Friday, March 29, 2013

Highs, Lows, and Baby Gifts

I apologize for my lack of blogging this week. Now that the cat’s out of the bag, I can freely use morning sickness (aka all-day-long sickness) as an excuse. Thanks for bearing with me. Only 2 more weeks until this first trimester business is behind me! 

It was another week of mostly lounging around the house, staying out of the snow, and watching Friends. Not much blogworthy action going on here. But just for habit’s sake, here are the highs and lows of the week. 

1) Continued blahness. I’m not feeling as sick as I was a few weeks ago, but nausea has been replaced by fatigue and an unbeatable case of laziness. I’m lucky if I can squeeze 2 hours of productivity out of a day. 

2) Winter weather. 
For the majority of the week, the snow/sleet/hail/ice has continued and I’m just so weary of winter. 

1) Sunshine! 
Though the front of the week was dreary and miserable, the past two days have been littered with sunshine. 
It’s amazing how quickly I am willing to forgive the awful weather that Aberdeen brings our way. For the past 2 weeks, I have been so mad at Scotland for putting us through this misery; but after 2 hours of sunny skies, all is forgiven and Scotland is back in my good graces again. I am such a pushover. 

The pups have been soaking up the rays as well, and the nicer weather has led to much longer walks for both dogs.

3) Encouragement from friends and family about our little jelly bean. This week was when we made our big announcement regarding our October arrival and we were overwhelmed and so grateful at the positive feedback we got from everyone.  

4) Baby gifts. My friend Pam crocheted the most adorable highland coo hat for baby. 
I am seriously obsessed and cannot wait to put it to good use. I know what Baby is dressing up as for their first Halloween! 
Also, our friends Diane and Phil have loaned us some very relevant baby books. I can’t wait to read this one on preparing our pups to be baby friendly. 
Our dogs are so sweet and affectionate, but they don’t have too much experience in the baby department, so I’ve been a tad nervous about how they’ll respond to the little one. 
I’m super glad to have this as a resource to prepare us all for living in a dog and baby friendly environment. 

Also, this Owner’s Manual will come in handy. 
Like my dogs, I have limited experience with babies, and therefore I have a slight fear of infants. It’s nice to have books like this to read up on the basics of caring for a newborn. 

Do any of you have any book suggestions that I should be adding to my library?Only 6 1/2 months left to study up!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

March Snapshot: Major Lifestyle Changes

So, I have some pretty big news….Jonathan and I are thrilled to announce that in late October we are expecting a wee bairn to join our Scottish household. 
Six weeks ago we were hit with the knowledge that our lifestyle, future, and hearts were going to be forever changed.
We are still in awe that God has chosen us to be parents, and are working hard to adjust our daily lives to accommodate for this new soul taking over my body. Here’s a glimpse of what my life looks like now that I’m eating, sleeping, and puking for two:   

Reading: What to Expect When You’re Expecting. 
Except I tend to be a bit of hypochondriac, so I try to skip over reading about the various ailments that plague pregnancy. Tell you what- if I feel a weird sensation that I’ve never felt before in my life, I’ll chalk it up to the baby in my belly. No need to anticipate with horror what’s coming my way. 

Watching: Friends reruns. 
I’ve been bedridden for a lot of my first trimester, and Friends is always my go-to comfort TV when I’m feeling bad. Next up: All 7 seasons of Gilmore Girls. 
Listening:  To various songs that’s remind me of my wee bairn. One of my favorites is Blessed by Elton John. I chose this song for my Father/Daughter dance at my wedding, because I felt like my Dad did everything in his power to ensure that I was the most blessed child on the planet. I’m beginning to pray now that God will bless our baby through guiding us to be patient and compassionate parents. 
Listening to this song has always made me emotional, but now it really brings on the waterworks. 

Loathing: Morning Sickness. I am a big ole baby when it comes to being sick to my stomach. I’ve had enough stomach viruses, parasites, and gall bladder issues in the past 5 years to last me the rest of my life, so I’m quite traumatized by nausea. Luckily, the worst of it seemed to come in my 8th week, and now that I’m entering week 10, I seem to be faring much better, and I’m slowly able to add more foods back into my diet

Loving: Being a housewife. I seriously don’t know how pregnant ladies with jobs or small children handle the nausea and exhaustion. I relish in the luxury of my daily nap and super early bed time. 

Missing: Exercise. Before ‘falling pregnant’, I was certain that I would be one of those super healthy and in shape pregnant girls who don’t gain an ounce other than their baby weight. I truly under estimated Morning Sickness, and I’m lucky if I get in a 10 minute cardio routine a few times a week. 

And as for the healthy diet- Puh-lease. I eat whatever looks good, which is generally something coated in cheese. 

So I guess I miss my healthy lifestyle. At first it was fun to laze around the house in my pjs and eat macaroni and cheese for 3 meals a day, but now I just feel gross about it. 
Luckily today I managed 40 minutes of cardio, and a healthy breakfast and lunch. Nevermind the Doritos I had for my afternoon snack… 

Macaroni and Cheese, Queso Dip, Poptarts, Oreos, French Fries, Ruffles, Chocolate Ice Cream, Sugary Cereals, and anything else unhealthy that you can think of. 
Praying: Praising the Lord for blessing us with this pregnancy, and praying for our little jelly bean to continue to develop into a healthy baby. 

Studying:  Our journey to conception was long and painful, which I will undoubtedly share TMI details of in the future. It was fraught with considerable amounts of prayer and the biggest test of faith I have ever endured. During this phase, I spent a lot of time studying the Old Testament and the women who struggled with infertility, each of whom God eventually opened their wombs. I used to meditate over these scriptures and pray them aloud. As soon as I took a positive pregnancy test, I opened my bible back up to those worn, highlighted, and underlined pages and did the same thing, now reading them aloud in praise rather than grief. 
In particular, the story of Hannah always wrenched my heart: “I prayed for this child and the Lord has given me what I asked of him.” 1 Samuel 1:27 

Learning: Grace, both towards myself and others. I feel like as soon as you become pregnant, the uncensored judgments and self righteousness begin. I’ve already stopped frequenting pregnancy forums because of the conflicting information and the inflammatory opinions from opposing view points. It’s worse than political debate, I’m telling you. 

People are strong believers in their own parenting philosophies, and if you don’t agree then you are flat out doing it wrong. It starts in pregnancy: 

Are you seriously considering downhill skiing? Did you just drink a caffeinated soda? I know the risks of eating sushi are miniscule, but why risk it? You’re taking medicine for your nausea? No medicine is 100% safe for the baby. You should just embrace the 24/7 sickness as a healthy sign of pregnancy. 

The truth is, every parent and soon-to-be-parent is just trying to stay afloat, navigating a whole new universe of options, and just praying that the decisions they make will lead to healthy babies who will eventually become well-adjusted adults. I doubt many people make intentionally bad decisions in their pregnancy or while parenting. 

To me, it’s all about what I’m comfortable with. To me, stressing too much about deli meat isn’t healthy for the baby. So I’m trying not to over analyze every decision I make and just go with my instincts. And I’m trying to trust that other pregnant ladies and mothers are going with their instincts as well, even if it goes against my own intuition. So judge me if you want, but just so you know, I’m not sweating it

Snacking: On Clementines. The sour citrus fruit helps to settle my stomach while giving me a healthy dose of vitamins. It’s one of the only healthy foods I can manage so I try to eat one for my morning and evening snacks, you know, as a substitute for sour patch kids. 

Planning: A Gender Reveal party in June while visiting the States for my brother in laws wedding. They don’t do gender scanning in the UK (whole lots of other posts coming your way about the NHS prenatal care…), so I’ll have my bestie (who conveniently happens to be an OBGYN) do my scan in New Orleans, and secretly write the gender down in a sealed envelope, which we will then reveal at a party for our friends and family to celebrate with us. 

Dreaming: Of a beautiful nursery space. Jonathan’s company provides us with a ‘new baby’ shipment from the USA.  We’ll likely have to pick out our nursery d├ęcor before we know the gender, so I’ve been scoping out some lovely gender neutral options. I’m trying to narrow down a theme  and color scheme for now. I really love the concept of a travel theme, but I seriously love woodland creatures, and of course, puppy dogs.  
The cuteness is almost too much. Any other gender neutral ideas?

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Scottish Grocery Experience: Gourmet Potato Chips

Those of you in the US might be aware of the contest Lay’s Potato Chips are currently holding to decide what their new flavor will be. The voting options are Chicken and Waffles, Cheesy Garlic Bread, and Sriracha. 
Not familiar with Sriracha? Neither was I, so I googled it and found it’s a sort of Thai hot sauce, and according to most, it’s blowing the Chicken Waffles and Garlic Bread contingents out of the water. 

America is relatively new to the obscure potato chip flavors game, but Britain has is down to an art. Here in the UK, chips (which are called ‘crisps’) are often a gourmet eating experience. Even when ‘crisps’ aren’t on my grocery list, I’ll usually take a pass down the aisle just to marvel at the complex choices before me.   

You’ve got your standard seafood options, such as Firecracker Lobster and King Prawn Cocktail. 

More of a meat lover? Scotland’s got your taste buds covered with Grilled Steak, Smokey Bacon, Roast Turkey, and Peking Spare Rib. 

They are also into their spices and sauces, so if that’s more your thing you may want to try Paprika, Worchester Sauce, or Texas BBQ.

More of a cheese lover? Forget your standard cheddar; they are all about the fancy cheese in the UK. How about Smoked Monterrey Chili with Goats Cheese? 
Probably my favorite flavor from today’s grocery run was ‘Honey Roast Ham with Cranberry’. 
And just in case you were wondering, they'd be 'wonderful with glass of red'… 

Luckily, if you aren’t into Haggis flavored crisps, there are plenty of standard flavors to choose from as well. 
I'm pretty boring, so I mostly buy ‘salted’ when I’m in the market for chips. 

There are a few American classics as well, including the whole line of Doritos. 
In fact, Aberdeen just started carrying the Cool Ranch kind, so Jonathan and I have been indulging in those while both having flashbacks of childhood summers spent at the ballpark, with only baseball concession stands to sustain us. Those were the days… 

The most exciting find this week were these ‘New’ Ruffles. 
They went perfectly with my 11 dollar block of Velveeta that I used to make queso last night. 

No, we aren’t hurting for chips here in the ‘Deen, but I sure do miss me some Fritos. Come on Aberdeen, make it happen. You know some goat’s cheese flavored Fritos would be heavenly, especially with a nice glass of white wine...

Friday, March 22, 2013

Highs, Lows, and Attitude Adjustments

So, I’m feeling a tad convicted. I received an email yesterday from a lady potentially moving to Aberdeen and wanting the scoop. She said she’d heard some negative things about cost of living, weather, etc, but that I seemed pretty positive and upbeat so she’d like my opinion on things

That's when I started feeling really guilty about my recent attitude. You see, over the past few weeks, I haven’t felt too enamored with the whole ‘living in Scotland’ thing. I’ve been negative and complaining and frustrated over the cultural differences. I’ve been homesick and longing to move into the same neighborhood as my parents. 
To see my best friend’s baby boy grow up. 
To hang out with my brother on weekends. 
To attend crawfish boils and LSU baseball games. 

To just float seamlessly back into a life that requires no effort from me. Where I don’t have to struggle with understanding accents. Where I don’t have to throw a fit at the doctor's office when they suggest Tylenol for my upset stomach. Where I can easily park my car for free at any store or restaurant of my choosing.  Where I can just go to  the grocery store and buy some Easy Mac, for Pete’s sake! Where I know how to navigate the roads, the culture, the expectations, and the relationships.   

This frustration and homesickness that I am feeling is right on cue. The novelty of an ex-pat adventure has worn off and now I’m left to face the facts: I live here. This is home. 

It isn’t that “pinch me, I must be dreaming” fairytale romance that it used to be. It’s just life. It’s just home. 

“See the times are changing, I’m sure of nothing that I know, except this is us, and this is love, and this is where I’m home. In a world that's breaking, where nothing is for keeps, this is us, this is love, and this is where I sleep.” – Emeli Sande 'Where I Sleep'
You know how when you listen to a certain album during a phase of your life, every time you hear it, it transports you back to that frame of mind? Back when I first arrived to Aberdeen, and was head over heels in love with Scotland, I listened to local girl, Emeli Sande, on repeat. 

In an attempt to get back 'that lovin' feeling', I dug out her debut album this past week and have been listening to it constantly while I run my errands. It reminds me that even though I am going through a tough phase right now, I do love this life and this city. 

We have great friends. 
We live in a beautiful country. 
Our dogs thrive here. 

The dairy products are delicious. The crime rate is low. There is history around every turn. The summers are mild and the Fall is spectacular. 
And though it is rare, when the sun shines, it’s nothing short of magical. 

So thank you, Ruth, for reminding me that I am upbeat and positive and that I do give Aberdeen a rave review the majority of the time. So now that my rant is over, let’s get on to this week’s highs and lows. 

1) Still feeling a bit under the weather. This week, I’ve spent enough time in bed to complete seasons 4&5 of Friends, which is only about ½ the amount of time I spent bedridden last week. Each day gets a bit better so I’m just glad I appear to be on the mend! 

2) The winter weather. 
Bleh. This has probably been the worst 2 week span that I’ve experienced in Aberdeen. It’s a windy, freezing, icy mess and I just don’t have the patience to endure it anymore. Though I usually love mild climates, I find myself lately daydreaming of beaches in Mexico. 

Fortunately, the days are at least a bit longer than they were in the height of winter. The sun rises around 6:30 AM and it doesn’t fully set until 7 PM, which is a vast improvement over the 6 hours of daylight we were getting mid-December. I just can’t wait until those ‘warm’ (aka 50 degree) temperatures follow suit. 


1) Feeling better. Though I’m not 100% yet I am so much improved that I have been giving thanks to God constantly. More than anything in my life, I am so thankful for Jonathan and I’s health and I try to never take it for granted. 

2) Book club. Belonging to my very first book club has exceeded all my nerdy expectations. I love having a designated group where I can get my literary geek on. This Month’s book was The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson.   
 The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared
If you haven’t read this comedic historic novel yet, I definitely recommend it. It’s witty and charming and, at times, downright cute.  The plot follows centenarian Allan Karlson on his many adventures, where he brushes shoulders with many of the 20th century’s world leaders and obliviously plays a hand in world changing events. You’d probably like it if you’re a fan of Forrest Gump (and if you aren’t, I don’t think we can be friends). 

Jonathan read it as well and really enjoyed it. I think it’s the sort of book that appeals to both genders and multi-generations, which is a great feature. The lady who recommended the book for our club did so because she, her husband and teenage children all enjoyed it. I think you would too! 

3) Mahjong winning streak. As in, 5 games in a row. 

Seriously. I finally got my mahjong mojo back and it made my week! 

What made your week?