Sunday, December 18, 2011

Maria's first Christmas

is upon us with many fun new things.

We put up the tree two weeks ago and at first it didn't seem like a big deal. We put it in front of our big window facing the street. That window happens to be in the formal living room that we don't really use yet so it took a while for Maria to figure out such an exciting thing was in the room. Now we crawl over, sit by it and feel the funny branches and plush santa ornament that is hanging within reach.

On Dec 5th we put out our shoes and on the morning of the 6th discovered St Nick came and got chocolates and a calendar for daddy and a personalized ornament for Maria. It was nice to celebrate the beginning of Santa Claus.

Speaking of Santa Claus, we did not go see him this year. We did not get invited to any breakfast with Santa events (missed my grandma and childhood memories when I thought of that) and we did not want to pay for the mall photo so we passed this year. I will need to research breakfast with Santa events in my area next year so we can have that experience.

We also recently discovered the fun of opening gifts with visiting friends. Maria has not quite gotten the hang of wrapping paper and needs quite a bit of help, but she did enjoy taking the tissue paper out of the bags and playing with the wrapping paper once already torn off. My friends are also 2 for 2 in gifts that Maria loves almost as much as the packaging. She got an old fashioned phone that rings when you dial and is on wheels with a pull cord. She also received a dinosaur walker that she is learning to use. It is a blast to watch her lean and push it forward and then figuring out how to move her feet to catch up.

I am excited to see Maria get excited again and again as the festivities continue. We are blessed to be around so much family and friends that we will have a new experience every day from Christmas Eve through the 29th. It has also been fun having her pass out gifts.

There are so many gifts for my family to be thankful for this year. Thank you Jesus for the gift of yourself and the many blessings we have received in 2011.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My mobile Maria

The day has come - she is full out crawling! Daddy is away this week for work (though he has witnessed the milestone) and won't be uploading crawling videos on youtube yet. I hope to catch her on tape sometime this week while playing single mom and moving in to our new house. Closing went well yesterday. Now I just need to pack, move and unpack all our stuff yet again. What an exciting, busy month November will be

Monday, October 10, 2011

Six Months

My baby girl is growing up. Now being a mom isn't considered a full time job. I keep getting questions - what do you do to keep yourself busy? Well, other than spending all day with my baby, getting chores done, maybe some cooking, and working out I wonder. I mean all you moms out there know how much free time we have. So here is a look at my typical day last week. We had a good week!

This was Friday
6:45 - get up and let husband get ready for work after he watched Maria for a bit while I got some sleep.
7:20 - leave for daily mass at 8
8:30 -coffee and donuts in the social hall, go and meet some of the parishioners at our new church
9:30 - head to mall to get some walking and socializing in with a mom and two girls
12:30 - go to Target to pick something up for an NFP class
1:30 - finally have time for a gourmet lunch - pb&j
2:00- nap time (mom included)
4:00 - chores (can't remember which were on my list last Friday)
4:45 - playtime!
5:15 - Maria took another nap - weird, some time to myself
6:30 - dinner with husband
7:00 - family walk
7:45 - bedtime routine
9:00 - a few moments with Husband to discuss the week, the upcoming move, our NFP class we taught the next day and a million other things we were supposed to discuss
10:00 - collapse into bed - what a thrilling Friday night!

I also go to La Leche Meeting twice a month, am part of a Bible study and book club, teach NFP and give presentations on top of the fall class we teach. I've also started playing guitar again while Maria plays in her jumper. Being a stay at home mom has challenges (among the numerous joys), but I have not found boredom to be one of them :-)

And speaking of my lovely 6 month old daughter. She is doing well, still a social butterfly - new people make her so happy and she them. She is balancing better while sitting now so I don't need to stay right next to her. Her new favorite toy is a metal whisk. And she can say "dada" although she doesn't realize what the accomplishment it is since she is just learning how to use her tongue and not actually talking. I wonder when she will get mom and dad's names right.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Great Way to Empower the Poor

through NFP

This article even includes footnotes with sources.

How can we get the word out in the US? I was so sad today when I heard on the radio how our Vice President supports the one child policy in China that leads to forced abortions and more. If only our leaders new and believed that there is a safe, natural and practically free alternative to all the "family planning" methods they promote.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Little Tidbits

I have enjoyed my break from posting. Being a stay at home mom has had ups and downs to be sure, but I love almost all of it. I don't think I will ever get used to the lack of sleep, but I'm trying. Most of the time that means choosing one nap to take with Maria :-)

Maria modeling her baptism outfit

It is amazing how life has changed in 6 months. There have been times when I'm reminded of an "According to Jim" episode when Cheryl realizes she doesn't know how to talk to adults anymore. Everything that comes out of her mouth is about the bodily functions of her kids, their sleep habits, or their new cute trick. What else is there to talk about anyway?
Posing for her 3 mo old pic on gma and gpa's table

Thankfully, my husband and I signed up to teach a NFP class that started a couple weeks ago. I have another class to prepare for in a week. I will be talking with adults preparing for marriage. This is a topic I can still approach with passion and confidence. Thank goodness for a little time to step outside my family and give back to the community a bit. I still need to work more on spreading the word about this important ministry and healthy/natural means of planning a family. My husband and I are still using it successfully despite my being told by numerous people it is not accurate post partum - when did that rumor start?

In happy baby news, Maria is now about 6 months old. She has her two bottom teeth. They came in at about the same time and took a while to poke through. I thought I would miss the toothless grin, but the two little teeth may be even cuter! She is sitting up on her own and evening chewing on the occasional carrot. We are doing Baby Led Weaning which means she will eat solid foods like what I am eating. She has enjoyed learning how to bite and move food around her mouth on her own. We'll see when she actually starts eating more of it. Right now food is just a toy.
Copying mommy and daddy as they eat

We have enjoyed using her bum genius cloth diapers and do not miss the diaper runs to the store one bit! We are not doing the greatest at EC but still give her opportunities occasionally and on lucky days I catch the BMs - yay for less laundry!

Maria is getting ready to crawl - moving her legs in toward her belly and falling forward. I can't wait to see when she figures out she can keep going without falling if she just moves her hands. She also loves to jump. I bought a jumper that attaches to the door frame and she loves the independence it gives her to move as she pleases while mommy does some laundry or just enjoys the show.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

2 months of accomplishments

Well I wrote at two weeks, I thought I would write at two months.

Maria's third week was one to remember. We started taking her potty in the sink and it really works! However, I never seem to be quite fast enough so a bit will get in the diaper, at least I stopped being peed on during changes. She also started smiling sometimes when looking at someone.

Week four brought about a major accomplishment - rolling from her stomach to her back. For everyone that thought it was just spasms because she was upset about being on her stomach, we posted the video to you tube - though that one may have been at week five. She has continued to roll over and now can go over either shoulder. She also started cooing - is there any sound more beautiful?At five weeks she slept 7 hours - once! She has failed to do so again but is getting better at sleeping 5 1/2 to 6 hours again.

Six weeks and she has found a tool to calm herself - her hand! It makes long car trips easier if she is awake and the dreaded diaper changes. She also had her major growth spurt and flew out of the newborn clothes and size 1 diapers - we will be
out of 3 month clothes very soon.

In her seventh week of life she went on two boat rides
and did surprisingly well in her crazy life jacket that makes it extremely hard to find a good way to hold her. She did sleep on her back in it for a while. So cute!

At eight weeks she continues to talk and interact more and is getting close to being on some sort of sleep schedule. She slept 6 1/2 hours last night and turns two months old tomorrow and when she turns 9 weeks she will be baptized. We are looking for
ward to these next milestones!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Taking a break

I'm not sure if I have ever mentioned on this blog that, if you take away the blogging, I don't really think I am from this generation. Here is a list of things I do not have

  • A smart phone - my phone plan doesn't even include texting. I would much prefer a phone call anyway
  • An ipod - technically my husband has one but we can't get it back from someone after leaving it while in England
  • A love of facebook - I was going to delete my account, but then it made keeping in touch while abroad a bit easier. I'm considering deleting it again
Those seem to be the big three. This blog is the only thing that does not fit and is also something I'm going to take a break from for a while. See, Maria is definitely my priority and I don't always have a lot of time for the computer. I try to check my email before my husband leaves for work and then, depending on length and location of naps, I may not do so again for the rest of the day. I wish people understood that and still enjoyed using phones. It is nice to hear people's voices and I can talk and pay attention to Maria, but I can't type because the needs two hands.

So I guess what I am trying to say is that entering into motherhood is going to make me even less like my generation, as blogging will no longer be the odd category since I won't be doing that either.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Another week gone by..warning, gushing mommy

I already feel like my baby is growing up! She is well past her birth weight and getting close to growing out of some newborn clothes. Does that mean she is no longer a newborn? If that means she is closer to sleeping through the night I will be happy, but some other parts I will miss. She keeps the newborn baby smell for a while right? Nothing better than that!

Well by week three we have done some growing up
Maria has rolled over twice - strong girl! Too bad she still doesn't realize she was in control of doing that :-) I'm not a totally unrealistic mommy when it comes to her abilities

Maria has also consistently used our bathroom sink as a toilet. So far I haven't saved a lot on diapers but I have on laundry. She no longer pees during a diaper change and we haven't had any blowouts. It is much easier to clean and disinfect the sink. Hooray for elimination communication.

This morning, Maria also put herself to sleep. She woke up when I put her down and instead of crying she just looked around for a while and went to sleep. I think that is the first time she had done that without be picked back up and comforted
- not that I mind holding her most of the time. It is nice to have some time to catch up on things though.

In the meantime I have grown up a bit and realized that some of my ideas going into parenting are not going to fly. Back to my quick takes, I have to accept my limitations and accept help. It's been a long, sleep-deprived and glorious three weeks!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The first two weeks

Well Maria's two weeks have seen some major ups and downs. First she wasn't getting enough milk (as seen by a lack of dirty diapers) so we supplemented with formula a few days. Now she is well over her birth weight (8lbs 2 oz) at 8lbs 8oz! She's such a big girl.

The next week I got an infection and went on antibiotics which I am still taking, but Maria is continuing to eat well and all my doctors said it was safe to feed her while on this medication.

As we enter the 3rd week I got tired of being peed on and thought I would try elimination communication earlier than planned. Since she decides multiple times a day that it's a good idea to pee when her diaper is off - resulting in a messy changing table, baby, and/or parent - I gave her the opportunity to go in the sink instead. That would be easy to clean. On our first try we were successful. One less dirty diaper and one large mess avoided. That is my highlight of the day :-)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Quick Takes - New Beginnings

My angel is now 5 days old! We are having a great time in this new beginning. So I thought I would do a themed quick takes of lessons on new beginnings. Maybe each will turn into a post eventually...


Accept your limitations - physically, emotionally and socially - sometimes quiet time is needed :-)


Be flexible


Speak up for yourself


Follow your gut


Enjoy a nap once in a while


Graciously accept help that is offered and don't forget to ask for some.


Give lots of love and encouragement to those around you.

Pretty sure these lessons could cover most new beginnings but it's nice to be reminded of them.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Baby Maria

Just when I thought I was going to have to fight doctors about induction our baby girl arrived on Sunday night after 22 hours of labor. She was 8lbs 2oz and 19 1/2 inches long. She is just beautiful with a full head of brown hair.

Her name, a story I may get into later is Maria Katherine. The short part of the story is her middle name which was chosen recently to honor my grandmother who just passed. She was so alert when she greeted the world and all her grandparents and aunt and uncles. My brother in law was able to take some great pictures which my sister posted. They are the only ones I have on the I posted two of my favorites.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Due Date

I still haven't watched that movie even though Will has been home for a couple weeks. I'm glad he is close by - makes the uncomfortable evenings much better.

So the big question is - when is the big day? Well I used to tell people the official due date (today) now I just have to say whenever she is ready. I don't know when the big day will be, but I"m getting excited for it. I'm also trying to stay relatively busy so I don't obsess over the fact that my baby is "late."

I went out to eat with my darling husband last night and then went to a book club group. It was so nice to be around a great group of girls and not think about the lack of signs that labor is starting/will start soon.

Today I went to the chiropractor - so helpful in the last trimester! I went to Whole Foods and got lots of yummy food and ran some more errands. It is nice having some relaxing days to myself. Can't wait to give the big announcement that she is here and reveal the Top Secret name :-)

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Waiting Game

With two days until the expected due date (which means nothing) the waiting game has started. No false alarms and no unreasonable annoyances - just intense anticipation and a bit of discomfort. When does she want to come out?

The waiting game is hard but purposeful. I need to keep learning to remain in the moment and count my blessings that are right in front of me. I've had fun catching up with friends and inviting new ones over to my apartment. It has been great getting back in touch with extended family and being spoiled by everyone who asks if they can get me anything. I keep reminding myself I'm already a mom and there is a little miracle present with me every moment of every day - safe and sound. I don't hear anyone crying and nap time can be any time of my choosing. Pretty soon I will be following someone else's schedule and learning lots of new lessons.

I can't wait! Looking forward to meeting our little one soon.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

2 more weeks

until the expected due date. The question "when are you due?" is now asked daily by just about everyone. I tend to give ambiguous answers that seem to tick people off more than I'm ticked off about answering it again. Saying something like soon or beginning of April is just not specific enough for people. Makes me wonder - why are we so focused on the exact date since we know this baby has a mind of her own on when she wants to enter the world anyway?

So I have approximately 2 weeks, or however long baby stays comfortable, to enjoy my freedom and finish reading etc as people say. I haven't done much reading since I've been home, but I have washed just about all the baby clothes and my moby wrap. Now I have to start on the blankets and hooded towels. I have diapers, wipes, and shampoo/body wash. I have somehow managed to not pick up baby powder or diaper cream - who knows what brand to get anyway?

My apartment is moved-in and organized. Yesterday Will helped me finish hanging things - no more pictures on the floor! The extra room is a mess and the crib is still at my parents unassembled. However, I do have a co-sleeper, lots of onesies, sleep and play outfits, swaddling blankets and car seat figured out so I think we are prepared enough.

I've had no signs of labor or false labor yet and I haven't gotten that burst of energy that seems to proceed labor on the day of - no desire to clean though I have grudgingly kept up with most of that. So for all of you that have been waiting for an update - I'm doing really well, getting a bit uncomfortable, and see no signs that this baby is going to have an aqua marine birth stone. April birthday and diamond birth stone all the way ;-D

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Good Life

On Wednesday afternoon my grandma passed peacefully to the next life. She is watching down on us and probably smiling that Will is finally back in the country. There are so many memories I will keep dear to me. She lived a good life for 83 years and struggled for 6 months. We are all glad she is no longer in pain, but very sad to see her go and be left behind.

In December I came home to visit her. I loved her spirit and gratitude for her visitors. She told me about her friend that gave her a card every day and was so excited to get picture Christmas cards, including one from me with a baby bump. I saw her on the feast of the Immaculate Conception and brought her communion. I also sang Hail Mary, Gentle Woman and went through the readings for the day. Little did I know how much that meant to her or her preference of songs.

Today I will go sing at her memorial mass. Included in the program is Hail Mary, Gentle Woman - not exactly a funeral song but one of her favorites and a request. Hopefully I will make it through that song okay for her. I love you Grandma!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Life at Home

I am still without internet, but that gives me an excuse to get yummy soup at Panera :-)

Things are settling down. I had a shower on Sunday and was amazed by and blessed with many great gifts. Things are all put away if not completely organized and I have gotten to take some naps. I've also been to get a massage and an adjustment by a chiropractor. I've got to get some pampering in now right?

Will is still abroad and leaves for a snowboarding trip on Thursday. He gets home on the 19th and I have that day excitedly marked in my calendar - finally I'll get bunches of foot rubs again ;-)

Until then I am just trying to stay calm for this baby. My grandma was recently moved into hospice so we're praying for her and Will's safe return home.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Settling In

Well I'm home and starting to adjust to the time difference. I'm still going to bed earlier and waking up earlier than I would normally though - it is being a slow process. However, that means I am quite productive in the morning!

I've done lots of nesting in the forms of unpacking and decorating. I think I have a place for all my wall art which is a surprising amount of pieces! It didn't seem so much when everything was spread throughout the 2000 sq ft house we were sitting while the owners were in China. I'm amazed I even have a spot for everything in an apartment only 900 sq ft. So, having a livable house came first in the nesting instincts, but I'm about ready for that baby shower and actually getting ready for this little one too! I can't believe how quickly everything is coming up now.

With all that I have done, I haven't been able to get a quick installation appointment for my internet. My time here will continue to be sporadic until next Friday. Why do we always have to wait so long?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Nesting - finally!

Hello to everyone - I am safely back at home! I also have no internet or tv so I'm in the business center of my apartment complex.

To make a long story short, my flights on Saturday went very smoothly. My parents travelled with me and it was nice to have them drive me to my new apartment. On the other hand, my airport experiences were not so wonderful. We had some problems checking in with doctors' notes and a very pregnant belly. We made it for the final boarding call to Amsterdam. We practically walked right through the airport and onto our next flight to Detroit. When we landed at 5:05 the airport didn't have power, then a medical team had to address a medical emergency before we were allowed off the flight (I think the ladies turned out to be okay) and I was glad that didn't mean me. After going through customs and filing a claim for my lost luggage we finally left the airport at 7:45. I had not planned on being there that long and was super thirsty and ready to be home.

My luggage has arrived and I have enjoyed two days of major nesting. I have unpacked most of the boxes that were left for me but have yet to find any silverware. I got a pretty shower curtain and can't wait to decorate! It will be a busy week leading up to an exciting weekend. So happy to be safe in the states and done flying for the near future :-D

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Packing Up

My parents arrived on Friday and we had a wonderful weekend with my cousin who was in from Scotland. Then Monday I showed my parents around the royal armouries museum and realized why the city has been so crowded - all the families are out and about because kids are on mid-winter break this week!

Yesterday Will and I walked my parents to the train station for their mini trip to Scotland. Edinburgh was so beautiful and close I said they just had to go! They also took my phone and computer with them. That leaves me with the business of packing up during the day while Will is at work and I have no access to a computer. I have packed one suitcase and, right now, it looks like I won't come close to filling all my luggage - but isn't that always the case? Then in the end you are struggling to get it closed. At least that is how my packing goes.

I have a long to do list now and I'm so excited to get home and nest. Especially since I have recently finished my cross stitch project for the baby - all except name, birth day and weight. I'm also going to add baptismal date so we remember that important day as well :-)

To all my local readers - I'll see you soon!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Back to Reality

I know I keep repeating myself, but I just can't believe that my parents will be here tomorrow! I'm thinking a lot more about home and all the organizing I need to do. Luckily I like organizing so all the unpacking and putting away will just be extra fun with my nesting instincts finally unleashed.

I'm also thinking more about the causes I'm involved in back home and how I am so thankful to have those groups. Most specifically, the natural family planning work I do. If I were to go back to school to get a real job (as opposed to teaching), it would have to be in a field that works with marriage and family. It is the only topic that seems to keep my interest. It is also a topic that I have shied away from while here. I needed to step back and observe the culture which is so different from my niche back in the midwest.

Reflecting on my time in the UK - I have loved the experience. I have been surrounded by people much different than those back home. They are great and friendly people; however, religion is a taboo topic and most people find it strange that anyone would get up early on a Sunday just to go to church. Those who don't find it strange most of the time say they are for this or that religion but rarely attend. I never realized how "Christian" our culture and country still was. My eyes have been opened a bit and I have enjoyed getting to know Will's co-workers. It has been interesting to see how different marriage and family life is over here. It is the norm to talk about having children before talking about a wedding. They are great parents and a committed couple, but marriage just isn't seen as a big deal over here. There is no fight over marriage and what the definition should be like in the states. It is just not emphasized by either side. Marriage seems to be stressed by religious groups, and their influence is a lot weaker in Europe. If you don't believe based on my short experience this post is composed to people writing in who are long time residents of Europe and back up my statement.

All my work with NFP (natural family planning) has given me the opportunity to really look into what marriage is and how it changes you. I'm blessed to be with someone who is supportive of my passion for this topic and tolerates/participates in conversations that include words about female anatomy that many wouldn't want to hear. I'm so excited to go home and talk with others about it again and so excited that a few emailed me with questions while I was here :-D

So, to kick start the move back toward reality and my ministry, I thought I would mention a talk that was recently sent to me from a good friend back home. Most things I knew, but it re-motivated me to spread the word about important information dealing with marriage, family and how our bodies are made. The physiological aspect behind the bond of marriage and the benefits of natural family planning. If you are into science and biology, you will probably like it. For example, the speaker talks about the differences between the biology of men and women. Men's language center is in the amygdala of the brain and women's language center is near where we process emotions which is why we talk about our emotions and men have to think about it more. We are complimentary in so many ways!

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Instinct to love and protect

I was watching Bones last weekend and found Angela's character amusing. For those of you who don't follow this fabulous show, she is pregnant with her first child. She also went around proclaiming all the things her child would not be doing - like bmx biking - because they were too dangerous. Her husband told her it was the pregnancy hormones talking.

There have not been many times I have felt like that. True, I may have gotten upset once or twice over trivial things. I also might have proclaimed a few off limits activities while my children are young, but most of those topics were brought up by me before the pregnancy as well so it can't be blamed.

On the other hand, this Sunday at church I definitely felt the motherly instincts/pregnancy hormones kick in towards the end. Or maybe it was just genuine concern at first and hormones that kept me upset about it for hours after. It was an awkward situation to say the least.

Halfway through Mass, a couple of homeless people wander in. For a while, they stayed toward the back. They would have outbursts occasionally but I don't think they were intentionally trying to disrupt the service. I heard them during the sign of peace loudly saying it to other people. I guess it is okay if they stay in the back. Then, during the consecration (the climax of the mass), they start walking down the aisle. One elderly gentleman decided that was enough and escorted them out of the church. Apparently this couple didn't just wander in by complete accident because they came right back in. I didn't notice this until I realized the same guy was forcing them outside again. I was outraged and a bit upset at myself for not saying anything.

All I could think of was that is not a loving way to treat some people that obviously need some help. Okay, they may have been a bit distracting and a bit smelly, but didn't they have a right to be in the house of God? I was reminded of the Bible passage that warns us not to sit important people in the front and poor people in the back. This was worse, the poor people were kicked out to the street.

As my husband and I went out for a roast dinner I looked around to see if I could give those mistreated people the snack I always keep in my purse - they were nowhere to be seen. I talked with him during our meal and said that was unfair and what should we have done? I've decided, if that happens next week, I will go and ask the man why people are being thrown out. What have they done to offend God so much that they are not allowed inside? In my opinion they had done nothing wrong. Yes, they were distracting, but I don't think they were trying to be. Just like young children don't try to disrupt the Mass - they just have a knack for doing so.

I said a prayer for the couple and for our church to show love to everyone, but I didn't find the courage to stand up to the one forcing them out. I wish I had. What would you do?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Quick Takes (11)

For those new readers to my blog, quick takes is a Friday event hosted by where you can go and read hers or many other who link to her site. It's kind of fun to put 7 random things up instead of trying to think of some topic profound enough for it's own post. Here is my homecoming version.

Week until my parents arrive in England - many people are excited to meet them.

Weeks until I am home and excitedly going over to my new apartment

Weeks until my side of the family hosts a baby shower. What fun and what a test. I must not let the names slip...

4Align Center.
Weeks as a "bachelorette" with a fabulous friend and room mate to help me settle in to my new place - did I say I was excited about that?

My baby is nearly that many pounds already as she was over 4 (according to doctors) at my ultrasound last week. Okay, I just really needed a 5 and this was the best I could think of so far.

AM is a common time when baby wakes mommy up because we are either very hungry or very active. I've gotten up a number of times but usually end up taking a morning nap later because 6am is just so early when you don't have a job to get work at all day.

Weeks plus a couple days until expected arrival of our precious baby. That seems both way too close and super far away. I'm hoping that my new place :-D will keep me distracted and busy while I wait those four weeks for husband and few more for baby. Unlike many women, I'm not going to hope for an earlier arrival date. I want daddy to be well adjusted to the Eastern Time Zone first!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Scotland Pictures

So it's been a couple weeks since the Scotland trip and I finally took the time to put the pictures on my computer. Here are some of the best

Walking around the cemetery in Glasgow in area called the Necropolis

Inside cathedral in Glasgow

Me and cousin in Edinburgh

Castle in Edinburgh

Nearly Homecoming

Last Friday I had a growth scan - standard care in the UK. Baby looks good and is head down. She is a bit bigger than average growth pacing about a week ahead. So, according to the ultrasound she is a bit over 4 pounds and has become a modest little one. We got no confirmation on our strong suspicions, based on my feelings and the first ultrasound, that we are having a girl.

Saturday was poker night for the guys and Wii and baby holding time for the girls. It was a blast.

Sunday my sister and brother-in-law came in town. We relaxed and then went around Leeds on Monday. On Tuesday my husband became tour guide in York. They are now off to enjoy time in London and Paris - how wonderful!

Next weekend is exciting as well. We are signing and faxing a lease with a move in date of February 12th. My lovely family and amazing friend are moving my large items into the place where my friend will be my room mate at least until Will gets home. So, as of Saturday, I will have a place of my own back in the states. What a wonderful thing to look forward to seeing. Counting down until the nesting can really begin.

As for life here, it will be my last weekend feeling like I really live in Leeds - what shall I do? I have no idea! One thing is for sure, I will be enjoying a lot of quality time with Will as it is the last weekend before my parents arrive for their trip and then take me home. The time has gone by so fast!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mommy Wars

I'm just not ready for them. I've heard about how sometimes you feel like every parenting decision is being judged and that must be overwhelming for a new mom. Especially if she, like me, has not read tons of parenting books so can't even pretend to be an expert.

With my last few weeks in Leeds, I have really starting feeling nesting instincts kick in and I'm getting super excited to meet our little one. Our apartment is super clean and organized, I've started enlisting help to find a place in Michigan and I'm reading up on some parenting issues. All in all though if there is one thing I'm pretty certain of regarding parenting it's this: my baby isn't going to fit into the mold of a book. So I don't see the use in reading tons of them. Hopefully that does not come back to bite me later when I may be challenged on some of my parenting goals/practices.

Here are a few that I hope to do as of right now (though everything will be flexible with such a little one)

Breastfeed - this is probably my highest priority since I try to eat high quality food and I will be around the baby longterm. After the learning curve, I hope this goes smoothly and will save me lots of money on formula.

Attachment style parenting - though very loosely followed I believe this most fits with my view of family life. I plan to try co-sleeping and baby carrying/wearing. It just makes the most sense to me.

Elimination Communication (EC) - here is the one I think will be met with the most criticism/disbelief. Of the few things I have read up on, EC is one of them. I got a book mainly because, other than breasfeeding, I know the least about it. It seems a bit like hypnobirthing - too good and easy to be true. I plan on using diapers - but less of them! EC is all about communication and if that helps me "catch" most bowel movements in a potty at just a couple months old, why wouldn't I try to get out of cleaning up blowouts? I may even be motivated to switch to cloth diapers if there isn't a lot to clean up. EC also follows along my viewpoint that babies are born with amazing abilities. They reflexively know how to turn and root to get food. They are born with a reflex of holding their breath under water and they are born with an awareness of the sensation of going to the bathroom. The success stories show that is true. It won't be perfect and I'm not going to try to catch everything, but I have to try. I have not decided if I am going to try this right away or wait a couple months. The book is encouraging about starting at any time and not letting yourself get stressed about doing it perfectly. One thing is for sure, it will be an adventure. Hopefully one that is met with encouragement and support. After all, if it does work, that means all my relatives/babysitters will have less diapers to change as well :-D

Monday, January 31, 2011

Life Back in Leeds

I have decided that, other than going home again, I am done traveling distances more than an hour. At nearly 31 wks my body is starting to force me to slow down and travel less. Well I actually listened to it this weekend. We stayed put right in the city center.

Friday we had pizza and drinks with some of the guys and Saturday we taught a couple how to play Euchre. For my non-Michigan readers that is a popular card game in my area. It was nice to actually be an expert on something as opposed to trying to follow shop talk or other UK topics. Earlier that day we also saw the movie Tangled. I know it came out back in Nov or early Dec for the states, but this was the opening weekend here. I do not understand release dates in the UK. Some are timed close to the states and some are months behind. It was a good movie though and I'm glad I finally got to see it.

Sunday we went to church, went out for a Sunday roast and then just relaxed. It was easy to do in my apartment that had been cleaned and organized the day before. After all, I have to get some of my nesting out here so I am distracted from the fact that all my stuff is in boxes in multiple places back home with no apartment to move them to when I return - at least not yet. I've scouted out two nice apartments (from what I can tell online) that I might try to sign a lease on this week with the help of my friend/temporary room mate and mom. I'm excited to have a home with closets to go to in the states, hopefully that gets taken care of soon.

The count down has begun - 26 days until I travel to the states. About 26 days after that my husband returns home. Less than 26 days after that we meet our precious bundle of joy! How exciting!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hypnobirthing in Daily Life

As my family mourns a loss, I find I don't have a lot to post as far as updates go. Scotland was a good distraction to the fact that I could not go home. I wanted to write about how great it was to have my cousin there showing us around. I wouldn't have seen much without him there and it was nice to be with some family over the weekend.

Today was our last hypnobirthing class. Now we are on our own to practice. We've already done a lot of practicing this past week. Sometimes on my own and many times with the help of Will prompting me. We have done this more out of necessity than as good students. Pregnancy hormones make it easy to get upset over nothing and this week has been a lot more than nothing. I have found the relaxation techniques to be a big help in keeping my body (and hopefully baby) mostly calm even if my mind is grieving with my family over the loss. Granted, even all that information has not stopped a few tearful moments. Even so, I am grateful for the knowledge and now out of words to say. I hope everyone from home excuses my lack of updates for a while knowing that top secret and I are still doing well health wise.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A bit of Scotland

Two years ago my cousin got into vet school there and is finishing his second year now. Before he left of course I said I would come visit, but thought that would not necessarily happen - Scotland being so far away from Michigan. Well I lived up to my statement last weekend! Friday morning Will and I got up super early (as in before 7) to catch a train to Glasgow.

My cousin was wonderful and even gave up his room so Will and I could sleep on an actual bed - much appreciated by me and my stomach :-) He also showed us around Glasgow and Edinburgh. We got to hear about his classes, life as an international student, his travels and Scotland. There were a number of things we didn't end up seeing, but Edinburgh was beautiful and we made it to some wonderful views even if we didn't walk all the way to some of the landmarks. We even got home from Edinburgh in time to put on American football and watch the Packers beat the Bears.

By Monday morning when we boarded a train home I was exhausted and ready for a day off from lots of walking. I did some laundry and took a nap finally summoning the energy to meet Will where he was having a drink with a co-worker so we could have another day off from cooking. Today I get another day off besides a quick trip to the grocery store. Have to thank Europe for forcing me to make sure I get the needed walking exercise every day.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

29 weeks in numbers

29 wks pregnant and I won't get started on how weird everyone is about counting pregnancy

7 wks until my first baby shower

3 transatlantic flights completed, 1 to go

4 visitors to the UK, 4 to come

3 days until my trip to visit Scotland. My doctor was excited about this and not concerned in the least (he is from Scotland)

3 months spent in the UK, 1 month traveling outside and 1 month until home

2 - the number of times I actually did a kick count, my little girl moves all the time so I don't have to consciously think about or worry over her movement habits :-)

1 month to spend on a different continent from my husband (I will have his voice on tape for our relaxation exercises)

Countless ounces of milk consumed throughout

4 strange food cravings I will not give in to - taco bell, pop, oreos and doritos
Many more that I have - Italian food, chocolate, smoothie, etc

1 new and strange pregnancy symptom - carpel tunnel on my right wrist. Good thing I'm left handed! And luckily it comes and goes so I don't always feel pain.


1 amazing husband to take care of me and top secret throughout the 40 wks whether on the same couch as us or across the world. He won't say yes just to please me, like if I have an oreo craving, but he has done a lot to make sure I am comfortable, relaxed and above all healthy! My least favorite part of that - fish dinners to get in my Omega-3s and other nutrients so vital in the third trimester. Tough love - good practice for when top secret doesn't want to eat any veggies I guess.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Hypnobirthing and NFP

With this pregnancy, I feel I have made another decision that was so natural for Will and I but so contrary to popular belief/understanding of how to go about things. In a way it is similar to our use and teaching of NFP. In theory it is so simple and pretty easy to use once you understand the way it works but in reality it is so hard to believe in right away. You could say the same things about both practices: it's too simple and easy to work in real life and sure, it works for the perfect couple maybe but not for me because of "x."

I am halfway through the classes so I thought I would write down my thoughts so far. After hearing about Bradley classes being 12 weeks and pretty intense about exercises and preparation, I thought I would be in for some draining classes. I'm not a night person so learning from 6-9pm is not usually my idea of a good time. Put on top of that a long week of sightseeing and hosting a guest I was a bit tired and unmotivated to bring my best effort. My instructor picked up on that right away - oops!

Will and I both came out of that class knowing we truly had made the right decision. Right away the instructor had us final private corners to practice relaxation exercises and came over to me to see what was wrong. After talking about my low blood pressure (and occasional dizziness) and told her the real problem - the fear that I will be on a different continent from my birth companion (Will) when the time comes. Well that is something I'm going to have to work on but can't in a simple post like this so moving on...

Later in the class I was the guinea pig and the instructor demonstrated a deepening exercise on me while everyone else watched. Even though this is hypnosis, it is not taking my will or control out of the situation and here are some reason why I know that to be true.
  • I knew I was in front of people so instead of being relaxed enough to basically drool and look like an idiot I snapped out of it enough to close my mouth.
  • When she tried to give me positive messages about my husband being there, I snapped out of it again because I'm really having a hard time with that one
  • If my lips are chapped, I come out of it wanting some chapstick or if I'm thirsty some water
Through these exercises I have a deeper knowledge of what is going on in my body and my free will is still in tact. I can feel our baby girl more and in more detail while doing these exercises. They definitely help.

The first real test ended up being last night. I was upset over something which, due to some pregnancy hormones, was an awful end of the world scenario like when you run out of chocolate ;-) I knew I was over reacting but that did not stop the tears. I knew I should calm down and not upset our baby by my fit but I couldn't bring myself to do that on my own. My darling husband made up a relaxation script on the spot and I felt my body go limp with relaxation. If he can stop my raging tears right in the middle, I'm sure he can keep me relaxed when our baby comes.

The big difference to all other natural methods is at the "pushing" stage which we don't do. Instead we breathe the baby out using basically the opposite of a pelvic floor exercise. Instead of breathing up we breathe down. It is true that women get a natural urge to "push" down when the baby is ready to come, but it is not necessary to become purple faced from pushing like they do on tv. I watched women breathe and grunt the baby out without the forceful pushing that is so common today. I'm glad we chose this method so I won't have to do that or train for a marathon birth.

To wrap up, hypnobirthing just seems too simple to be true. It's all about relaxation and releasing fear. I watched tapes of women birthing and they talked about feeling pressure but no pain. Like I said, too simple to be true right? I'm sure many of you will still think that, but I am convinced. It has helped me already and I can't wait to have a calm birth.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

London, Bath, York and Visitors

January 4th came around quickly and another visitor arrived. After she fought the jetlag for a few days and I attended the first hypnobirthing class with Will we left for a girls' weekend in London and Bath. I did surprisingly well with all the walking and sightseeing. We saw royal London the first day after checking in to our amazing hotel room. The second day in London we went to Hampton Court Palace where my friend helped me memorize all of Henry VIII's six wives.

We made it to Paddington station the third day to get to Bath and toured the Roman baths. Bath is a beautiful city and I enjoyed it much more than crowded and massive London. We made it up for church and a Jane Austen tour on Sunday before heading back to Leeds. The only complaint about Bath is the huge hill to get to church. It wore me out and I sat through a lot of the Mass while I recovered.

Amazingly, none of our trains were rerouted and we made all our stops easily. I think that is the only trip I can say this about. Once in Leeds we relaxed a bit and did ordinary daily things and errands Monday and Wednesday while Will worked. On Tuesday we traveled to York, got a tour of the city and the abbey. It was a nice visit and I'm glad some people have been able to make the long trip. Next visitors arrive in less than 4 weeks :-D

On another note, I am entering the third trimester and am now halfway through the hypnobirthing classes. They are very relaxing and comforting. The big "to do" now is to find a way to record Will's voice so I can practice during the time we are apart. The baby is moving all the time now and it is only increasing the anticipation to meet her. Can't wait. In the meantime, I'm happy to give her a safe place to live and grow. Here is what we look like

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year

New Year's was a blast. We all dressed up for a fancy party with a three course (plus coffee) meal and a Queen Tribute Band. I'm not a hardcore fan, so I thought they were good while my brother-in-law had some complaints about the playlist and butchering of one of the harder songs. They may not have been as good as Queen, but it was entertaining. When they finished a dj continued the music well past the new year.

We requested a few salsa songs and I didn't do too bad - big belly and everything. There were a few steps where I was not quite as graceful, but it was fun anyway. Then Sweet Home Alabama came on and I decided someone HAS to line dance to that song. So I started a line dance and Will joined me. It was just the two of us the whole time. I don't think they know line dancing in the UK and someone was so impressed he came up to us and commented on our awesome dance moves :-)

After the party we watched True Lies though I didn't make it very far and I vaguely heard the alarm go off at 3:45am for my in-laws to catch their taxi to the airport for their 6am flight. The next couple days I didn't see much of the morning. Glad we went to Saturday evening mass because I would have missed the Sunday services.

Despite all the fun holiday activities, I have started to realize just how close I am to meeting my lovely daughter. She is getting more and more active and my belly is getting bigger and bigger. I have less than two months in the UK and can't believe I will be flying at 34 1/2 wks along. What I found even more shocking is that Will plans on coming home March 24 after I have reached 38 wks. When did I agree to this? I had a pregnancy moment meltdown and reiterated that I will not see the movie Due Date for fear of Will not flying home in time - someone tell me Robert Downey Jr gets there for the delivery.

I'm glad I didn't dwell on the dates too much when we chose to come because I could make myself sick thinking about what ifs. Will and I followed where we felt God was leading us and whatever happens will be okay. In the meantime, might as well enjoy living here a while longer and hosting many visitors. One comes today in about an hour! So excited :-D