Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Christmas Eve Eve

We're really excited for Christmas this year. With kids around, especially our first baby, it's going to be much more lively than it was with just Pedro and me. We are planning on spending Christmas with the Ebarb family - some really good friends of ours from the US who moved here on Halloween. They have two little boys, aged 5 and 7 and their extreme excitement about everything can be contagious.

My Christmas shopping is pretty much all wrapped up. Isabella is getting a bunch of amazing wooden toys and the doll I made for her. I actually love the way it turned out - sort of The Nightmare Before Christmas meets Little House on the Prairie.



This week Isabella added her new ability to wave to her rapidly growing list of milestones. She also stands up alone, does semi-headstands, and has to point at just about everything. Did I mention that she finally learned to clap her hands when we were in Puerto Rico too? She is so good at mimicking sounds that I'm constantly in awe over what she seems to be understanding.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

We're Back! I'm Back!


We're back from PR. And I'm back as a stay-at-home-mom. Today would have been my first day back to work had I continued employment at my job, so I spent most of the day trying to get over the weird feeling that I was doing something wrong by not being there.

I was working at a bank. It was my first time working for a bank, and it was very different from my usual job experience or what I studied in college. And I hated it. After looking for better paying and more rewarding jobs within the biological and environmental sciences sector, this job had the appeal of good benefits, flexible start date, and well, bank hours. As it turned out, I was spending a lot of time in commuter traffic and very little time with my daughter at the day's end. That's in addition to just about every other reason a parent decides to put the resume on hold and take care of a child. My boss was very annoyed that I terminated after only five weeks, because she had me slated for a higher position that she herself was working extra to cover. I felt terrible to be quitting when I felt I had been given such a good opportunity, and I'm still not quite over that feeling. But at the end of the day, some things are just more important - it's better to know that early in life rather than later.

As for our trip, it was great! We got to see family - most of whom hadn't seen Isabella yet (plus we got to meet new baby Victoria) . But alas, it was WAY too short - we even tried to change our tickets to get a few more days, but the penalties were too high. We got home feeling absolutely wrecked after driving ourselves home on a freezing morning from Heathrow. I will try hard to post more photos and a slideshow, but I can't make any promises. I'm in the process of hurriedly trying to sew a ragdoll for Isabella so that it's done in time for Christmas. So far, I'm really wishing I had a sewing machine.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

In Puerto Rico

Hi everyone! I'm writing a quick, photoless update of where we are and what we're doing. We're in Puerto Rico visiting Pedro's side of the family. I didn't even think Isabella and I would be able to come on account of my job, but here we are! Pedro's parents, Don Willie and Doña Aida celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on Saturday. All of the family flew in for the occasion. They had a formal party, preceded by a bishop-led mass as they renewed their vows. And today, we attended the baptism of our niece, Victoria. Photos of everything will be forthcoming when we get home after the 12th.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

9 Months

look closely and you'll see the tooth!

Sorry about the length of time it has taken us to update this blog. My free time has become my new early bed time. Isabella and I are already out the door and on the road by 7a.m., so our mornings start pretty early. It hasn't been fun, to be honest. In fact, it's been so terrible that I've decided to stay home with Isabella again. I will write more about this when I finish my last week.

She is now 9 months old and FINALLY has cut a tooth. It's the cutest little thing, too. She's got other new skillz too: when I started work four weeks ago, she was crawling army-style. Now, she's crawling at break-neck speeds, can climb a stair, stands up on her own, and I don't think she's far from walking, thanks to Sophie's tutelage. She does really well at Aneta's house, despite my own separation anxiety. Her face lights up when I walk into the door and she squeals with delight. Then, just as quickly, she devotes her attention to Sophie's awesome toys.

I will write more as soon as my schedule opens back up!

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Halloween




Our trick-or-treating only lasted about 15 minutes and mama got some new candy for her stash! Thanks for the photos Aneta and Jeremy!

Work and Childcare

I've gone back to work full-time this week, and for the first time I spent more than four hours away from Isabella. When she was around 3 -months old I worked a couple of nights a week at the village pub across the street, but she was always within arms reach. This is much different.

The early part of the week was so difficult I wanted to quit, but today was my last day of the workweek and it was much better. Isabella goes to the babysitter, my friend Aneta, four days during the week. Then on Saturday, my last day, Pedro is off so he's home with her. My boss granted me extra time on my lunch break so that I can travel the extra five minutes away to continue breastfeeding (they don't have a suitable place for me to express milk at work). That short drive is repetitive and exhausting and I'm very conscious of potentially annoying my co-workers with my longer lunch privilege. They seem to be really supportive - or maybe they're already sick of my yakking about Isabella all day long. Yes, I am one of those parents I never thought I'd be!

Having two working parents in the home takes an enormous amount of added planning. I managed to be really organized last weekend and I cooked and jarred all of Isabella's meals in advance, plus I prepared a couple of our meals for the week and froze them. Aneta was cool with using the cloth diapers, but we abandoned the idea after the first day (we're still using them at home). Once I get into the routine I may try again.

Aneta has an adorable 10-month old of her own, Sophia, and she's teaching Isabella all kinds of new tricks. In fact, after one day with Sophie, Isabella tried climbing the stairs! And her low-crawl has turned into a proper crawl now that she's seen just how it's done.

In other news, I started to wean Isabella from night-feeding two weeks ago. It was AWFUL for the first week but we've come a very long way because she now sleeps consistently through the night. To me, this is a bigger milestone than crawling because it had been months and months since I had gotten six straight hours of sleep. However, she still wakes up around 4 a.m. and once this week she wouldn't go back to bed...

And finally, we celebrated our first Halloween along with the arrival of some very good friends yesterday. I will put up photos and details in my next post.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

The Big Milestone

Yes, Isabella is crawling. It's an army-style low crawl but it's still crawling and she's everywhere!!!

Se esta gateando!!!

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Barefoot Contessa

Through my pregnancy I got addicted to a cooking show called the Barefoot Contessa, whose "celebrity" chef is Ina Garten. Her buttery recipes have inspired many a meal. So imagine my surprise to see her at the same restaurant eating at the table next to us! I was in the middle of trying to put Isabella to sleep when the host seated her, her husband (who is also always on the show) and some of their friends. It took me the whole night to get up the courage to ask her for a photo, and when I finally got it...my eyes turned out to be were closed in the photo. Doh! She and everyone at her table said they loved watching Isabella...but then again, who doesn't?


Here are a couple other larger photos I wanted to share that weren't in the slideshow.

the hotel

a cafe near the Champs-Elysees

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Back from Paris



One month ago we sold our old house in Georgia, ending the year long battle we had with horrible tenants and ensuing problems that turned the house into the money pit. To finally celebrate, we were planning a short day trip down to Amesbury in southern England to see some relatively unknown stone circles. But on a whim Pedro surprised me with Eurostar train tickets to Paris instead! I've been wanting to take a short trip over there since Isabella was born because the speed train from London takes normally only an hour and half and we wouldn't have to deal with the hassle of flying. So with our neighbors watching the dogs, we were off. We had some trouble with seating on the train on the way there, but nothing a glass of champagne wouldn't cure! Our tickets included a full meal plus wine and champagne - it was SO nice. As for the rest of our trip, we had a lot of mishaps that made Pedro swear off ever going back to Paris again (I, on the other hand, hope to go back many times). In short, we visited the Rodin Museum and the Musee d'Orsay. The rest of the time we tried to relax and enjoy the gorgeous Parisian fall weather. I'm working on a brief slideshow so that should be up soon too.

In other news, Isabella turned 8 months old this weekend! To celebrate I bought her several adorable French wooden toys - (whether it was more for her or me, I don't know...) She is incredibly curious about everything and is quite the social little girl. No teeth yet and still not quite crawling. But once again, she was a very good little traveler.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

It's Getting Colder!


I don't have much time to make this post, but I wanted to put up the photo I took of Isabella just before our dog walk yesterday because it made me laugh. Now I'm off to make an apple pie from the windfall of apples my neighbor gave me. I also made some blackberry jam from more berries that I picked when we got back. I'm trying to do some leisurely homey things before I start work at the end of the month!

Thursday, 25 September 2008

The Long Trip



Before we ever flew anywhere with Isabella I was nervous about how she would travel in a confined space surrounded by many people. I have heard about and have been witness to many children having prolonged temper tantrums or wild runs on airplanes. Prior to my trip to the US, we flew twice within Europe with Isabella and she did great. The trip to the US was no exception, even though the day we left she officially started teething, and the day we left for our return journey she was suffering from the tremendous cold that I now have (which, incidentally, is the first illness she's had at all). We had a bulkhead seat and I was able to use the aircraft's bassinet so she could lay down for short spells, which was really nice. The flight attendants were attentive to us, but it still didn't quite make up for the ticketing issue we found out about two days before our departure. (American Airlines made me pay an additional and extortionate $500 just to have her in my lap. Flying domestically, it's $0. They also damaged my stroller and the cup holders were torn off. But enough about that unpleasantness, nobody has a good time with airlines these days anyway.) During the flights, I amazed myself with my one-handed abilities - not only was I able to quickly change her in the tiny airplane bathroom, but I could use it myself while holding her in one arm, prevent her from touching any of the nasty walls that were all within her reach AND wash both hands. Dealing with all my luggage and a baby stroller were quite another matter and I had to ask for help wherever I could get it. To all of the kind strangers who went out of their way to help me - THANK YOU.

In other Isabella news - She's teething but still hasn't cut a tooth. She's been sitting up by herself for a month and a half. She doesn't crawl but instead eyeballs her target, then scoots, rolls, and creeps in for the kill. To my horror, she has an affinity for electrical cords and goes for those first. Her intelligence often catches me off guard because she can predict what will happen in certain games we play. And right now, even though her poor little voice sounds like a smoker's, she is happily chatting away with her new surplus of toys.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Agate Hunting on Lake Superior


On this particular day, my mom, brother Aaron, Isabella, Kaitlyn and I all went down to Lake Superior (Duluth's claim to fame is that it is the largest freshwater port in the world - last I heard anyway).


My family are all avid agate hunters (myself the only exception as I have found maybe three agates in my whole life).


Lake Superior agates are prized for their color and marbling and are found all over the Duluth area.


While they all hunted for agates, Isabella and I enjoyed the beautiful sunny weather on the beach and walked the boardwalk ("lakewalk") down to Leif Erikson Park and rose garden.

I'm working on embedding a photo slideshow soon to show more photos from the trip. Stay tuned.




P.S. This is what an agate looks like.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

We're home!

Isabella and I are finally home from our trip to Minnesota. Although we didn't get to see everybody we were hoping to see, we stayed very busy seeing quite a few other family members and friends. I really wanted to go out to see my sister-in-law Lucy who gave birth to baby Victoria earlier this week! Congratulations to Jerry and Lucy!

Both Isabella and I arrived home in England with terrible colds and we've been trying to recuperate all day, but it's miserable for a nursing mother and a 7-month old - neither of us can take much to relieve the cold symptoms. Other than that, our return journey went really well because we stayed at a hotel in the Minneapolis airport to get some rest before our 6a.m. flight yesterday. Posts about our trip will be forthcoming, including more photos, but I just wanted to post one quick pic before I turn in for the night.

Isabella & her cousin Kaitlyn in my mom's yard

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Early September Fruit


Fall seems to have arrived slightly early in England. The sun in shining, but the air is distinctly crisp and Isabella is back to being bundled up every time we go outside. This afternoon Isabella and I headed out to the hedgerows behind our house to forage for wild, organic blackberries. If I were to buy these in the supermarket, I would easily pay $4 for a punnet half the size of the one in the photo - which I think is a lot of money for that amount. When I did this last year, my pregnant belly kept getting stung by the nettles that are woven amongst the blackberries.



We go to Minnesota on Sunday. I'm so excited finally to be taking her to meet the rest of my family and friends from back home. I haven't been to the US since I moved to the UK over two years ago! I can't wait to go walking through the dense evergreen forests by my grandma's and take her to some of my favorite State Parks. We need to spend as much time outside as we can; I have a feeling we may be in for another dreary winter.

it's harvest time

In other news, I took Isabella to the weekly baby clinic this morning to have her measured and weighed. Though her weight remains in the 50th percentile, as always, she's actually in the 98th percentile for length (weight: 16.5lbs, length: ~28"). I think there's some conditioned thought process connected to those percentiles that makes a parent's ego inflate the higher those numbers are. Never mind that's she's a healthy, happy little baby - 50th percentile just doesn't sound as impressive as 98th! Whoo-hoo! We're doing somethin' right! Actually, it just shows that she's going to be a string-bean like her mother.

Parece que el otoño llegó temprano en Inglaterra. El sol esta brillante, pero el aire esta fresco y necesito aropar bien a Isabella cada vez que salimos. Esta tarde Isabella y yo salimos a los arbustos para buscar zarzamoras detrás de la casa – las zarzamoras son naturales y orgánicas. Si hubiese comprarlas en el supermercado, hubiese pagado, fácilmente, $4 dólares o mas para un cartón pequeño. Cuando las busque el año pasado, me inqué la barriga con las muchas ortigas que estaban tejidas por las zarzamoras. Vamos a Minnesota el domingo que viene. Estoy muy exitada con la anticipación de la visita con mi familia y amigos. Hace dos años que no voy a los EEUU. Vamos a caminar por el bosque al lado de la casa de mi abuela.. Debemos pasar mucho tiempo afuera para disfrutar del otoño allá, porque creo que tendremos un invierno feo este año. En otras noticias, yo llevé Isabella a la clínica a pesarse y medirse. Ahora pesa 16.5 libras, y mide 70cm (casi 28”).

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Toy of 1,000 Laughs

video

I shot this video on our trip. We bought this toy in one of the street markets they have there and Isabella was going crazy laughing at it. What we managed to capture was her winding down, but it still makes me laugh anyway.

Zagreb

going to the museum of Naive Art



enjoying a fountain à la Michael Jackson

one of the many lovely parks

enjoying breakfast


We’re back from our jaunt to Croatia. We had a very nice and relaxing time. Traveling alone on the plane with Isabella proved to be easy and even pleasant. We stayed in a nice hotel connected with Pedro’s work and I even got a much needed massage out of the deal. Isabella and I spent the first two days on our own, wandering around, playing in the botanical garden of Zagreb, and just living life slowly in the warm weather. In fact, the whole trip was a nice change from our old break-neck ways of trying too see everything. In truth, there aren’t very many must-see sights in Zagreb, as all the main attractions are on the coast. We weren’t really sure what to expect from Croatia since the war – I thought it might be a bit seedy, as I’ve heard much of the Balkans are…it was slightly seedy, but the fact that the city has so many parks and green spaces made up for that.

Llegamos de nuestro viaje a Croacia. Lo disfrutamos mucho y tuvimos un tiempo tranquilo. Viajando sola con Isabella en el avión fue fácil y agradable. Quedamos en un hotel conectado con el trabajo de Pedro y yo pude tener un masaje bueno. Isabella y yo pasamos los primeros días paseando, jugando en el parque botanical de la ciudad, viviendo la vida lentamente y disfrutando el tiempo caliente con gusto. En realidad, el viaje entero era un cambio bueno de nuestro costumbre de tener que ver todo rápidamente. La verdad es que no hay muchos citios famosos en Zagreb, ésos estan en la costa. No sabíamos como será Croacia despues de la guerra – oímos que es típico balcanico, con partes viejos y malos – pero como hay muchas parques bonitos y muchos espacios verdes con fuentes estuvo mejor.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Green Mums Article

I finally was able to find the article on "Green Mums" that the Peterborough Evening Telegraph published in early July. You can find it by clicking here. Note that Hannah Gray, the interviewer, Anglicized some of the things I said; some of my Americanisms must have thrown her...

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

6 months old!!!

blueberry super food stains super badly

There are quite a few new things happening with us this week. First, I got a new job which I will be starting at the end of the year. I have just enough time to accustom myself to the idea of working full time and getting childcare in line. The good news about day care is that the facility is only a few minutes from where I'll be working and I can visit Isabella on my lunch break, which will make breastfeeding easier to keep up, not to mention mitigate my separation anxiety. The bad news is that we're on a waiting list to get in, and it could take several months.
she doesn't stay put under here for long

Second, we got our tickets to travel back to the States for two weeks in September. It's been two years since I've been "home" and I am hoping that I can squeeze in visits with as many people as possible. We leave on the 7th - mark your calendars!
still getting the hang of solids - mastered: apple and banana

Third, Pedro is traveling for work again this week and if we can get someone to watch the dogs, Isabella and I will spend a few days in Croatia on Pedro's tail. This will be my first test of traveling alone on a plane with Isabella. Tips and advice on this are most welcome.

Perhaps the biggest news of all is that Isabella is now 6 months old. It's unbelievable to me. There was a woman with a 3 week old at my postnatal class this week, and I kept staring at that tiny baby, unsure of whether Isabella was actually ever that small. So I came home and watched some home videos of her first days, and sure enough - she was. It's amazing that so much growth happens in such a short span of time - we're already needing to start childproofing certain areas. Well, I have to cut off here - Isabella has rolled across the room and is pooping for the first time in two days. You have no idea how happy this makes me!

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

SLEEP


I finally got a little time this evening to update the world on all things Isabella. I hadn't made any posts for a while, largely because I wasn't sure if many people were checking the blog anymore. But, I got a few emails about it this week - so I encourage you to post comments when you can, it motivates me to keep you all posted!

The title of this post is SLEEP, because I could really use some. One routine we haven't mastered is the going down for the night and staying down for at least four hours. Last night, Isabella was up every 2 hours - just like a newborn. Meanwhile, all my friends at my postnatal group boast of how their little ones are sleeping through the night like pros. For the record, a baby "sleeps through the night" when they sleep for at least 6 hours straight. I don't think this has ever happened for us - even once. We never used a pacifier for her, which has been great for everyone but me...because I have become the human pacifier. Many times over, we've suspected that she's teething - but she only pulls this routine at bedtime. What to do, what to do?

I've also started Isabella on solids - we're going very slow with this at the moment because she still really loves and needs her milk. But I've heard that solids will help with the whole sleep thing. The only things she's tried so far are baby rice mixed with breastmilk, and mama's homestyle apricot puree. She seems to really like the whole process of getting fed with a spoon. (I'll post token messy baby face photos soon.) All said, may Isabella and I get the sleep with both badly need tonight.

In other news, Isabella is now 5 months old and three weeks. She doesn't sit up by herself yet, but I got her a second-hand Bumbo and she loves the new and unfettered access to her toes. Her toes, by the way, have become her new day-pacifier and she sucks away at them with wild abandon. As ever, she loves spending times rocking herself on our laps, standing with help, and splashing like crazy in the bath. I got her a baby mirror that thrills her to bits. She has also discovered the joys of petting Tracia (who has, in turn, discovered the joy of a new petter). Every day with this little girl is the most amazing experience I've ever had.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Baby's First Big Trip

feeling marble at Siena's Duomo

We spent a few days in Italy over the weekend to celebrate Pedro's upcoming 33rd birthday. We had a wonderful time in the sun and warmth, and the only real downside to traveling the hassle with transportation (Italians love their strikes almost as much as the French!). Here are a few photos - if you'd like to see all of them, let me know and I'll send you an email with the link to my album at Kodak Gallery. PS - The newspaper article was published yesterday - we'll put up a link or copy up here soon.

Pedro's beard is a new fascination

she loved the colors at our hotel room in Pisa


Pisa's Baptistery


one of those famous landmarks...

strolling in Siena

at the Duomo in Siena

Friday, 27 June 2008

In the News

I got a phone call from a colleague I volunteered with last year at the Peterborough Environment City Trust's Seeding Sustainable Communities Project. The Daily Telegraph is working on a article about "Green Mums" and they'd like to interview me about cloth diapering. It's not too often that a new mother gets recognition in the newspaper! If anything comes of the article, I'll post a link here on the blog.

In other news, Isabella seems fast on her way to becoming mobile, much to my chagrin. I think I'd like her to stay put (and easy) for just a bit longer - but she seems to have other plans. Yesterday, she furiously kicked and wiggled forward in what appeared to be a precursor to crawling (more like inch-worming). She has also started rocking back and forth when sitting on my lap - it's so cute! I've also found an extremely ticklish spot on her tummy that makes her laugh in the most crazy way - I'll try and catch it on video soon. It's interesting though - as soon as I turn on the camera, she turns into Posh Spice and getting her to smile is something else (why smile, when you can Blue Steel?).

Posh Spice

Derek Zoolander and Blue Steel

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Happy, Serious Girlie


Hi, my name is Isabella. See that hideous warning label on the side of my carseat? That's one of my top three things to touch and look at.

This is me showing my knickers to everyone at my friend Kathryn's birthday party. It was so great, I got party overload and passed out in mama's arms shortly after this was taken.

And this is me, enjoying my room and all of my toys on Father's Day morning. I've finally entered a phase when I spend lots of time in my crib blowing bubbles, singing at the top of my lungs, and thinking deep, deep thoughts.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Four Months Old - Happy Father's Day!

Isabella turned four months this week. She had her last round of shots for the next eight months. She did marvelously well and I was able to successfully distract her from all three shots with some toys that I brought along. She forgot the pain within seconds. I, on the other hand, seem to be suffering from the pain of food poisoning - which is strange because we think Pedro got it about three weeks ago. Last night I threw up every fifteen minutes for two hours straight. It was a vivid reminder of my labor with Isabella, in which I vomited every few contractions or so. Sickness in labor was something I had never heard of happening to women before - it seemed a very unfair addition to usual pain of labor. Obviously, it was all more than worth it. Now we have a beautiful and happy four-month-old daughter with whom to celebrate Pedro's first father's day. Enjoy the video!


Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Mom and Danny's Visits

Stonehenge!
braving the rain

my mom, with Danny and Isabellachanging her diaper in Cambridge


outside the houses of parliament in London


at the Texas Embassy restaurant in London

strolling in London

in front of Buckingham Palace

My mom went back home to Minnesota two Saturdays ago. My cousin Danny and his girlfriend flew over from Germany to spend a few days with us while she was here too. So we all hopped on a train into London and stayed in a hotel for two nights before we saw them all off again. We had a wonderful time having family around again and now we're all by our lonesomes again!

The weather here has been weird - some days sunny (yesterday was 84 degrees F), and some days rainy and a bit chilly. We drove through the rain to Stonehenge, saw the site, and pretty much turned back for home right afterwards. I showed my mom as much as I could in the 12 days she was here and we really did have a great time - it was wonderful for her to finally see the baby for the first time.

Now it's back to getting Isabella on a routine. She's been sleeping badly for the last several days, which has been a challenge for us. Tomorrow she has her four month vaccinations - yippee! Can you believe it's been four months?!