Thursday, April 23, 2009

Earth Day - Riverwoods Trip

My goal was to post a wonderful Earth Day message to all my blogger friends yesterday, but I was honestly just too pooped to do anything! Mom and I joined our fellow Ridge Rangers (a volunteer group that works to protect the Florida ridge ecosystem) for a clean up day/canoe trip at the Kissimmee River research station called Riverwoods. We arrived early in the morning and got busy clearing out invasive, exotic species that were growing up around the education center. We trimmed up the native species and before too long, had the place looking quite spry. (I wish I had a before/after photo to show you!)

A quick briefing on the Riverwoods Center and Kissimmee River Restoration... Florida Atlantic University, partnered with SWFMD and the Kissimmee River Restoration Project, manage the property east of Lorida on the Kissimmee River. They use it as a base for research scientists who are studying the health of the restored Kissimmee River. As I'm sure most of you know, the Kissimmee River was channelized in the 1960's, which was a major "bad call" for the environment. In 1992 restoration efforts began to bring the river back to its orginal form and restore health to the ecosystem. The final dam blow-up is expected to be completed in 2013.

I teach Environmental Science everyday (well, not exactly everyday, but you get the point) and nothing compares with getting out there in nature and experiencing the beauty of God's creation for yourself. I must also say from experience, that the best way to get involved and make a difference in conservation/preservation is to do exactly that...get involved. Get your lazy butt off the couch and do something! :) Here are some pictures of our day...hopefully you will learn something along the way.

Starting off on our canoe trip. This is actually part of the original Kissimmee River that has not dried up. It has no water flow because of daming upstream, but is surprisingly relatively healthy. When the river is completely restored, this view will change. Leased cattle pastures, which currently border each side of the river, will be flooded and broadleaf marsh will take it's place.

I'm not much of a bird lover (unlike my other Ridge Ranger friends, who are bird FREAKS!), but I figured I'd pretend like I was and take this picture. Someone told me to tell my blog audience that this was an immature blue heron, but it's not...just a cow bird. Pretty picture, though, huh?

Others on the canoe trip. Gotta love the cow up ahead checking us out.
Mom and I with our Ridge Ranger leader, Jim. He works so hard to organize weekend events for the group to participate in. We took this picture for Uncle Ed. Recognize this guy??
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We canoed from the Riverwoods Field Lab on the original Kissimmee River to the channelized river (Canal 38). I tried to insert the text in the picture above at the appropriate locations so you could see where the two intersect. When the restoration project reaches to this point, the spoil banks on each side of the canal will be pushed back in, filling up the dredged channel. This will divert the water back into the natural riverbeds and flood much of the surrounding area, restoring thousands of acres of wetlands. The coolest thing of all is that scientists and those working on the restoration project have never planted native species or distributed seeds in an effort to return the habitat to its original state. With a little water and sunshine, seeds that have been dormant in the soil for all of these years spring forth to life! It is truly amazing to see the determination of nature as this ecosystem thrives with the plant and animal life that it was always meant to possess.
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This was such a special sight to see! Sandhill Cranes mate for life, but better than that, they both share equal responsibility in caring for their young. Both mom and dad sit the nest and take turns watching over the area. This was especially neat because the nest was made in the water to protect the eggs/hatchlings from predators. If you look carefully, you can see the mom sitting on the nest with her head poked out above the lilypads. She's checking us out. Dad is standing guard on dry ground.
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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Making poop!

I just learned that this week Baby H will be reaching a gastrointestinal milestone... the making of poop. In the 14th week, the fetus begins to make meconium (first resemblence of poop) within the intestinal tract. Wow, talk about holding it a long time!!! We call that constipation... in the fetus world, it's completely normal.

According to my very trusty sources (WebMD and the Mayo Clinic websites), Baby H weighs almost an entire ounce!!! He/she has eyelids that are fused together (so much for sight-seeing for a while) and already has distinct facial features (hopefully, my eyes, my nose, my mouth, my chin... okay, so I want my kid to look like a mini-me. Is that so bad?). Supposedly, in the 14th week the little fetus will begin to respond to external stimuli (i.e. people poking me in the stomach) and respond by "wriggling away". Too cute :)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Easter Reflections

Since I didn't submit a post for Easter (camera batteries were dead), I at least wanted to use my Thankful Thursday to reflect on my gratitude for having a Resurrection Sunday to celebrate! I really tried to meditate on the truth of Christ's resurrection last week and focus on the implications of Christ truly being alive and reigning King. I was sharing with Jimmy that my all-time favorite worship songs (even before and after the easter season) are those that exalt Jesus as King, Lord, know, those vertical songs that allow you to connect with the majesty of God and declare the Kingship of our savior. Perhaps the reason that I am so drawn to those songs and feel such passion when singing them, is because my spirit connects with the truth of the words and what they mean for me. Jesus' resurrection means power over sin and death and victory for me. How can you not get excited out of your skin when singing about the risen Jesus conquering the grave!!! I am thankful to serve the Greatest God!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mission 1st Trimester: Accomplished!

I'm so happy to be able to finally write this post! We have conquered the first trimester! Today marks the beginning of Week 13 and our little jumping bean is well on his or her way to looking less like an alien and more like a human! For obvious reasons, I've resisted blogging on the events, milestones, and really funny stories of the first weeks of pregnancy... so just to recap, the baby has grown so incredibly much from the time of conception, that if he/she continued to grow at this rate he/she would be like the size of a 2 story building at the end of 9 months! I'm sure it would be hard to find clothes to fit a baby that thank God things are starting to slow down a bit. Baby pretty much has everything, in terms of organs and body parts, that he/she will need, but we're still working on the proportion thing. According to WebMD, "The head is still disproportionately bigger than the body, but the rest of the body is starting to catch up. The face is starting to look more human, with eyes moving closer together. Toes and fingers are clearly separate, and ankles and wrists have formed. External genitalia are becoming visible. Intestines are shifting into their proper place, too." Even though I can't feel it yet, the baby is moving all over the place! He/she is enjoying that olympic size swimming pool before things start getting cramped. I haven't had an ultrasound yet (won't until 20 weeks), but I love looking at youtube videos of 3D ultrasounds that other moms have submitted. I'm amazed that even though a 13 week old fetus is so incredibly small (about 4") it's so developed and active!

I'm especially thankful that "morning" sickness (which was rarely in the morning) is pretty much a thing of the past. I'm not sure if that is a mental-behavioral response, or truly due to medical reasons. Either way, YAY!!! As my uterus is moving up out of my pelvis, my southern organs, particularly the bladder, are breathing a sigh of relief. I'm only getting up once in the middle of the night to pee = more and better sleep. (I've been reminded that excessive urination will soon return in the third trimester).

Here is a 3D ultrasound pic of a 13 week old fetus...not Hurst baby, but they probably look really similar :)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Thankful Thursday

- Cheap maternity clothes at Bealls Outlet!!!
- So many generous and cheerful givers, willing to hand-me-down all kinds of goodies!
- God's mercy (forgoing the punishment we truly deserve)
- God's sovereignty and ultimate control in the earth (whew!...what a relief to know)

You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you.
-Psalm 118:28

Friday, April 3, 2009


Missed yesterday (what's new), but I have been ready for Thankful Thursday for almost a week! I'm so thankful for all of my family and friends that have been supportive during these pregnancies and losses and especially encouraging during this very exciting time in our lives! I didn't realize how many people out there were lifting us up in prayer until I started getting this flood of emails and comments after last week's post. Thank you, Thank you! We are encouraged by your love :)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Today I attended a memorial service for a baby who never experienced life outside of her mother's womb. Today I attended a service to support two parents who are not only grieving the loss of their baby girl, but who are also grieving the loss of the excitement and anticipation of becoming parents. Today was a tough day.

One of my childhood friends lost her baby from placenta abuptio at 7 months, last Saturday. I have spent the past several days thinking about this, literally dreaming about this, and imagining what this pain must feel like. I have an idea, but the excitement of having a child grows month after month, just as you get to know your unborn child more with each passing day. I imagine that the wound is a little different than what I have experienced; a little deeper. Let me just say, I can't think of many things that would be more painful.

So... in the midst of this great pain I am reminded of a truth that never strays too far from my mind. Pain and suffering on this earth are the very things that drive us into the arms of God. Without great trial in our lives, we would never realize that we are insufficient in and of ourselves; and that He is all sufficient. We are insufficient to handle such pain and hardship, insufficient to carry on in peace. But He is sufficient, providing and being all that we need. I haven't lost a parent, sibling, or spouse (thank God), but I have experienced enough loss in my life to have learned to remember this truth during times like these. It almost seems like these times of loss are much needed opportunities to remind ourselves that "God is in control" and "His ways are higher than ours; His thoughts are deeper" (both truths spoken at funerals everyday). Losing those closest to us, particularly in tragic circumstances, is a reality check on so many levels. There is nothing like thoughts of death and eternity to make you self-evaluate and reflect on your view of God.

In light of loss, I have added a new song to my playlist- "Held" by Natalie Grant. This song is so touching, reminding us that we've never been promised a life without trial or suffering. But rather, the promise is that during those times He will hold us in His everlasting arms.