Documenting This Season

It is hard to believe that we are just a few weeks (or days) away from meeting our sweet little boy. I have all the feels as I think about how we are going from being just the two of us to having a little sidekick all the time to tag along on our adventures. I am thankful for this season that we have been in over the past few months, but excited to see the new season that will unfold as we move into this next phase.

We have been learning a lot (I’m looking at you parenting how-to books and baby gear manuals) and having a ton of discussions around what will our lives look like with a baby/kid in the mix of our every day life.

Building Strollers Like A BossWe have been soaking up every moment we can for unplanned date nights and spur-of-the-moment dinners out. There are so many things we love to do like volunteer, hang with the high school kids, work out, diy projects, and travel but ultimately the plans we are dreaming up could and will look very different once we figure out our new “normal”. I get a little excited thinking about it.

Last month we took the opportunity to document this current growing phase with a little maternity shoot. We chose to have our wedding photographers capture the moments and the evening was filled with laughter, great conversations, and beautiful lighting. I am thankful for these photos as they document this journey of bringing Parker into our family and the celebration that is 4 years of marriage to my best friend.

Atlanta-Wedding-Photographers-Nathan-And-Natosha-Photography-Maternity-MandyConner-Favorites-2 Atlanta-Wedding-Photographers-Nathan-And-Natosha-Photography-Maternity-MandyConner-Favorites-10 Atlanta-Wedding-Photographers-Nathan-And-Natosha-Photography-Maternity-MandyConner-Favorites-13 Atlanta-Wedding-Photographers-Nathan-And-Natosha-Photography-Maternity-MandyConner-Favorites-15 Atlanta-Wedding-Photographers-Nathan-And-Natosha-Photography-Maternity-MandyConner-Favorites-16Atlanta-Wedding-Photographers-Nathan-And-Natosha-Photography-Maternity-MandyConner-Favorites-8

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Thoughts on Pregnancy: The Dad’s Perspective

Here I sit, possibly days away from the birth of our son Parker. Currently I’m on a business trip that I have made dozens of times and things feel the same as they always have. Sure, our house is a bit more crowded with pack-and-plays, strollers, car seats, and diapers tucked into every nook and cranny. However, I don’t feel any different. Our life hasn’t changed drastically – yet.

Does this guy realize his new best friend will be here soon?

As we have prepped and read and painted and assembled and studied and questioned, we have known that the day would come when Parker would show up and it would hit us like a truck. No matter how much we prepared, there is no way that either of us could prepare for the change that was coming. Even if we felt like we were we simply can’t comprehend what that little guy is going to do to our schedule, our sleep, our house or most importantly – our hearts.

Just the two of usAs the remaining days move into the single digits, it’s finally hitting me that it is almost game time. Parker is shifting in my mind from some far-away dream to get excited about to a real, physical thing that we are going to be trusted to keep alive in a matter of days. Maybe even less. Mandy could be going into labor as I type these words. How’s that for mind-blowing?

I’ve talked with a lot of fathers in the past few months and the question I’ve gotten more often than any other is “Are you nervous?” My answer invariably has been that I’m more nervous that I’m not nervous in the slightest. I’m plenty of other things – excited, anxious, under-prepared, to-do list induced stressed – but nervous is not one of them. I know the things that are coming that everyone including random grocery store cashiers has told us about. The sleepless nights, the messy house, the strain on our marriage, etc. I won’t say I’m ready for these things, but I know they are coming whether I like it or not. We will address what we can with tenacity and fight for the things that are important. I’ve been in plenty of situations that feel insurmountable and I’m ready to attack these new challenges. I’m just not sure how I’m going to feel when this little dude shows up and instead of fighting hard for a better life for me and my wife, it becomes a fight for happiness for our new little family.

I’m geared up for an emotional next few weeks. My eyes well up just thinking about the delivery room – I’m going to be a mess when it all becomes real and he is in my arms! But it’s not nerves that have me emotional. It’s the knowledge that I’m going to be more like the Grinch than I ever thought possible – my heart will grow three sizes in a matter of seconds in the most awesome way possible.

3D Parker Party

Parker, we anxiously await your arrival and I can’t wait to be your Dad. I hope that over anything else I can help you know that there is a God who is for you, you have parents who love you unconditionally, and that your life is one of purpose and world-changing ability.

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Currently in September

We are in the home stretch of baby baking for Parker and it has us in a whirlwind to get things done and crossed off the to-do list. Here is a tiny glimpse of “life” lately.

So Basic

Reading… Just finished For the Love by Jen Hatmaker. Her writing style is hysterical, mostly because of the pop culture references and real-talk she provides. I loved this book so much and it truly challenged me in loving well, especially when sometimes people are hard to love (I’m looking at myself in the mirror on that one).

Playing…the “what was that” game every time there is a pull, hiccup, or kick in my stomach.

Watching… BBIIIIIIGGGG BROTHEEEERRR. Y’all, this show is addicting. I remember my dad and sister watching it back when it was on season 2 or 3. I never got into it. Well summer night tv is pretty slim, so I got sucked in to season 17, all three hours of it each week. Conner got sucked in too. I was watching it one night while he was out of town and he was so upset I watched it without him. Now it is our “thing” and we sit there and strategize like we actually know what is best for all of the house guests. Gotta love reality TV and at-home snuggling on the couch with your boo.

Trying… to keep moving. Obviously pregnancy has changed my work outs to a lower intensity and only a few days a week. Being in week 37 of pregnancy I am fighting the desire to work out vs. rest. Honestly I think I keep working out to see how far I can truly push my body, even if it is only one or two days a week. I am listening to my body though when it tells me that an hour laying on the couch is better for me than going out for a 3 mile walk.

Cooking… I am so bored with cooking. The last few weeks have been a rotation of chicken tacos, turkey chili, and home made pizzas. I literally cannot come up with anything else, and every recipe on my Pinterest board is way to overwhelming for this tired pregnant lady. I also would rather cook for 0 minutes than slave over a long recipe, so this rotation takes me all of 30 minutes before I am filling my tummy with some food.

Eating… Peanut Butter Sandwich….and ice cream. Not together though.

Drinking… Water. All day er’ day.

Calling… People still use the phone? Whaaattttt

Texting… Now that is what I am talking about. Currently with Conner about the details of his first cross fit competition.

Pinning… Hospital bag packing lists and post-baby work out ideas.

Tweeting… with my GCIO girlies.

Loving… the chalk art on the wall in Parker’s room. Full pictures soon. I can’t stop staring at the walls.

Hating… that I cannot get comfortable. Aka couch, bed, chair…nothing. I guess it is to be expected at 37 weeks pregnant.

Discovering… how great Conner is at nesting. He has organized the closet and cabinets with all the baby things like a champ.

Thinking… about ice cream

Feeling… grateful that we were able to get away for the weekend to the Beach over labor day.

Listening (to)… the sound of the fan

Celebrating… a baby who is rotated into position, a husband that has been so wonderful in serving me by running my errands, and the fact that cooler weather is here.

Smelling… the pumpkin candle burning right now.

Ordering… food for Brinkley. I think he is stress eating as he has gone through a whole bag in two weeks which typically takes him a month.

Thanking… my friends and family who have shown us so much love during these past 9 months. From snack drop offs, baby showers, celebrations filled with parenting advice, to surprise gifts showering Parker with all the love. I am so grateful for how Parker is already welcomed into our community.

Considering… when will Parker actually arrive. When will our first “out of the house” adventure take place.

Starting… to annoy Conner with my periodic gasps when a Braxton Hicks contraction is just a little harder than normal.

Finishing… The “Before P-Day” list.

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Babymooning in Nicaragua

We just returned from our “Babymoon”. I say that with laughter because it almost didn’t happen. Let me explain.

What started out as “Hey let’s spend the weekend in North Carolina” turned into “Let’s go to Nicaragua 30 weeks pregnant!”.


We had found this really cool ecolodge where you stay in tree houses and eat sustainable food so we thought it would be a cool overseas adventure before our little baby arrives. Everything was booked, and then we were met with hesitation from loved ones that we would be traveling to a third world country during pregnancy. Yeah, didn’t think about that.


Asked the doctor for approval and crossed our fingers that he would say yes, because we didn’t buy the trip insurance.

All systems were go.

Well, until the night before we were to leave and went to pack. We discovered that Conner’s passport had expired. I began thinking to myself that this babymoon had turned into a solo-trip across the world.

Well Google to the rescue. Did you know that getting an expedited/same day passport is a thing? It is a scary-not-sure-if-it-will-actually-work thing, but it can happen. After spending a few hours on Google and two hours on the phone, we were advised to show up early to the Atlanta office to wait to see if they could squeeze us into the system to process a same-day passport.


Those hours from finding out the passport was expired to actually having the passport in hand were a blur. A sigh of relief didn’t come until we were actually sitting in the airport, passports in hand, waiting to board the flight. Now to get to the relaxing part of this trip.

Here are a few highlights from our days in Nicaragua. We paddle boarded, bird watched, attended a Nicaraguan buffet, lounged in the hammocks, and hung by the pool. I will say that the pool was the life saving element of the trip because there was no AC anywhere on the private island, so a dip in the pool was always a relief and left me feeling weightless.


Overall it was a great and memorable experience. I think we chose the perfect place for our babymoon. We both love to be adventurous and explore when in new places, but being on this private island forced us to slow down and truly relax. Sometimes we go on trips, and while we spend the majority of the time exploring we end up more exhausted than when we left because we squeezed so much into the time away. This time, I can say we truly returned well-rested, well I guess as well as you can be at 30 weeks pregnant and no A/C.


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Surprise Date Nights for the Win

I wouldn’t say that gifts are a love language of mine, but I definitely have an appreciation for them as I realize that is how some people show they love others. Throughout our relationship, Conner has surprised me with little gifts here and there. This isn’t the primary way to love me, so it always takes me by surprise. One time he ordered me a hammock before a trip and it showed me he was thinking of me and really wanted to enhance the memories I would make while adventuring. Recently, he took the gift giving surprise to a new level in order to enhance a date night.

It all started with a request. It was early in the week and I declared to Conner that I wanted him to plan a date night on Thursday, but that is all I said. I love a good date night, and I don’t mind planning them because it is a way that I can show Conner I am thinking about him…by choosing activities he would enjoy or even a restaurant where I know he will love the entrees. But this time I wanted him to plan the date.


So he made reservations…but didn’t tell me where until the night of the date. I came into the house to find a new dress waiting on the counter, a Clif bar, and flowers. All of which had purpose and were a complete surprise. Conner took it upon himself to go buy a new dress for me to wear for the evening. Being 28 weeks pregnant at the time had left me with some outwardly verbal body issues that consisted of my clothes not fitting and having nothing to wear. I’m working on that self-hate talk, but I am not perfect. Anyways. Conner picked out a dress for me, and the fact that he thought I would look good in it, and knew the dress with the side gathering would work the best with my expanding belly made me so happy to put it on! The Clif bar made me laugh the most though. The earliest reservations he could get were going to be way past my hangry hour. The Clif bar was to tie me over until we could get to the real food. Love him.

Ultimately these gifts were a complete surprise and just went to enhance our date experience. I felt so loved and cared for and the evening was a lot of fun. Never underestimate the power of a surprise or date night.


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Rim Hugger: Manassas, VA

When I scheduled a customer trip to northern Virginia, I couldn’t help but notice the proximity of my hotel to Manassas National Battlefield from the Civil War. I used to love learning about the Civil War when I was in school so the entire time leading up to the trip I was so excited! I had done my research and I couldn’t wait to run the 5 mile loop around the site of the Battle of Bull Run.

All through the morning’s meetings I heard reports on the news of an impending thunderstorm, but they kept talking about the threat north of DC so I didn’t pay much attention. When I arrived in the parking lot of the Visitor’s Center, the sun was shining and it was a balmy 105° but it wouldn’t last long.

I passed the statue of General Stonewall Jackson and set off into the woods with the #IOHear album blasting in my ears. As I ran along I thought long and hard about the history of the area I was running through. Here I was coming to exercise while so long ago brothers fought and died on the very same trails I was enjoying. The Stone Bridge was where the Confederate Army was commanded on that fateful day, but today it was just another beautiful sight for me. Distracted by the beauty of Adam and Paul’s voices, I didn’t notice how dark it had gotten so quickly until I burst back into the battlefield.

IMG_2727I decided to press on and hope I could outrun the storm. Wrong decision. At almost exactly the furthest point from my car, the winds began to whip and the storm was telling me “you had better get back to your car now”. I ran on and luckily took a wrong turn that doubled me back to a part of the trail I had already covered. I ended up back on the street I had crossed and quickly decided to run down the road rather than try to navigate my way back on the trail. Traffic had picked up so I ran along the side of the road trying not to get hit by cars, but the worst was still to come.

IMG_2728I made the last turn on the main street that would lead me to the visitor’s center entrance, but it was then that the bottom dropped out. I still had about a half mile to go and I made a snap decision to sprint across the battlefield rather than continue to follow the road. Can you guess what happened next? If you guessed that I would run across a giant open field with lightning striking all around me, then you would be right. Oh yeah, and the hail started to come down as well. It was a recipe for the scariest run I’ve ever had. As I breathlessly flopped into my car with the rain pouring down, I knew that I had completed a memorable run but I’m not sure if I even realize now how dangerous it was. Next time I’ll check the weather before I head out!

However, I think it was all worth it for the spectacular sunset that I got to see on the way back to the hotel!


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How far will you go for your dreams?

“Raise your right hand as high as you can. Now raise it a bit higher. We always hold some back. To create art and do something that no one has done before, you have to go all in.”
– Seth Godin

This was a small snippet of a great speech we heard at Leadercast 2015 and it really got me thinking. In an example that took 2 seconds and had no bearing on anything, our natural reaction is to hold back. Keep some in the tank. Give it less than our best in case something better comes along. This is a model we see all around us. Remember the football movie where the coach asks them to dig deep and they win the big game as time expires? How about the students who sit at their desk minutes before the test trying to get the last tidbits of knowledge packed into their brains? We are constantly being shown examples of people that hold back and most of the time it is portrayed as a good thing.

Leadercast event

I would venture to say that the happy ending from that situation is missing out on its potential though. Anything in this life that’s worth doing is worth doing the right way. That right way includes, to borrow a phrase from Mark Batterson, going all in and all out. Especially in circumstances that we can influence the outcome, why would we give anything less than our best?

Perhaps the most tragic place that we see this played out is with our relationship with God. Many, many people (including me for a large portion of my life) would chase after God in some areas but hold onto others. Typically this involves some type of sin that makes us comfortable or feel like we are in control. For me, it was with my weight. I knew I was overweight, but I was comfortable in my bad eating habits. I went so far as to train for the Peachtree Road Race but I didn’t see any changes because I held onto my poor nutrition and didn’t feel the need to go after my health 100%. But God’s plan for our lives is perfect. Why would we sell ourselves short by holding back and not giving everything we have to Him? Given enough time, the results will be in our favor. Going all in may not be the easiest way or have the positive outcome we are looking for immediately, but in the long run doing life the right way, exerting our maximum effort every day, and fiercely fighting for our goals and dreams will create things that the world has never seen.

In what areas – relationships, careers, aspirations, finances, sports, leadership opportunities – are you holding back? I challenge you today to pick one and be sure that you give everything you have and work 100% to do all you can! I don’t believe that you will regret it.

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