Dec 22, 2011

2011 Year in Review

A wise man once used the following explanation to help me understand why the years seem to pass more quickly as we age:

A year seems like an eternity to a 3 year old because that year is 1/3 of that person’s entire life. One year is a much smaller portion of an 83 year old's life.

Makes sense to me! 2011 certainly went by in a blur. Here’s a look back at some of the events from our busy year. I’m sure I’ve missed some crucial moments so I apologize in advance.

January started on a chilly note. We experienced some wintery weather at the same time Auburn defeated Oregon in the BCS national championship game. Insert your "hell freezing over" jokes here, Bama fans. My parents, my sister and The Branches joined us to watch the game and celebrate. I still get goosebumps thinking about that night.

Later in January, I took Julie down to Montgomery to her first went to Montgomery to watch the Inauguration of newly elected State officials. My dad (below, pictured on the far left) was asked to take part in the swearing-in of family friend Kay Ivey to her position of Lieutenant Governor. He’s helped out in her previous 2 inaugurations when she was State Treasurer.

In February, I joined Covenant Presbyterian Church. Julie has been a member for several years and we were married there in 2009. My golf season officially kicked off with a round at Bent Brook Golf Club in Bessemer.

Julie continued her impressive blogging practice in March. She had lots of projects going on – from painting doors to framing a bathroom mirror to much more. Looking back, maybe all of this was just early “nesting” activity. On the golf front, I got to play at Grand National in Opelika for my only golf outing in March.

April was a monumental month for The Baggetts. As many people in Alabama were recovering from the April 27th tornadoes, Julie and I learned that we were going to be parents. Trying to determine the results of a pregnancy test by candlelight is not as romantic as you would think. But it is exciting! Julie and I also celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary and I played two rounds at Highland Park Golf Course near downtown Birmingham in April.

May was packed with golf! Not only did I get to attend the Regions Tradition at Shoal Creek Country Club, but I go to do so in style thanks to our good friend Emily Branch. I attended the Saturday round with Emily’s husband Clay and Julie joined us for the Sunday round. Emily hooked us up with tickets and very valuable transportation passes. I also got to play a round on the Ridge Course at Oxmoor Valley near Hoover and represented my employer in a credit union tourney at Highland Park. I won a closest-to-the-pin contest on a par 3!

I’m not sure why I waited until it was so hot but I finally did some much-needed yard work in June . I spent 6 hours taming a hedge in our back yard ("before" picture below). When I regained my strength, I enjoyed a round of golf at Timberline Golf Course in Calera. I registered for a drawing on their website and won a free round – which was great because I sure would have hated to pay for such a poor performance.

Julie and I joined her parents and sister in Destin for the July the 4th holiday weekend. I enjoyed playing a round of golf at Kelly Plantation with my father-in-law and I also squeezed in a round at the local par 3 course. It was a GREAT weekend! Later in July, I played another round at Oxmoor Valley’s Ridge course and at Highland Park.

I received a lot of help from my sister when it came time to paint the nursery in August. I would probably still be painting if it wasn’t for her! Julie and I had a fun “reveal” party with The Branches (below). It was exciting to learn that Emily and Julie were both having boys! I enjoyed my return to Farm Links in August but the trip was bit lacking in some areas. Plus, I got to celebrate my birthday in Camden!

While September marks the beginning of college football season for most people, this year it meant the beginning of baby classes for us. Julie and I did manage to attend the Auburn / Mississippi State game with her parents and we really enjoyed our visit from Anna Kathryn Talbott and her mom at the end of the month! AK is so much fun!

There were a lot more treats than tricks for us in October as baby shower season got underway. We had a great time visiting with friends and family in Atmore and they really went all out for us. I attended an Alumni Board meeting at Huntingdon College in Montgomery and we went to another Auburn game – this time, a win against Florida!

More baby showers in November, this time in the Birmingham area. I enjoyed 2 more rounds at Highland Park before Julie and I traveled to Auburn for Thanksgiving with her family. While there, I got to play a round of golf at the Auburn University Club with Clay Branch and his family. Julie wisely declined to join her family and me as we watched a helpless Auburn team get pounded by Alabama in the Iron Bowl. Yuck.

Unusually warm weather allowed for shorts at this year’s Bring Your Old Buddy golf tournament in December. Since then, Julie and I have been decorating for Christmas and playing the waiting game. The down time gave me a great opportunity to learn Julie's thoughts near the end of her pregnancy.

If you’re keeping score at home, I played more golf in 2011 than I did in 2010. I’ve been told by men and women, friends and family members that the number of rounds of golf I play in 2012 will definitely decrease. I don't agree with these people and I don't know why they would intentionally try to make me sad. We’ll have to wait and see if everyone is right. It’s been a great year and I know that 2012 will be even better with Graham! Thanks for reading and have a safe and merry Christmas!

Dec 16, 2011

Like, Love and Don't Like

This week, I like American Horror Story. Since LOST ended, it’s been difficult to find a serious, make-you-think type of show to enjoy. American Horror Story comes close. This show packs a lot of mystery and leaves a lot of questions unanswered, much like LOST did. I like this show because it features a great cast and the writing is better than anything else I’ve come across lately. There’s part of me that tries to avoid becoming attached to a television series because of the way LOST burned me. But if the intrigue of Season 1 carries over to the next season, American Horror Story could become an all-time favorite. You can watch past episodes at the show’s official website but be warned: this program is not for kids. It’s actually alarming to realize how much non prime-time cable programs can get away with in terms of language.

This week, I love our Christmas tree lights. Julie did an amazing job with our tree (as usual). Even though I am a huge fan of big, colored lights, I have to admit that I enjoy watching TV in the dark with all of the lights in the room off except for the Christmas tree lights. The white lights that Julie prefers give off a nice glow. Julie even got a timer that the lights plug into so we don’t have to worry reach awkwardly over a bunch of presents to grab the plug!

This week, I don’t like the Michael Buble Christmas Special. Did anyone else see this train wreck? It aired on December 6th but Julie and I just got around to watching it this week. We’re big Bublebrains* but I knew this special was going to be bad the moment I realized he was going to put his own cutesy twist on all of my favorite Christmas songs. Listen Bubs, if you can’t sing The Christmas Song like old Nat, then don’t even try. Throughout the program, Michael was joined by a variety of singers, including Kelly Pickler and Justin Beiber. The sense of puzzlement felt while watching these odd duets was only topped by the awkwardness of the forced interviews that Michael conducted with random kids. Surely the comedy sketches filmed with Ed Helms would save the day, right? Wrong. I seriously expect future critics to point to this program as the worst attempt at entertainment to ever be seen on television. It reminded me of the time Michael hosted Saturday Night Live – he bombed that night too. Maybe he just doesn’t have the knack for variety shows. Oh man, just thinking about this show is giving me a headache. I bet this video of the BEST CHRISTMAS SONG EVER will help ease the pain.

* By the way, Bublebrains are the members of Michael Buble's official fan club.

Dec 6, 2011

Interview with Julie

If you’ve been keeping up with us lately, then you know that the arrival of our first baby is getting closer by the minute. Julie’s due date is December 28th but I’m willing to bet that Graham is born before then. As I’ve reflected on this time and taken in my last “pre-parenthood” moments, I thought it would be really neat to get Julie’s thoughts and post them on the blog so that we can look back one day and remember these frantic last days before our lives really changed.

I managed to get Julie to sit still long enough between periods of ongoing nesting and arranging Christmas decorations to answer some questions. Here’s what she had to say:

Can you describe what it’s like to be pregnant to someone that’s never been pregnant before?
“I really can’t. It’s a wonderful feeling. It’s a combination of anticipation and other crazy emotions. It’s hard to describe how it feels to bond to someone that you’ve never met but absolutely love.”

What’s been the most difficult adjustment to being pregnant?
“The daily bodily changes – from the growing stomach to the swelling ankles – have been difficult adjustments. Compensating for my belly in my daily movements has been a challenge too. I’ve managed to sleep well until recently. I can’t seem to get comfortable lately.”

What’s something that you’ve always heard about pregnancy that didn’t happen for you?
“I haven’t had many food cravings other than a short period early in my pregnancy in which I could not go without chili from Wendy’s. I haven’t really been sick (nauseous) at all. I have felt like my normal self up until my belly really expanded.”

What have you done to educate yourself throughout your pregnancy?
“I haven’t read many books other than an Academy of Pediatrics book and The Baby Whisperer. But I do have a pregnancy app on my iPhone that gives me daily and weekly updates about the baby. I’ve also asked my mother and my friends a lot of questions.”

Have you experienced any weird changes to your body during your pregnancy?
“I basically have a beard now. [It’s just some fuzz, folks – Nick] I 'crack' my neck a lot and my hips also crack when I stand up after sitting for a long time. My belly button protrudes and feels like it is being stretched to the max. The vitamins I am taking make my fingernails grow faster, and I think that my feet have gotten bigger – both longer and wider.”

Tell us about your baby’s name.
“I’ve liked the name ‘Graham’ for a very long time. It’s not a weird name but it’s not too common either. We wanted a family connection for his middle name so we decided to honor my mother-in-law by using her maiden name – McIntyre.

Tell us about Graham’s current schedule and movements.
“He is active in the morning from 9:30 until 10:30. He settles down until about 2:30 in the afternoon. He becomes very active around 9:30 pm and he moves throughout the night. His favorite move is to bury his right foot into my ribs as far as he can.”

Based on his schedule and his movements, do you think Graham will be more like you or more like your husband?
“He’ll definitely be more like you. I think he will be very tall and a night owl.”

What do you anticipate Graham’s arrival being like?
“It will be emotional. I don’t think there will be any complications with the actually delivery, but I know I will come completely undone when he is born. If there’s one thing in my life that I’ve always been sure of, it’s that I know I’ve always wanted to be a mom.”

What do you anticipate Graham’s first few days and weeks will be like?
“Stressful. Our time will probably be spent adjusting and figuring it all out. We’ll have to get him on a schedule. I know I’ll be worried about every little noise he makes and I’ll rush to his room every time I see him move on our video monitor.”

I’d like to thank Julie for taking the time to chat with me. And I thank Julie for being the best wife – I am so very fortunate. God has truly blessed me, and I cannot wait to be a parent with Julie. I love you Julie!

Nov 25, 2011

Like, Love and Don't Like

This week, I like grocery shopping. When I was a bachelor, I absolutely hated going to the grocery store. Because I never planned in advance, it seemed like I was always making trips to the grocery and I certainly never used coupons. My perspective on grocery shopping has changed now that Julie and I are working as a team. Julie, being great with child, needs all the rest she can get these days. I made a deal with her: if she would make a list and gather all the needed coupons, I would do all of the shopping. It’s worked out perfectly so far. I keep the trips short by using my male intuition (get in and get out). Julie is rested and I don’t go hungry…all is well!

This week, I love urban exploration. Julie and I were recently invited to a friend’s baby shower at a very nice facility in downtown Birmingham. During the shower, which was held on the fifth floor, I looked out over the city and noticed all of the run-down, forgotten buildings that seem to be on every block. I wondered what was inside of these buildings and remembered a website I came across that featured photos and stories about the crumbling, once-grand architecture of Detroit. From this site, I was introduced to the phenomenon that is urban exploration. Wikipedia defines urban exploration as “the examination of the normally unseen or off-limits parts of urban areas or industrial facilities.” A few days after the shower, I wondered if anyone has bothered “exploring” the abandoned buildings I had just observed. A quick internet search revealed that yes, people have. This amazing site is proof. It's really neat to see how buildings and rooms deteriorate. Be sure to check out the post on the old Bryce Hospital building, a former institution for the “insane”. I also recommend that you visit this site about a very cool exploration video of New York City. The video is long (almost 30 minutes) but well worth it.

This week, I don’t like Google+. Google+ (or is it Google Plus?) is Google’s answer to Facebook that was introduced this past summer. It generated a little buzz back then but has since gained very little attention. I recently felt compelled to determine whether or not my employer needed its own Google+ account, in addition to our Facebook and Twitter pages. To make this determination, I created a personal Google+ account to learn the ropes. I’d like to tell you that I’ve been able to explore all of Google+’s features, but I can’t. I have only been able to find 2 living people that I know that actually use Google+. But, I have been able to determine that Google+ is a confusing hodgepodge of features from Twitter and Facebook. Many people from all over the continent that I do not know have added me to their “circles”. What this means, I do not know. When signing up for my account, it became very clear that Google is on the way to becoming everyone’s go-to source for online activity, if they’re not there already. Google owns YouTube, Blogger and you probably use Gmail. Open a Google+ account and you’ll be able to incorporate social networking plus everything else under your main Google account (maybe that’s where the “+” came from). This takeover became even more evident when I noticed that all the photos that Julie and I have ever uploaded to this blog were made available for viewing in my Google+ account. It’s kinda creepy to realize how everything is so connected.

Nov 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Eat 'n eat 'n eat 'n eat and eat. Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 19, 2011

Making of a Nursery - Part 4

Last time I showed you a few of the accent fabrics that I picked out, and now, after much work, I am ready to show you what I have done with them so far. 

I will start by saying that if you have not discovered Pinterest yet...go sign up now!  Be warned, it will consume hours of your time....hours looking at the site and then hours trying to recreate all that you discover on the site.

To say that I am obsessed would be an understatement...but it really has been helpful in planning and preparing the nursery.  For instance I have wanted an X stool/bench for a while but could never justify spending over $300 for a stool.  I wanted to use one in the nursery in place of an ottoman because I thought it would add some interest to the room and also provide another place to sit in case Nick and I were both in the room.

So while on Pinterest a few weeks ago  I found this:

These are X stools from K-Mart!  Yes that's right K-Mart.  This is what they look like from the store.
This decorator simply painted the legs and covered the top.  What a great idea...and they are only $40.  Perfect solution for the nursery ottoman.  So off to K-Mart I went and got my very own.  Here is my transformation.

I may paint the legs at some point, but for now I like it the way it is.  Next on my list was to frame some of the fabric to go over the crib.  The sweet ladies at Sew Sheri Designs (the fabric store in Mt. Brook where I bought the fabrics) had the wonderful idea of framing the sea life print in multiple frames.  I was sceptical at first, but I love how it turned out.  This pattern has a large repeat so it isn't a great choice for pillows or smaller items, but framing it really gives the effect of the entire pattern.

Yet again while on Pinterest I came across this nursery:

They took Shel Silverstein poems and framed them for art in their daughter's nursery.  I love Shel Silverstein and thought this was such a great idea.  I opted not to spring for custom framing but rather pre-made frames from Michaels.  I think they turned out well.

I water colored a yellow border around each poem then matted and framed them.

Last but not least I finally decided on storage baskets for the changing table.  I have looked at every store that I could think of that sells baskets and while there are tons out there it is really difficult to find ones that are the right height and depth.  I ended up settling on these from Pier 1.  They had a dark brown stain and the brown just didn't seem to blend with the rest of the room.  I noticed that Restoration Hardware sells gray baskets in their Baby the Child line and thought that was a happy medium between the typical white or brown. 

I decided to spray paint mine gray and went to work making liners from both of the fabrics.

That will do it for this update....Ok so there are 4 days until Thanksgiving.  Not sure I will be completely done by then, but  I feel good about the progress I have made so far!

Hope everyone has a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving!

Nov 17, 2011

Showered....more like Immersed

As Nick mentioned in his post, we have been blessed beyond measure these past few weeks with several baby showers.  I wasn't sure I would ever feel as loved and supported as I did when we got married, but this is certainly a close second.  I know that it is the norm these days to have showers and parties when you get married and when you have a me I love hosting showers myself, but it takes on a whole new meaning when you are the one being honored.

Words cannot begin to express how grateful we are for all of our friends and family who have joined us in celebrating the upcoming arrival of our son.  Nick and I already love him more than we ever thought possible, but it is overwhelming when those around you express their love for him by showering us with extremelty generous gifts. 

A few weeks ago, we traveled to my hometown for our first shower. Some of my mom's very best friends hosted a beautiful shower at my home church. It was a special weekend in many ways, and we were truly smothered in love and kindness.

This deserves an explanation.  This is one of our dearest friends, Mrs. Shirley West.  She lived across the street from us growing up, and to this day our families are still very close.  The weekend before the shower Dr. and Mrs. West were in Auburn visiting my parents.  Nick and I were also in town for the football game.  The fabrics for the nursery had just come in, so I brought them with me to show my mom and Ellen.  Well of course I had to show Mrs. West too!  For those of you who don't know Mrs. West...she is the science queen.  She taught science for many years and more recently has founded Turtle Point Environmental Science Center.  She loves all things related to the ocean, so I knew she would love my sea turtle, fish, octopus themed nursery.

While shopping for a baby gift, she spotted this guy for Graham's nursery!  You should have seen my face when I saw his eyes peering out the top of the gift bag!  What a perfect gift, and I LOVE that it came from her.  We have named him Herman West.  Herman was Nick's pet turtle when he was a little boy, and West is in honor of Mrs.West.  Can't wait to snap that first picture of Graham with his turtle. 

A few weeks later, several of my co-workers, co-workers' wives, and one of my best friends, Bethany, hosted a shower here in Birmingham.  Once again I was overwhelmed with everyone's generosity.  It was a sweet afernoon with family and friends!

And just this week, the girls in my Sunday School Class hosted a diapers and wipes shower.  We do this for each other when someone in the class has a baby, and it is such a sweet time of fellowship.  At each shower we take time to pray for the baby and the parents.  It was a special evening for me, and I am so thanful for our amazing Sunday School community.  I somehow managed to come away with  no pictures, but here is the loot they sent me home with!  I think we are set for a while!

What a special season in life!  We are beside ourselves with excitment about Graham's upcoming arrival and are reminded how loved and supported we are by our family and friends.  Thank you for immersing us with your generosity!  We are forever grateful.

Nov 10, 2011

Like, Love and Don't Like

This week, I like my iPhone. I’m a long-time AT&T customer and recently upgraded to an iPhone 4. The elitist attitude held by most users of Apple products has always rubbed me the wrong way. But I wanted a new phone and the whole family of Droid phones is confusing to me. Julie has used an iPhone for quite some time now and I knew she was satisfied with the service. I upgraded online and received my new phone in 2 days (super easy, by the way). I’m still learning the ins and outs but I really like it. Calling it a “phone” seems silly since I’ve made less than 5 calls in the 2 weeks I’ve had it but, if anything, I like my new phone for my social media outlets.

This week, I love baby showers. As Graham’s arrival gets closer and closer, the gifts have been piling up. He’s received a lot of toys but the majority of the gifts have been items that we’ll need to clothe and raise him. Julie and I are extremely thankful for your generosity and I can’t wait for him to get here! I have been made aware of some side bets pertaining to my reaction to all of the attention Graham is receiving. My mom once told me that once you have a baby, it’s not about ‘you’ anymore. I think I’m starting to realize exactly what she meant. It already makes me feel good to see so many people doing nice things for our son.

This week, I don’t like the direction of the new Three Stooges film. As you know, I am a huge fan of the Stooges. Lots of rumors regarding a Stooges movie have been making the rounds for the past few years. At one point, Sean Penn was pegged to play Larry along with Jim Carrey (Curley) and Benicio Del Toro (Moe). Casting these three stars was thought to add significant muscle to a Stooges bio-film, something that’s never gained any traction in Hollywood. But, as stars will do, all three actors lost interest in this Farrelly Brothers project and production was put on hold. It now appears that a lot of work has been done since that point. A photo of a revised cast was recently released and I have to tell you, it ain’t pretty.

That’ right…Will Sasso as “Curley”, Sean Hayes as “Larry” and some Greek guy as “Moe”. This movie just went from the top shelf to the basement. Check out the film’s website and you’ll see that the cast of Jersey Shore will make a cameo in the movie. So, these will be modern-day Stooges. Ugh, we get Snooki but no Shemp.

You may not think the Stooges are funny but they are indeed comedy legends. Maybe I am an old soul or maybe they are just an acquired taste. Either way, there’s no denying that their careers were built on a platform (short films) that had a brief life. They were never considered relevant enough to catch on in TV or movies. The Stooges deserve a great movie made by great stars but it appears we’ll just have to keep waiting.

Just try to watch this without laughing:

Oct 27, 2011

Making of a Nursery - Part 3

Several new updates on the nursery front.  Again my goal is to have it completely done by only a few more weeks to go!

Since the last post we have accomplished a good bit.  For starters our crib now has a mattress.  Several of my co-workers went in together and surprised us with the mattress which was so sweet! 

I also made some fitted sheets from a blue and white swiss dot fabric.

Our changing table arrived and we have put that together.  Still working on storage options for the bottom portion, but hopefully I will post about that next time.

My mom gave us this sweet little rocking chair, and Nick painted it a fun orange!

Speaking of orange....for a slit second I was considering painting the bathroom orange (no thanks to Kiley), but since it took me over a month to decide on a blue/gray for the nursery I quickly realized that I didn't have near enough time to mull over that decision.  Not to mention I am such a coward when it comes to decorating...I always take to safe route....even though I know the bold approach would probably look better.

All that to say...we decided to paint the bathroom the same color as the bedroom (Benjamin Moore Gray Owl), but managed to spice it up with a fun orange and white horizontal stripe shower curtain.  I am so pleased with the result and cant wait to get a new bath mat and towels to tie everything together.

You may be wondering where all of this orange is coming from...well I did manage to pick some accent fabrics which will be incorporated in the room.  None of the work is done so I don't have any pictures to show, but here is a peak at the fabrics. 

Stay tuned to see where these will be used!

Oct 19, 2011

Like, Love and Don't Like

This week, I like my pencil. Several years ago, shortly after the beginning of my career, I decided to use a mechanical pencil as my daily writing utensil of choice. I purchased a two-pack (not to be confused with 2Pac) of Pentel’s P207 model. I can misplace a cheap pen without even trying but somehow, I’ve managed to keep both of these pencils. I use one at home to balance the checkbook and one at the office. The office pencil has a significantly greater amount of wear and bite marks. Both pencils are due for an eraser reload but let’s face it – I rarely make mistakes. I’ve noticed that being identified as a pencil user in the professional world brings untold credibility and commands respect from coworkers. Maybe you will enjoy the same benefits. GET ONE TODAY!

This week, I love Twitter during college football season. It could be easily argued that Twitter users get the most value out of this social media outlet during college football season, especially in the south. Fans can tweet their opinion during games, follow their favorite players, receive updates from in-the-know sports writers and much more. It is almost as if Twitter was invented for college football fans. Unfortunately, Tweeting while at a football game can be made difficult if cell phone networks are over capacity. This is often the case at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn. But this twitteruption (see what I did there?) is fleeting and normal service resumes once the crowd of 87,000+ disperses into the night. Listen, if you only use Facebook, you’re really missing out. GET TWITTER TODAY!

This week, I don’t like all of these occupying hipsters. So you don’t like the tax system? I don’t either, bro. You don’t like the ever-increasing gap between the middle class and the upper class? Same here! Let’s band together and elect officials that will meet our demands! No? Oh…you and your dirty friends are going to camp out on Wall Street? You think that chanting and playing your bongos will lead to more jobs and a better economy? Do you have a job? Do you even want a job?