25 in 25

Today I turn 25, so today I’ve made 25 goals I’d love to accomplish by my birthday next year. Kinda like New Years Resolutions, but different because I think I’ll actually pay attention to them if it’s associated with one of my favorite days of the year. Not that I don’t like a new year, I mean who doesn’t like a new year, but honestly? It’s mostly just like any other day. Except there’s a grotesque amount of football, and people who would never otherwise eat black eyed peas sit down and eat mounds of black eyed peas. Seriously, if you want black eyed peas for New Years Day, don’t try to purchase them the week before because THEY WON’T BE THERE. All of the people will have bought them all up. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

So here we go.

1. Focus

I’m sure plenty of people have this as a goal, but ever since I got pregnant with Nolan, my ability to focus has been so off. I would love to be able to sit down, read an article, and be able to accurately articulate what I just read. I’m already on the road to success in this (and it’s about DANG time) but by the time I’m 26 I’d love to be able to say, “YES! I feel confident that I could pass a third grade reading comprehension quiz!”

2. Strengthen my body

The token “workout more” goal. You all called it, you know you did. I’m not crazy-awesome like the people who run half-marathons when they’re 35-weeks pregnant. I’m more the, “Babe…? Babe, I can’t move…could you bring the wine in here?” sorta person. But I do want to be the mom who runs around at the park with her ten year old BECAUSE SHE CAN. Honestly I’ll probably be the mom who sits on the bench with a book while her kids run around, but I’d like the option. I’d also like to be the mom who lives until she’s like a million years old because she’s just so darn healthy. And I’d like to be the mom who looks pretty darn good in her kids’ wedding photos. And none of that is going to happen if I don’t get kicking. However long-term goals can be hard to work toward (especially those that are like thirty years in the future…) so I’m going to make some short term goals that actually mean something to me in order to get my butt moving.

3. Have grace for the process

Here’s the thing: I know myself. And I’m probably going to get done with this list and expect everything to be accomplished/very near accomplished by next Thursday, then I’m going to get frustrated when it’s not. So here’s my goal: don’t do that. Allow myself the process of growth and expansion and failure and persistence.

4. Morning teeth brushing

Don’t you wrinkle up your nose like that, I know you have your own dirty hygiene secrets! Truth is, as a kid I HATED brushing my teeth. I have this whole theory about why that is, but I won’t bore you more than I have already. So brushing my teeth in the morning never really sunk in as a normal thing that people do all the time. I make it happen maybe 20% of the time. I know that’s disgusting and my dentist is probably going to hate my forever and yada yada yada. Since this is probably something I should be able to handle as a 25 year old adult, it’s just gonna happen. Mostly as a pride thing, because I said it’s going to.

5. Don Quixote

This book is sitting on my bedside table. A couple years ago I could have plowed through that puppy in a week and a half, but today my free time looks a little totally and completely different, and is not conducive to such things. I’m setting my goal for a year and praying I can make it happen.

6. French

It’s been a big goal for a long time for me to get my French to where I want it to be, but I think this really should happen this year. What little I know was really helpful to us when we were in Belgium, and I’d like it to be much more functional than it is. So all French-Americans should be very afraid…I’m coming for you.

7. Make some new friends

I love my friends. I love who they are and what our friendships are like and that there are like maybe ten of them. Maybe. It’s a happy comfort zone for me. But the past year has brought a lot of changes for us, and we’re in a place now where I really ought to put some effort forth into some new friendships. THIS IS SO HARD FOR ME! People and relationships scare me so badly, but here we go…gonna make some new friends…

8. Make space

This post.

9. Be hospitable

This goes along with the friends thing. Our house has been in renovation mode for a very long time. Like…since we purchased it nearly two years ago. So we’ve been hesitant to have people over, and usually it’s just easier not to. But part of our culture is sharing our homes and our lives with other people, and we might always live in a renovation and that’s just part of our home and our life, so people get to see that now.

10. Rein in the sweet tooth

It’s no lie, I have a sweet tooth to the point where it’s an issue. While I’ve helped myself not at all today by making a carrot cake mostly for me, myself, and I, a year from now I would like to have a better appreciation for the more savory things in life.

11. Learn how to thrift for clothes

More on this forthcoming, but I’m kinda a master thrifter. I’ve found some pretty fantastic thrifting gems, and I’m sorta proud of them. However when it comes to thrifting for clothes, particularly for myself, I get incredibly overwhelmed. Every hanger holds a different item than the hanger in front of it. And I’m different sizes in different brands, so which size should I look through? All of them? Because ain’t nobody got time for that, cowboy. And what do I really need anyway? Not that, not that, not that…what does the word “need” mean? Definitely don’t need *that*. THAT. I need that. [Tries it on.] Guess I don’t actually need that at all. So I just spent twenty-five brainless minutes and found absolutely nothing. DO YOU SEE MY DILEMMA? However. Thrifting for clothes tends to be less expensive, it’s good recycling, and anything that’s been treated with any chemical goodness has been basically cleansed completely by repeated washings from the previous wearer so my baby won’t lose IQ points from my clothes. So in my mind that’s three good reasons to conquer the wave of nausea that overcomes me in the Goodwill clothes section and learn a new skill.

12. Create a greener/cleaner home

Honestly, we’re pretty crunchy around here already, but there are a lot of things I could do to lighten up our body burden. See, told you…we discuss body burden at our house: crunchy. We feel pretty strongly about being moderate in all things, so we’re not planning on starting a hippie commune on Whidbey Island where we grow our own cotton and don’t use shampoo (no offense, hippies), that’s just not our style, but I probably shouldn’t be super adamant about organic vegetables and grass-fed beef, then go use my aerosol hairspray nearly everyday.

13. Photo project

I’m terrible at documenting our lives. I feel like I’m putting people out by saying, “Okay, time to get a picture!” Then everyone has to stop what they’re doing and go get set up for a picture, or turn toward the light so I can get a decent “candid” shot, or feel uncomfortable because they think they’re having a bad hair day, or anything of the sort. Honestly, I just don’t like all that business. But it means that I miss out on getting photos of some really special times that we have, and I’m tired of missing out on those things, so I’m going to be *that* person and get tons of pictures all the time of everything. One picture a day for the next year. *That* person.

14. Birthdays

I freaking love birthdays. I love that everybody gets a day every year where the rest of us get to celebrate that they are alive and that they are part of our lives, however big or small. I love how you can see adults faces light up when the birthday cake and candles come out, just like when they were little kids. I love how people come out of the woodwork to make you feel special, just for that one day. Before Nolan was born I basically made it my mission in life to make sure that everybody’s birthday was thoroughly remembered and celebrated to the full extent I could manage myself. Since Nolan’s been born, I’ve found it SO difficult! It’s not that I don’t care about anybody else…I do, I really really do. It’s not that I can’t plan ahead…I make meal plans every week. Somehow I’m going to make it all come together, and between now and my next birthday, I’m going to remember so many birthdays that I’m going to have to start my own FREAKING birthday card company, okay?

15. Get outside

My son loves being outside. He really loves it, he is fascinated by pebbles and single blades of grass. My husband loves being outside. He grew up hiking all summer and skiing all winter. I don’t really love being outside unless it’s mostly sunny, 70-75 degrees, and 95% bug-free (lady bugs and rollie pollies are permissible, but that’s it and don’t push your luck). But for my boys, by next spring I would like to say, “It’s such a nice day! Wouldn’t it be nice to have lunch on the blanket at the park?” and actually get a shred of enjoyment out of it. A shred. Baby steps.

16. Get a good winter coat

This sounds silly, and let’s be honest…it’s kinda silly. But I don’t have a good winter coat! All of mine are too light, and while we don’t need anything hardcore around these parts, we need a little something more than what I’ve got. I’ve lived a quarter of a century. I should know how to dress myself, then do it.

17. Go berry picking

I’ve wanted to do this for so long! I love berries and can’t wait to put up a mess of them this summer to nosh on all winter long, and I’d love to pick them myself. Maybe with some help from the babe, because srsly…how cute would that be?

18. Drink more water

For about three weeks this year I drank a gallon of water every day. For a girl who has always counted two cups of tea every morning as water intake, that was a big deal! And honestly, I felt a lot better that way, so back at it! I have a couple friends who are absolutely inspirations in the water-drinking department, and I’m going to ramp up my efforts till I can rival them in a 24-hour period.

19. Trust myself more

I have a hard time believing that I know what I’m doing most of the time. When it comes to nannying, wedding coordinating, and designing houses and rooms, I think I’m pretty hard to go up against because I know my stuff. But…I’m not currently doing any of that, and I often feel that I’m floundering at whatever I am doing. Truth is, I probably am just fine and I’m simply too scared of screwing up to not be freaked about about stepping forward.

20. Listen more fully

This goes back to the friends thing and the focus thing. I have a hard time linking together things that someone is saying, mostly because I’m so distracted all the time by the little mini-me running amuck. The people I admire most aren’t the people that are doing twenty-seven things at once, no matter how well they seem to do any of those things, but the quiet, intentional people who make you feel like a million bucks when they’re in conversation with you because they’re basically treating you like the only person on the planet.

21. Mind your own business

No, seriously though. I’m playing number 21 a little closer to the chest. It’s a thing, you just don’t need to know what it is. Sorry.

22. Learn how to take a time out from being a mom

I really like my husband. Like…really. However, I’ve noticed that, on the five occasions that we’ve gone out together without Nolan, I have an incredibly difficult time just being present with him and not worrying about our boy. Ky worries too, but not half so much as I do. I think it’s a girl thing. Boys don’t understand. Do they ever? Anyway, not actually being emotionally present makes it a little hard to enjoy a date. So I need lessons! Anybody with tips on how to date your husband while your baby is at home is more than welcome to chime in, because I’m going to be a great dater again by the time I turn 26.

23. Learn how to take a time out from being a wife AND a mom

This is an odd one because it requires me to be me on my own, without the roles of wife and/or mom creeping in and defining my time and my interests. And that’s odd because that’s basically my whole ever-loving life. Breakfast or coffee or bottles or laundry or dinner or groceries or toys or parenting books or date night or “How was your day?” or nap time…that’s my life, that’s what I do, and it’s so intertwined with who I am that it’s incredibly hard to find something extra in there. But that’s simply facilitating what my boys need, which is part of my job, but strictly facilitating is not my role. My roles are meant to add specific benefits to their lives because I’m me and nobody else. So I need to nurture me. Yes, I used the word nurture, and yes it grosses me out a little bit too.

24. Keep my floors clean

I don’t like mopping. So I try to not do it. Tuck that nose wrinkle back in! Good grief! But that’s gross, and my son crawls on our floors then chews on his hands and NASTY. So I need to get better about keeping my floors clean by the time I turn 26 because, c’mon Emma…you can adult better than that.

25. Text my grandma

Today was my birthday. Today my grandma texted me, and I texted her back, then we went on like that for a little while, and it was really lovely. Pause for station identification: my grandmother is one of the coolest people I know as evidenced by the fact that she’s 78 years old and she texted me for my birthday, and I love her absolutely to pieces. I expect my grandparents to be kicking for a very long time, but I understand that there will be a day when I no longer get a birthday text from my grandma. So while I can, dadgumit I’m gonna text my grandma.

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Space

Being over here with a sick baby, jet lag, and the need to develop a new, temporary lifestyle hasn’t exactly left me with little to do, but the list has been minuscule compared to what I’m accustomed to! Not thinking about the laundry and the meals and the constant clutter all about my house and all the usual things that clog up by brain feed has left me with so much mental space.

And you know what? I like it. I like this decreased physical space and increased mental space. I really like it. I knew I would. I’ve been so specifically looking forward to finishing up the full renovation at home and decluttering/organizing everything so that I can have this mental space all the time at some point.

There’s been space to think clearly about what needs to be done, and how it needs to happen. There’s been space to not panic or freak out about what parts of that may or may not work out. There’s been space to pay attention to Kyle, check to see how he’s feeling, and take a minute to be happy with him if he’s happy, sad if he’s sad, commiserate if he’s frustrated, and pick (/beat) him up if he’s having a bad attitude. There’s been space for us to communicate better and be better teammates. Two weeks ago I was 85% positive that if I asked Kyle to pack the diaper bag, he’d pack it alright, but he’d likely forget the actual diapers. I’m now 85% confident that he’d do an 85% great job (c’mon, it’s only been a couple weeks, that’s quite a swap). There’s been space to play with my boy and not have to set a timer for it to make sure I get other stuff done too (I do realize that that part is strictly temporary). I like this space! This is great space!

There’s also been a lift on the distractions that have kept me from really looking at who I want to be spiritually and what my faith looks like right now. It’s been a rough year in that arena, and I’ve been gladly preoccupied from trying to sort it out, but now there are few places to go to escape it. Besides the Parliament channel, and that’s not always hoppin.

There’s been time to reflect on why I don’t have this space at home. Yes, it’s partly because our home isn’t really conducive to it right now, and yes, there’s plenty that can be done to change that and it’s a matter of doing. But it’s not just that. It’s that I’ve spent a while now defining my role as wife/mom (especially as a stay at home mom) with service and not including our actual relationships enough in that definition. Don’t get me wrong, service is important. Meals are important, cleaning our house is important, having clean clothes is important, and setting the example of that for our son is important, but all of that is second string to relationships with my boys.

My husband doesn’t need a personal baker, he needs a wife. My baby doesn’t need a maid, he needs a mama.

So I’m not okay with this being my all the time “at some point” anymore. Here’s what’s gonna happen:

– I recently went through most of our house and purged, but the remainder of the house is MINE when I get home. MINE, I SAY. Doubles of anything and all things unused/unneeded/unwanted are going to Goodwill. Everything that remains in our house will be organized within an inch of its life. Clutter, be gone! (If you know of anything that I have that you might want, just ask. If I’m too attached, I’ll let you know.)

– I’m going to type up and post my systems around the house, and my husband is going to think I’m crazy, and that’s okay because he’s finally going to know them and be able to use them.

– I’m going to wrap up the little projects in the house that need to be done (cutting in the ceilings, putting doorknobs on doors (because that’s a whole thing), installing a door with a big window to our laundry porch, hemming our curtains, making new cushion covers for our living room and bedroom, hanging art about the place, etc.).

– I’m going to paint my kitchen blue. Don’t tell my husband.

– I get to do two things every day: workout and read. Not because I want to workout. I really don’t. But because 1) I realize that I’m a better human being when I do, so I will. 2) My body might want me to be fat someday and working out is a good way to combat it, so I will. And 3) My body is a gift, intended to be stewarded–and stewarded well–and this is the only way to do that, so I will. And I’ll read not because I want to read. Even though I do…all day, every day, forever and ever amen; heaven is a library, I’m sure of it. But because it grows me and stretches me and teaches me and relaxes me and generally makes me feel more like me, and anything that makes me feel like me needs to be nurtured and honed and protected.

– I get one night every week. On that night, I get an hour to myself! Probably to take a bath, have a glass of whiskey, and listen to Norah Jones. Or hide under the covers in my bed and watch Downton Abbey (which I’m like six episodes behind on, so shut your traps right now).

– I get set time with my people! My introversion causes a problem even when I’m needing to see friends. Like, people who matter to me and who I enjoy being around. Getting to the point where I’m emotionally willing to go through the process of leaving the house or preparing to have any one else in my own house can sometimes be a serious hurdle because I’m a freaking hermit. That combined with the fact that my son keeps me from focusing on anything else when he’s around, so it’s best for me if I can see them while he’s sleeping or while someone else is watching him, which severely limits my time options. But because I love these people I’ve got to get over myself and my hurdles. It’s totally going to happen.

– I’m going to use the space I find from all of this to communicate better with my husband. I’m not going to let a fear of being needy, asking too much, him not getting to do whatever he wants to do and being angry or bitter about it, or anything else get in the way of telling him the kind of help I need when I need it. I have so enjoyed my wonderful husband here. I’ve enjoyed his company and his teamwork, and I’m going to keep enjoying him when we get back home by not getting myself in the way.

There are probably some other things that are going to happen as well, and let’s be real, I may or may not post them here on the blog. But these things? These things need to happen. These things will allow more space.

These things will be good for me and for my boys. Let’s do this!

Weekend

I’m awful at this blogging thing. I think we’re gonna switch all updates over to Instagram…pictures are worth a thousand words anyway, right? And much quicker to post.

Friday we took our boy to the A&E here because we couldn’t get an appointment with a GP (which seems to surprise everyone that we talk to, but we tried EVERYTHING short of illegal bribery!), and they were absolutely fantastic with him. We got in very quickly, no waiting around, and by the time we left the office he’d had a chest X-ray which came out clear, so we knew he didn’t have bronchitis or pneumonia, and his fever was down to 100.2 (woohoo!). They put him on amoxicillin and his symptoms have been improving quite a lot, but now he has diarrhea and a rash that just keeps spreading  😦  We called the doctors and they don’t seem terribly concerned, and with only five doses left I don’t really want to start a new course of drugs, so I put in an email to Nolan’s doctor at home to get her opinion. She must be SO sick of seeing my name in her inbox by now! Whoops.

Saturday morning Nolan seemed to be doing a bit better so we drove to the edge of London at Kew Gardens and took the tube into the city. We had such a lovely time! The weather was cold but gorgeous, and our boy was so good and took two naps in the Ergo. He did have a little issue in his pants…then another little issue in his pants (thanks antibiotics)…so we maybe went shopping for him and I maybe had a strong desire for ALL OF THE BABY CLOTHES. Kyle held me to a cute little pack of grey and white onesies. Thank God, because I could feel every drop of self control seeping out of my pores. We went by Abbey Road (Kyle couldn’t get over all the people stopping in the crosswalk to take The Picture. He didn’t know that The Picture was a thing. I had to threaten to pull up the White Album to show him what The Picture was before he kinda sorta hooked on to the idea, but then he still couldn’t get over it. Anything, particularly any voluntary thing, that stops/hinders/affects traffic in any way is completely incomprehensible to my dear husband.), Sherlock Holmes’s house at 221B Baker Street where everyone was Asian (why are white people not into Sherlock Holmes? Or black people? Or Indian people? Or is it that the non-Asians among us can’t afford the $30 tour?), and went through Selfridge’s. That…that was an experience. You need a map for that place. We made it out with one $12 glass of champagne and a few weird looks from all the prammers…apparently there’s not much of a baby wearing movement around here. American crunchies would be SO out of place. I can just feel all their judgment welling up, waiting to soar across the ocean and fall on these pramming Brits.

We decided to take it easy on Sunday, found a wonderful local market, and cooked dinner for a friend here on the same project as Kyle. It was so nice to be in an apartment and not the hotel! Things are fine here at the hotel. We’ll have plenty of good stories to tell for years about how we filled the bathroom sink with mildly hot water to heat bottles as we used the toilet lid as a countertop to measure out formula, used an ice bucket as a wastebasket, boiled water in the open kettle to serve as a humidifier, washed clothes in the sink and hung them to dry in pretty much every bit of space an item could be hung, washed bottles in the bathroom sink three times a day, and how I insisted on bringing a $3 Target craft caddy to use for diapers and wipes and butt creams which was the *best decision I’ve made for this entire trip*. But it’s gonna be a long month doing life this way. It was so lovely to cook and use a fridge and see evidence that dishwashers to exist! We were also able to do a load of laundry which was awesome. Never thought I’d be so happy to do laundry, but after those messes on Saturday we were running out of clothes really quickly! The kitchen in the apartment was actually set up quite well, so Kyle and I took some notes for when we’re remodeling future kitchens in any apartments we might own. Steve was lovely company and we had a wonderful time hanging out with him and getting to know him better.

Nolan’s obviously feeling a lot better than he was before and his appetite is really increasing which makes me feel great, but he’s still not back to being fully himself, poor guy  😦  I’m about to drop kick this cold off a bridge. His hair is actually looking lighter to me, more like my color, and he’s solidly grown out of all his nine-month clothes. He’s figured out how to do the horsey-lips thing instead of just pursing his lips and spitting (although there’s still plenty of that) and he’s trying to wave bye-bye with just his hand now, instead of with his whole arm. It’s seriously adorable, watching him concentrate so hard on just opening and closing his hand rather than just wave the whole thing through the air. Even though he’s been a solid mama’s boy while he’s been sick, he’s also started hugging Kyle a LOT, which might melt Ky just a little bit.

A nice thing about Kyle working weird hours over here is that we get to see him all morning before he leaves for work around 1:30, so today we got to go for a nice long walk through a giant park here, stop into a giant toy store near the edge of town, and have a great lunch before he had to leave.

Found some Woodford Reserve on the lunch menu today, but still no sign in this country of my beloved Maker’s Mark. I will not give up hope!

England: Day 3, Wednesday

Like I said before, we slept pretty well, but are looking forward to not being jet lagged soon. Nolan was up for about 45 minutes in the middle of the night and it was a group effort to get him back to sleep, but thankfully he was tired enough to not fight us much.

We bought a big ol five liter bottle of water at the Tesco yesterday and it’s gone. Between refilling my water bottle to put electrolyte tablets in, making baby bottles, brewing a few cups of tea, and just drinking some water straight, we killed it, it’s totally gone. We drank all the waters. But I woke up so dry! This cold, that flight, and the chilly weather here (the next person who tells me that Seattle and England essentially have the same weather is begging to be throat punched) have me knocked over. Literally, my cheek started bleeding. My CHEEK. Just a random spot on my cheek, no scratch, no scrape, no nothing, just dry and sandpapery, to say nothing of my nose and lips. That’s another story. Coconut oil all over, every half hour on the dot.

Our boy seems to be feeling a little better today. We had to wake him up in order to get over to breakfast before they cut it off, and he woke up so sweetly…just grinning that gummy grin at us and wanting to look at us and touch our faces. Typically he lets people know that he loves them by trying to rip their nose off their face, but this morning he just wanted to almost float his hand over our faces. He even finished a big ol bottle before we went over to breakfast! Yay for eating like a normal healthy baby! We’ve had to suck his nose several times, which is everyone’s *favorite* thing, and his lungs are sounding a little gravelly  😦  We have an email out to his doctor to ask her advice. Thankfully he’s had no fever since Monday just before our flight. We’re keeping all his toys washed well and hand sanitizer is at the ready. This sickness needs to die!

We’ve been taking it easy and trying to just adjust a little more today. Nolan fell asleep before I could feed him his lunch bottle and proceeded to sleep for 4.5 hours before I actually woke him up. Lucky little puppy.

His favorite toys are proving to be the same as they are at home…any door that has a proclivity toward swinging a particular direction (for example, the door to the bathroom in our hotel room likes to swing open, so Nolan likes to push it shut a little at at time and watch it fall back open) and the toilet. Always the toilet. Other than that he really likes the new little stuffed animal Mimi gave him for Valentine’s Day, a sweet doggy named Yodel. He goes right for it in his stack of toys, every time.

Kyle went into work today to become acclimated. He’s been “on loan” to a different group for the past few months, so he’s not as on top of the exact material they’re working with and needed to catch up a bit. We missed him while he was gone, but he came home with loads of water and a way to make our phones work, so I guess we’ll forgive him for leaving.

We ended up at this lovely little place called Cote Brasserie for dinner. Kyle went there yesterday with a couple people from work while Nolan and I napped, and he insisted on taking us back there tonight. It was lovely! They serve filtered water (a strangely big deal around here, where the water is incredibly limey…has stuff floating in it…), knew what “gluten-free” means, and were completely on top of their service game. Once Nolan dropped his spoon as he was playing with it and a waiter walking by insisted on taking it to run it under hot water before bringing it back to us. They forced a kir royale, french onion soup (hold the bread), and boeuf bourguignon on me. Oh the pain, save me now.

We put Nolan down for bed when we got back to our room, but he thought it was a nap…so he was up an hour later. Which made it easy to Skype with the grandparents! Our chat with Mimi was cut short because Nolan was very upset that he had to just look at her and not snuggle her. That was very annoying for him. And for Mimi, actually. Afterwards we chatted with Grandpa Tom and Grandma Deb, and Nolan was so happy to see them and probably equally happy that I let him play with the laptop keyboard for a while during our chat. Just like his daddy, loves stuff with buttons  🙂

Being in England has been hard so far. It’s just not an ideal health situation to be away from home for. But somehow there’s less stress than there is at home, probably because I don’t have a load of stuff to do like I do at home. As such, in spite of the sicky-ness, I’ve been a nicer human being! I’ve been more patient and calm and understanding…these are all things I prioritize highly at home, but they’ve been so much easier since we left. The elements of life in this particular day don’t really seem to lend themselves toward that end, but who cares? We’ll take Nice Emma any day!

L’hotel Anglaise

Totally not the name of our hotel. But because I don’t necessarily know who all could read this, I’m not telling you the name of our hotel.

Initially Kyle and I agreed that we wouldn’t take this trip with our son unless we could stay in one of the apartments that the company covers. We found out in December that the apartments have something against children under the age of ten. I assumed that meant the trip was off. Kyle assumed that meant we’d have some other things to work around.

I was nervous about staying in a hotel with a baby for a month. I’m going to be here with Nolan on my own most days, and he usually has a whole house to crawl around. Space in a hotel is so limited, not to mention that the extent of our “cooking” options here have to do with a hot pot and a fridge the size of a coffee table book. I mentioned before that we (read: Kyle) spent a lot of time emailing back and forth with the reservations manager here at the hotel, Diane. She was remarkably helpful and friendly and made us (read: Kyle) feel much better about this prospect.

When we showed up yesterday Diane was so glad to meet us, talked all about her granddaughter Sophie who is just a couple months younger than Nolan, said she could hook me up with her daughter and friends for play dates, mentioned that if we need any baby gear that we didn’t bring she has doubles of everything at her house because of her grandchildren and we can borrow anything we want to, and even offered to babysit after we get settled so we can go out for dinner some night after Nolan goes to sleep. Two words: customer service. Amiright?

I’m wanting to get some photos up here, but until I can do that you’ll have to satisfy yourself with my engrossing, vivid descriptions.

{Let’s be honest, this post is primarily for my mother. (Hi, Mom!) Everyone else will wonder why in the world my brain and blog are soooooo boring, detail-oriented, and long-freaking-winded. Refer back to the end of post one of this England “series” and don’t say I didn’t warn you.}

Diane put us in the largest room in the hotel, and it’s attached to only two other rooms (one above us and one next to us). It’s in the 17th century part of the building and has an outside entrance, so there’s no long corridor for angry, sick screams to reverberate down. There’s easy access to the high street (where most of the shops and restaurants are) and would be great for stroller/buggy access if Nolan didn’t have an extreme aversion to such contraptions. Just outside there’s a pretty cobblestone courtyard with a fountain, and reception is right across the way. We get breakfast over there every morning (they have a great high chair for Nolan!).

The door of our room is glass, so lots of light comes in, and there’s a clear, distinctly British entry area with a closet, which is so nice! We have three other windows too, one of which spans the width of the room, looks directly out at the courtyard fountain, and is framed by a gorgeous arch. So much light comes in there!

We put Nolan’s pack n play in the archway, so he’s close to our (king size) bed (we’re never going home!) and away from the other windows in the room. We can have the curtains of the other windows open and just close the big window’s curtains so that he can nap (which he’s been doing for about three hours now! Yay sleep!). Also in the archway is an armchair and ottoman with a standing lamp and a table. That’s Reading Central as it stands, but with Nolan sleeping two feet away, I might need to move that all to a bag and take it and the baby monitor to the courtyard or across to reception to get any reading done. Not blogging would also help with that.

The bathroom is awfully nice and a good size. There’s a shelf that runs the length of it between the mirror and the sink/toilet, and we’ve made use of the whoooooole thing. We have the toiletries area, the bottle drying area, the bottle making area, and the “sick baby station”. On the sink to the left of the faucet we have bottles that need to be washed and on the right side we have hand soap and dish soap. Not wasting an inch!

Behind the TV we have a little alcohol stash (necessary, although currently whiskey-less) flanked by extra formula on one side and a variety of great-sounding organic British baby food on the other. Not-being-in-the-US for the win!

One desk drawer holds food for me and Kyle and the other houses my hair stuff/the hotel blow dryer (Brits obviously don’t believe in fixing your hair in the bathroom…the only plug that hotel bathrooms have is specifically for shavers. Why? No clue. I feel weird asking. And this is not hotel-specific. We’ve stayed in at least five different British hotels, and they’re all the same. The unknown is eating away at me…why only shavers? WHY???)

There’s a great little wooden luggage rack with a low shelf that now holds all of Nolan’s toys. He’s learning where to find them and it’s pretty cute!

One thing we don’t have is a good place for diaper changing, but if that’s the worst we have to complain about I think we’ll be okay! So far we just have the changing pad on a towel on the floor in between our bed and his crib. The air also got incredibly dry in here last night, so that’s a con. I’m not typically one to notice such things, and certainly not to complain about them, but I woke up and felt like I couldn’t speak if I tried. There was a fan in the closet here that we’re using to mask noise for Nolan as he sleeps, but it certainly doesn’t help with the dryness. Kyle’s going to look for a humidifier today at the store.

What’s that? The overwhelming vagueness of this post is making you want to take a gun to your head? Ohhhhhohoho you…you silly josher, you…

Like I said, mostly for my mama. So it’s written like the world’s longest text message to her. Because she doesn’t care how articulate or concise I am, she just want to know as much as possible  🙂  And seeing as how I just wrote 1100 words describing our hotel room and where I’ve stashed everything, you can obviously blame genetics for my unedited blogging style.

England, Day: Jet Lag…So I’m Not Sure What Day It Is

Nolan slept through customs, which had no line because we’d taken our sweet sweet time getting off the plane.

We’d arrived quite early in the morning local time, around 7am, and by the time we got our bags and made it to a point where we could get to our rental car, traffic was not good on the roads and Kyle refuses to drive in traffic unless he absolutely has to. Which he thinks is never. So we hunkered down and hung out for a while. Nolan slept more. I got a smoothie from the Costa at arrivals and that improved my tummy situation a bit more. The highways here are different than in the US, lots of roundabouts, so I was glad to not get in the car for a while.

We crammed all of our many bags into the car, strapped in our sick boy, drove straight to the Tesco near the town we’re staying in, and proceeded to spend two hours there.

Two hours. In a grocery store/Target sorta place.

Right.

So the formula that we buy for Nolan from here we got for $27/box on eBay. Not cheap, but surprisingly not bad compared to domestic brands, and shipping is free so that’s nice. Here? Two boxes for 13 quid (because I can’t find the British pound sign)! That’s like $18-$20ish! For TWO BOXES! We’re bringing home a mother load.

Also, the baby food here is awesome. And I’m not using that word lightly, Daddy. Awe-inspiring. Awesome.

Also, European pharmacists. Yes. Just yes.

This one fell in love with my son and had SO many helpful things to tell us to help him. (Vapor rub is not something that I grew up with and I personally generally have an issue with stuff I rub onto my body because it grosses me out (yes, I know I’m weird), and honestly it seems like my son has the same reservations, BUT his cough has improved since just yesterday. I’m so thankful! Vapor rub for the win! Oh, and it has like three ingredients, two of which I have in my medicine drawer at home. Love it.)

By the way, “over-the-counter” actually means over-the-counter here. Like, there’s a counter and the pharmacist has to hand you the unprescribed items over that counter.

This is where I bought my mom’s first souvenir. To be fair to me, she asked for it. I’m not just a compulsive souvenir shopper.

Nolan charmed our way through the grocery store (pharmacists, senior citizens, other kids, cashier, the 86-year-old sweetie who asked him why it was cute for him to have so few teeth and not so cute for her to have so few teeth…bless her heart…you name them, he charmed them), but wouldn’t eat anything. Par for the course over the last few days, but I was starting to get worried. He’d eaten so poorly since just before he got sick, he was sleeping like a newborn, and we threw him a big ol curveball by taking him on such a long flight to such a different time zone.

By the time we got to the hotel he’d taken a bunch of mini-naps but nothing substantial, he’d eaten close to nothing, and his cough was getting worse. I’m sicksicksick, but my mama bear shot up inside me and I went on a mission to at least make my boy more comfortable. We unpacked, set up a little sleep area for him and let him explore a bit while we got settled.

We fed him and he fell asleep at the end of the bottle. I laid him in his crib, he realized he wasn’t being held anymore, he became very upset and started crying, then coughing, then gagging to the point that he threw up that bottle. Not spit up…threw up. Sweet boy  😦

We cleaned up and he promptly fell asleep HARD while Kyle was holding him upright. Like…we had to catch him. Kyle convinced me to put him back in his bed, and he slept there for an hour or so while I napped too and Kyle went out for work stuff. When Nolan woke up I pulled him into bed with me and all told we slept for at least three hours. So thankful we got that! He even ate a pretty good bottle when he woke up. I got smart and have kept some of the baby cough syrup that we got from the pharmacist yesterday nearby when he’s eating in case he gets choky. That’s seemed to help a few times.

There’s a lovely little dinner place down the street from the hotel and they’re one of the incredibly limited number of places that have food available after 8pm. You can get a beer anytime, but don’t you dare ask for food at a pub after 8pm. Weird looks, man. We went down to this place, The Slug and Lettuce (yes, I’m serious), for dinner around 9. Kyle had a coupon (yes, I’m serious). Nolan ate some of the baby food we got him at the store, and he really seemed to like it! We’ve never given him prepared baby food before so I was nervous about how he would take it, but he’s done quite well so far. Happy baby, happy mama!

That is when Nolan fell asleep upright for the second time. Le sigh.

Kyle carried him back to our room and we all slept for about an hour before Nolan woke up. He was having a really hard time just having little coughs, but we took our time with all the remedies we have for this sickness of his, and he eventually calmed down enough to sleep.

We all slept quite well last night. Such an answer to prayer. We were up for about 45 minutes sometime in there, but we fed our boy and all got back to sleep fairly easily. At some point last night (can’t seem to remember when…) he actually drank water. He never drinks water, but he wanted a solid three ounces or so.

A word on cosleeping. We don’t usually do it, but sometimes our touchy sweet boy needs a little extra loving. I’m so glad that it works for some people and I’m so glad we’re not so legalistic that we are open to doing it sometimes, and I’m so glad that I have a boy who likes to be loved on! But I never sleep nearly as well when he’s right there. He needs his space and I need mine! We’ll get through this transition and get our own space back. That will be a good night!

Okay, I think I’ve overloaded you with enough recounting for today  🙂  Till I have better stories and more energy to tell them!

Baby’s First International Flight

Oh, one more thing about flight prep. A couple weeks ago I decided that we needed to have an Ergo 360. They’re brand new, nobody has them discounted [my argument falls fifteen notches in Kyle’s estimation], and coupons don’t apply to them [argument fails]. Two days pre-flight Kyle saw the light and said we could get one. YAY! Everyone’s sold out of them. PANIC AND DEVASTATION. We found *one store* that has *one* in stock, and it’s in my first color choice. HAAAAAAALLELUJAH!!

Oh and another thing. We order Nolan’s formula from this gorgeous country. Long story. Yes it’s necessary, since you asked. We knew we were coming here and believed we had enough stocked up to make it through our travel days, so we didn’t order any more. We used the very very last of his formula about an hour before we landed. THE LAST. Doesn’t get much closer than that. Unbelievable.

On we go.

We already knew we have a good flyer. He’s been on two trips with us, one cross-country, and he did so well. He’s a little charmer, makes friends with everyone he meets, loves to smile and laugh and ham it up. We got the upgraded economy tickets because we knew there would be fewer people in that cabin, in case he “struggled” (read: panicked uncontrollably), not to mention how great British Airways world traveler plus seats are. SO GREAT.

We packed fifteen extra things in his little backpack because he’s so sick. Nose aspirator, thermometer, the world’s largest supply of baby tylenol. He got by just like we expected him to! Made friends with the flight attendants, even a new friend who lives in Lake City who wants to hang out when we get home (hi Blair!), and actually slept ON HIS BACK in the baby bassinet. UNHEARD OF. I can’t even tell you. When that got old he slept on Kyle in the ergo (yes, ^ that one!) for a good few hours, which allowed me to get some sleep on my own. It actually worked out okay that he didn’t sleep for a few days before we flew to a place with an eight-hour time difference. I think he had a leg up on the change.

Which makes one of us.

We crawled up and down the aisle, we ate so much applesauce, we watched most of Gone Girl. He was almost impeccably behaved, such a champ.

Then came the descent. The last hour of that plane ride was pure misery. The pressure in my head had been building the entire flight and I felt near combustion at the end. It was clear that Nolan was not doing well with the pressure in his ears, poor baby. He couldn’t handle it, he hadn’t slept in a long time, and he was decidedly not interested in eating anything else. Oh and I got motion sickness! Total. Win. Thankfully I didn’t lose anything, but it took us a long time to get off that airplane because I simply could not stand up.

That was it. That was the point where I decided that this trip was a truly terrible idea and was filled with the dread of knowing that it was too late to turn back.

And then I realized that I’d forgotten to bring my coat. Seriously? My coat? What am I, three years old? I’d intended to wear it on the plane but it was such a nice day in Seattle and I was in a rush getting to the taxi. So it went forgotten, and I went cold.

Great. Perfect arrival in England.

Could have been worse. I could have been nauseated and warm.  🙂

Pre-England 2015

We’re off on quite an adventure. We’ve taken our nine month old out of the country for the first time (less than a year old and already a world traveler! Woohoo! His daddy could NOT be more proud.) and we’re not going to be back home for a month.

A MONTH.

For a traveler like me, that’s so. freaking. cool. For a homebody like me, that’s so. freaking…either scary or annoying. I vacillate.

We went back and forth for a bit. We’d be planning on doing just this since we were here last time, a year ago. Me, eight months pregnant. Kyle, convinced we’d never do anything fun ever again. It was great. Then we had Mr. Nolan, and this kid…I’ve worked with a lot of kids, and this kid is just more. He’s more beguiling, he’s more adorable (although that may be my bias speaking), and he’s more work.

So I got scared. Tried to convince my husband to let us stay home.

It didn’t work. I decided to have a good attitude about it. Still scared, but choosing excitement too. We ordered Nolan’s passport, bought tickets, spoke extensively (to put it mildly) with the reservations manager at the hotel we’d be staying at, debated about baby gear till our brains were fried, and got on that jet plane.

The week leading up to our trip was an experience in and of itself. Eleven days pre-flight, Kyle got some sort of stomach bug and was home for two days. Ten days pre-flight, Nolan got three vaccines. Three. In his two tiny, squishy little legs. Fun few days, but it looked like things were headed up. I started packing, making list after list after list, doing laundry load after load after load, and seeing all my lovely friends for the last time for a while. My sister came over to run a quick errand for me (invaluable) and brought us these awesome travel mugs from the coffee shop she works at. We love them SO MUCH. I’m actually using one as I write this to caffeinate myself because it’s 5:30am at home.

Three days pre-flight, my boy woke up with a runny nose, little cough, and low-grade fever. Looks like he might be cutting a tooth…no big, right?

Right…

We didn’t sleep all weekend. Four hours at a time at most. Fever went up to 101.7. Awesome.

(Preface to this next line: My immune system is like steel. I worked with kids for a loooooong time and became immune to everything. EVERYTHING.)

I woke up two days pre-flight sick as a dog. I cannot remember the last time I was this sick. Stopped up in my head, terrible and uncontrollable cough, totally dehydrated in spite of my best efforts, and so horribly tired. Because that’s just what I needed.

Kyle, on the other hand (Mr. Sick-If-He-Looks-At-a-Kleenex-the-Wrong-Way) remains in perfect health. Which is awesome, because we needed a win.

He let me and Nolan sleep in till 10am, which was amazing. (He also wrote me a sweet letter and brought me a new glassybaby that afternoon…yay Valentine’s Day!) I cooked all day long, so we’d have things stocked up in our freezer when we get home. Jet lag at any point is not my number one idea of fun. Jet lag headed back to the States is one of the longest processes I’ve ever experienced, and I’ve done it a few times. It’s not something to not be prepared for! Thankfully Nolan finally took some good naps and I got a lot done while he wasn’t needing my constant full-attention. Which was anytime he wasn’t unconscious.

My grand Valentine’s Day dinner plans were smashed like a piñata at a seven-year-old’s birthday party. Mac and cheese was two hours late, dessert became nonexistent, and we didn’t even open the champagne I’d picked up on a Valentinesy whim at the store.

Sunday brought more prep, packing, and caring for a nearly inconsolable boy, and trying to keep my head out of the fog while Kyle helped by…painting the outside of our house? I won’t go into it, that was poor communication on our part, but better moves have been made. My parents had us over to their house for a little farewell dinner with them and my sister before they bid adieu to their obsession grandson for six weeks (they leave for a long-anticipated trip to Italy two days before we return from England. My mom just can’t even right now.), and it was glorious to not have to cook clean up dinner the night before we traveled.

Monday morning brought…whatever Monday morning brought. I’d planned it all out so that all we had to do Monday was shower, dress, pack toiletries, eat the last of our food, and toss everything else in the freezer. The best-laid plans…particularly when what one needs is a week in bed, not an international flight.

My mother is a godsend. She showed up at our house unannounced that morning anticipating that she could hang out with Matthew so that Kyle and I could run around and get last minute stuff done. Matthew had been up a good chunk of the night, so he slept till we nearly had to wake him, and my mom’s self-appointed “job” was already taken by the sleeping fairies. So she made the mistake of asking what she could do to help. “Clean my kitchen?” I sheepishly asked. She grabbed the bull by the horns and my kitchen now sparkles. And will sparkle for the next month, because nobody’s there to use it. Seriously, it’s never looked that good.

We exchanged hugs and maybe a couple tears on Mom’s end, loaded into the taxi, and drove off, leaving Mom to lock up. Except she cleaned out our fridge, took out our trashes, ran our dishwasher, and I’m not even sure what all else before actually locking up. She’s amazing and I don’t know what I’d do without her.

Okay, next post covers travel. I’m not editing these so that I’ll actually post them…

Conciseness is not my best quality. You’ve been warned.

Oh sweet motherhood

Sometimes parenting is awesome and easy and predictable and you’re well prepared for what comes your way and you feel like, “Bam bam bam! I’m SUPERMOM!” even though that’d be completely inappropriate to yell from the rooftops like you feel you’ve earned the right to because these instances really don’t come around all the time, it’s just this fantastic little moment where all good things come together and culminate in a moment of parenting glory.

And *sometimes* you change your son into three pairs of pajamas over the course of eight hours (note: all eight hours referred to are typically dedicated to sleep as opposed to developing underground, small-scale infant sleepwear fashion shows), and clean pee off of the wall, changing table, and child at 4:30am, all while your sweet, precious babe intermittently screams, practices his explosive noise sounds, and flails his pee-soaked hands all about your face as you try to calm him and keep him quiet so that *somebody* (anybody) in the neighborhood has the opportunity to sleep. Oh, and in an earlier glory-moment you changed his sheet and mattress cover and threw them in the wash, but haven’t popped them in the dryer yet, so it’s back into the pee-stinky crib for the poor baby.

No-wait-ahhhhhh!

(Deeeeeeeeep breath…”serenity now…”)

Make that *four* pairs of pajamas.

Life Update

So there have been some changes around here. Life-altering, time-consuming changes. As such, there will be some changes to the blog as well. Namely, I plan to write on it. You see, these changes that have been happening are the kinds of things that are so big and wonderful that as time marches on, the fact of them might take over and the details be forgotten. But the details are so lovely! It’d be a shame for all of them to be forgotten, or lost in a jumble of memories.

I’m going to attempt to record some of the details here. We shall see how it goes, but I’ve put every system in place to make this successful! Like, it’s written into my schedule. Now we’ll see if I can stick to the schedule.

Pictures…we need pictures. I think pictures would help.

First big change: We now live in our house! Have for a while now, and it’s really lovely.

Second big change: [decidedly the biggest (and my favorite) of all the changes] We have a baby! He’s wonderful! Here are some pictures that someone with decidedly more time and talent than I have just whipped right up a while back: http://www.tammycirceo.com/2014/05/oh_the_love.html (Someday I’ll learn how to hyperlink well…until then…) As such, there will likely now be mama/baby/family stuff on here. It’s just…on the brain *fairly* frequently (meaning: ALL THE TIME).

Third big change: We have absolutely NO life! This little house is still sucking all the juice out of us and our time. But it’s cozy and sweet and home.

Okay I think that’s it for the big updates. Little updates: we went to Mexico and England this year before the babe joined us, I’m a stay-at-home mama now and miss a particular little nanny darling SO terribly, we technically own three cars at the moment, for the first time in my life I have weight to lose which is annoying and I don’t really know how to handle it, I’m really into streamlining absolutely everything these days, Amazon Prime is a lifesaver, and spaghetti squash. CANNOT get enough of the stuff.

I’ve been asked SO many times, so a concise version of Nolan’s birth story will be up soon!