Thursday, December 30, 2010

Moving and Growing

It is hard to believe that yesterday marked 26 weeks. I am clearly showing and I was a bit nervous about how people would respond to that while I was traveling by myself. I got a doctor's note just in case but never needed to use it. I'm also thankful that both flights were smooth and I got through customs without any extra questions.

It's getting harder and harder to keep the name a secret as I am often asked what we picked. I've taken to telling people the name is Top Secret as in Top for the first name and Secret for the middle name. It will be interesting to see if our first child gives our second child a name like Dot (the name my cousin's son gave his sister due in May) so we can just talk about that name. Other than Top Secret, Will and I have not found a nickname we like. I don't know if I like Top Secret either, but it gets the point across that we want the name to be a surprise.

I love using my daughter's name when talking to Will but I have to be careful around all the visitors that are coming around now. She is getting so big and strong I can feel her rolling around now. Will has enjoyed the extra strength kicks he has felt since I returned to the UK. Baby girl is quite active which is keeping my mind at ease and helping me avoid purposefully "counting kicks" since I notice more than 4 most hours.

Our next milestone - starting birthing classes next week. Hopefully, after the class, I will be able to give a lot more detail on what this crazy hypnobirthing is all about.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A White Christmas

I made it home to Leeds on my third attempt. Europe is covered in snow but there is not much in the city. About 20 hours after my arrival in Leeds, Will's family arrived on their first attempt and we had pizza and spaghetti for lunch before hoping on a train to Newcastle and Slaley Hall. The day was about to get a bit confusing as they had cancelled our train due to "adverse weather conditions" up north. Despite the extra transfer, we made it to Slaley Hall on time and were impressed by the grounds. 1,000 acres and many lodges surrounded a castle looking structure that was actually built in the early 1900s. We had time to unpack and rest a bit before our late dinner and midnight (Anglican) service which actually started at 11 - no wonder they wanted us on the bus at 10:15! The service seemed very close to a Catholic mass until the homily when the pastor talked about being in bed with his wife and woken up by kids at 6am. It was interesting to see and we also got a Catholic mass in on Sunday morning.

Christmas came very early and I got spoiled by my darling husband who got me many more gifts than I was expecting including a beautiful snow globe I had wanted. My parents were also quite generous and snuck some gifts into my suitcase that Will's family had brought for me so I didn't have to carry/roll anything heavy. His parents got us leather gloves from Italy and mine perfectly match the hat I bought before our Paris trip.

We went for a lovely walk around the grounds during the day and then got ready for the big meal at 3pm. I even got to video chat with my family before we sat down to eat. It was magical and white with snow, but it just didn't feel like Christmas. Jet lag and being in a different country really made it hard for me to remember what day it was. The fact that the English celebrate even more the next day didn't help.

On boxing day (26th of December), we went to mass and walked around Hexham. We walked into a few shops and I bought a couple postcards for my collection. Then we took a taxi back to the hall and I took a wonderful nap. Then I went to the pool which was more like a big bath. My belly really liked the weightless feeling and I just stood around for 40 minutes enjoying the comfort of standing up in water.

After fitting into a non-maternity dress, we walked down to reception where people enjoyed a buck fizz (their term for memosa) and I got a glass of OJ. We were walked to the ballroom and shown our table. We sat by a man originally from Leeds who moved to Romania and worked for Cadbury until they got bought by Kraft. He told us a few places we must go and was yet another person who did not believe me when I gave my due date - my belly is huge he said. That just means my baby is growing big and strong and it must be all in the belly :-D

The ball included some dancing and gambling with fun money. The top two winners got a prize, but no money was actually exchanged. I did awful at blackjack but got lucky a number of time with roulette - 22 is still my number! It was fun, especially since I didn't lose any real money.

The next day I got to sleep in a bit before breakfast and checkout. We then took a taxi to the station and found out a lot of the rail staff were on strike! After checking the schedules we saw that our route was not affected this time and we made it home in plenty of time for dinner and some relaxation.

Now my husband is out playing tour guide and I got a few hours to myself. This is the life!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas is Coming!

And I finally got my Christmas wish. My flights went amazingly well and baby girl didn't seem to mind too much about being in the air that long - I even got a bit of sleep overnight. I pampered myself and took a cart in Amsterdam so I would be sure not to get a cramp from walking 20 minutes in a huge airport with luggage and the person who sat next to me during the flight took my bigger bag and carried it to customs where I said I could handle wheeling it around.

Customs was my next big obstacle. Were they going to accuse me of living with my husband (technically not allowed without a visa) or would they trust that I'm a visitor at his place? Well the guy I got must be in the Christmas spirit and didn't question me at all. I also never needed to use my doctor's note and was only asked by one passenger if I was afraid to fly being pregnant and all.

In the end, I am relieved to be back in England and I even beat Will home from work since customs was so fast! I decorated with Christmas cards we received at my parents' house before I left and I found a gift that was left by St. Nick so I got to open it when Will came home - I new nativity set! More decoration for our little apartment. Now I'm not so sad we don't have a tree, especially since there is one in the lobby and we are heading north for the actual holiday.

Well I have said quite enough about my travels. Will and I wish you all a blessed Christmas and Happy New Year! I'll have to make sure to take another picture sometime during all the Christmas festivities so I can get an updated one up here. After all, I am now over 25 weeks and the belly is starting to get much rounder :-)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Seasoned Traveler

At least I consider myself one now. I have traveled alone across the ocean and had to change flights coming and now going. I hope to leave tomorrow and make it to London where I will become more of a seasoned traveler by taking the tube (subway, metro) to the train station in order to reach my final destination. I also feel like a more adult traveler since Will and I did a pretty good job in a country that speaks a foreign language and even used the metro to get everywhere - no expensive taxis needed.

The good news in all of this is that I never had to spend the night in Amsterdam and my wonderful in-laws will be taking most of my luggage for me since they arrive within 72 hours of me reaching Leeds.

The bad news is that the stress of changing flights again, being away from my darling husband and being 24+ weeks pregnant has left me a bit emotional the last few days and I surrendered to my root beer float craving justifying that the all natural ice cream I bought was good dairy for me :-D

I can't complain too much since I got to see a close friend, go to a white elephant Christmas party, visit my grandma and sing in the choir because I missed my flight. Even so, here's hoping my next update comes from Leeds!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

More Winter Weather

I seem to be staying in areas with unusually cold weather. Many school kids were happy to have two snow days while I was again stuck barely being able to get where I needed to go - the doctor. I had my 24 week appointment while at home and made it through the glucose test for gestational diabetes. I don't have the results yet, but at least I didn't get a headache from the sugary solution I drank!

For all those still holding out for twins, I got more confirmation that I will just be having one this time. When I was measured I was actually at 23 weeks. That is considered
within the normal range and shows that, while I may carry most of the extra weight in my belly, I am not carrying an extra person than expected.

My baby is now over a foot in length and a pound in weight. She is developing her taste buds and the lungs and brain are quickly developing as well. She can also hear and feel movement from me. I haven't done any dancing with her yet but she seems to enjoy mom's singing - especially at church. With all that growing, I have noticed much more activity all day long. It has been a blessing feeling the movements and being reminded of the miracle inside. Some family members have even had the privilege of being some of the first to feel her kicks from the outside.

While I was braving winter weather once again, Will was spending the weekend in Dublin. He got to work for a bit in the Dublin office and then attend their Christmas party. The strange thing about it - no spouses were there. Luckily, I was nowhere near the event to be offended at the lack of invitation. He had fun but suffered a head cold and has had a rough week so far because of it. I just glad I'm not around to catch it!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Home Visit

I have been home for almost a week and can't believe how fast it has gone. Mom and baby made it through the flight with no complaints and living in my childhood bed has been a comfort while being away from my husband who actually needed to work these two weeks.

Will's co-workers are taking care of him and invited him out last weekend. He's also joined them for lunch and I'm sure a drink or two after work - happy to not have a pregnant wife complain about his breath (the smell has been making me nauseous since my pregnancy started). He flew to Dublin today and is working there and then attending the Google Christmas party. I'm excited to see pictures of that event. Will has also become an expert at the combo washer/dryer and even did ironing! What a good boy staying on top of things!

I on the other hand have had barely enough time to sleep. I've visited my grandma in the nursing home a few times - she's getting stronger every day! Saw some good friends and even spent the day with my sister when she took time off work so she could make the drive to our area! I did make time for a massage which was amazing. I laid on this contraption that allowed me to lie right on my stomach without squishing baby. Whoever invented that is a genius.

A few people have felt movement even, but it's not what I would call a strong kick. After all, my baby only weighs about a pound, she can't hurt you with her kicks. She is also stuck on English time so, instead of her midday workout, she's been waking me up at 6:30 or 7 nearly every morning with all her activity. That's not a complaint though - it's so exciting feeling her move and realizing even more how connected we are.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Winter Wonderland

We have just witnessed a rare "treat" in England - snow in November. I was told by a local that this has not happened in at least 17 years. It is beautiful and not too cold but you can definitely tell it is winter. The streets in Leeds are decorated with lights, so it is easy to be reminded that the advent season has started. What a great time to wait for the birth of Christ the King.

And wait I did! I spent a total of 11 hours away from home traveling to, sitting in, and leaving from the airport. While I could complain about the lack of information - including the fact that the airport had completely closed while my flight still simply said delayed - I will write more about the positive. I met some nice people that were supposed to be on the flight with me. The company helped pass the time and keep my stress level down. I was given a free dinner and I was able to cut in the taxi line and join a group that was headed in the same direction. That means I was home for a second late dinner and the mulled wine party at our complex where I ate mince pie for the first time ever.

I am home with my husband, not on my way home to the rest of my family, but I am happy to be home. I am currently on hold (34 minutes and counting) with the airline to figure out what is going to happen whether it be a change in itinerary or a refund. I will keep people updated with the details when I have some.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Paris - C'est l'amour

Will and I just spend a fabulous 4 days in Paris. It was strange not being part of a large Thanksgiving celebration but, even so, we enjoyed the holiday. We started by being thankful for the growing little one and started our baby registry! Will wanted to help me pick out some of the big things and so that's how we spent the time in England before our train left. In London we got a panini with turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce and felt like it was a bit of a Thanksgiving dinner even if it was small and missing mashed potatoes.

In Paris, Will was impressed by my French which was mostly unneeded. I'm still pretty good at asking where important things are (like our hotel, a street or a bathroom) and shopping/ordering food; however, most people heard my English accent and answered in English even if I had asked in French - so my French speaking stopped at that point with most people.

We were able to see the Mona Lisa before the crowds came in on Friday and walked to the Arc de Triomphe while snow fell and we passed Christmas shops. We stopped into one designer store when the snow fell hard for 15 minutes and pretended I was really interested in a 300e wallet. We saw the Eiffel Tour at night and Notre Dame on Saturday and Sunday morning.

Speaking of Notre Dame - that is where I got to go to Mass! I can't believe I got to celebrate the first Sunday of Advent in such a significant church - it was beautiful! Monday a lot of things were closed so we just walked around, got a final crepe treat and made our way back to England - where there is snow!

Once we arrived in London we found out our train was cancelled because of inclement weather. We had to make an extra transfer on a different train but made it home at about 11 where it was snowing with maybe an inch on the ground. We loved our time in Paris, but it was good to sleep in a more familiar and comfy bed.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone at home enjoys a lovely Thanksgiving holiday. I'm going to miss so much about it - seeing family and eating mashed potatoes to name a few. I would say I'm going to miss watching the Lions game and I will if they actually pull out the unlikely win.

I'm thankful for this time abroad to learn and support my husband who loves his job and is working hard. I'm thankful that, even though I'm not home enjoying the holiday with family, I will be having another trip of a lifetime in Paris until Monday. And most of all, I'm thankful for this precious life inside me that is getting more active by the day!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Halfway There!

On Wednesday I reached the "halfway" mark of this pregnancy. It seems like another arbitrary milestone since I don't know when I will meet my little bundle of joy, but a nice milestone at that. It's hard to believe how much my life has changed in the first half and how much more I'll do in the second half.

In the first twenty weeks I have

Finished my summer job
Gone camping
Learned my husband got a job overseas
Moved into an apartment with only one closet - not much nesting to be done here
Visited York and London and many different places in Leeds
Gotten to know a lot of great people who work with Will
I've also felt the baby move a lot and the kicks are finally strong enough for Will to feel - and he did!

In the second twenty weeks I will

See the musical Beauty and the Beast
Go to Paris
Fly home to visit family and friends
Stay in a castle/hotel near Newcastle, England for Christmas with my in-laws
Visit London and Bath with a friend
Visit Scotland?
Have my sister and parents visit
Fly home with my parents
Watch the spoiling of my daughter start at a baby shower
Hopefully find a place to live so I can finally start nesting there

Wow, I have a lot to look forward to in the next twenty weeks! And here is something I know a few of you have been waiting for - the 20 wk picture of me.



Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

York Pictures

I posted about our York trip a while ago but never got the pictures off our camera. Now that I have finally done that, here are some highlights:


The wall that was built around the city. Most of it is underground and it was used by Englishmen and Vikings depending on the time period - never seemed to work very well.


The River Ouse


Ruins of a Catholic Church - apparently there were many churches in York and not all got converted to the Church of England - this is one of them


Beautiful Ice Cream Parlor where we stopped for a delicious snack


The tree that made us realize it actually is fall. There aren't many trees changing colors and losing their leaves in Leeds. It was fun to walk through the leaves in York.


York Abbey

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ultrasound Pic


You can tell we took a picture of the picture - sorry for the glare from the flash. This picture gives a clear view of the head in profile and one of her legs. We saw those legs kicking away on Friday and they must be getting stronger because the taps I have been feeling for the past week or two have just increased to kicks that can actually move out my stomach. I hope dad gets to feel them soon!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The wait is over

Friday was a glorious day! Will got good news at work and I had to wait all day for mine. We went to the hospital for our ultrasound that was planned for 5:50 but weren't seen until after 6:40! Why the hold up? I was so anxious/excited about the scan that our baby seemed to know something was about to happen. As I continued to wait, the excited kicks got stronger as our baby prepared for the first picture.

When it was finally my turn, I learned why my doctor was so far behind schedule. All the babies he'd pictured that day had been in bad positions. Our baby wasn't any different. He couldn't get a look at the spine. So I was told to go back to the waiting room and drink MORE water while he scanned the next patient. This made the waiting even longer, but I didn't care at this point. I saw so many beautiful pictures! I didn't know you could watch all four ventricles of the heart beating away. All the measurements came back normal for 19 weeks which is precisely where I'm at right now. I couldn't be more excited, wait, yes I could. Boy or girl?

That was not determined in the first session either. I had to wait while my bladder became increasingly full and the suspense continued. When back in the ultrasound room I found out that the full bladder worked. My baby had moved and we got a number of good looks at the spine and *ahem* other parts. Our baby was kicking away and enjoying the photo shoot not bothering to be modest at all. Yet still, my doctor did not want to say definitively boy or girl. I guess it is a bit harder to positively identify a girl because it is just a lack of seeing male anatomy. However, the fact that I have felt quite strongly all along and we got good views with no "extra bits" according to my doctor, I am reasonably certain we will welcome a baby girl in the spring.

I am not certain enough to want to buy a lot of girl things, nor do I want everything girly or even have a place to store them at the moment. This may be another surprising moment in motherhood - who knows. And as a side note, yes it was my OB that performed the scan and not a technician. I found that quite interesting because I've always seen a technician for ultrasounds in the past and met with the doctor later. It was kind of nice having both those appointments moved into one - especially when paying out of pocket.

Look, I said something nice about national health care (even though my particular dr is private, so I'm not 100% sure this is how other women experience their scans).

Well, I don't have the best technology over here so I'm sorry no pics of the baby quite yet. I hope to post some soon along with the ever growing bump. Somehow, in all the excitement of the weekend, we never took the time to get a good picture of me. By 20 wks (Wed) I promise - a picture will be up!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

GOAL!

Yesterday Will and I went to a football game. It was exciting and ended in a score of 2-2. The stadium was uncovered and it was close to freezing so most of us were bundled up in hats and gloves with some of the more extreme fans painting chests and going without some of those layers.
It was an interesting experience because I admittedly do not know all the rules for the game. I did know the rule that once you are out of the game - you're out. No subbing back in later. I didn't realize that if you fall and the trainer comes to check on your injury you don't have to go out, just run to the sideline until you feel like signaling the official you're ready and he will wave you back in. In the meantime, don't take too long because your team is playing without you or anyone to take your place. I thought that was quite unusual. I will also never understand the ref's calls on free kick v. yellow card. It's so subjective - I would never choose to officiate a football game!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Our Birth Plan

Life in Leeds has been quite laid back for me the past few days. Over the weekend we relaxed and I met 7wk old Izabel (sp?) at a gathering on Saturday with some work friends. The moms left early while I stayed and became my husband's good luck charm, which involved a very important rest on the couch until past midnight, who won at poker. Other exciting news - we now have reliable internet! We even watched the Lions on our computer, which was exciting until about the last 40 seconds of regulation.

That being all the English news for now, I thought I would write a bit about our plans for the upcoming birth of our child.

Will and I both like to go natural routes when possible so we knew we wanted to look into something like that for my labor; however, when starting the search I had no idea we would end up choosing the method we have. I guess I am one to believe in signs and the signs led me somewhere I was not expecting. I have heard and know people that have used the Bradley Method with success. I was also told what book to find to read up on the topic
and that was the top of my to do list. Only one problem - none of the bookstores I went to had the Bradley book and the Hypnobirthing book kept jumping out from the shelves at me. So I had to read it to round out my research. I ended up borrowing a copy of the book written by Dr. Bradley as well.

To my complete surprise, I found myself leaning toward the hypnobirthing method, but was unsure at my first prenatal appointment. I talked with my Dr. about living overseas and about coming back to give birth in Michigan. That led to a discussion on methods and we talked about how we wanted a natural birth and knew people who used the Bradley method. Our Dr. acknowledged that method but brought up the hypnobirthing method as well. What a coincidence!

After some further consideration we decided on hypnobirthing as our plan. It is more popular in the UK so we were able to find a class nearby (about 15 mins by car). It is also quite different than my initial perception. I do not get hypnotized into missing the event as a way to elude pain. I do learn relaxation exercises (through lots of practice) and ways to work with my body as labor progresses so that I am in tune with all the changes that will be taking place. There is also an emphasis on preparation which is necessary so I'm in shape for the special physical event that labor truly is. I have exercises that must be completed and nutrition guidelines, though not as strict or specific as the Bradley diet. The other big difference in this method is the absence of pushing. Instead of having strong pushes at the end of labor, I will be utilizing a special kind of breathing to breathe the baby down. This part is probably the hardest for me to wrap my head around because it is really far away from mainstream, but upon reading a lot it makes sense. If you want to understand that part, I would read the book because I will not be eloquent enough to make a strong point.

Some more concrete aspects of our birth plan have to do with location. Plan A is for me to fly home in February so I have plenty of time before the baby comes and my husband will be home in March. We will give birth in a hospital so that any special circumstances can be handled quickly. If those circumstances arise, we are open to having a much different birth than our planned natural one. Plan B involves the scenario of my not being allowed to fly when the time comes and staying in England. Again, we will be in a hospital under the care of my UK ob/gyn with the intention of using hypnobirthing throughout labor and birth.

Well I tried to be clear and concise but welcome any questions you might have on the method or more on why we chose it (quite possibly the topic of a future post) let me know. Otherwise I look forward to posting once we have baby's first picture on Friday evening. Will and I are quite excited for this particular milestone in my pregnancy.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Bonfire Night

Today is a big day in Britain called Bonfire night or Guy Fawkes day. It is a really interesting holiday that some compare to our 4th of July. There are definitely fireworks for both celebrations.

Today Britains celebrate what didn't happen. Guy Fawkes loaded the basement of parliament with gun powder to blow up the building and start a Catholic revolt to the Protestant government. Fawkes was caught and an execution was planned, but he jumped and broke his neck before they got the chance. The capital was saved! So how do you celebrate an even like that? You burn a dummy of Fawkes on your big bonfire and view fireworks. I'm told one area still burns a dummy of the pope to symbolize that the Protestants won. It is quite interesting to hear people talk about this holiday that confuses me a bit. Guy Fawkes was from York so when we went last week we heard a little more about his story and saw the protestant church where he was baptized.

Monday, November 1, 2010

It's a date

Part of my to do list for today was to schedule my 20 wk scan. Here they are pretty strict about having the scan right at 20 weeks. Apparently my doctor only does scans on Fridays so I convinced them to let me go the Friday before 20 wks. I will have my scan Friday evening on Nov 12th. That's only 11 days away! I can't wait to have baby's first picture.

In other news, we went to York on Saturday. It is only a 25 minute train ride and the city has a lot of history and museums. We didn't go into any museums because we took a 2 hour walking tour in the morning. Our tour guide was a character and explained to us in more detail about bonfire night (coming up this Friday) when people celebrate that Parliament almost got blown up but didn't. Apparently the person that put the gun powder in place was baptized in York. It was a beautiful town with some beautiful gardens. It felt more like fall walking around there with leaves on the ground. I've gone to a park in Leeds with a few trees but not enough to get the fall feeling.

Yes, the English celebrated Halloween last night, but we didn't. I felt a bit under the weather Sat and Sun so we relaxed and tried to catch up on Bones. So far we have been able to get through 2 1/2 episodes while here. I'm so glad I got to see the season premier before we left and it is the one show I hope to catch up on when I return home. While I was resting Will booked a hotel for our Paris trip. We will be "celebrating" Thanksgiving by seeing the Mona Lisa and Eiffel Tower.

Pictures to come from our York trip

Thursday, October 28, 2010

New Comments and Books

Have I stated that we only have one closet? We have two people, one apartment and one closet. We don't have a dresser and our tv cabinet only has 4 drawers - one for socks, one for things left behind for others, and two that are almost too small to use. So I need to be careful about what I get right?

I've bought two scarves so I have accessories with European flair and...10 books. We don't have a bookcase! Now I guess you see where my weakness is in shopping. In my defense, the books I got today totaled 7 bucks (slang for pounds which is quite convenient since its a term I'm used to using) and that was for 2 paperback and 2 hardcover. I had to get the Paddington treasury to teach my husband and baby about the bear who traveled and lived in London! Now how am I going to get them all home? I might not, but Paddington comes for sure! Hopefully some of my visitors don't mind leaving a bit of room for my little treasures.

As for new comments, someone graciously told me that my comment preferences were not what I thought and you needed an account. That is no longer necessary so everyone can comment!

My new questions: what to get the lovely girls at the front desk and apartment cleaners for Christmas. They have been such a great help and I want to show I appreciate them but I don't know what to give. Any ideas?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Only one ultrasound?!

The OB specialist I saw on Monday was shocked I didn't get a 12 wk scan. It is standard procedure in the UK and used to date the pregnancy; however, with the help of NFP I pretty much have that covered. I chose not to get a 12 wk ultrasound because I'm not concerned about the things they test for by comparing the 12 wk with the 18-20 wk scans. I know there is a possibility that my baby could be positive on any of those tests, but I'm happy to have a baby either way. I'm also the type to stress out over things and a false positive would definitely do more harm than good.

I am happy with my decision and can't wait for the one ultrasound I do get. Baby's first picture! This pregnancy is a huge blessing and I want all the doctors to feel the same way. I find it quite ironic that if the pregnancy was planned you are told to start bonding with your baby early while still in the womb. I get emails about how my baby can respond to my touch and to light if shone directly on my belly. The baby is moving, living and growing inside of me and I am still in disbelief that it could be true - but so excited that it is. On the other hand, if I found out in two weeks that my baby had any kind of abnormality, I would be given advice and information on how termination procedures work. What happened to the baby I was bonding with? I didn't want to hear any of that information.

I went to church today for the anniversary of the abortion act in this country. The act is not quite as open as America but does give the exception that if there are "abnormalities" termination can occur at any point before birth. Below is a link about prenatal testing and what a couple people think about it. Something to think about today...



http://prolife.org.uk/2009/12/does-antenatal-testing-impliedly-discriminate-against-disabled-people/

This is a test...

... to see who is actually reading my blog. I want comments that contain answers. It's quite easy to comment. Just click where it says 0 comments (or however many I've gotten so far), write in the box and hit post comment. You don't need an account to participate.

So I wanted to come up with some great, thought-provoking questions but none seem super exciting. Instead I will ask a practical one so you can help me answer when I meet new people.

What is your favorite thing about America?
How would you describe a stereotypical American (or midwesterner, Michigander, etc)?
What is your stereotype of British people?

I was asked all of these questions and more when I met some of Will's co-workers for dinner and it took me a while to remember some stereotypes of the British. So here is your chance to get involved in the blog world - what are some answers you would give?

Monday, October 25, 2010

English Culture

Another weekend spent in Leeds was quite relaxing. I'm starting to feel more a part of the place as I listen to the news and realize I can walk around town without getting lost. Last week was a big week for Britain as 83 billion pounds was cut from the budget. That is a huge percentage of their overall budget and, quite predictably, people are rather upset. The media has been enjoying all the negative public opinion and one report even went on to criticize the leader of the current government for being a closet smoker. It was interesting to hear the reports since the cuts are being made a few years after the government tried to spend its way out of a recession. Does that sound a bit familiar?

It has also been nice to go to a parish and read the weekly bulletin. I found out that this Wednesday is a day of national prayer and fasting (I will be keeping the tv off instead of going without food) for the 47th anniversary of the Abortion Act which made it legal to have an abortion up to 28 wks (later reduced to 24 weeks); however, there are exceptions for physical and mental health of the mother - I wonder if they interpret that as loosely as they do in the US. There has been debate of reducing the cut off to 22 or even 20 weeks and I found some good pro-life websites. All in all, it seems pretty similar to the U.S. especially when it comes to having access to the morning-after pill which was recently released to online sales if I read correctly (or still under debate). I find this interesting because everything is behind the counter in Europe. I had to stand in line to see the pharmacist in order to get hydrogen peroxide. How is it that anonymous people can just order something like that online but I can't get simple first aid supplies without talking to a pharmacist? I'm glad I read the bulletin so I could get interested in researching and maybe getting involved in some volunteering.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The doctor is in

My first UK prenatal (antenatal) appointment was today with a general practitioner. With the national system everything has to go through a GP even if you are going private. I guess that is similar to having a PCP in the states. I'm one of the lucky ones back home that gets to skip that step and go straight to the specialists like the obgyn of my choice. The GP did the regular check up and found the heartbeat quickly. The heartbeat was much stronger this time and easier to hear. Everything seems to be progressing as expected.

Now I have to meet with the specialist obgyn he referred me to before finally getting a scan. My next appointment is on Monday and, hopefully, that means I will have a date for the ultrasound by the end of that appointment.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A bit of daily life

Yesterday I went to daily mass for the first time since moving to England. I feel so lucky to find this diamond of a church. There are 3 daily masses to choose from so I really don't have a valid excuse for skipping. But what is better is the fact that there is what looks to be a quite active young adult (20-35) group. I saw on the bulletin board that they get together most Thursdays so Will and I are planning to attend their social event tomorrow after the 5:30 pm mass. I found a way to meet some more people and I'm hoping that will turn into something so I don't get too lonely.

It's also quite nice to see an active Catholic parish in the area. I've found they are a bit hard to find in England. The first night we were here we were warned (or was it English humor?) that churches get vandalized and are not seen as the holy buildings they are around here. It may be a bit of an exaggeration, but there are signs posted all over warning church goers about thieves and pickpockets. You are not seen as an early exiter if you bring your purse with you to communion.

I'm hoping attending mass more often will help me get motivated in really figuring out why God wants me here and what I should do. That is the question I still can't answer. Before moving it was simple - well I can't work or study so I will find a volunteer opportunity and stay busy. After moving it got more complicated. My first priority was to find good food and then figure out which of that food my stomach would handle. Thank God for Italian pasta and milk. I practically live on that some days. With that handled I actually looked into volunteering, but it is hard to get signed up for something for just a couple months and I don't want to be one of the people standing in the shopping area asking for money.

So I'm still trying to figure out what God wants and so far he is only letting me know that I need to be supporting my husband. And, to be honest, some days I'm not even doing that really well as I just can't get past my upset tummy. I should be cooking more - I have all the time in the world and yet that is the one thing I really don't want to do. Although I'm well into the second trimester, I'm still waiting for the time when I'm not repulsed by the idea of cooking or eating most of the healthy foods I should be. My dear husband has been picking up the slack and making sure I eat well even if I don't like the menu. Monday he made salmon and broccoli for me because it is just so healthy! I managed to get myself to eat about half of the fish and all the broccoli and noodles. What a success :-) I also must say I love city life and the ability to pick from numerous restaurants whenever we both don't feel like cooking.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Weekend Update

This weekend we stayed put and had a lovely time. We went out to dinner with coworkers and their significant others. I'm so glad I had cereal right before leaving! We got to the original bar at 6:15 and moved to a restaurant for dinner at 8:45! I wasn't even the one complaining about being hungry though :-)

Saturday we visited the Royal Armories Museum. It is a great place with free admission. We stayed there for a couple hours and then walked back to the Corn Exchange. The Exchange is apparently an iconic building in the town that is now full of a fancy restaurant and shops. We looked around but ate across the street. Amazing stromboli with lots of spinach so I could feel healthy for me and the baby.

Sunday we found the church! There is a Catholic Cathedral downtown that seems quite active. There are a couple masses on Sundays at 3 times for daily mass. Hopefully I start making it to some of them. Sunday we also did some shopping (for food and books) and relaxing. It was a wonderful weekend in our new home.

Sunday we also successfully video chatted with some of my family at home. Hopefully this becomes more of a routine soon.

Friday, October 15, 2010

baby bump pictures



14 1/2 wks


15 weeks

Both pictures were taken in the evening when Will is around to be photographer. I'm amazed how big the bump looks all of a sudden. We didn't take pictures earlier because you couldn't see anything. It may be just me, but I think there is definitely something there now right?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

London Pictures

British Guard - can't imagine keeping the horse still for hours as well as yourself yikes!




Fountain in front of Buckingham Palace

Queen Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace



St. Paul's Cathedral (Anglican but looks very Catholic)


The musical we saw

The train station

Moving, growing and changing

I'm so excited to start sharing baby news as I'm sure family and friends from home have been waiting for a while. I just couldn't bring myself to write about it until I knew I had a doctor. The first appointment is a week from today and soon after I will schedule my ultrasound which they simply call a scan.

I'm 15 weeks along which means my baby has been growing for 13 weeks and I have known for 11. I'm amazed I kept my big mouth shut on the internet and everyone else did the same - no FB leaks that I've discovered. I have quite recently developed a baby bump, but I still fit in my normal pair of jeans which amazes me. I only brought one non-maternity pair of pants to England and that is what I have been wearing most of the time. My little one is now about 4 inches long and weighs 2.5 ounces. Baby center.com says that is about the size of an apple for
people who would like a visual. And here is another one:


Although I have not felt movement yet, my little one has been active for over a month and can move all limbs quite well. The eyes are still shut but can sense light. I'm told if I shine a flashlight at my bump the baby will swim away.

I get so excited when I see pictures of how a person, so tiny, looks so much like babies already born. I know the little life is already special and has been since conception. I am amazed at how much I learn about being a mom every day. The love and sacrifices come before you hear the cries. Though I have been lucky to not have severe sickness, I have struggled a bit and I'm finding it harder to sleep for more than a couple hours at a time. As long as that means the baby is growing happily, I'm quite alright with a little discomfort. It is teaching me to be more flexible in my time and priorities although I know the birth will include another huge wake up call in that regard.

I'm amazed the internet has let me write this much. I'll post this now and hopefully pictures by tomorrow :-D

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Finally, a doctor

There have been a number of speed bumps associated with moving to a new country. I've never lived outside of Michigan so it is a huge change for me. My family also knows that I have a picky stomach and don't usually like "foreign" food, even if it is not as exotic as moving to Mexico. I've learned to adapt and the glorious living arrangements have made it a bit easier. I'm so thankful for the Chambers and its staff that has given us an extremely warm welcome.

One of the biggest speed bumps, however, was actually finding a doctor. Shortly after interviewing for the job, and before an offer was given, we found out that we are expecting. Prayer and careful consideration led us to accept the offer once it was given which I found exciting. God will provide for us right? I am 15 weeks today and doing well even if I have had to suffer through some morning sickness. It wasn't until arriving that I realized how different national health care really is. You get assigned a doctor based on your postcode (like our zipcode). If you call an office outside of that area, they just say it's not our area and hang up. I know which one is in my area so that is where I am supposed to go right?

Wrong, because my husband is only working here for 6 months, they did not give me a visa. You are allowed to "visit" a country for up to 6 months but you can't "reside" there. What does this mean? I am not actually a resident at LS12SP - our postcode - and cannot take national health care. So go private right? That is very hard to find - there is one option. One practice is fully private and I finally got word that they'll take me! I have a doctor. This comes after calling doctors that take private insurance and NHS. Because they are part of the national plan they again asked my postcode and hung up.

This experience has made me even more thankful for Dr. Greene and the fact that I can easily choose to go to a doctor more than 1 mile away who holds the same beliefs I do. And if everything goes according to plan, I will be back in the states about 6 weeks before my due date so that he, or someone from his practice, can be the one to deliver the baby. Before everyone gets disappointed, my baby would not have dual citizenship if born in the UK. They don't have that policy and it would be past my allowed time to stay here if I did have the baby abroad.

Again, hopefully I will have pictures up soon. Beautiful shots of London and maybe one showing my slight baby bump.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A weekend in London

Will and I spent our first weekend in the UK getting to know our home city and this past weekend we took the train to London. It is the first "big" trip that I have been in charge of planning. Will organized our trip to Ireland and the Mediterranean almost exclusively so I was a bit nervous to do just as well as him. I think I was successful. Our hotel was within walking distance of the train station, the show on Drury Lane and a Catholic Church. We took a taxi from church to the beginning of our royal (free) walking tour.

Some highlights of the weekend were seeing the musical Oliver, walking past Buckingham Palace and through a beautiful park, seeing Big Ben, and watching street vendors. Unfortunately I did not meet the muffin man on Drury Lane or the queen in the palace as she was not there (as evidenced by the lack of the royal flag).

We hope to go to Paris soon and are trying to figure out what to do about Christmas.

In the meantime, I am trying to learn patience as the internet goes in and out all the time. I can't always email, call or blog about what I want. So the pictures will have to wait. I will try to post some when I get the chance and the internet stays around for long enough

Monday, October 4, 2010

Are you from the states love?

I just love the way Britains talk. I'm always so 'loved' by them. As we have continued exploring the city, we have noticed a few more things. This is definitely a university town with a very good nightlife and restaurant scene. We really lucked out on the food because outside the city we told it is awful. While walking around on Saturday we saw a lot of students walking around with buckets collecting money for breast cancer research. It seems like a lot of the volunteer work is done that way as I saw someone for red cross when leaving the supermarket.

Another volunteer was handing out comics and I thought I would ask more information. Since I opened my mouth, he figured out I'm from the states. When I said Michigan he said he loves it there. I'm shocked at how many people make it to the area. Our waiter on Friday night has a girlfriend in Toronto though he hasn't made it to Michigan yet, but he's been to 20 other states though - wow!

As a final side note, Will says I'm already starting to talk like the British - I think that would be fun, but I'm not trying. It will be an easy accent to pick up though since it is not one that involves leaving out letters.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mythbusters

Before moving to England, we were informed of the way of life and some stereotypes. Here are some of the things we were told:

English food is not so great
No one goes out to eat like in America
Bad teeth
We won't understand the accents

All four of those are wrong, at least in the city of Leeds. One of the few people we have met outside of Will's co-workers sells braces to Orthodontists. As for the accents, they don't have much of one. The biggest difference is in inflection and pauses. They say the same thing but pause at different time and emphasize different syllables than I would. Leeds is also a college town so we all go out to eat :-). Today I actually made my lunch and Will is making pasta with meat sauce with what I hope is ground beef that I bought.

Things that are true about English/europe

Everyone smokes - it was hard to avoid walking right behind a smoker on my way to and from the store today.
Everyone drinks wine - and there is no good excuse to pass up a drink when offered. I found this out last night when I was invited to a mixer that happened to be a wine tasting.
Long lunches - Will is used to eating at his desk at times, but here everyone takes a leisurely one hour lunch break.
Friendly people - I'm super glad this one is true. Although I have not met many people yet, everyone has been very friendly and happy to have us here. I am especially thankful for the kind ladies at the front desk who help me with the little and big questions, like where is a good place I can walk to for groceries.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pics of the New Place

I must say I am proud of all the things I have accomplished today. I made it to and from the grocery store without getting completely lost and I uploaded photos to the computer which I have not done very often in the past. So here are some pictures from our new place.


the bedroom is complete with curved wall to make passage to the other side possible and a flat screen tv (which Will said we would never have in the bedroom)


The kitchen has a fridge (far left lower cabinet) with a ice box as a freezer and a tiny oven/microwave underneath a decent size four burner cook top. Next to the oven is a half dishwasher and underneath fit all the pots and pans.
The living room is nice and cozy. It must be comfortable enough to sleep on because the person Will is replacing tomorrow slept on it last night and gave us the bedroom. He helped us settle in so much and everyone was sad to see him go.




Our bathroom complete with heated towel rack and large walk-in shower.

More pictures and updates will have to wait for another day...I just realized it's a bit late and we're off to bed.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Living in the UK

We made it to our new home with only one struggle - an ATM machine that was out of money. We thought our card was being declined until we found another machine before getting into a taxi for the trip to the city. Although sleep deprived, it has been a joy seeing the new culture and meeting so many friendly people.

The customs officer was even nice when asking all the questions about "what will you be doing for 5 months?" since I am technically only allowed to visit and not reside in the country. I don't think I was convincing in saying I'm going to travel...for 5 months. I listed places in the UK and Europe and she let us through - no one even felt the need to search our bags even with the 10 or so bottles of vitamins! They just trusted me when I said that's what they are. Will then chatted with the taxi driver to get some insight on our new home which apparently has a great night life - all the college students come and stay.

Another trademark of all of Europe - lots of smoking and drinking. It's just part of what they do and the norm is to have a glass of wine at meals - Will had no problem joining in this afternoon while I was the odd man out and got tap water. We went to a nice Italian place and the food was delicious. And just in case I get homesick, I can walk to a TGIFriday's. I have not spotted a panera yet.... but I am proud to say I already walked back to the apartment by myself without getting lost.

Speaking of the apartment, it is beautiful and small. The bedroom has a curved wall so you can walk around the bed but the curtains are beautiful (finally!) and the headboard is a design statement. It also houses the one and only closet in the apartment. The kitchen lines a wall with a two person table opposite. We have half a fridge and dishwasher! Not much freezer space, so I'll have to get used to cooking and not having the luxury of freezing leftovers. I guess I can make time in between all that traveling I'm doing. The bathroom is nice with a large shower and the living room is tiny but sufficient. Bonus: laundry in unit! Only it is once again European size (meaning half of ours) and is one appliance with two functions - washer and dryer. I'm interested to see how that works out.

For those of you who know me, you will not be surprised that I am almost completely unpacked and already utilized some of the organization items I brought. That will leave me time to upload pictures tomorrow and maybe even write a thinking post this week, though I think most of you would rather see pictures first, especially since I never did post a picture of my new short hairdo.

I guess I will end by saying I feel blessed to be here but I will miss all of you. Do feel free to comment on here or email me. Writing correspondence may be my fill in part time job! So far I'm still winging it on what will be keeping me busy during these months of no house work or paid work.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Leaving on a jet plane

I have a few more hours at home and then I fly to a new home across the ocean. My cold has prevented me from thinking of anything but getting better so I'm not nervous, scared, or excited. I just am - I'm going because that is where my husband is leading our family. I have no idea what I will be doing but I know it will be quite an adventure.

Since we are only going for about 6 months, his company is not paying to ship anything and neither are we. We packed two large suitcases each and a carry on item. This included coats and boots, books and dvds, our computer and of course our camera complete with cords to upload photos to said computer. I was surprised at how easy it was to fit everything and happy to be living a bit more of a simplified life since we did not have room for "clutter" or our amazing book collection :-D

I'm sure my next update will be a bit more exciting - because I'll be in England!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I made it!

This weekend was a blur. I woke up at 1am Friday night with a sore throat that turned into a weekend of moving while sick - but it was an awesome weekend! So many people came to help out so I could take break, sit down and remember to stay hydrated. Friends stopped by to say goodbye, even some that were coming from an event and going to another one. That meant a lot and it was hard to say goodbye...

It was not hard to say goodbye to the house. The house is nice, but I was never allowed to decorate it - I just laughed when we took down our wall art to reveal all the screws I wasn't allowed to touch. On the other hand, it was hard to say goodbye to the cats. Even though they are quite high maintenance, as far as cats go, they are cuddly and lovable. I cried last night when thinking about Parker and was sad to know I wouldn't be happily greeted this morning. It's a sad parting, but not one that makes me want to go get another pet.

Today, I finally get to relax a little, get over this cold and maybe organize my room. We moved from a 2,000 sq ft house to a bedroom so this will be interesting... and temporary both before and after England. It is so nice to have a short term place to stay so we don't have to rent the first apartment we see when we get back. Lots to be thankful for this week - especially all the help moving. Thanks to everyone that came.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

still moving....

I haven't written much lately because there is simply nothing to write. With the move I have not been super reflective about the life issues I normally found in my writing. I have been much more concerned with how we are going to completely move out of a house in one day and get it inspected and cleaned the next day.

I guess the most I can say is I have learned, through house sitting, that it is important to respect everyone. The owners of the house may not be my best friends, but I need to respect their wishes in handling this move - many details of which seem unnecessary to me. This need to respect is even more clear when I think about and might even dare to complain that they don't respect or trust me. My husband thinks I should write a book about the experiences I've had with housing, but I just don't know how I could do that respectfully. It would be a humor book and so much of humor comes off as put downs - not my style. I definitely have enough information to write the book - a different room mate each semester in college and 2+ years of house-sitting. I have learned a lot and, I think more than the need to write about it, I need to respect all the stories for the lessons I have learned from them.

I have learned a lot from house-sitting but I am so happy to be a week away from finishing this part of my life :-D

Friday, September 10, 2010

Quick Takes (10)

1.

Since I said this blog would help people keep in touch with me, I thought I should get back in the habit.

2.

Ever heard of the phrase "the less you have to do, the less you get done" that's how I feel in the last couple weeks. The house is pretty clean and I'm slowly making progress packing up all our stuff, but I'm just not motivated to do all the things I finally have time for - like catching up on some important reading and reconnecting with friends. Maybe this last week in my house will force more motivation - I move out next Saturday!

3.

Still no visa, but the plan is to fly out Saturday the 25th. I can't believe in two weeks I could be in a different country.

4.

The first weekend of October my husband is flying to Ireland for a conference. Since he will be busy all day while he is there I thought I would get myself acclimated to my new home. Strange that the first weekend abroad will be spent on a different island than my husband. I hope I don't get lost too many times!

5.

I am surprised by the generosity of people when it comes to my moving. My family is helping (not as much of a surprise) and some of my husband's co-workers who I have never met. They volunteered to help pack up our things next weekend. Hopefully that lowers the stress of the move.

6.

I have to say I love fall! Summer was so hot this year that I have found it very exciting to wear jeans this week. I'm going to miss driving through some of the scenic roads in this area as the leaves change colors in October. I wonder what fall looks like in Leeds, England.

7.

Speaking of fall, I thought I would end with a question: What is your favorite part about fall?
My answer: going to the apple orchard to get apples (specifically some honey crisp) and donuts. I wonder if I will get a chance to do that this year. I hope everyone enjoys a lovely fall weekend!

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Changes and more Changes

Sorry I have been quite silent the last few weeks, a lot has been changing in my life and I couldn't process it all online. Now that I have, here is what I have been up to:

A couple of weeks ago I spilled the beans about going to England before my dear husband got around to telling everyone at work. That would be why the post got deleted before everyone could see. That didn't stop me from preparing for the move. I have packed up boxes and boxes and been reminded of how much stuff I really have. So far it has mostly been books and some kitchen stuff we don't use often. I'm so glad we got my aunt's china and not new since only the serving dishes have been used in 2 years of marriage.

Back to the exciting part of the news though: I'm moving to Leeds, England for 6 months! It was never a dream of mine to live abroad, but my husband has been wanting an opportunity like this for a while and I'm glad to sup
port him. I'm also glad that they speak English even if I do have a bit of trouble understanding them at first. Now we just need to get the visa approved and make sure I have all the documents necessary - whatever they may be.

With the move I will no longer be a house-sitter or a cat "owner." It has been hard thinking about leaving my two room mates behind but glad someone else is coming in to fill my place taking care of them and the house. What a change that will be for them - laid back couple to excited 3 yr old (and mom).

The changes seem to keep coming in my life, and I believe that means this blog is going to change a lot as well. I've promised to keep in touch with my family so I suspect this blog is going to become less about thought-provoking questions and pro-life themes and more about my life in England and all the excitement that will bring. Everyone is welcome to continue reading and I hope I won't completely stay away from the important topics but it may become more me focused and less society focused like my previous post on corporate policy.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Corporate policy

With work over for the summer I have been quite lazy and haven't found any big moments of inspiration until I got a pro-life email. To tell you the truth, I didn't like it very much...

It was a list, which can also be found in this article, of all the businesses that support
Planned Parenthood. That list was followed with the request to boycott all those businesses. Well sure, I guess I can boycott Staples because there are so many other places to go.
I'm not a huge fan of Olive Garden anyway, but Trader Joe's has good organic food for much less than Whole Foods. My aunt works at Hilton group and I love Disney and Kohl's. Kohl's mainly because I usually get out the spending around 10-30 and "saving" 50-100. I don't think they are making much profits from me anyway.

So what is a girl to do? I try to shop where I can get a deal and prefer to support companies where my family work. I actually took the time to do some research because I really do like shopping at Kohl's. Under the women's health portion of Kohl's cares, the com
pany explains their desire to educate women on prevention and treatment of breast cancer - a noble goal. So they donate to Susan G. Kolman foundation who donates to planned parenthood. That is not as good but I found no mention of a direct link. I can contact someone for clarification, but I don't know if that is enough to keep me from going to that store.

What would you do?

Monday, August 16, 2010

I am thankful 8/16

Since I haven't gotten on the computer long enough to write a detailed post, I thought I would take Rae up on her suggestion to chime in on the thankful posts. It's always nice to be reminded to be grateful for all the blessings in life. We'll see if this becomes routine or not....

I am thankful for....

being home. I have been house-sitting for a couple years and the owners recently came home to visit, so we let them truly come home. It was the least we could do, but it is great to have my own space again.

great camping weather. I just got back from a family camping trip. I got to catch up with my sister and her husband and spend plenty of quality time with the rest of my family as well. It also helps that it was hot and sunny so everyone was quite happy to spend family time on the boat up north.

for new possibilities. There are a lot of things up in the air right now especially with jobs. The should sound a bit scary for me who doesn't like change, but the possibilities out there and quite probable are quite exciting. I can't wait until things get finalized and I can say more :-D

Friday, August 6, 2010

Quick Takes (9)

Yesterday was my last day of work for the summer school program. I thought it would be fun to list some of the highlights so I remember most of the good parts about this summer

1.

I loved the other paras I worked with. We helped each other out and all the subs that came in were great too! There was also a worker pretty close to my age that is a social worker during the year and reminds me quite a bit of a friend from college who is also a school social worker.

2.

The kids! Most were so happy to be there and most did great work for the four weeks. Some students were harder to reach than others but all seemed to respond well to the summer program - much better than I was expecting.

3.

A couple students frequently gave me compliments and reminded me that we are friends. Such a simple act of kindness with no strings attached. They weren't trying to get out of work so I know they meant it.

4.

One of my students had a major breakthrough one day. He never initiates conversation or asks to do what he wants. We all want him to ask for something as opposed to dictating how is day has to go. One day we decided to make grilled cheese and everyone had to take turns. When this student saw the cooking station was open he walked up to me and asked to make a sandwich to which I replied of course! And inside I was screaming yes he did it!

5.

While not as specific of a highlight, I was impressed and excited to see how many students increased their ability to use their dynavox (a computer generated voice). They were able to navigate between different screens and form complete answers to questions they were asked.

6.

I felt like I made a difference in someone's life and in a big way. These kids really benefit from coming to school for a couple hours over the summer and I was glad I could help!

7.

Last but not least, all the student helpers. Middle and high school students came and helped us work with the kids. It was nice to see peer interaction, which can be so much more useful for some of the social goals than having teachers doing all of the work and asking. It's amazing to see how many students took time out of their summer to get up early and work with our class. Many thanks to all of them (although I'm sure none read this blog). We gave them a pizza party at the end of camp to thank them - it was wonderful.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Voting Day

I meant to write a reminder yesterday but totally forgot. Today is the primary election and a quite important one. I will be voting for pro-life legislators and I hope you will too. This is one way we can spread awareness and impact societal norms. If you live in MI you can go to rtl.org under endorsements then personalized ballot to see some of the pro-lifers in your area. I know it is a little late for research so this is more of a reminder to people who planned to vote but maybe forgot what day it was. I'm leaving to go do so myself...

Friday, July 30, 2010

Quick Takes (8)

1.

I'm back living on the lake. This is the third of four weekends that I will be house hopping. Next weekend will be my last as the home owners will be back in China and I will be back to house sitting for the foreseeable future.

2.

My husband was shown a promising opportunity at work that might involve some big changes. It is a long shot because he is still relatively new to the company but it would be quite exciting. I will give more details if we do get offered (and accept) the position.

3.

Work is still going well. I'm enjoying working with the students but there are some big frustrations that go along with the job. For example, I find it very hard to not get upset when my students are sent to school without their communication device or with a dead battery. I know I wouldn't like it if someone prevented me from talking all day!

4.

I have once again fallen into lazy summer habits - eating junk food and not working out as much. As I type, I am in my workout clothes trying to summon the motivation to workout. My general rule is that if I make it into workout clothes I must workout. I'm hoping my mother-in-law has on demand because I love exercise tv and I don't feel like running.

5.

I'm out of my house and that means no camera. Sorry for those of you waiting to see a pic of my haircut (which would have been a good before and after comparing it to the picture in the paper). Maybe next week.... at least I sent a picture to my sister using the camera on my phone - not the greatest quality though. Hopefully a good picture will come soon.

6.

This weekend is ladies' weekend on my MIL side of the family (and the guys go away for their own fun). It's really interesting because all the cousins are guys so the guy's weekend is huge. The girl's weekend includes four sisters, one daughter (age 9) and me. It's always a little interesting but fun. Who needs to hang out with people their own age anyway?

7.

I'm a little surprised I made it to 7. Have a great weekend everyone!

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

NFP awareness week cont'd

Wow has this summer flown by fast! Work is keeping me busy and I will once again be temporarily leaving my house so I have more packing to do. I was sent this video and I'm torn...

I have an issue with the tone. I feel like if I didn't already believe this I would just get mad at the guy. I was sent the video as an idea of something to use for my NFP classes but I'm thinking no. What do you think?


Monday, July 26, 2010

NFP awareness week

It is NFP awareness week but I honestly don't know who organizes it. Is it the US Catholic Bishops? After all, NFP does seem to be a Catholic term for fertility awareness as a means of planning your family size.

If it is organized by the Church, I wonder why it is not talked about. Honestly, I need to criticize myself first for not really looking into it - I mean I work on awareness all the time right? I just find it a little sad that the church I went to yesterday while I was up north had no information and no announcement. How can we raise awareness like that, and who are we trying to educate? Maybe I should try to find the answers to that, or maybe I should work on building awareness that I have another class starting in September that I haven't let anyone know about - oops! Yep, I guess first on my list is building awareness for my class.

What have you seen that relates to this week?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Quick Takes (7)

1.

I can't believe this is my seventh week doing this...

2.

My week at the in-laws was great. I gave up the house I was house-sitting to the owners so they could stay there. In the bargain, I got dinners cooked for me, evenings on the lake, and a real master suite (attached bathroom)! I really can't complain or pretend it was much of a sacrifice :-D

3.

Over the weekend, besides getting photographed, I went to a wedding shower. It was fun to see family and nice to go on a road trip and not participate in driving. It was a little sad to stay with family and have everyone attend Mass the next morning except the happy couple. They were awake with plenty of time to spare but decided to write thank you notes instead - we already got them in the mail! I'm not trying to judge, it was just sad because I felt like something was missing at church and I really enjoyed the homily and think it would have promoted some good discussions.

4.

School is going well. I'm enjoying being para and not feeling the responsibility of always keeping track of how all the kids are doing. With autism we have a lot of individual time because everyone is so different and it is hard to know 7 different plans at once.

5.

Thursday we stayed at our house again! Only for one day though since we are heading up north today. We will get 4 more nights at home (while owners are in St Louis) and then it's back to the in-laws for a week. Although I love it and can't complain, I will say this is making a busy summer seem even busier - I'm a homebody that really thrives on being at home. A week away feels busy even if I don't do much. Now that I've had my mini-rant, I'll remind myself that all the benefits more than make up for it!

6.

I finally got a new swimsuit. Some of you have really made me think about modesty and what that means at the beach. I found a long skirt bottom (seriously, it's longer than what many girls walk around in) and a fun teal printed tank for on top that is also quite long so there will be no little piece of stomach showing. I think I look really cute an my husband agrees :-) He doesn't think it makes me look old fashioned at all - I think the bright color and design helps with that. Now I have two skirt bottoms so I can mix and match with some other tops.

7.

I cut off about 10 inches of my hair this week. I found out that Pantene partners with American Cancer Society to give wigs to women and they only ask for 8 inches. That made the decision that I would be able to stick it out and donate - I knew I wasn't going to make it to 12 inches!

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My 15 minutes are over

Well Monday was a lot of fun. I was in the paper and got to brag about how I made it to the front page. I felt almost famous and glad the paper came out. Then I saw there were over 300 comments on the article. Most were negative, and many were ignorant rants - no problem. I knew we would get that response because we are reaching the secular spheres! How amazing is that?

So what is my reaction now once the spotlight is gone? It's hard to put into words. I'm excited people heard about the effectiveness and the fact that 25 yr olds actually use it, but it is hard to convince someone of anything through one article as evidenced by comments. People read it because they wanted to see for themselves how outdated the system is
. One person even argued that we are stuck in the 50s and 60s even though the article made a clear distinction between rhythm and scientific modern methods. So how do you convince people?

I've talked a lot to my co-workers (none Catholic) in the past weeks since it was what was happening in my life - hey I got interviewed! I got photographed! It's on the front page. Lots of discussion have started about how I like the method, it's not that much abstinence, it's healthy and safe and less annoying than barriers. The response "I support you and your getting the word out, but I don't believe the same thing."

I have been solidly reminded that we live in an age of moral relativism. I'm glad you believe that and practice what you preach - that's what is right for you. That's not what is right for me. Maybe I'm making a leap to put those words in their mouths. Or maybe I'm not, because if they are supporting me that means they think I'm doing something right, but they don't want to practice it themselves? Either they are lazy or don't think that is the "right" thing for them - meaning there are different rules for different people.

So to conclude - I would rather have nasty comments than acceptance in word but not in action. There is nothing harder for me to take than someone that agrees this is important but doesn't evaluate how it could be important in his or her life. Think Athiest turned Catholic or Paul after he converted - those stories are amazing. Then think of lukewarm responses that don't get applied to life. Matthew 6:37: Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

300 comments didn't bother me, but just a couple co-workers did even though they were trying to be nice. I think this topic is pretty much closed for now, but anyone have ideas how to get the lukewarm out of their discussions and put some meaning back into them?

Monday, July 19, 2010

NFP article

The article actually made it to the press! I feel like have my 15 minutes of fame, but not everyone is very nice. Of course the article, written in a secular press, will get a lot of flack. If you're interested - here is the link.

http://www.freep.com/comments/article/20100719/NEWS05/7190355/Forget-contraceptives-go-natural-church-teaches

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Quick Takes (6)

1.

I'm a day late because I was moving out of my house yesterday...

2.

I moved out because I am house-sitting and the family is home for a couple of weeks. I took food, clothes, computer, pillows etc to my in-laws to stay for a while. We have a luxury sweet with an attached full bath, but right by the door. I definitely heard what time my brother-in-law came in last night. On the bright side, I currently live on the lake :-D

3.
I got my picture taken this morning for the paper! Hubby and I will be in the free press discussing how awesome NFP really is. It was awkward getting our pictures taken though. He said act natural - but I never really succeed at that when there is a camera in my face. I wouldn't be very good at being famous I think...

4.

We are about to go out of town for a wedding shower. I love the fun of seeing family and this one is a couples shower so no silly games, just catching up with people from out of town. Here's hoping the the sleeping arrangements in the basement don't prevent me from getting some rest - I don't do well when I hear snoring. Let's hope my husband never starts that...

5.

This week was my first week at my summer job. I have been very busy! It is hard work, but I love the kids.

6.

My aunt is also in from out of town. So this week has been crazy! It is good to see her and my cousin and we're going to a Tigers game on Monday - but I wish some of these things would spread out. Everything seemed to fall in this weekend and we couldn't say yes to everything.

7.

Wow - I made it to seven before I was told we are leaving - I think this is the fastest that I've ever written a post - hope it made sense! Have a great weekend everyone

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

No guarantee

Last night I announced to the full pro-life group that I will be leaving my officer role in October. It was bittersweet since I don't want to see the group suffer another unexpected transition but confident that God is leaving me away. It was interesting to announce because I still don't know where he is leading me exactly. I'm following where faith is leading with no guarantee. It is a little scary, but quite freeing.

Something will come up - hopefully something that will utilize all the free time I will have after my summer job ends. Maybe that something even relates to NFP. I seem to be finding a number of opportunities relating to that.

Some shameless self-promotion for me: I'm going to be in the paper! I was interviewed last Saturday and will be photographed this Saturday for an article that will be published Sunday or Monday - I'm so excited to see how it turns out!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Prayer Request

I just found out that a friend of mine gave birth this weekend even though her due date was sometime in October. My heart goes out to the family who did not want to meet their child so soon - they wanted him to grow more first. He is under 2 lbs and needs lots of prayer and support as he continues to develop and grow outside the womb.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Vocation v. job

This has been a battle for me lately, especially the last month. I do not want to work full time just to get a paycheck. I'm not in a situation that necessitates that and I don't want to just stay busy. However, I do not like having a month off to do "nothing" like I had the last couple weeks. Of course I found projects to stay busy but I didn't find all of them very meaningful.

I want to go where God is leading me - but I don't know where that is. Maybe he has his version of neon signs but I am not seeing them. I don't feel called to keep subbing and I don't know if I am really helping those kids. I felt called away from my pro-life group and toward a pregnancy center, but I'm not sure how I fit in there if at all. I'm left with NFP teaching and being a wife. I love those vocations and tasks, but they are not enough on their own to fill my days in a meaningful way.

I've gone so far as to offer my services as a nanny, but most of those jobs don't really fit and many (it seems) don't want someone who needs to get home in the evenings to her family. That leaves me with many half thought out dreams of being an organizer, stager or administrative assistant. Any time I ponder/pray about those jobs (which I have done in the past for each and some currently), I don't get the sense that I should dig deeper into those possibilities. So what is left? At the moment, I can't think of anything and I don't know where that leaves me in the job or the vocation area. I know my first vocation is that of wife, but what are some of my secondary vocations? I'm getting very scatter-brained lately with no direction other than that.

Maybe I need to perfect the wife vocation ("I agree," says my husband the chef) before adding another, and maybe I am just missing all the signs leading me in the right direction. Any helpful advice for how to discern something like this?

My husband has recommended that I read about St. Ignatius. I will let you know what I discover.