Friday, August 30, 2013

A Diagnosis and a Road Trip

Yesterday morning I was gearing up for Jonathan and I’s week long Scottish road trip when I got a call from my hubby with ‘bad news’. Despite the fact that he had woken up that morning feeling better than he had in days, a doctor called him later that day and stated that he reviewed Jon’s x-ray and thinks he may have identified a fracture after all. He recommended that Jonathan come in for a cast later that day.

We were both taken aback by this, especially since Jonathan firmly believed he was on the mend. The last thing he expected was to be confined to a non-weight bearing cast for a few weeks. It also threw our travel plans into limbo since neither of us wanted to pull the trigger on a week long vacation when Jonathan’s mobility would be seriously impaired. 

He schedule an appointment at 3 PM to have more extensive testing done and we hoped for the best. I brought the dogs to the kennel while he met with the doctor, who confirmed that Jonathan did in fact have a stress fracture in his calcaneous bone (aka heel bone). 
Depending on the severity of the break and it’s positioning, the treatment could range from surgery to resting with a heavy dose of ibuprofen. After a CT scan it was determined that because of the placement of the fracture, there wasn't much to be done. The doctor suggested Jon lay off the running for a few weeks, but other than that should be able to move around as much as was comfortable. 

Finally, with a proper diagnosis, we felt confident leaving town and spent the day meandering on over to the Isle of Skye. We made a few pitstops along the way including a detour at Culloden Battlefield....
…and to take advantage of a photo op with Nessie…
...and to explore Fort Augustus….

...and to take in the splender of Eileen Donan castle...
Once on the island, we still had an hour to kill before we could check into out B&B so we picked up some souveniers at the Isle of Skye Candle Company and headed towards the Fairy Pools for an afternoon hike. Unfortunately, the weather was quite stormy and by the time we reached the car park for the Fairy Pools we were faced with sideways pouring down rain. 
We saw a few people returning from the hike looking sopping wet and miserable so we decided to sadly skip out on this enchanting walk. Later we headed into Portree for some grub at The Granary (HIGHLY recommend…best mussels and scallops EVER!).
But first we stopped to check out the colorful and picturesque Portree Harbor. 

We’re hoping for some sunnier skies tomorrow, though the forecast is for more rain, rain, rain. Weather permitting, we were hoping to ferry it over to the Isle of Harris to check out some of it’s famed beaches and Harris Tweed shops. However, as one who gets violently sea sick, if the water is really rough, we will just have to skip out on that as well, especially since there is plenty on Skye to keep us occupied. Either way, I’ll let you know how it goes. Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Bump Day: 32 Weeks

As I get further and further into my 3rd trimester, I’m having more and more déjà vu from an earlier time in my pregnancy. That’s right, suddenly those pesky 1st trimester symptoms are back, though thankfully not as extreme. I’ve had a couple of bouts of nausea and morning sickness over the past few days, and I’m back to having food aversions and decreased appetite (for anything other than melted cheese, that is). Oh, and I spend the majority of time feeling like I’ve been hit with a tranquilizer dart. 

But other than that, I feel okay. Honestly, the worst symptom I’m currently experiencing is a loss of brain cells. Yep, apparently towards the end of your pregnancy, your brain cells start dying off leading to what’s popularly referred to as ‘mommy brain’. Basically this condition results in a lack of short term memory and just a general sense of mental fog. I’ve got it bad.   

Sometimes I seriously can’t follow through on a complex thought and it is getting really frustrating. I’m going to have to do a better job of being organized and writing things down, because I’m just not able to keep my head on straight these days. I just feel like an absolute airhead recently and I apologize if I come across that way in my writing. 

But there are plenty of typical pregnancy symptoms that I’ve been really fortunate to skip out on, at least so far. I haven’t had much swelling, stretch marks or varicose veins. I don’t have gestational diabetes, placenta previa, low fluid, or a myriad of other conditions that could have complicated my pregnancy and put me on bed rest. So I can deal with a bit of nausea, fatigue, and ditziness and actually be grateful that, so far, that seems to be the worst of it. 
I’ve got 2 months to go until the due date and I’m starting to feel some pressure to get things in line. Once the baby is here, there will be a lot of paperwork to be filed in order to get his US citizenship established and get his baby travel documents in order. Plus, I still need to order a glider/rocker for the nursery.  Oh, and it would be nice if we could figure out a name for our little fellow. We are teetering back and forth between Asher, Forest, and Ian, but still aren’t ready to rule out Ezra or Harris. 

We have our last little vacay planned for next week so when we get back it will be crunch time for sure. I can’t believe that in *5 weeks* our little guy will be full term and totally within his rights to enter the world. For now, he’s safe and sound in my bump and looks a bit like this:


Monday, August 26, 2013

Experimenting with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

Since we live in a rental property, the walls in our house a neutral yellowish white. This includes the room which is going to be our baby’s nursery. It’s not ideal, but since we can’t paint, we have to make due. We decided that since the walls were off limits, we’d have to bring in color in other ways. 

Now, there is something you should know about me: I love painted furniture. 

At my core, my home style is shabby chic, French country, and English cottage. I shop for furniture the way other girls shop for shoes. It’s my 'thing'. Naturally, I want my nursery to reflect this aesthetic which is quite challenging when living in a country of modern IKEA-esque sensibilities. 
The bulk of our nursery furniture (shipped from the states) is painted in a nice French grey, but we ordered some other less expensive pieces to fill in for things that wouldn’t fit into our baby shipment. Namely, a wardrobe to act as our baby’s closest and nesting tables to put near the glider for a lamp and table space for mommy items during those late night feedings. 

We got the nesting tables first and since they came in a not-to-my-taste fake pine finish, I decided to experiment with painting them. If they came out decently, I’d try to tackle our white laminate wardrobe that we bought for about 90 bucks from IKEA. 

Since we don’t actually have our nursery furniture in possession, and neither of us have actually seen it in person, we tried to visualize which colors would go best. I alternated between a robin’s egg blue, a deep (manly) lavender, and trying to match the grey of the rest of the furniture. 

At first I started researching how to paint laminate furniture and it seemed to be quite labor intensive. I felt a bit intimidated by the sanding, priming, painting, waxing , and staining that would be needed to transform my 40 dollar tables. And then I stumbled upon some info for Annie Sloan chalk paint. 
Apparently, this stuff was magical. No sanding or priming required, no matter what the surface. Just grab a can and paint away. I read article after article and watched You Tube video after You Tube video and I have to admit that it seemed fool proof, even for a crafting imbecile like myself.

The paint is kind of pricey but when you factor in the fact that there is no sanding or priming and that the thickness of the paint itself makes it go a long way, it seemed like a more economical decision in the end. Plus, the color options were spot on to what I was looking for. 
When Jonathan headed off to Thailand for a business trip, I headed to Rustiques in Banchory to buy my Annie Sloan painting supplies. I bought 3 ‘sample pots’ for about 7 bucks a pop in Old White, French Linen and Provence. 
I bought one full sized can in Emile (aka ‘manly lavender’) because I figured I could use the leftover paint to give my vanity a makeover in my favorite color. 
I also bought a can of clear wax for finishing and a wax brush for wax application. The total for all the materials came to 75 dollars or so, but the brush alone cost about 48 so that was a big chunk of the price.
I figured I’d paint each of the 3 nesting tables in the different colors and then choose which one I wanted for the wardrobe.  I started with the ‘French Linen’ thinking that it might closely match the other nursery pieces close enough not to clash. Assured by the interwebs that I did not need to sand at all, I just went for it, covering the middle sized nesting table with a coat of paint. 
I’d read that it would dry within 20-30 minutes, at which point I could lather on another coat. However, an hour went by and there were still patchy wet spots on the table top surface. 
Eventually, after over an hour, it completely dried, and I was able to put a second coat, which seemed to do the trick. Then it was on to the waxing phase. Here you apply a thin layer of clear wax onto the paint and then buff it off with a lint-free cloth. I paid about 48 bucks for the Annie Sloan wax brush because I wanted to get this step right. 

I was told to soak the brush in water for at least 8 hours to get some of the hair bristles to come loose before applying the wax. Otherwise, I could expect to end up with shed hairs all over my project. Well, I did everything I was told but still ended up with shedding hairs throughout the table which I then had to meticulously pick out. And then, when I tried to buff the wax off, suddenly the paint was coming off with it onto the rag. 
Now, if I was going for a rustic finish (which is really where this paint excels), a little distressing wouldn’t have been a bad thing. However, since everything in Europe seems to be modular and modern, shabby chic just doesn’t work as well. I reread the articles and re-watched the ‘you tube’ videos and tried to learn from my mistakes before starting on the tiniest table in a fabulous teal green color. 

I slapped on three coats of paint, but still had some setbacks with the table top refusing to dry uniformly. 
I figured it might be the result of bad brush quality so I headed to B&Q in search of a non-acrylic brush. It was pretty slim pickings and I still couldn’t find a high quality instrument to paint with. Annie Sloan sells her own paint brushes which are quite pricey but seem to get the job done. Since I didn’t feel like making the 45 minute drive out to Banchory, I decided to make due with what I already had. 

I was extra careful and meticulous as I started to pain the largest table, especially since I was painting it with ‘Emile’, the color I was leaning towards for the large wardrobe piece. Despite the assurance that it was unnecessary, I decided to sand it down a little first, just to give it a rougher texture for the paint to grip on to. I cautiously painted on 3 coats and the color was fabulous; the manliest lavender I ever did see. 
I also was super careful during the waxing phase, though bits of paint still came off onto the rag. It came out the best of the three tables, though it still shows uneven brush strokes and isn’t as polished of a finish as I wanted. Still, that’s likely the brush’s fault and not Annie Sloan’s lovely paint. 

So while I wouldn’t call it ‘fool proof’ and I’m not totally drinking the Annie Sloan Kool-aid, I will say that it had several perks: 

1) It’s water based which means it washes off of your hands, brushes, clothes, and floors easy breezy. I tend to be a bit messy so this was a big plus for me.  

2) No odor and non-toxic. For pregnancy painting, this is the way to go. 

3) The color selection. If you’re like me and into an old European aesthetic, the color pallet is perfection. Plus, you can get Annie Sloan’s color combo book which will give you formulas for a whole slew of other colors that can be achieved by mixing the one’s already in existence. 
4) No sanding or priming. Even though I felt like my tables came out a little better when I sanded them before hand, I definitely didn’t have to do anything rigorous. And plus, the set of 3 tables was about $40 bucks from Argos so we aren’t talking high quality materials here. 

5) It will paint any surface from metal to wood and from tile to fabric. 

6) For distressing and creating that shabby chic look, most furniture refinishers swear by this paint. I was going for more of a polished look just because the pieces themselves were very angular, so I think that type of finish in general is less forgiving, especially of beginners. 

However, despite it not coming out exactly as I envisioned, I still really enjoyed the process and can see myself getting into refinishing furniture at some point in my life. Maybe when I have a house that’s big enough to at least fit a 3 seater sofa? Now is certainly not that chapter in my life. But I really do think that it’s something I would enjoy and could eventually be good at, and Annie Sloan’s chalk paint is certainly a product that I would use again and again. 

I’m still a bit wary of painting the wardrobe just because it is so uber modern, but I do think it would look better in manly lavender than it does in stark white. 
Have you ever attempted to refinish a piece of furniture? How did it turn out?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Highs, Lows and Pregnancy Meltdowns

It’s been a long and tiring couple of weeks, but I finally feel like I’m getting back into some sort of routine and normalcy. Since I’ve been fairly absent from the blogosphere, I figure the best way to fill you in on what’s been happening lately is to outline it in the usual ‘highs and lows’ format. 

1) Jonathan’s ‘mystery ankle illness’. We’ve met with 3 different doctors and have received 3 different diagnoses. First it was gout. Then it was a stress fracture in the navicular foot bone. Yesterday we  returned from a 3 hour trip to the ER with a ‘plantar fasciitis’ verdict. 

Jonathan is going to ask for a referral on Monday to get a CT scan to double check for a fracture, since often times an X-ray can miss a subtle break. Either way, it makes more sense that he would be suffering from a sports injury than from gout. 

If it’s PF, he should see some improvement after 2 weeks of rest, but a stress fracture would require 6-8 weeks of no weight bearing. Either way, I really hope Jonathan is healed before I go into labor. We’re debating cancelling our trip to the Isle of Skye this weekend, which has me on the major bummer elevator going down. 

2)Being hormonal and emotional. After the past 2-3 weeks, I think I have a grasp of what it must feel like to be bipolar. I’ll have a few days where I feel super energetic and excited about the future. I’m putting things on the social calendar and am enthusiastic about nesting and household chores. But then, I’ll have a few days where I lack the energy to get out of bed. Days when the thought of taking the dogs for a walk and taking a shower feel like insurmountable obstacles. I get overwhelmed by the smallest things. 

Unfortunately, Jon’s ankle incident occurred during one of my ‘no energy’ phases and it led to a lot of ugliness, selfishness, and frustration on my part. I’m praying constantly that God bless me with a servant’s heart. It will take a miracle because it’s simply not in my nature.  I’m usually of the mindset of ‘Make yourself at home’ and, ‘You take care of you and I’ll take care of myself.’ 

And in the home stretch of my pregnancy I just want so badly to be able to rely on someone else. To need someone. To be taken care of. To delegate some of my responsibilities.  That’s so unlike my normal personality but at times I feel like I am drowning in exhaustion and I can’t possibly make it up the stairs to feed the dogs or put on my own stretch mark lotion or make dinner and clean the kitchen afterward. 

I’m just really hoping and praying that Jonathan is 100% by the baby’s birth day because taking care of the house, 2 dogs, and a crippled husband would be so much harder with a newborn added to the mix. Thank goodness my mom is coming in October to help us out a bit. I don’t know that I could survive it without her. 

Also, Jonathan has been really encouraging me to get a maid to help out for the first few months. If any Aberdonians have a good recommendation for a house keeper, shoot me an email please! 

3) My computer crashing. We had to pay about 200 bucks to recover the pictures from our hard drive, and another 200 bucks to get a new hard-drive put in. In the meantime, I was without a computer for a week and a half which felt so disorienting. First world problem? 

4) Being sick. I haven’t felt all that crummy, but with the lack of sleep and elevated stress, these annoying cold symptoms just keep on lingering. Other than the sinus headaches, the worst part is feeling like I snorted wasabi. At times, my nasal cavitiy feels like it’s on fire. Ouch. 

Alright, that’s enough negativity for today. Let’s move on to the highs of the week. 


1) I received an invitation to my own baby shower in the mail yesterday. It is such a super cute invite and absolutely perfect for our nursery theme. 
I’m so fortunate to have such sweet and thoughtful friends in Aberdeen. Thanks for hosting and organizing, Jillian! 

2)Mahjong. As summer winds down and school starts up, most of our mahjong group is back in town. It’s great to catch up with everyone and also to play a bit of mahjong. I think baby boy is seriously lucky, because I’m on a fairly decent winning streak. 
I hope his luck transfers to LSU’s football season. Even if he’s 12 days late (the max they allow in Aberdeen) he will still be here before the BAMA game, and you better believe he will be decked out in purple and gold from head to toe. 

3) A new dryer. 
I told our landlords that our dryer heat settings weren’t working (it was stuck on high heat) and instead of sending someone around to repair it, they just sent over a new one.  Now I can start washing those adorable purple and gold baby clothes to put into our new wardrobe. 

4) Getting an update on our baby shipment. It was packed up on August 1 and is expected to arrive in Aberdeen on September 13. I’d love to have the nursery set up in plenty of time for baby boy’s arrival. 

5) I passed my UK Driving Theory Test. 
For Americans living in the UK, you basically have to go through driver’s ed again to get your UK driver’s license. Right now, I have the UK equivalent of a learner’s permit, though technically, I’m still insured to drive with my American license (Sorta. I plan on expounding on this is a separate post.). To get your UK license, you have to pass a written test (the theory) and once you’ve done that, you can sign up for your driving test (the practical). 

I’ve scheduled my practical for the second week of October, which is tantalizingly close to my due date, but it was the soonest available option. The fail rate for this exam is about 50% so I’ll be taking driving lessons to help prepare me. I really hope I pass it the first time around, because I seriously doubt that I’ll have much time to devote to driving lessons once the baby is here. 

6) Book club recommendations! My favorite part of being the ‘leader’ of our book club is that when it comes time to pick a new reading list, everyone emails me their suggestions, which I then get to research and compile into a voting survey. This past week, the recommendations have been flooding in and I feel like I’m privy to this secret world of great untapped books. 

I’ve already purchased quite a few on my kindle. I was so intrigued by this book, that I couldn’t possibly wait until the book club vote to dive in.
 The Glass Castle
I’m also pretty eager to give this one a test drive. 
 Of Bees and Mist
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. I've gotten so many great suggestions already and I can't wait to see which ones our group decides to read. 

What about you? What books would you recommend for book club? We’re especially off balanced with genres (top heavy with historical fiction and memoirs) and need a few more titles to round out our Fanatsy/Sci-Fi/Dystopia and Mystery/Thriller/Horror voting lists. We always do a ‘scary’ book for October and since I’m a big scaredy cat, I’m at a loss for what to suggest.  Any ideas? 

Well that’s enough about me for today. Any highs and lows you’d like to share? 

Hopefully this week I’ll get back into the habit of regular blogging. That is, until we (hopefully) leave for western Scotland this weekend. But don’t worry, you can book I will be taking lots of pictures and notes to share with you about our baby moon Scottish road trip. Eeek! I can’t wait. Please pray for Jonathan to feel better real soon so that we can get out of the car a bit a see some fairy pools!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Bump Day: 31 weeks (and a day)

It’s been a pretty rough couple of weeks in our household. It started with Jonathan being on a 10 day business trip to Thailand, from which he returned with some South East Asian version of the common cold. As soon as he was semi-recovered, it was my turn to deal with a runny nose, hacking cough, and migraine-esque sinus headaches. 

And if that weren’t enough, in the midst of the worst of my symptoms, Jonathan was struck down by a mysterious ankle injury. He doesn’t remember any trauma occurring, just that suddenly his ankle was causing him some of the worst pain of his life. He’s been laid up for 3 days now, and after a strict regimen of steroids and prescription strength anti-inflammatories, his pain is finally manageable, though the culprit is still a mystery. 

On Tuesday, when he first saw the orthopedic doctor, the doctor thought it might be gout. It was really the only thing that fit with his symptoms. However, all of his tests came back normal. He went back today for further consultation and blood tests, and he’ll have some MRI/X-rays if it’s still bothering him by Monday. The doctor is totally stumped. It’s like an episode of House over here. Let’s just hope it isn’t Lupus… (sorry, inside House joke).  
Please please please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. I know he is in pain and I also know how frustrating it can be to not have an answer or diagnosis for what you’re going through. Please pray for the doctor to have discernment and an effective treatment regimen to get Jon back to his healthy self. At 31 weeks pregnant, I really need him to be 100%, especially since we have our big Scotland trip planned for the end of next week. I would so hate to cancel, but I can’t imagine it would be much fun if Jon has a useless ankle. Anyway, back to me… 

Long story short, taking a weekly Bump picture has been pretty low on the totem pole of surviving this week, which is why I’m a little behind. Jonathan managed to hobble outside this afternoon and was able to take some shots of the bump against the side of the house, though making it up the stairs into the garden was out of the question.

At 31 weeks pregnant I am hitting a wall. I’m tired and lazy and emotional. That could be the head cold talking though... who knows? It hasn’t been the easiest week of my pregnancy, that’s for sure. But baby boy is growing and wiggling, constantly giving me little jabs in the ribs to let me know that he is doing just fine. 

I think God is using this time as ‘mommy training’, teaching me how to push through my own tiredness and physical discomfort for the sake of my family. I haven’t handled it with the most grace in the world, but I’m praying that the Lord would help me put aside my selfishness and resentment to focus outside of myself. It’s much harder than it sounds, especially when sleep deprivation and raging hormones come into play. 

No, it hasn’t been the easiest week of my pregnancy, that’s for stinkin' sure. Hence the tired look in my eyes in the pics this week... Here you go: