Monday, September 30, 2013

Baby Shower

Baby showers aren’t the cultural standard in the UK that they are in the US. When the Duchess of Cambridge was thrown a shower for the royal babe, people here snickered about the tackiness of making ‘such a fuss’.  However, the trend is growing here and there are actually chances to make baby ‘wish lists’ at certain stores, which act as a type of registry for people wanting to buy you a gift. 

Fortunately for me, many of my friends are American, so they understand that a baby can’t be born into the world without throwing his or her momma a shower first. In fact, when I announced my pregnancy to my friends, I think Jill’s first reaction was ‘Yes! I can finally throw a friend a baby shower!’  Well, throw me a baby shower she certainly did. 

I can honestly say that it was the best shower I’ve ever been to, and when I was polling people as they left, they all said the same thing. Best. Shower. Ever. The details were personal. The decorations were adorable. The food was delicious. The presents were both precious and practical. But most importantly, I was surrounded by an amazing group of women and I was just so honored that they all took the time out to come and celebrate our baby boy. 

I walked away feeling beyond blessed and loved and just so grateful that God brought us here to Aberdeen where we could be surrounded by such great friends.  Being pregnant has been one of the most homesick-ladden experiences of my life. I often whimper and pout about wanting my Mom and the comforts and conveniences of America.  Having so many friends to support us at this time makes Baby Boy’s imminent arrival much less scary and lonesome. 

But about those shower details, decorations, yummy treats and gifts… 

Details: Not only are my friends super thoughtful, they are also mind-blowingly creative. As someone who lacks this particular talent, I have developed quite the appreciation for those who can make Pinterest ideas come to life. (Those who can, do; Those who can’t, Pin.) 

There were three different stations set up in Jill’s living room for party guests to participate in. One was an iron-on onsie making station in which Pam had supplied several iron on pictures that suited me and Jonathan personally. 

There were several travel themed options, including our hot air balloon and cloud nursery motif. Also, knowing my love for woodland creatures, there were plenty of adorable forest friends available as well as my much beloved Scottish farm animals. 

Other options were Louisiana license plates, and flag ties. Baby now has onsies with the Union Jack, Scottish, and American flags.
Our global tot will be mighty confused about his citizenship.  

The next station was stocked with newborn diapers in which my friends wrote encouraging and funny messages on the bum. That way, when I’m delirious from lack of sleep and weary about changing yet another dirty diaper, I will see these notes from my buddies and have a smile. 

 I just love this idea!! 

And then there was the calendar in which people guessed which day I’d "Pop" and what he would weigh. 

Most people predicted he’d be born before his due date, and most predicted he’d also weigh under 8 lbs. They are probably right about his weight being lower. We had an ultrasound over the weekend and it’s predicting him to be quite a runt. If he makes it to his due date, 6.5 lbs would be about the top of we’d expect. More on this experience later… 

My own prediction was October 13 with 6 lb 11 oz as his predicted weight. He better hit a growth spurt soon if I want to win the pot! Eileen’s prediction of 6 lb 2 oz might be more accurate. 
We will see! 

The d├ęcor: Nary did a lot of personal crafting to help with the decorations. This included a pastel streamer banner, hand crafted balloon pop ups, and plenty of bunting. 

It may have been tacky of me, but I stole all of these decorations to help decorate the white walls in our nursery. Also, the girls had set up a mini-hot air balloon with a basket and enormous balloon. 

I thought it would be a fantastic prop for baby boy’s newborn photo shoot so they gave me the extra supplies so that I can recreate the idea for his first pictures.   

Food: Wanting to make me feel ‘at home’ Jill and company made sure to have some Cajun dishes on the menu, including jambalaya and bar-b-que shrimp.

They also recruited Falene to make her famous gluten free sugar cookies, which should technically be illegal, they are that good. I honestly have zero self control over myself when these are in the room. To make matters worse, she cut them into hot air balloons and iced them with deliciously adorable pastel icing. 
I’ve eaten about 3 a day since the party last Thursday. I finally finished off the last one with breakfast this morning. In my defense, I’m trying to beef up our baby boy! Gotta get him up to 6 lbs 11 oz by October 13 and sugar cookies are surely the healthiest way to go about that! 

There were also salted confetti chocolate chip cookies made by Nary and brownie bites as well, along with plenty of nibbles to graze on throughout the night. 

Jillian packed me plenty of leftovers so I could share the goodness with Jonathan. 

Gifts: We were truly showered with gifts. I couldn’t possibly list everything we got, but once again, I was just so honored that our friends were so thoughtful and considerate in getting presents for us. Baby boy wasn’t the only one to get presents. I received plenty of items to help me with recovery and breast-feeding. My friend Kristal even threw in a Snickers Bar for quick energy before/during/after labor. 

They know me so well! And one of the biggest hits of the party was a combined gift from Julia, Falene and Erin who got Jonathan a ‘Diaper Dude’. 
It’s a diaper bag designed specifically for men. Such a great idea for when Jon is on baby-sitting duty. It’s a black pin-striped messenger bag and on the inside it contains a checklist of all the things a dad needs to remember to pack before an outing. We all had a good laugh over the fact that ‘Baby’ was included on the list.
Of course, most of the gifts were for baby boy and ranged from adorable clothing to activity mats;  teething toys to books. 

I was mighty excited to see this folding changing table set up in Jillian’s house. 
I mentioned to her that we found this item at ikea and thought it would be great to keep downstairs so that we weren’t traipsing up and down the stairs every time baby needed a diaper change. She and a few other friends went in together to make sure I got this item off my wish list and they also stocked it full of little knick knacks like muslin squares and baby slippers and stroller toys and baby books and so many things other ingenious things that my pregnant brain could never possibly recount in a million years. 
I already have it set up in our sitting area downstairs. And the best part is that it folds flat so it’s easy to put in our downstairs closet or in a corner somewhere if we want it out of the way. When you live in Scotland, storage solutions like this are a must! 

Well, I think that’s enough bragging on my awesome friends for the day. Time to get crackin' on those thank you notes! Until then THANK YOU to all of my friends who attended and/or sent gifts. You are all blessings in our lives and I thank God for you all the time. 

 All pictures courtesy of Nary and Jillian.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Indian Summer

Last week I posted about the end of summer and beginning of Fall. Well, summer sure showed me that she isn’t quite over yet and on Sunday and Monday we were given one final gift of cloudless skies and temperatures in the 70s. 
I definitely took advantage of the weather on both days and spent a big chunk of time just enjoying the great outdoors. 

Jonathan and I realized that this past weekend was probably our last opportunity before baby to get comfortably far away from Aberdeen for a hike. I chose a 4.5 mile circular forest hike near Ballater which took in the geological formation of Burn O Vat. I’ve been hearing the praises of Burn O Vat ever since moving to Aberdeen, but Jon and I had never gotten around to visiting. 
Basically, it’s a bowl like structure with steep cliff faces on all sides. 
You enter through a little rocky passageway which was very Chronicles of Narnia/Bridge to Teribithia- esque. #ireadtoomanyyoungadultnovels  #speakingofhashtags: 
Anyway...sorry about my tangent-running brain these days. It is out of control....

Burn O Vat was right at the beginning of our hike, so it’s really easily accessible from the parking lot and visitor center (which contains free restrooms- Holla!). We didn’t realize before we set out that there are several different hikes starting from the parking lot, one of which encircles Loch Kinord. 

I love me some lochs on sunny days, so I was bummed that I had picked a forest route instead. However, our uphill hike included some pretty fantastic views of the lake and our trek through the woods included many wildlife sightings including deer and quite a number of toads. 
This was exciting to us because up til this point in Scotland, we had yet to see any frogs or toads. This summer has been freakishly warm by Scottish standards so it’s nice to see a bit of amphibian and reptilian wildlife roaming around. Other than that, it was your typical stroll through a peaceful, fairy-tale woodland setting. Nothing too out of the ordinary. 

On Monday, Nary and I decided to take advantage of the brilliant weather and headed to Johnston Gardens and Hazlehead park for my maternity photo shoot. We had originally planned to head to the beach for photos, but ever since the leaves around here started turning orange, I had my heart set on a fall foliage backdrop. 
Photo by Nary
I was a tad warm in my ‘fall’ outfits but with a crisp breeze, I was still comfortable. Plus, true models never complain about being dressed in weather-inappropriate gear. As fate would have it, Monday was also a bank holiday for Aberdonians so Hazlehead park was full of park-goers enjoying this potentially last day of summer.
photo by Nary
By Tuesday, the rain and fog rolled in and stayed around through Wednesday afternoon. Yesterday morning was back to being brilliantly sunny, but with a chilly bite in the air. In fact, the morning temps got down to 36 degrees! I pulled out my ear muffs for Bailey’s walkand stopped to take a few pictures of the ever increasing fall colors along our usual trail. 
This time of year, orange always takes the lead as my favorite color. Hence our stylistic stroller choice. 
Ready to hit the trails in the BOB with baby boy!
A lot has happened this week, including my *baby shower* last night. I will tell you all about it in the days to come, but suffice to say that every detail was Pinterest worthy and I quite possibly have the best friends in the universe. 
Photos by Jillian

Can't wait to share the details, so stay tuned!