Wednesday, September 18, 2013


In the movie What To Expect When You’re Expecting there is a girl that is referred to as the “magical pregnancy unicorn.” While the other characters struggle through stretch marks, morning sickness, exhaustion, and even miscarriage and infertility, she glides through pregnancy with twins looking like a model and feeling better than ever. She is revered and hated because she seems impervious to the unfortunate symptoms of pregnancy.

Everyone reading this probably has a unicorn in mind. There are many of these mystical creatures that walk among us. The marriage unicorn(s) who seem to never have any fights or intimacy issues. The career unicorns who seem to float to the top of their fields as easily as though they were anchored to this earth with nothing more weighty than a few giant weather balloons. The school unicorns who appear to never study or show up to class but somehow manage to waltz away with a higher grade than the poor minions who formed study groups and sweated over each test question and essay. The list goes on, but they live among us and taunt us with their seemingly effortless perfection.

When I was younger, I was taunted by unicorns. These unicorns were married women. They were the cheerleaders and I was the gangly nerd in the back. As a single lady, it seemed that there was something extremely special about these women. Whether they had been married for one year or fifty years, in my mind, they possessed an otherworldly wisdom. They were special, set apart, and most importantly chosen. Men had deemed them worthy of pursuit and even lifelong companionship.

I knew that marriage would be hard work and a lifetime of putting someone else first.  When we discussed marriage, Esquire and I asked each other “What do you think marriage should be?”. My response was something along the lines of “Marriage is hard work. Marriage is loving someone when you don’t like them. It’s staying through the tough times and putting each other first even when it’s hard.” I’ve known since I was young that love isn’t an emotion. It is an action. It is commitment.

There’s this unwritten code in our culture today that you should only project the good things and leave the ugly side of relationships as a very private thing between you and your spouse. I don’t necessarily disagree with the premise, but I think that it leaves your single friends with this unfair idea of what your marriage looks like.

However, now that I’m a new initiate of the super elitist club that I so often envied, I want to lift the veil off the mystical state of marriage. These are a few things I’ve learned about men, myself, and marriage.

Jamie’s List of Random Things I’ve Learned In Nine Months of Marriage

Inside every man is a vulnerable little boy. Don’t get me wrong…my husband is a strong, masculine, protective hunk of a man. Still, sometimes he just needs me to give him a big kiss and tell him how proud I am of who he is and his accomplishments. He looks to me for confirmation that I appreciate his efforts to care for me. Sometimes he needs me to praise his video game playing abilities or his cleverness in solving a complex problem. I’ve seen this with other men, but I’ve never been blessed with the trust my husband gives me by showing me the most vulnerable places in his heart.

My husband is tragically flawed. No, I’m not referring to the fact that he doesn’t look like Ryan Gosling. I’m referring to the fact that he’s human. Being selfless doesn’t come easily to him. He struggles with balancing his own need for rest and relaxation with my need for communication and companionship. The beautiful thing in all this is that even though it’s not easy for him, he acts very selflessly because he loves me. We fight and probably always will, but his desire to act out his love for me leads him to treat me with extraordinary respect. Which leads me to…

Fighting is not as bad when you’re married. To clarify, fighting with Esquire isn’t nearly as scary for me because no matter what I know that he won’t leave me. Both of us have very strong beliefs about the sanctity of our vows. It gives me such peace to know that we can be upset with each other and know that he will still love me…even if he doesn’t like me. I was always wracked with insecurity when I fought with ex-boyfriends because they could just leave (and they did!). Every once in a while, old insecurities pop up, but they don’t stay long because they have no place in our marriage and I know that.

Fighting is worse when you’re married. I know I just said that it was better, and it is…but it’s also worse. You have to fight fair and watch every word because you can’t just take off and go back to your house if things get too uncomfortable. He can’t read your mind and doesn’t magically know what you need to hear. The couch isn’t far enough to go…he will wake up and find you even if you were enjoying your little rebellion. You also have the potential to deeply wound your very best friend in the whole world. That’s a huge weight to bear.

Being Newlyweds Is Like A Never Ending Slumber Party. I feel like I’m at the best slumber party ever because I get to stay up late with my best friend whenever I want. We eat junk food and dance randomly. We make up silly jokes and talk to each other in goofy voices. We kind of crack ourselves up.

I’m Not An Easy Person To Live With. Living with me is not a cakewalk. I’m moody, occasionally irrational, messy, and have no sense of time. I’m not saying I’m not trying to change and put Esquire first, but the truth is that my natural state resembles a grizzly bear that got woken up from winter hibernation a few weeks early. Apparently, I’m not an easy person to live with…who knew? ;) (The answer to that is “All my family and friends”)

Little Issues That Aren’t Addressed Become Big Issues Eventually. I knew this prior to marriage, but I have realized that it’s unfair to my husband to go from seemingly normal to borderline hysterical because a minor issue triggers bigger issues. I struggle to communicate these small things effectively, not because I want to hide them, but because I often don’t realize how much they have been bothering me until I’m a sobbing mess.

I, like many people in my generation, crave authenticity. I will strive to always provide honest posts about marriage, motherhood, and whatever else I post about. I’m not going to broadcast every little bump in our marriage, but know that we’re not perfect. We fuss, fight, and struggle to die to ourselves every day. There’s much to be improved, but overall, I can’t even imagine anything else. My husband, flaws and all, makes me so happy. I only hope I make him half as happy as he makes me. This man that prays for me, fights with me, and dances with me is the best husband and friend that I could ever imagine and I’m going to make sure that our daughter knows every day how much her parents love each other.

All images in this post were taken by the magnificent Crystal Bell of Gilded Sun Photography :)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Boy or Girl?

Esquire and I have been able to feel our little Parasite moving for a few weeks now. I'm only sixteen weeks (seventeen on Saturday), but last night we were able to see it actually move the skin on my belly. It's not supposed to be able to hear yet, but it seems to respond to outside stimuli. For example, baby was kicking like crazy and seemed to startle when Nessie let out a loud bark. After a few seconds, it went back to kicking like it was before.

Tomorrow we should finally find out if this little wiggleworm is a boy or a girl. I'm so excited!
We joked after the last sonogram that maybe it wasn't a human baby after all. We think it looked suspiciously like we were having a platypus. So, we've decided that if it's a platypus, we're naming it Perry after Perry the Platypus. Still no definite names for a boy or a girl though.

I really want a girl, but I'm warming to the idea of a boy. We'll let everyone know the gender soon!

Here's an obligatory photo of the baby bump
(forgive the photo quality...was taken with cell phone in a dirty mirror :P)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

What To Name Baby Hennigan...

We still haven’t found out whether we’re having a boy or a girl, but either way naming that kid is going to be an intimidating process. Esquire and I have discussed names off and on since we found out we were having a baby. Usually our conversations about baby names are short.

“Hey, do you like this random name I thought of?”
“It’s not my favorite. What about this random name?”
“Eh, it’s okay but I wouldn’t want to name our baby that random name.”

And so on and so forth. Occasionally, we come across one that we both consider to be less than terrible, but for the most part we just haven’t had any great light bulb moments.

Image from this site

Part of our problem stems from the fact that I am incredibly picky about names. I think that your name has a lot of power in your life and I don’t want to strap my child with a name that means “foulmouthed badger” or “weak warrior”. Not that those are real examples, but I want names that bestow a feeling of value and something that my child should strive to live up to.

My first and middle names mean “Supplanter” and “Who is like God”. To supplant is to take something and replace it with something better. Ever since I discovered what my name means, I’ve felt like it was part of who I am to strive to be a better version of myself. That power truly comes from Christ alone, yet I can make choices every day to live in a way that is glorifying and pleasing to God.

Esquire’s full name is actually the same as his father and grandfather and it was very special for him growing up that he was “The Third”. Now that we are looking into baby names, we are debating the merits of continuing that tradition or breaking with tradition and naming our firstborn son something entirely different.

Boy names are decidedly harder than girl names. First of all, there aren’t that many boy names that are even in the running. You have to think about your son as a grown man introducing himself. Sure, “Buddy” is cute on a young kid, but does it evoke the same level of initial respect that more traditional names might? I’m not saying that Buddy is a bad name, but you have to consider all these things!

Girl names are great. You have lots of options and a little of creativity is acceptable. Yet, with girl names you run the risk of accidentally naming your daughter something that evokes thoughts of unattractive women or promiscuous women. Delilah is a beautiful name, but people will wonder if she is like the vixen who cut Samson’s hair. Dorothy makes you think of an older, chain smoking receptionist or a girl with red shoes and strange friends. You might want to name your little sweetie Candy, but my own mom (Kandi) can testify to a very memorable trip to the dentist when she was in second grade. Her dentist informed her that she must have been named after a very famous stripper he knew named Candy Cane.

Too many times parents are tempted by the current trend of personalizing their favorite name with a very creative spelling. I’m fine with a letter here and there, but I can assure you we will not be naming our child anything that remotely resembles L-a (pronounced LaDasha).

Esquire and Jamie’s List of Names We Will Never Name Our Children

1.       Adolph
2.       Rebel
3.       Finnegan or Bennigan (Come on Finnegan Hennigan?!  That’s horrible!)
4.       Heaven, Nevaeh, or Angel
5.       Edward, Jacob, and Bella (One of these names in a family is acceptable, but choose ONE. Except Bella… never Bella!)
6.       Ronald or Donald
7.       Simba
8.       Bliss
9.       Tallulah
10.   Timber
11.   Urkel
12.   Rain, Stormy, Misty, or any other overtly weather related names
13.   Summer, Autumn, Spring, or Winter
14.   North, South, East, or West
15.   Ariel, Jasmine, or Aurora

So, if any of you have these names or children with these names, don’t worry…We probably aren’t judging you too much.
Unless you name your child Adolph or Bella. Then you're dead to us ;)

See these babies? They just found out their parents named them "Adolph, Bella, and Simba" 

We’d love to hear some of your suggestions for Baby Hennigan! We'd even welcome the unusual ones!
We'll probably name our kid something strange, but it won't be a name on "Esquire and Jamie's List Of Names We Will Never Name Our Children!"

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Once Upon A Time...

In 2004,
Two little NCFCA nerds met at the Alexandria Practice Tournament in Louisiana.

Eight long years went by with barely a “hello” until they started talking on Facebook
and on May 19th, 2012 decided to try this thing called dating...

Before long, the girl...

was pretty smitten by the boy with the kind eyes

And, of course,
they fell in love…

In November he decided to propose…

 A month later, on December 22nd, they were married…

They honeymooned in Galveston where the girl got sick
(this has nothing to do with my narrative…I just wanted to be able to include this picture)…

A few months went by, and the boy began to notice that the girl was crazy more awesome than he realized,
but needed a lot of they got a puppy named Nessie…

But Nessie became lonely...
and the very stupid brave boy and girl decided to get her a playmate named Mairi…

Nessie and Mairi were very excited to be together
and bonded over their mutual interest in salmon flavored treats…

And the four of them settled into a routine until one day…

On May 21st...

Just 1 year and 2 days after they started dating...

The boy and girl discovered…

You read that right... They found out that they were going to be PARENTS!

And they lived happily ever after...

What do you think about that?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Thoughts on Adoption

Adoption is becoming or has already become a sub-culture in mainstream Christianity lately and while I'm glad that people are taking adoption and orphan care more seriously, I am often at a loss when someone asks me why adoption is so close to MY heart.

The truth is that there are many things I say about why I am such a huge advocate for adoption, and all the reasons I give are true, but adoption is such a huge issue that sometimes you can come across as trite when you say things like "I feel called to adopt", "Because there are children out there who need homes", and "Because God tells us to take care of orphans", or even "I've known since I was young that I wanted to adopt". The problem with all of these explanations is that the reasons why I want to adopt are so much more complicated than that.

I remember a conversation I had with my Mom when I was about five years old. She explained very simply that there were children that didn't have a Mommy and a Daddy. Five year old me was flabbergasted by this idea "What? No Mommy and Daddy to tuck you in at night?! No Mommy and Daddy to sleep with when you had nightmares?". The consequences of growing up without parents was very real to me in that moment. If five year old me had been able to go collect those children right then I would have mothered them the best way I knew how! I mean, everyone needs someone to tuck them in at night...right?

It seems crazy, but that conversation is really the basis of which my desire to adopt stems. That childlike horror at the thought of a parent-less child and the desire to nurture that I felt as a young child is still the instinctual response I give when people ask "Why do you want to adopt?". Because, let's be honest here folks...the concept of children without nurture is truly horrific.

When I was seven years old, one of my cousins was put up for adoption as an infant. My parents discussed offering to adopt her, but my brother was only ten months old at the time and we weren't in a great position financially, so they decided that it was not an option. My mom was sad and I was sad, but life moved on.
I remember seeing her in the hospital. She was just a quiet little bundle with an abundance of black hair, but she was so precious. I haven't seen her since that day, but I think about her every few months and wonder how she's doing and what kind of person she has become over the years. It hurts my heart a little when I think of the relationship we missed out on and I hope that her adoptive family has treasured her.

The adoption of my cousin solidified the thought that I wanted to adopt. That somewhere out there, there were children who needed a mommy and someday, I would be their mommy.

In the past few years, I've read so many books, articles, interviews, and testimonies about adoption. Seriously, I have a shelf of adoption books on my bookshelf. I've talked to people who have adopted or are in the process and read adoption blog after adoption blog. I know so much about adoption and still there is so much to learn! I've known families that adoption has almost torn their family apart and read all the horror stories. It's a good thing that God calls us to do hard things, because folks, adoption is HARD!

Before I started dating my husband, we had a conversation about adoption. Due to my lack of tact, it came out of my mouth sounding like this "I plan on adopting children. Are you okay with that? If you aren't, we aren't supposed to be together." It's no small wonder he stuck with me!

The Bible talks about adoption/orphan care in several verses.
Psalm 68:5-6 says
"Father to the fatherless, defender of widows-
this is God, whose dwelling is holy.
God places the lonely in families;
he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.
But he makes the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land."

James 1:27 says "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

and Matthew 18:5 says "And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me."

It's not like God is silent on the issue. Still, I think the most compelling reason I could give when people ask "Why do you want to adopt?" might be "Because I can."

A quote from this blog sums it all up.

"...We adopt not because we are rescuers. No, we adopt because we are the rescued."

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

More Photos of Mairi...and a Sad Farewell.

I finally had a chance yesterday to snap some decent pictures of Mairi. I took her out on our balcony and tried to wrangle her into an adorable position. It wasn't as easy as the time I took photos of Nessie, but I think Mairi's personality really shines through in these pictures. Take the first one for example, she's definitely my puppy. I always get caught with my mouth open during photos.

I am so grateful for my dear husband, E. He is head puppy wrangler. It's rough having two puppies sometimes, but he's generally pretty patient with them and their neediness. I just hope we can work all the kinks out by the time we decide to have kids. I want two well-behaved dogs before I introduce little Hennigans to their environment. E and I decided to go ahead and get both of them so we could have lots of time to spend with them before adding to our load. I feel like I would not do well with an unruly dog and little kids. Too much stress!

We have one of E's old roommates staying with us right now. It's been so great to get to see him and hang out with him. He was always fun to be around when we were dating, so it's been nice getting to spend some post-marriage time with him. I know E is loving it!

We bought a new couch several weeks ago and I bought some art work to hang above the couch.
It looks pretty spiffy, but I still have to print some cute photos to put in our picture frames above the couch.
I'll post pics when it's finally done!

Memorial Day weekend we'll be in DFW to celebrate my birthday a little early. We are getting our photos professionally done (with Nessie and Mairi in some of course...can't leave the dog-babies out!) by Sarah Bunyard Halferty. She and her husband are leaving soon to be missionaries in Papua New Guinea. She's doing some last minute photoshoots to help raise money for their move and ministry, so if you want to donate or have your photos done by her then you better do it soon!

I came into work today and S was sick. Poor baby took turns playing with his toys and clinging to me with a binky in one hand, a snuggly blanket in the other hand, and his sweet little head on my shoulder.

I have so much to say today and I'm not sure where to start or where to censor myself.
My dear friend Emylee, who came to see me over the weekend, and the rest of her family are reeling from the loss of one of their family members. Today, they will be attending Kenny's funeral.

I didn't know really know Kenny, but his loss impacted me. I don't normally photograph weddings, but last April I had the privilege of documenting Kenny and Mandy's wedding. It was the first wedding I've shot. It unsettles me that he's gone after barely a full year of marriage. It definitely made me take a step back and realize that I need to let people know that I value them. It also made me hug my handsome husband just a little tighter at night and cuddle a little longer in the mornings.

So, hug your loved ones close and I'll say farewell with these photos of Kenny on his wedding day and with his wife and little son at a birthday party in September. You will be missed Kenny.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Beach Babes, New Puppy, and A Life Lesson

This past weekend I had the opportunity to spend some time with my friend Emylee and her son Eli.
Living in Houston has been kind of hard for me lately. When I lived in Fort Worth, I had lots of casual friends and acquaintances, but Emylee was my best friend. We are both nannies, are intense adoption/orphan care advocates, and have similar views on most things in life. We spent extraordinary amounts of time together before and this is the first weekend I've spent with her in over four months. It's been a little rough without her.

It was really great to see both of them. He has grown so much lately! He thinks everything is a "ball" or a "dog". It's adorable. Emylee and I took Eli and Nessie to Galveston for some fun at the beach.

Emylee held onto Nessie so that I could try to get some cute shots of Eli. The little stinker decided it would be fun to throw handfuls of wet sand on me! You should have seen me backpedaling on my knees in the sand and him chasing me. Oh wait! I have photos of him chasing me! ;)

Nessie seemed to have a lot of fun. She was a little overexcited by everything, but I put her pinch collar on and she seemed to calm down and relax a little bit after that. She is such a smartie pants!

E and I had discussed the possibility of getting a second dog so that she would have a playmate, but we weren't sure what sort of a timeline we were looking at. Then last Friday, I stumbled across an ad from Nessie's breeder. I called her and found out that she had a discounted older puppy (which is really what we wanted).
I talked to E and we decided to take the leap. Here's Nessie without any idea that this was her last day as an only doggie-child.

On Saturday, while we were at the beach, Esquire drove all the way to Kaufman to pic up the new puppy. We decided to keep with the Scottish tradition and found the name Mairi (pronounced Mar-ee) which means "Of the sea".

When we got Nessie, it was insta-love. As soon as I saw her, I loved her. She was adorable and charming and more than willing to shower you with affection. With Mairi, it's been a slower process. It was really hectic with Nessie feeling like her home was being invaded by a little black sea urchin, Esquire feeling like the whole world was in chaos, and on top of that-we had guests. Guests we love and were so glad to have, but it would have been beneficial if we could have waited until they were gone to get Mairi.

I'm slowly warming up more to Mairi and I've learned (relearned) something ugly about myself.
Beauty and looks matter a lot to me. Mairi has a wonderful calm and sweet personality, but she's not as cute as Nessie has always been. Still, she's winning me over one gentle ankle nudge at a time.

Some have said we're brave for getting two puppies at once. Brave or stupid, only time will tell ;)
Still, Nessie is already calmer when she's in her crate and Mairi learned sit in about 5-10 minutes.
I think we just might be alright. :D

Sunday, March 10, 2013


E and I got married in December and I quickly learned that my husband has a mistress. Her name is Video Games. She pulls him out of our warm bed early in the mornings and keeps him out of our bed until late at night. Sometimes, when he is spending time with me I can see the longing in his eyes and I know that in his mind he is with her. Darn you, Video Games! You vixen, you!

Haha, it's really not as bad as all that. I knew that my husband loved video games before we even considered marriage. I've told him that it's okay if he wants to play, but a girl has needs. He does a great job of making me feel loved and cherished before, during, and after game time. I'm a really lucky girl...but he still can't cuddle with me all the time.

A few weeks ago I started a campaign. I'll call it the "fluffy puppy" campaign. During this little tactical maneuver I bombarded my poor husband with pictures of adorable puppies with red bows. He was shell shocked by the sheer cuteness of the puppy pictures that I sent him. You have to understand that E loves dogs and dogs love him. It wasn't too hard to convince him that a "fluffy puppy" for me to cuddle with was a good idea.

I love Golden Retrievers. I love the way they want to please you more than anything else. They are great companion dogs, but there is a downside to these lovable pups. Hair...SO MUCH HAIR!!! E's previous roommate had a Siberian Husky that shed excessively and E just wasn't keen on the prospect of dealing with so much dog hair. We began to toss breeds back and forth and decided that a Goldendoodle would fit our needs quite nicely.

Goldendoodles are a cross between a Golden Retriever and a Poodle. They generally have the great Golden Retriever personality-loyal, friendly, trustworthy, kind, reliable, and obedient. Yet, Goldendoodles get some of the Poodle intelligence and their non-shedding (or low shedding) coat.

After tons of research and searching, we stumbled upon an ad on Craigslist for a three month old Goldendoodle. Her family couldn't keep her and as soon as I showed E the ad he was sold. I kept asking him "Are you sure? You really want her?"

This is the photo that was on the ad.

My sister picked her up and drove her the four hours to our house. Thanks, Kate!

We named her Nessie (like the Loch Ness Monster). She is a joy and you will probably be hearing lots of stories about her. Nessie is what we affectionately call a "velcro dog" because she wants to be with you at all times and she loves everyone. If you have treats or will play with her, just consider yourself her new best friend!

I'm planning on posting pictures and videos of her periodically since she's a big part of our lives. For now, I hope you enjoy these photos of her that were taken today.

This top one is my favorite!

Isn't she just adorable!!!

She has almost human expressions sometimes. It's too funny being able to read boredom, frustration, and excitement on her face! :)


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Growing up in West Texas, I went through a phase where I fancied myself a green thumb. I would scour plant magazines looking for unusual varieties of plants that I wanted to grow. My one real foray into gardening came in the form of a bunch of rose bushes planted around my house. However, they weren't planted deep enough or watered enough to really thrive. After my grandfather "accidentally" mowed them over with the tractor, my dreams of becoming a gardener were mostly banished.

When I was flipping through plant magazines during my gardening phase, I stumbled across a variety of blue/purple fleshed potatoes that really fascinated me. The thought of have naturally colored mashed potatoes seemed like such a great idea! I never had a chance to try them, but I thought about it occasionally over the years.

I was shopping at HEB for groceries when I came across PURPLE POTATOES! They were on sale. I had to try them! I was a little concerned about what E might think about purple potatoes but he seemed enthused.

Yesterday I made purple mashed potatoes and thought you might enjoy seeing some pictures of my little cooking adventure!

This is what the flesh of the potato looks like.

These are peeled and chopped.

When I boiled them the water turned a really pretty blue!

Using my KitchenAid mixer for the first time! It was a Christmas present from my Mom and Dad. The potatoes are kind of chunky.

After mixing they became smooth and creamy like normal potatoes. I added garlic, salt, pepper, habanero sauce, and sour cream. They were delicious!

E was coming home for lunch, so I whipped up some pork chops to go with the purple potatoes.
I cooked them in a purple pan too!

The final meal complete with purple knife. Are you seeing a theme? :)

Purple potatoes are actually really healthy for you. They contain a powerful antioxidant called anthocyanin.

Next time you see some wild colored potatoes in your supermarket give them a try!