Subscribe: Pittsburgh Progress
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade B rated
Language: English
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: Pittsburgh Progress

Pittsburgh Progress

Two people trying to make a difference for the kingdom in the place where we live.

Updated: 2018-03-06T09:58:40.291-05:00


Facebook Fast - Why I did it, what I've learned and why I'm back!


Almost every struggle in my life can be traced to one very simple flaw of mine: I allow things that are not God to have power and authority in my life. Things that were created determine my worth and value instead of my Creator. Let me give you an example: Makeup is a good creation. I enjoy makeup. I even sold Mary Kay products for a while. It's fun to use makeup as a way to highlight my best features and minimize my least favorite. I feel beautiful when I wear makeup and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.Here's where the problem starts, though. A few years ago, I started to believe that I was ONLY beautiful when I was wearing makeup. Soon I wouldn't leave the house without it. In fact, I started to fear that if people saw me without makeup they would realize how unattractive I was and not want to be my friend anymore. My whole self worth and self identity became wrapped up in how I looked in the mirror. I allowed a good creation to have too much power in my life. I forgot that my true security and significance can only be found in my Creator!I needed to find a way to break free from the power that makeup had in my life. So I did the only thing I could think of to do: I took a break. No makeup. Nada. Zero. I needed time to relearn how to see myself through God's eyes. And guess what? As far as I can remember, I didn't lose any friends. In fact, no one seemed to care. But the break made a huge difference in my life. It gave me perspective and allowed me to put God back in His proper place as Lord. Now I actually don't wear makeup most days. I am more comfortable in my skin. I feel confident and put much less value in my outward appearance. I am no longer living in fear of other people judging me based on my looks. It is so freeing! So ... now I'll finally get to my first point - Why I did it. Why take a break from Facebook? Maybe you can already see where I am going with this. Facebook, like makeup, is a good creation. It is beneficial for lots of reasons. There is nothing inherently wrong with using it. I enjoy Facebook. But I was beginning to realize that Facebook, like makeup, may have been gaining too much power in my life. I noticed that while using Facebook I kept falling into the same problematic patterns. They were: 1) Envy - "a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another's advantage, success, possessions, etc." Example: "(Jane Doe)'s life is so much more exciting than mine." OR "That mom really has it all together. I wish I could be like her." 2) Vanity - "excessive pride in one's appearance, qualities, abilities, achievements, etc." Example: "Hey, world, look at these really beautiful quilts that I made. I'm so talented!" OR "My kids are so cute, I'm going to post so many pictures of them that people will get sick of seeing them." 3) Anxiety - "distress or unease of mind." Example: "Only two people 'liked' my status! What does that mean? No one must like me." OR "Oh no, So and So tagged me in a picture and I look terrible! What will everyone think about me?" OR the ever popular, "Why wasn't I invited to x, y or z?" Honestly, I don't think I would have made it through high school if Facebook had been around when I was a teenage girl. Any of these sound familiar to you? Maybe you share some of the same struggles I do. All that to say, there are healthy ways to engage Facebook and there are unhealthy ways to engage it. I felt like I was beginning to engage in the unhealthy ways, so I took a break. Here's What I've Learned:1) Facebook changes your thought process. In my first few days off I realized (to my dismay) that using Facebook had trained me to think in status updates. As I went about my day, I would find myself actually thinking in 140 character snippets. Our brains have a way of adapting to what we expose ourselves to. After a few days off, I was able to begin thinking more clearly and deeply about my life. I began thinking more about how I wanted to engage the world around me instead of[...]

Campaign for Charis


 We are looking for a new home for our 6 year old Boxador (Black Lab/Boxer), Charis. Pronounced "Care-is". She is a beautiful dog, who is in excellent physical condition. She is up to date on all her vaccinations as well as heart worm and flea and tick prevention.

Charis is very intelligent. She is eager to please and learns quickly. We have done several training courses with her, including private training. She is house broken and crate trained. We have not had any problems with accidents or chewing with her since she was a puppy (~5 years now). She can be left alone in the house or in her crate with out problem.

Charis is also extremely loyal. She does very well with people that she has been properly introduced to. However, she is very protective of her family and does not always like strangers. She does not react well to other dogs.

The ideal home for Charis is one where focused attention can be given to her. She would do well in a situation where she is challenged mentally and is kept active. She loves to go on walks/runs and play outside. She also loves pools and water. A preferred home would be either a young couple without kids or a family who's children are already grown. This is not to say that Charis would not do well with children. She has been around our 2 year old daughter since she was born, but she has not been exposed to many other kids. She has been a wonderful dog for us, but with our changing family situation, we are no longer able to give her the attention that she needs. We are very sad to give her up.

Charis comes with her own den (crate), training collar and leash, bowl and a starting supply of her current food. If you or someone you know may be interested in adopting Charis, please contact Sarah Ansell at We want to make sure that Charis goes to a good, loving home.

Xbox Birthday Party


Ever wondered what to do for that video game enthusiast for their birthday? There definitely are not video game themed party decorations out there. (Believe me, I've looked). Well look no further! Here is an easy way to throw an "Xbox Birthday" for your little (or big) gamer.

First, as people arrive, have them create a "gamer tag" instead of a regular name tag. Put out name tags and pens or markers. If you're not sure what a "gamer tag" is, ask your gamer. It is basically an identity that gamers use to identify themselves for online play. After everyone has arrived, have your birthday boy (or girl) pick whose gamer tag is the most creative. The winner gets a medal (purchased from the dollar store) and a small prize. I used $5 Exchange gift cards as prizes. You could also use Best Buy, Game Stop, or another store.

The bulk of the party will be focused on unlocking ACHIEVEMENTS! This is a great game that gets people involved and having tons of fun! I used this website: XBox 360 Achievement Generator to generate the achievements. I printed out a dark copy (completed achievement) and a light copy (not completed). See below:


I got creative and made up activities that people needed to do to unlock the achievements. Examples: "Top of the World" - make a pyramid of six people with the birthday boy/girl on top. "Face the Cookie" - move a cookie from your forehead to your mouth using only your face. "High Five Hero" - accumulate 30 high fives. Each achievement was given a point value (adding up to 1000 pts). Give guests a check list with descriptions of the achievements and have them keep track of what they unlock. At the end of the party, the person with the most points wins a medal and a prize.

When people leave, make sure you thank them for coming! I got candy and added "Thank you" labels also generated by the above website.


I'm sure your gamer will love it!

Man in Yellow Hat


My little one is in LOVE with Curious George. So when Halloween rolled around it didn't take much thinking to decide what she would go as. Finding a monkey costume was easy. (This one came from Costco). Finding a Man in the Yellow Hat costume for my husband to wear was much harder. I looked online and found some that looked cheaply made and were pretty pricey (nothing under $40). I decided I could make something much better, probably for less.

The finished product:
Here's what I did:
Bought khaki pants, white button up shirt, silver tie (or any light color), black belt and straw hat in my husband's sizes. All were purchased at the thrift shop for $10.

I used Rit dye ($3-4) to dye the pants, shirt and tie the bright yellow color. After everything was dry, I used a black sharpy marker to draw black spots on the tie.

The hat was the hardest part. I used the top half of a gallon milk carton to make the straw hat taller. Then I paper mached the hat to make it consistent texture. Once all that dried, I used spray paint ($3) to get the bright yellow color.

My husband wore big brown boots that he already had and the outfit was complete! The whole outfit cost us less than $20! This costume was WAY better than anything we could have found online. Everyone who saw them together loved it!


The Birth of Elizabeth


Tuesday, February 9, 2010 will be a day that we will remember for the rest of our lives. Our beautiful daughter, Elizabeth Grace, was born. Here is how it happened:Friday, February 5th, it began snowing and it did not stop snowing until late Saturday. During that short period, about 22 inches of snow buried Pittsburgh. Roads were totally impassable. With nowhere to move the snow, plowing didn't do much good. Not having anywhere to be, we staying in and prayed that the baby would not choose that day to be born.We were not able to dig out our car until Monday. Our neighbors, Ashley and Eric Anwiler, were a great help in accomplishing this. Both Monday and Tuesday, Chris and I stayed home from work because the roads were too bad to make it in.Tuesday afternoon I was pretty tired and lay down to take a nap around 2:00 pm. I woke up an hour later. Almost as soon as I got out of bed, I started to feel funny. It felt like light menstrual cramps at first. The cramps started to feel pretty regular, so Chris started timing them. They were coming about every 3 minutes. We called my doctor and she said to go ahead and head into the hospital. It was already starting to snow again. It was forecasted that we would get another 8+ inches of snow that night. We started off to the hospital around 4:45 pm hoping we would be able to make it.The drive to the hospital was slow and cautious. Roads were in really bad shape. Some looked like they had not been plowed at all. On the way, contractions continued. We called our doula, Kathy McGrath, on the way and as we expected, she said she would not be able to make it because of the snow. We were really disappointed (as was she), because we had been working with her throughout the pregnancy and were very comfortable with her. She is also the top doula in Pennsylvania. She told us to have the doctor call the on-call doula to come assist us.We arrived at the hospital at 5:30 pm and were checked into triage. I was starting to feel more uncomfortable, but still not really experiencing pain. The nurses hooked me up for monitoring. Contractions were indeed coming every 3 minutes. The baby's heart rate was steady and strong. A hospital resident came in to examine me. At 6:00 pm I was 4+ cm dilated, 100% effaced and at -1 station.We moved from triage to a labor room at 6:54 pm. "The Office" was on the tv when they wheeled us in. (A good sign? :) ) I was offered an epidural and declined. I had to be hooked up to an IV to receive antibiotics because of a positive strep B test. This was a bummer for me because it meant that I was confined to bed. I had hoped that I would be able to be up and moving around to relieve pain. Contractions were still coming and shortening to about every 2 minutes.At this point, I called my mom to let her know what was happening. When I told her that we were at the hospital and I was in labor she started sobbing. "Oh no!" She cried. "We can't make it!" I tried to tell her it was OK and that she could come whenever the weather cleared up. I could tell she was really upset though and I hung up wondering how Chris and I would manage things without her help when we went home from the hospital.I didn't have much time to think about it though because contractions were becoming stronger and more painful. I used the breathing techniques we had learned in Lamaze to manage the pain. I also focused on a pink flower in the wall paper above my bed. Between contractions I would rest. It was about 1 minute of contraction, followed by 1 minute of rest. During each contraction, I tried to relax all my muscles and focus on allowing them to do their work. Chris was doing a great job helping me focus. He rubbed my head and even breathed along with me. The on-call doula, Amanda, arrived at some point, but we were doing so well, she didn't do much at first.Something that made labor very interesting was that Elizabeth had turned face up (more on this later) and had positioned herself with her b[...]

The Final Countdown


We’ve been enjoying our last few days as a couple. I used my day off on Thursday to surprise Chris with some ½ anniversary treats. (Our 5 ½ year anniversary is on Feb 14th, but since we might be pretty busy next weekend, I figured I would surprise him early.) I made him a cake, some cookies and some cupcakes. I also took him on a date: out to dinner (Chick-Fil-A) and a movie (Avatar). It was nice to spend an evening out. It will probably be awhile before we are able to do that again. I also got pampered on Thursday. A couple of my coworkers had given me a gift card for a manicure and pedicure at a local salon. It was very relaxing! We’ve been enjoying watching the snow fall outside. Our neighbor said he measured 19 inches in one place! We are so glad we don’t have anywhere we need to be. Chris shoveled out the front walk and some of the driveway, but our car and the driveway to the road are still buried. Luckily, I am not showing any signs of going into labor today! Our neighbors, the Anwilers (a couple houses down), have offered to be on standby with their 4WD vehicle in case we need them! What good friends. We have been very blessed today in many ways; we have not lost power, heat, or water! There are some areas of the city that are without all three! So we have been able to relax and just enjoy the beauty of this winter wonderland. Unfortunately, the forecast looks like lots of snow this week! So we may need the 4WD after all. The puppies have LOVED this snow. It is almost as high as them, but they plow right through. We took a video of them this morning playing around. Check it out on YouTube: Finally, I know some of you have not gotten a chance to see the nursery all finished up. Here is a nice picture. And one of me: Week 39! Watching the snow fall out the nursery window. [...]

Showers, Showers


There have been a total of three showers for our little girl. One at home over Christmas, one in my office where I work and one here in Pittsburgh. They have all been wonderful! Unfortunately, I don't have good pictures of everyone who was there. But here are some:York Shower: My Mom and Dad with "Granny" our next door neighbor growing up who was like a grandmother to me.My mother-in-law, Susan.The Kirkwood clan.One of my best friends from high school, Marell.My wonderful, beautiful sister.My biggest helpers of the day! My cousins Faith and Jennifer.Another good friend from high school, Val.Lots of great Moms of friends! Mrs. Hartman, Mrs. Payne, Mrs. Gianneschi.My sister and high school friend, Allison.Chris' family.Aunt Audrey, Mother-in-law Susannah, sister-in-law Meredith, cousins Carly and Joelle.High school friend and long time softball teammate, Sarah.The cake! Yum!Pittsburgh Shower: Mom made the trip out to be there.The lovely wives from my couples small group.Meg, me, Ashley and Erika.The lovely ladies of my girls' small group.Debbie, Jana, Emily, me, Alicia and Megan.Two of my favorite students!Anna and Lois.The wonderful party planners!Meg, Megan, me and Megan. (Yes they are all Megans!)My great friends, Charity and Megan.Remember the posts of their recent weddings???The cake! Complete with pink Hippo. If you don't know the story behind the hippo, you should ask me sometime.[...]

Preparing for the Unpredictable


Well, as you can see from our counter at the top of the page, we are quickly approaching our due date! As the big day approaches, we have been busily preparing our house to receive our new baby girl. The nursery is pretty much set! I'll have to post pictures of it soon.

Things are progressing as they should. The baby is growing and so is my belly. She is not moving around as much as she did before. It must be getting tight in there. But I can still feel her every day. Now it is just more pushes and stretches rather than kicks and jabs.

We went home to York for Christmas. It was wonderful to be able to see so many friends and family. Many of whom had not had the chance to "meet" baby Ansell yet. Here are a few pictures from Christmas:

(image) Christmas eve at the church where Chris and I were married 5+ years ago.

(image) With my sister

(image) Big belly, little belly.

(image) A nice picture of my family.

(image) With the Fosdick Family. They came all the way from Michigan to join us! They were also such a big help at our baby shower we had over Christmas.

Quick Update


Well, it has been awhile since our last update. Things have been super busy for us with the end of the semester and trying to get things ready for the baby. Chris has been working long days (9 am to 9 pm) most days.Here are just a few of the things that have been happening since the last post. (This is not in chronological order).We had our last small group meeting for the semester. We really enjoyed growing in God's word with other couples from our church and neighborhood.The boys: Nick, Isaac, Eric and ChrisThe girls: Erika, Devin, me and AshleyBaby Ansell went to her first Pitt football game. Sadly, Pitt lost and I'm afraid that little hippo will quickly become a Penn State fan. Oh well, I tried.Week 30We enjoyed Thanksgiving at our house with family.Chris' family: Susan, Blair (Dad), Grandma Ansell,me and ChrisMy family: Dad, Mom, me and Chrisand of course... the babyMy friend, Charity, got married! She was the last of my college girlfriends to tie the knot!The new Mr. and Mrs. Dear! So happy!Pitt girls! Megan, Charity, me.A nice picture of Chris and I from the wedding.And here is the most recent "Bump" photo.Week 31 - still growing.[...]

Cleaning House


In an attempt to clean out my closet (before baby comes), I am selling some Mary Kay products that I have had for awhile. All products are in perfect condition, but are not in the same line as the newest MK products and so do not fit the new compact cases. Since I am no longer running my business, I am selling everything at 50% off or more. Please let me know what you are interested in. I can ship to you and add the shipping to the order total. Retail price is listed in ($). My selling price is listed next. (Tax is not included in prices listed).Gift setsThese are great gift ideas for the holiday season. Just wrap ‘em up and put them under the tree. Or if you are staying with family or friends over the holiday season, these would make great hostess gifts.1) Satin Hands & Body (1 set available).Set comes with Lotion and Buffering cream. Does for your body what Satin Hands does for your hands. ($20) Price: $82) Fun in the SunIncludes Skin Essentials SPF 15 Sun block and lip protector sun block. Comes in a children’s beach bucket with sand toys. ($16) Price: $83) Mint Bliss Pedicure SetMint Bliss Pedicure Set comes with mint bliss fizzies, scrub for feet, energizing lotion, foot file/brush, toe separators, and tote. ($35) Price: $154) Brown BeautyIncludes chocolate lip liner, nutmeg cheek color, chocolate mousse lipstick, and brown endless performance mascara all in a snowman tin bucket. ($40) Price: $185) Gotta Have JavaPerfect for that javaholic! Comes with iced latte nail color, almond glaze lip gloss, mocha freeze lip stick, and java eye color in a coffee mug. ($36) Price: $156) Pretty in PinkIncludes cotton candy eye color, suede lip stick and pink pout lip gloss in a pink tote. ($30) Price: $127) All about EyesComes in a pineapple and includes Age fighting eye cream and Soothing Eye mask. ($41) Price: $188) All about LipsIncludes satin lip balm, satin lip mask, aloha pink gloss and suede lip stick in a gift bag. ($42) Price: $18Individual Items availableItem Description (# Avail/Retail Price/Sale Price)For Body TimeWise Visibly Fit Body Lotion 1 $22 $10TimeWise 3-in-1 Cleansing Body Bar 2 $18 $6TimeWise Age-Fighting Moisturizer with SPF 15 2 $20 $8Private Spa Collection Sugar Scrubs: $15 $6 Embrace Happiness 2 Embrace Dreams 1Private Spa Collection Body Wash (Embrace Happiness) 1 $12 $5Mint Bliss Energizing Lotion for Feet and Legs 2 $10 $4Satin Hands cream 1 $7.5 $3Satin Hands cream with SPF 15 2 $7.5 $3Skin Care TimeWise Day and Night Solutions (sold as set) 1/1 $50 $20TimeWise Age-Fighting Eye Cream 1 $26 $10Beauty Blotters (75 tissues/pk) 1 $5 $2Acne Treatment Gel (acne medication) 2 $7 $2Extra Emollient Night cream 1 $11 $4Concealer – Ivory 1 $9.5 $4Medium Coverage Foundation – Ivory 100 1 $14 $6Crème to Powder Foundation – Ivory 2.0 1 $14 $6Dual Coverage Powder Foundation – Ivory 100 1 $14 $6Dual Coverage Powder Foundation – Ivory 200 1 $14 $6Foundation Compact 1 $9 $3Velocity Moisturizer 1 $12 $5Velocity Parfum 1 $28 $12Eyes Lumineyes Dark Circle Diminisher 1 $28 $12Eye Primer 1 $12 $5Liquid Eye Liner – Black 1 $10.5 $4Liquid Eye Liner – Brown 1 $10.5 $4Eye Color $6.5 $2 Bamboo 1 Blue Moon 1 Goldenrod 1 Jungle 1 Lagoon 1 Lucky Penny 2 Periwinkle 1 Woodland 1 Tropical Sun 1Lips Lip Gloss $12 $5 Cream and Sugar 2 Pink Pout 1 Berry Smoothie 1Lip Stick $12 $5 Toffee 1 Silver Sand 1 Dusty Rose 1Lip Liner – neutral 1 $9.5 $3Cheeks Cheek Color $10 $3 Pink Flamingo 1 Apricot Breeze 1Nails Nail Enamil 1 $6 $2Base Coat 1 $6 $2Top Coat 1 $6 $2[...]

Bump Update 27.5 Weeks


Well, it's now Nov 17th, which means that we are under 3 MONTHS away from our due date!! Crazy. I have a feeling that things are going to go super fast now with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years all between now and our expected arrival. I’ve been telling people that I am actually starting to “feel pregnant” now. That may sound funny, but after the trials of the first trimester, the second trimester was a breeze! I felt good and had a normal appetite and energy level. There were some aches and pains (headaches and sciatic pain) early on, but they have all gone away. Overall, I just felt like myself with a slightly bigger belly. Now that I am entering the third trimester, I am beginning to feel more like I would expect a pregnant woman to feel. I am starting to get tired much more easily and I am slowing down. I am not able to walk as fast or do the same kinds of activities that I could before. Walking up a flight of stairs makes me out of breath. I am also not able to bend over at the waist to pick things up or tie my shoes. My belly gets in the way! It is also harder for me to get and stay comfortable. I am waking up a lot at night because of using the bathroom. Overall, though, I am currently feeling pretty good. I can see that things could deteriorate quickly though! I have been told by many people that the 3rd trimester is God’s way of preparing you for labor. That after three months of discomfort and all kinds of aches and pains, you are willing to go through just about anything to get the baby out. Haha. Despite having to slow down, this time in the pregnancy has been a joy! The kicks and movement of little baby girl are now my constant companion. I love feeling her all the time! She is definitely very active. I think she will indeed take after her father in this regard. We can also now see her kicks on the outside of my stomach. Sometimes at night we will sit on the couch and watch my stomach bounce and “pop”. It reminds me of the game “Trouble” where you had to push the bubble and the dice jumped inside. That is what my stomach is doing. At my most recent doctor visit I had to go through the glucose screening for gestational diabetes. I had to drink a sugary beverage that they gave me about an hour before my appointment. After an hour, they drew some blood to see how my body was breaking down the sugar I had taken.Unfortunately, the results came back high, so I had to schedule a second, 3 hour screening. I got scheduled for my 3 hour glucose test quickly and did it last Friday morning. I had to start fasting Thursday night so that my blood sugar count would be low at the start of the test. When I arrived for my appointment, they took one vial of blood to check my base glucose level. Then I had to drink a bottle of really sugary liquid as fast as I could. On an empty stomach, this made me feel a little nauseous. It really got the baby moving though! Then I had to stick around for the next 3 hours for them to draw another vial of blood each hour. It was a long morning and I was exhausted afterward. My arm was pretty sore after being pricked 4 times. There were two possible outcomes: 1) everything looks normal. Great! We don't have to do anything else. 2) My blood glucose levels are high. This indicates that my body is not breaking down sugars the way it should and it is likely I have gestational diabetes. This would mean I will probably need to meet with a nutritionist to talk about ways to manage my blood glucose level. While this wouldn't be ideal (especially with the holidays approaching!), it seemed like it would not be the end of the world. It would not affect the baby too much. One possible side effect could be that the baby has a slightly higher birth weight. This could mean a more complicated del[...]

My Megan!


So I wrote this post about 3 weeks ago and never got around to posting it! Oops! Here it is finally!!This weekend (Oct 17th) was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate my longtime friend, Megan. Megan and I met during our freshman year of college. Since then we have grown closer and closer as friends! She has been a constant source of encouragement, accountability and wisdom. We met in a bible study our freshman year and then lead a bible study together the following year.Here we are enjoying some hot cocoa at a small group sleep over. Notice the date (3/17/01), over 8 years ago! Crazy. Can you tell we were meant to be best buds? Look at those pants! :)Megan and I also share a deep love for our Pitt sports! Go Panthers!Time goes by so fast! Pretty soon, I was getting married! And of course, Megan was a bridesmaid. (8/14/04)Me with all my bridesmaids.Next was our friend, Melissa! Megan and I were both bridesmaids. (June 2005)And now it is Megan!! :) (Oct 17, 2009)What a beautiful bride!The happy couple! Josh and Megan McKinley.Here's a picture of Chris and I from her wedding.And of course, a bump picture. :) 23 Weeks at this point.[...]

A fantastic blog


I just wanted to make note of a blog that I have been following frequently. It is fantastic! Great ideas for parents. Even though I am not a parent (yet), I have really enjoy the creative tips and tricks found here. Check it out!

Diapers to Diplomas

Fall Happenings


There has been a lot happening this fall! We have had something every weekend since the beginning on September!! Here is a brief recap of what the Ansell's have been up to:Sept 5-6th: Penn State Get-away! We spent the whole weekend in state college and watched the Nittany Lions beat Akron.Sept 12th: Willard wedding! We watched our friends Randon and Kelly tie the knot!Sept 19th: Back to Penn State! This time with Marell and Jason. So fun!Sept 26-27th: Bridal shower weekend! I attended two bridal showers, one in Altoona and one in Somerset for my friends Charity and Megan. Here is a picture of Megan and her bride's maids.Oct 2-4th: Bridal Shower/Bachelorette weekend. We kidnapped Megan and took her for a girls weekend in Hidden Valley, PA. We even spent some time in Seven Springs at their Fall Festival.Oct 7-8th: Home in York while recruiting for CCO. Here are some cute pics from home. Including new bump photos. 22 weeks now!![...]

It's a . . .


GIRL! Chris and I learned that we will be welcoming a little baby girl into the Ansell family! (Of course, there is never 100% certainty till the little one is born!!) Poor Chris will be highly outnumbered with me, a baby girl and two girl dogs. I guess he will know how my dad felt (he LOVED it, btw). Just so you know, we will take suggestions for names, but when we decide on a name, we will be keeping it a secret! We want to be able to announce the name at the birth. So we are going to keep you in a little bit of suspense!! Hehe.We are so excited! Chris had guessed it would be a girl and I had guessed it would be a boy. We have been going to a lot of weddings lately and Chris said that each time he loves watching the Father/Daughter dance. He was hoping we would have a girl so that he would be able to share that moment with his daughter some day. How precious! He will be such a wonderful father to this little girl!!We are currently 19.5 weeks and just had our GRAND ultrasound. The whole process took a full hour! The technician measured every bone in the baby's body, the heart beat (we could see all 4 chambers of the heart!), the head and torso, the arms, legs, hands, and feet. It was such a joy! The technician said that everything looked normal. The baby is measuring a little big for our due date, but only by 5 days or so. (How can they tell!!??) So we may be looking more at a Groundhog Day baby then a Valentine’s Day baby. We won’t get the official results back until we go back to our normal doctor in October. It was so reassuring to be able to see each little part of our baby looking and functioning normally. She is so BEAUTIFUL!! It was amazing watching all four chambers of her heart beat together. Heart rate was about 143 bpm (normal). She had her legs crossed at the ankles most of the time and her arms held up around her face. She continued to move around a lot! (I was preparing myself for an ADHD boy, but what will a hyperactive GIRL look like?? We will need to get her involved in sports right away!) She was waving her arms and stretching her legs. At one point while we were looking at her profile, she YAWNED! What a strange thing to see! Her little mouth opened up so wide! It took us by surprise. Chris enjoyed watching the tech take the measurements. All the measurements were in cm, but Chris converted them to inches in his head. After he converted the measurements for the lower leg bone (between the knee and the ankle) and the feet, Chris asked, “Do the feet develop faster than the legs?” (He had figured out that the lower leg measured about 1.25 in and the feet measured about 1.5 in.) “Do the legs catch up later?” The tech replied, “No they grow at about the same rate. Your baby just has big feet!” We are hopeful that means that our little girl will be tall, like her daddy. It would be very awkward to be 5’2” and have huge feet! I’m sure I will get used to feeling those size 12 feet jabbing me in the stomach and ribs as she gets bigger and stronger! The last thing we did was try to determine the sex. The tech got a good look “down there”. The baby seemed to be cooperating for the most part, although I don’t know if she every uncrossed her legs. Chris and I agree that there was no “package”. But more importantly, rather than just relying on the lack of a visible penis to determine gender, we were able to view the labia as well. It looks like 3 bright lines, or a “hamburger bun” if you will. I had looked up pictures on the web before this appointment so that I could know what to expect to see either way. From my amateur understanding of baby anatomy ultrasounds, I agree with the tech[...]

3,500 Bottles


That is how much water Chris and other Cornerstone staff and students handed out to incoming freshman. This is a service and outreach activity that Cornerstone does every year. Over the two freshman move in days, staff and students sweep campus in their red t-shirts, offering a friendly smile and a cold beverage. Each bottle of water has a business card attached with information about Cornerstone: the website, meeting time and activities such as the Kick-off Cook Out (more on that in another post).

Like other years, the water give away went really well. People were grateful and many were interested in hearing more about Cornerstone. Several even came over to the church to take a look inside.

(image) (image) (image)



So some of you may have been wondering what I looked like before I was pregnant. I thought I would put up a picture so you could make comparisons as I continue to post new bump photos. This picture is from right after I stopped dieting/exercise for the Biggest Loser. I stopped when I found out I was pregnant. I had lost about 8 lbs.

(image) Week 6

(image) As you can see.. I've progressed a bit since then...
Week 15

The baby has also progressed since then! When I was 6 weeks, the baby looked like a little bean. Now look at him/her...

(image) Baby Ansell at 14.5 weeks.

I love watching the baby on ultrasound. S/he waves its little arms and legs and moves around all over the place. Right now, the baby is somewhere between the size of a lemon and an orange. It will start growing pretty fast now.

5th Anniversary


Happy Anniversary! We celebrated our 5th anniversary on August 14th. Phillip, Chris' brother was in town on the 14th and celebrated with us. Chris had to spend the day working, so we started our celebration by going out to eat Friday night at our favorite place, Chilli's.Out to dinner. Expressing our true feelings.Phillip headed back to Illinois on Saturday morning and Chris and I spent a lazy morning watching movies, cleaning the house, and napping. It was fabulous! In the afternoon we cleaned up and got ready to continue our celebration. We decided to check out the new Rivers Casino that just opened in Pittsburgh last weekend.Baby Ansell came along to celebrate. (week 14)We had dinner at one of the restaurants in the casino called "Grand View Buffet". It was a little pricey, but I suppose that is to be expected. The buffet was all you can eat and included stations for BBQ, American, Asian, Mongolian, and Italian. The atmosphere was very classy, with jazz music playing in the background. You also had a nice view of the Ohio river from your seats. The tables were very closely packed together though and you felt like you were right on top of the people next to you.After dinner, Chris and I decided to try our hand at the slot machines. The casino floor was pretty large. I don't have any way of guessing how many slots there actually were. I haven't been in a casino in quite a long time. My family went out to Las Vegas when I was in high school, and I think that is the last time I was at a true casino. (Not including casinos on cruise ships). Some of the things were the same as I remember them. There was the chaotic jiggles of various slot machines bombarding you from every angle. There were tons of different types of games, from penny slots to black jack tables. The main difference that I found was that everything is now automated. You no longer put in quarters to play the slots, and when you win, you don't get to hear that satisfying sound of coins falling out of the machine. Instead, everything is digital. You put your money in and you get a certain number of credits. If you win, your credit number goes up. For example, if you were playing a quarter slot and put in $1, you would have 4 credits (basically for plays). Or you can bet up to 3 credits each turn. The more credits you bet, the higher the return if you get matches. It seems like this would make it really easy to keep playing and lose all your money quickly because you no longer have to put in a quarter each time, you just have to push the button. Plus, to end your game on a certain machine you have to "cash out" which means you get a little vouchure to go pick up your winnings elsewhere. The machines don't actually dispense your winnings anymore.So after walking around a bit and trying to figure out how things worked from watching other people, we got our players club cards and then picked out a couple of machines that we could play next to each other. We each put in $20, figuring that it would be our contribution to the city of Pittsburgh for the evening. I seemed to pick a pretty good machine because at first I was winning a few credits every few turns. Chris was not having as much luck, and lost all of his money pretty quickly. After getting up to around $5 over, I hit a losing streak and ended up with only 9 credits left. I decided to go all in (Max 3 credits) for my last 3 spins. On my second to last spin, I hit it big and received 240 credits back!! That's $60! Wooohooo!! (I know, we are such high rollers!) When the credits finished totaling, I yelled, "Cash out! Cash out!" and got my voucher to claim[...]

Lots to Celebrate!


Today is our 5 year anniversary!! Hooray! I can't believe that I have been married to this wonderful man for 5 years already! It has gone so fast! We've done and seen a lot in our five years together. I thought I would post some of the highlights.Our wedding day! Aug 14, 2004Picture taken at Regents Glen.Shortly after our wedding in August, we moved to Massachusetts where Chris was a student at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary.Aug 2005Visiting Maine with Sarah's Family.Aug 2005. Still my favorite anniversary present from Chris!First Anniversary is paper, so Chris made me a dozen origami flowers!Aug 2006Moved to Pittsburgh!After Chris graduated from seminar in May of 2006, he took a job working for the CCO at Bellefield Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pa. We spent June and July at new staff training before settling into Pittsburgh in August.Aug 2007Enjoying a trip to Phipps Conservatory.Aug 2008Welcoming the new class of freshman to Pitt. Aug 2009Five years later.Picture taken at Regents Glen.So I guess you can see we have not changed that much over the last 5 years. Chris grew out a beard and I grew out my hair. Otherwise, our lives have remained largely the same. This will be the last anniversary that this is true, however. Next August our family pictures will look much different! As we celebrate our 5th anniversary, we are also celebrating 14 weeks of pregnancy!! As of Feb 2010, our lives will never be the same again!Things have been progressing well. I am happy to be out of the first trimester and into the second. I feel like myself again! As you can tell from the picture, I am starting to show (a little). Most people won't be able to tell the difference, but I sure can! Most of my clothes don't fit anymore and the ones that do I have to button with an elastic band.We have had several ultrasounds already. We had our first at 6 weeks and were able to detect a heartbeat! The baby was just a little fuzzy bean at that point and the heartbeat was just a little vibrating pixel. Our next ultrasound was at 10.5 weeks. It was so different! The baby actually looked like a baby and was moving around all over the place! The last one was a week later for prenatal genetic screening. The good news is that the screening came back negative for genetic disorders. We loved watching the baby's heartbeat and seeing it wave its little arms and legs around. They measured the heart rate at 150 bpm.So that is the exciting news from the Ansell house. We truly do have a lot to celebrate and be thankful for! We look forward to keeping you posted.[...]

The Ansells are Big Losers


It's true! The Ansells are Big Losers! We told you in a previous blog how we were getting healthy and losing weight. We were motivated by a "Biggest Loser" competition taking place in the CCO office. About 15 people participated: 9 guys and 6 women. It was $25 to join and the winner of each category (men/women) would get the pot! The runners up got to keep their money.

Today was the final weigh in. The tension was high, as the competition was pretty fierce. Chris actually had trouble sleeping last night, he was so anxious.

We went into the office early this morning to weigh in. The results were impressive! Chris started out at 178 lbs: A healthy weight, but with room to lose. His final weight as of this morning was an amazing 160 lbs!! Wow! That's 18 lbs lost, or 10% of his body weight. 160 lbs was his goal and he reached it! Way to go, Chris!!

My starting weight was 133 lbs. My final weight was 125.5 lbs. I was really excited to get back down around my pre-marriage weight. That's 7.5 lbs lost or 5.6%

Chris was able to just beat out his biggest competition: two of his good friends, Jonny and Randon. Both started out bigger than Chris and lost about the same weight. Chris had the advantage because he was smaller to start and so his percentage of weight lose was higher. The guys celebrated their weight lose by going out for breakfast at Pamela's (a pancake restaurant here in the burgh.) I also know that Chris intended to spend his day catching up on all the double-stuffed Oreos he has been deprived these last 3 months.

We recieved the final results of the weigh ins this evening and to our surprise, BOTH of us were the biggest losers in our category! So all our hard work paid off. We have really improved the way that we eat and have become much more active as a result of the Biggest Loser. Hopefully we can continue with this healthier life style beyond the competition.

Here is a picture of the new, skinnier guys!

(image) Jonny, Randon, Chris

PSL Summer Softball 2009


If you have been following our blog for awhile, you may remember our incredible PSL summer softball championship that we won last summer. We were the come from behind team that no one expected to do anything. We started the season 1-3 and ended 3-3, winning the championship in the end!

Well, after that we had high hopes for this summer. Unfortunately, we did not come away with the championship, but we still had a lot of fun. Here is our awesome team!


Meredith's Wedding


This weekend was wonderful! Meredith, Chris' younger sister, got married. The whole weekend was great because it was spent with family. The wedding was absolutely beautiful and Meredith was a STUNNING bride! Here are some highlights:The Rehearsal:Rehearsing: Meredith and mother, Susannah.The happy coupleThe Box Hill Club. The same place that Chris and I had our rehearsal dinner 5 years ago.5 Years and going strong! :)The Big Day:Arriving at the wedding.Staying cool with my dad.Chris walks Lauren down the isle.The beautiful bride!Here she comes!The new Mr. and Mrs. Jester!"Hooray!"The Cane FamilyFrom Left: Phil Ansell, Dan Cane, Susannah Cane,Meredith Jester, Pat Jester, Sarah Ansell, Chris AnsellThe Ansell Family:From Left: Phil Ansell, Susan Ansell, Blair Ansell,Meredith Jester, Pat Jester, Sarah Ansell, Chris AnsellThe wedding partyThe cake! Chocolate, peanut butter! yum!!My parents: Ron and Barb KirkwoodBrothers: Phil and ChrisKirkwood clan againAunts and Uncles:Uncle Joe, Aunt Patty, Aunt Audrey, Uncle MikeSusan and Family:Blair, Meredith, Mitch and TheresaWith the bride and groom!Some proud parents.Siblings: Chris, Meredith and Phil AnsellLove these Ansell boys![...]

Garden Progress 2


I thought I would give a quick update on the garden (specifically for my dad). It is getting so big! It is also starting to produce yummy veggies.But here is what the garden looked like when we planted it back in June:BeforeNowBeansSugar Snap PeasBroccoliTomatoZucchiniSunflower[...]

Bible Study Cook Out


I love the ladies of my bible study! They are amazing! This weekend we got together for a cookout at the Miller's house. Here are some of the fun pictures we took together.

(image) Alicia, Jana, Debbie, me, Megan, Steph, Emily

(image) Engaged ladies! Alicia (August) and Megan (October)

(image) The Boys. Left to Right.
Andy (with Joshua - married to Emily), Josh (Engaged to Megan),
Ryan (married to Jana), Chris (Mine!), Josh (Engaged to Alicia)

Attic Access


There have been lots of home projects going on here recently! The latest was to put in a drop down attic staircase. Until now, the only way we could get up in the attic was through a hatch in our bathroom closet. Needless to say, we did not go up there often. We need more space for storage. Right now our third bedroom is being used as a large closet. Now that we have an attic access, we will be able to begin storing things up there instead! I'm very excited about this.

Chris did all the work in one day with the help of a friend from church, Dan Hinchman. Here are some of the pictures.

(image) Hallway ceiling before.

(image) The hole is cut!

(image) Dan is attaching the stairs in the attic.

(image) All done!

We still need to make it look nice by putting framing along the outside of the stairs. We also need to put plywood down in the attic so we can begin storing things there. This was a big step forward. Great work, Chris! He is becoming quite the handyman!