hormones that come along with having just had a baby, I spent a lot of that last night and day crying and trying to keep it together. To make matters worse, Wesley was having a little trouble latching on and wasn't getting enough to eat so we had to start supplementing with formula. We ended up having to do that for about a week to get his weight back up after his lost almost a pound after birth. Doug was my rock and there is no way I would have been able to get through it without him.
As it turned out, there wasn't anything wrong. They said that sometimes fluid gets into their tiny little lungs and it takes a while to get it out. So after a couple more talks with the pediatrician we were able to take little Wesley home. It was kind of scary to actually take him home, to be on our own with this tiny person that we're now suddenly responsible for. But we had lots of help from my parents and from Doug's family, and we quickly fell into a routine. Ever since Wesley has been very happy and healthy and growing very well. We're so happy and its so fun to watch him grow and develop. And its crazy to think back to that time when we brought him home and how small he was and how much he's changed since then.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Birth Story: Wesley 11.01.11

Man oh man, has life been crazy! Crazy, but SO good! I've been wanting to update the blog for a long time now but with a 4 month old finding the time is a little difficult. And then as more time passes and things to blog about pile up it become harder to do it because it starts to feel like you can never catch up. So we're going to take this slow, piece by piece. So please bear with me as I slowly update you on the goings on in our lives.

So here's the big news: We had a baby! :) His name is Wesley and he was born on November 1st, 2011. Before he was born we found out that Wesley had not turned head down and was in a breach position. I did as much as I could at home to try to get him to turn. I sat on my knees with my bum in the air, ice pack on the top of my belly and music playing at the bottom to try to coax him down there. But my little boy was just fine where he was, so a couple weeks later we went in for an External Version where the doctors manually turned him from the outside. It was very painful and only has a 50/50 success rate but it worked. They were able to turn him head down and we were able to go ahead with our plan for a vaginal birth instead of a C-Section. At my next appointment we discovered that I had slightly elevated blood pressure. That continued for a week or so, so the doctors decided it would be better to induce labor at 39 weeks.

So at 7:30am I was admitted to John Muir Labor and Delivery and by 8:15am I was hooked up to an IV getting Pitocin and we were under way. I was already at 4cm when I got there that morning but things moved very slowly. The contractions were not intense and not very regular. At about 2:30pm I was only at about 6cm but the doctor came in and broke my water. Once my water was broken everything changed. The contractions quickly got very intense and regular. My plan was to try to have Wesley without an epidural, to go as long as I could without it but if to get it if I felt like I needed it. So around 4-4:30pm when the nurse came in to check my progress I was only at 7cm and had been there for a while. I was having a hard time relaxing in between contractions because they were coming very fast but I wasn't making much progress. I had a moment in between contractions where I thought, "I could probably keep going and have this baby without drugs but I really don't want to anymore." So I asked Doug to get the guy with the drugs in to give me an epidural. It took longer than I would have wanted for him to come in but he did and he was finished with the epidural he was my new favorite person. I couldn't feel anything anymore and if I had had more time I probably could have taken a nap. But at about 5:45pm the nurse checked me and I was at 10cm and ready to push so the doctor came in and half an hour later at 6:15pm our beautiful baby boy was born.

It was the greatest moment! Doug cut the chord and they wrapped him up and put him on my chest. The first thing I noticed was his big lips. His upper lip was really swollen but he still has some great full lips. He was 9lbs even (at a week early! Yikes!) and 20.5in long.
He was really the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life! I'm so happy to be a mom and can't imagine my life without my little boy anymore.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Its been a while...

As usual I have not been good about updating the blog. I have made a goal to change this tho, so we'll see what happens. I'm not about 25 1/2 weeks along. We had an ultrasound at 20 weeks and found out ITS A BOY!!! We are SO excited...especially Doug. I know he really wanted a boy. We have a name picked out but as the mama I reserve the right to change my mind. But the name we picked is Wesley Douglas. Doug came up with the name Wesley one night while we were laying bed thinking up baby names and we both really loved it. The first thing I thought of, of course, was The Princess Bride. But I love that movie so it is a good association for me.

This pregnancy has been great so far. I have really enjoyed being pregnant most of the time. I could do without the heartburn and fatigue but other than that its been great. We haven't had any complications or scary things going on (knock on wood) so that is great. Wesley has a lot of energy it seems, he hardly stops moving. I love being able to feel him in there. I feel him rolling a lot, he doesn't seem to like to stay in one position for very long. I often wonder how this will translate into his movements/energy level once he's born. Doug is able to feel the movement now too, which is very exciting. He likes to lay his head in my lap and have me rub his head. He told me recently that sometimes he can feel Wesley kick him in the head, which I think is kind of funny. We cant wait to meet our little guy! November cant come soon enough for me!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Baby Hopkins to arrive 11/8/11

In the beginning of March, Doug and I found out that I'm pregnant! We were SO excited! It was a Sunday morning and I was up before Doug. I took a pregnancy test and anxiously waited for the lines to show up. I had taken tests before and been disappointed so I was trying not to get hopes up, but somewhere deep down I knew this time was different. Finally the wait was over and I looked at the test and there they were...TWO LINES, a positive result! So hardly able to contain myself, I went back into the bedroom to wake Doug up. I shook him a little and after a few seconds he woke up...probably a little annoyed that I woke him. So I said, "I think I'm pregnant!" To which he groggily responded, "What?!" So I said it again and he said, "Really?! So what do we do now?" And I said, "I have no idea...I've never seen two lines before!" We were both in shock, this was the first time we had ever had a positive result and we were pretty used to getting negative ones so this was new territory. We went to church and I took another test when we got home, just to make sure, and it was another positive! So we immediately told the whole family.

At the end of March I had my first doctor appointment. We had an ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy and that was SO fun because we got to see our baby and see that there was actually something in there. At that point the baby was measuring at 8 weeks, so it just looked like a little jelly bean. But it was the cutest jelly bean I've ever seen. First they told us the due date was 11/2 according to the date of my last period. But then after measuring the baby and discovering that it was only 8 weeks and 10 like we thought, they adjusted the due date to 11/13.

Then in April, at 12 weeks, we had our second appointment. Somehow, there was a discrepancy in how far along the doctor thought I was and how far along I thought I was. Since this appointment was exactly 4 weeks after the first appointment where they told me I was 8 weeks, I thought I was 12 weeks, and it turns out I was right. So they gave me the new and final due date, 11/8 (which happens to be my sister's birthday). This appointment was fun because we got to hear the baby's heart beat. It took a minute for the doctor to find it but then all of the sudden, there it was. It is such a cool experience to see and hear evidence of the life growing inside you.

A few days after that, we got to have another ultrasound. This time we went to San Ramon, to have the ultrasound. It was such a great experience! The ultrasound was to test for Down Syndrome and Trisomy 18, by measuring the the skin fold on the back of the babies neck. The baby was moving around a lot and being a little uncooperative and wasn't in the right position so it took a while to get the measurements that the tech needed. But I was okay with that because it meant that we got to see the baby for longer. The test results were good, the baby is at VERY low risk for the problems they were testing for. It was SO much fun to see the baby stretching and squirming around. It was kind of a surreal experience because I can see the baby moving around but I still can't feel it yet. So its really weird to think about this little person moving around, doing it's own thing and I have absolutely no idea. I can't wait until I can actually the baby moving around in there. That will be SO exciting! And I can't wait until Doug can feel it too!

Now I am almost 14 weeks and going strong. The first couple of months were a little hard. I didn't throw up but I was generally nauseous and not feeling good. However, I feel like compared to other people, I've had it pretty easy. For the last couple of weeks, I have felt pretty great! I'm still feeling very tired because growing a person inside of you in hard work. But I'm not nauseous anymore, which is GREAT. I am enjoying being pregnant, but it feels like it takes forever! I just want to meet my baby already! But I'm trying to be patient and enjoy the ride. And so far I'm loving it!

(I'm sorry this post is SO long, I had a lot of ground to cover. Hopefully I'll keep up better in the future so posts wont be this long.)

*Pictures to come

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What's wrong with some people?

The twins are coming up on 2 years old. They have been walking and really running around for some time now. They have gotten very good at running in opposite directions in the most inconvenient places, parking lots for example. So Liz decided to get them these really cute harnesses to wear so they're a little easier to keep track of. They look like animal back packs and the kids actually like wearing them.

See, cute right?! JD wears the dog and Holly wears the monkey. They ask for them when we get out of the car. The tails are the "leash" (though we don't like to call them that) part and they tuck into a little pouch when you're not using them.

So today, we went to library for story time just like every Tuesday. I got the kiddies out of the car and put their harnesses on and we made our way to the library. About half way up the walk we find out that story time has been cancelled for the next two weeks. So after a minor melt down from JD, who was really disappointed that we didn't get to go to story time, we turned around and went back to the car.

Now here's where it gets good. As we're walking back to the car, this guy (who looks homeless and is maybe living out of the truck he was fiddling with?) says, "Do you ever let your kids wander?" (People usually assume Holly and JD are mine and its mostly just easier to let it go.) So anyway, I was kind of confused by the question...what is this guy getting at exactly? And he proceeds to say something about how if his mother had tried to put one of those on him, he would have taken it off and put it on a clothes hanger. Needless to say I was a little annoyed by this, so I told him its better than them getting hit by a car. Then this random lady across the parking lot says something to back me up. And then the guy says something about how its good to let kids wander or something. And then he starts talking to me about politics and how Arnold screwed up the state and blah, blah, blah. Most of this is happening while I'm getting the kids in the car because I really didn't want to talk to this guy anymore. I mostly just ignored him and got in the car and drove away.

But the whole thing kind of bothered me. First of all, where do people get off thinking they can openly comment on other people's parenting styles. Also, why do people think anybody cares what they have to say. Did this guy really think I wanted his opinion on the matter. And most importantly, I happen to think that it is more important to keep the kids safe from running in front of a car or just getting away from you and lost or stolen, than to avoid some kind of social stigma that seems to exist about these harnesses. I understand that people got along just fine without them for hundreds of years, but we have them now, so why not take advantage of the added safety precautions?

Basically, the moral of the story is, if you have some kind of problem with someone else's parenting, keep it to yourself. They don't care what you think and you're not going to change their opinion. And really, its just rude.

The end.

Hello, hello again!

Doug and I started this blog before we got married. And then Doug's brother Jim and his wife Liz created an awesome blog for us as a wedding present. Due to some technical difficulties, that blog no longer exists. But I was excited to see that this one still does. So from now on if you want to know what's going on in our lives, this is where you will want to come.

So I'm not going to go back and recap the last 2.5 because that may take a while. We're just going to move forward from here. Doug is working at Manor Care, which is a short term rehab facility, as an Administrator in Training. He got into the program at the beginning of the year and we are very excited. When he completes the program he will most likely be an assistant administrator for a few years and then he will be a full blown administrator. We're excited for that day to come but Doug is enjoying learning all that he can about nursing/rehab facility business.

As for me I was working as a receptionist at a paving company here in Concord. Recently, however, I have been watching Jim & Liz's twins. Liz went back to work for a while because the company she worked for before she had the babies was making some changes and just could not live without her. So she went to back to work and I quit my job so that I could become aunt/nanny. Its been very fun for me...much better than sitting at a desk all day.

Long story short, Doug and I are doing very well. Life right now, really couldn't be better!