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Fourteen Months

3 Mar

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At 14 months, Charlie…

:: is really starting to look like a little boy (and not a baby!). I’m proud, but also a bit sad!

:: has taken his first steps! It’s only happened a few times, but he gets braver every day.

:: hands down, favorite activity right now is dropping/throwing/hiding things and then throwing his hands up in a “What happened?” or “Where did it go?” gesture. Usually I’ll pretend to look around and then he will go “find” it.

:: likes to repeat noises I make, especially if it’s got a musical tone to it.

:: loves to “brush” his teeth. He’s actually doing some semblance of brushing, which is a step up from just sucking on the brush. He also enjoys brushing his hair and using the handkerchief to dab his nose (although not when it’s actually runny). I’d like to set up a better “care of self” area for him soon.

:: eats with a fork and spoon (if I pre-load them). The spoon eating is definitely messy, but I am trying to let go and embrace the mealtime mess as he learns.

:: enjoys eating his snacks at his little table in the living room (when we are at home).

:: enjoys watching the blender when we make smoothies, and has a blast drinking them (especially because it usually involves a smoothiestache).

:: gets really excited whenever I say, “Do you want to find Dad?” and starts chanting, “Da! Da! Da!!!”

:: does the signs for “milk”, “more” and “all done.” He understands the sign for “book” and we are also working on “dog.”

:: hates being strapped in his car seat. He’s fine once he’s in, but ever since he figured out how to climb out after being unstrapped, he doesn’t want to sit in it until he’s buckled. We will probably move up to an extended rear-facing seat in a few months (hopefully we can fit one in our car and can find a decent price), but for now he is still fine in the smaller seat (since he’s such a small fry).

:: likes to bend over and do a mini downward facing dog pose. He also loves flipping backwards when we are holding him and looking at the world upside down.

:: loves animals. He likes to stand in his window (with me behind him, of course) and watch the cats and dogs that are frequently seen in our court.

:: has lots of fun playing with the few Schleich animals I got for him, especially the sheep. He says, “baa, baa” when he picks it up and if I ask him to get the sheep, he will crawl over and take it out of the basket.

Twelve Months

18 Dec

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At 12 months, Charlie…

:: is still ridiculously happy, amazingly cute, and a total adventurer.

:: crawls like a maniac. No walking yet, but he has just started standing without holding on to anything. He still loves pushing his walker wagon and cursing on furniture but when he wants to book it somewhere, crawling is the mode of choice.

:: made yet another international flight and was informed he was the “best baby traveler ever” by a super-persnickity old lady who complained about everything else on the flight. We were pretty proud.

:: spent his first Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania, visited friends in New Jersey, and is enjoying the month of December (including celebrating his first birthday and his second Christmas) in Florida.

:: had his first bout with being ill. We all came down with what we are pretty sure was Bronchitis, and the poor guy was sad and sick and tired for nearly four days. It was so heartbreaking seeing him so quiet and serious and not-himself. He got lots of rest, cuddles, and love, and a few days after we arrived in Florida he was 100% again.

:: has been enjoying so much love from friends and family here in the States who don’t get to see him on a daily basis. Which also means that Caleb and I have gotten a few much-needed date nights!

:: is a real big fan of organic berry yogurt melts. I generally avoid the “baby snacks” but with all of our traveling we’ve had to grab some less-mess eating options, and the boy likes his yogurt melts.

:: is also a fan of chicken wings. We went to a BBQ place and Caleb gave him some meat and a big wing bone to (carefully) chew on. Yes, we kept an eye on him and no, it wasn’t small enough for him to choke on. He loooooved it.

:: crawled on the beach and left some pretty awesome sand tracks.

:: is currently saying: mama, dada, gogo, oh, bye bye, baa, muh (for more), ni ni ni (for no).

:: thinks that an empty water bottle is pretty much the coolest thing ever. He is also a fan of most of the things on this 10 month old’s Christmas List (warning, there’s a tiny bit of language)

:: enjoyed celebrating his first birthday twice, once in Pennsylvania and once in Florida! He had fun with balloons, tearing at his presents, and smiling at all of his admirers. He wasn’t very interested in his cake, but still managed to give it a good smash.

:: is still long and lean. He is right on target with his own personal growth, but he is definitely a little dude! I have a number of friends who had babies within a month or so of Charlie, and it’s been really neat seeing all of their different sizes and stages.

:: has four teeth. Only. Still. I feel like teeth five and six should have been here by now, and sometimes they taunt us by poking out a bit and then disappearing again. We had a solid week of him waking up angry and biting and upset, and then back to normal again, but still no new teeth. Teething really is the worst.

:: started doing this ridiculous sticking-out-his-tongue-twist. He decided to start on the day we had family photos taken, so there should be quite a few funny outtakes!

:: learned how to clap! We don’t really talk to him in “baby voices” or clap very much, so he learned this a little later than a lot of his counterparts, but it’s pretty cute.

:: is getting more and more hair by the minute. Right now he can rock a little faux hawk (or kewpie curl) depending on the wind strength.

:: is the happiest. For real, the boy just loves to smile at others. We’ve watched him make the connection that when he smiles at other people, they smile, and it’s so much fun when we are out and about.

:: is a YEAR OLD!!! I can hardly believe it. We are so blessed by him and I am so thankful that he is part of our family.

Charlie’s Birth Story

12 Dec

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I can’t believe that Charlie is one year old today and I’m just now posting his birth story. I wrote it all out a long time ago but until recently, hadn’t gone back through to edit it. Of course, if ever there’s a good day to share it, it would be his first birthday. Warning — it’s long. So it you’re into birth stories, then march on ahead.

Monday, December 10th, was a normal day, except for one thing  — I had an insane amount of energy. I actually posted on Facebook that I’d felt like I drank a triple espresso. It was bordering on ridiculous. I cleaned, ran a ton of errands, went to the thrift store. The weather was pretty dreary but I was completely wired.

That night I had a really vivid dream about various early labor signs happening to me. I also woke up a number of times feeling a little discomfort, like I might be having a contraction. They mostly felt like Braxton-Hicks, but just seemed a little bit different. Tuesday morning (the 11th), I woke up around 8am and felt enough of a difference in what I thought were Braxton-Hicks to download a contraction app and start timing them. I laid in bed for about an hour, timing the start and end. They were pretty far apart, but seemed to be consistent. With my due date still two weeks away (and this being my first baby), I knew that it was very likely just false labor. I went about my morning as usual, including my 38 week appointment with my midwife, Tara. We talked about the contractions and she told me not to get my hopes up but to try and get a little rest that day, just in case.

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I ran a few errands, including a trip to Target to buy some diapers (just in case, since we didn’t have any!). I stopped by our church’s office to see Caleb–I had mentioned that something might be up, but he was also convinced it was way too early for anything to be happening. Some of our friends were having a holiday potluck lunch at their flower shop, so I ate with them — all while continuing to feel consistant contractions. I had a haircut scheduled for later that week, but decided to move it up to the afternoon (I even told them I thought I might be in labor, which I think made my stylist somewhat nervous). After a nice new haircut, I stopped by the Hyppo Cafe to see Caleb and get some dinner, then went over to a friend’s house to watch New Girl. At this point, I’d also alerted my doula, Cee, because not only were the contractions continuing, but they were getting a bit more uncomfortable. I actually had to stop and breathe through some of them, and to me that was the biggest sign that this was probably it.

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Caleb had planned to go out that night with some of his friends as a last little “hurrah” before being home early each night (or, as he called it, “babywatch”). I told him to go ahead, but to keep his phone close. Around 11:00, I gave him a call and decided to take a bath. Things definitely started amping up at that point, and he helped me relax until about 2am, when they seemed to be getting much closer together. I told him to go ahead and call both Tara and Cee, since I had no idea how quickly things would progress (hah, little did I know). They arrived and Tara started getting everything set up. They both suggested that I try and labor in bed as long as I could, sleeping in between contractions (or at least trying to) so that my body could get some rest. I’m so glad I was able to do that and store up energy–Caleb and I laid in bed and I don’t think I slept much, but I was able to conserve quite a bit of energy (and Caleb did sleep).

Around six am, I felt like I needed to start moving around, because the contractions were getting a bit longer and had more pressure. Caleb was still sleeping, so Cee suggested that I walk around the house a bit. Things felt like they were spacing out, which discouraged me a little. I feel like this was the first mental block I had to get past: without much sleep, and feeling like I’d reached a little bit of a plateau, I really had to push myself not to feel bummed out and worry that it was going to get really hard (and long).

Thankfully, after another hour or so, I decided to have Tara check me to see how dilated I was. This was actually the first time I’d been checked since I was pregnant, so I was a little apprehensive about how my progress would be. I think Cee and Tara were too, and it felt like we were all holding our breaths. When she told me I was between 6 and 7 cm, I felt like dancing! I knew I still had a ways to go, but that was definitely progress! I felt like I had renewed energy after that, and Caleb woke up shortly after. I used the birthing ball to rock back and forth and had him pressing on my hips to relieve the pressure, which was really helpful. I feel like we tried most of the positions we’d learned in our Bradley Class, but that one was my favorite.

Around 11:00, I told Tara that I thought my water was going to break, and less than 30 seconds later, it did! After that, things definitely picked up. Contractions intensified even more and became longer. Caleb and Tara started filling up the birth pool, which took quite some time because our sink had some sort of funky connection and the water was coming out really slowly. Tara checked me again and I was between 8 and 9 cm! When the tub was filled and I finally got in, it felt amazing. I felt so good and the contractions seemed to become much more dull. I relaxed for a while, just floating in the water while Caleb would squeeze my neck. I waited for the urge to push, but nothing seemed to be happening. After about an hour, I got out and Tara checked me once more. My water had resealed (apparently the result of having a really healthy sac/eating healthy during pregnancy). She gave me the option to wait for it to break again, but I decided to have her go ahead and break it, since it had already broken naturally and I was starting to get pretty tired.

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After that, I got in the shower so I was upright for a bit, and wow. The next contraction that hit was the only one where I felt like I was completely out of my body. Or like I had gotten hit by a cement truck. I think it had been the combination of my water breaking again and being out of the tub after having so many contractions in the water. I yelled for Caleb and he helped me get to the tub quickly, where I felt much more comfortable. I finally felt the urge to push, and I was so excited because it seemed like we had almost reached the end. Hah! If only. Pushing was tough. I think part of it was that I had expected the pushing to be fairly short — because for most people, it is. But the actual pushing, during a contraction…well, it’s not fun. For the first two hours, I was progressing (that is, Charlie was moving down). Then, for the next two hours, things were staying the same. Yes, that’s four hours of pushing, half of which wasn’t actually doing anything. We left the tub about halfway through to try some different positions in the hopes that it would help move things along. After being awake (and in labor) for 36 hours, I was starting to run out of energy.

As we got towards the end of the last two hours, I could tell by Tara’s face that we were probably going to have to transfer. We were so close to having the homebirth that Caleb and I wanted (and had planned and worked for), but baby Charlie just didn’t seem to want to budge. Tara and Cee talked for a minute, then came back to let me know we had one last position we could try, but if that didn’t work then we would need to transfer. Legally, Florida midwives are required to transfer if a laboring mother has been pushing for more than two hours without progress, which is where we were at.

Caleb and I prayed together, and we all got into position for the last option. I think at that point I knew we’d probably be heading to the hospital. I put all the energy I could into those pushes, but he still wasn’t moving down. I was so ready to meet him, so ready for him to be out! My biggest fear at that point was that they’d have to use forceps or a vacuum. I wouldn’t even let myself think about the chance of a C-section. We’d cross that bridge if we came to it. Everyone started gathering things up, including the “just in case” bag I’d packed, and I put on a comfy dress. It was so cold and misty outside, and walking to the car was the last thing I wanted to be doing at that point. The ride to the hospital wasn’t fun, but it also wasn’t as bad as you might imagine. The contractions weren’t any stronger than they had been, but now I was trying not to push with as much effort (because once you start pushing, you can’t NOT push — you can only put less energy into it). I had two contractions during the short, five minute ride to the hospital, then one in the elevator and another when were filling out the registration form. Tara had called ahead, so thankfully we were able to go straight into L&D.

They had us go to the triage room, which is super tiny. I’m still not sure why they didn’t send us to a normal delivery room. As I was getting onto the bed, Tara saw Missy, one of the hospital’s nurse midwives in the hallway and pulled her in to help us. I’d actually visited Missy before for routine appointments, and she’s delivered a number of my friends’ babies, so I was really glad she was there. Missy and two of the nurses started directing my pushing, which was actually pretty helpful. Tara and Cee and Caleb were all cheering me on, and I knew we were almost there. I think the drive to the hospital and the walking helped move him down quite a bit. The pushing was painful, certainly, but there was never a point during the entire labor when I felt like I “couldn’t do it anymore” or that I was screaming for drugs.

As we were working through the pushes, the room seemed like it filled with people — I guess they were trying to be prepared if his heart rate changed, or if another procedure had to be done, but it was seriously chaotic. It was such a huge contrast to the quiet house we’d left, but at that point I was completely in the zone and focused on getting this baby out! The doctor who was on call arrived at the very end, during the second to last push.

We geared up for the last push, with everyone cheering, telling me to get angry, that this was it and I was going to push him out! The contraction started, I took a deep breath, let it out, took another and then shut my eyes tightly, and pushed with everything I had. Then wonderful, sweet relief and he was born! As the nurses checked him and wrapped him in a blanket, the doctor immediately started reaching to clamp and cut his cord, which we didn’t want (delayed cord clamping is much better for the baby). Missy tried to tell him, but he wasn’t listening, so Caleb yelled, “Doctor, do NOT cut his cord!” He put the clamp down. It might sound silly, but I was so proud of Caleb and the way he stood up for the things that were important to us. They put Charlie on my chest and he was crying away, pink and excited and a baby–our baby. It was completely surreal. It felt like I had waited so very long to meet him, but that I already knew him. We snuggled and he began to calm down as we looked at all of his sweet features. It was 8:46pm on 12/12/12 and he was born just twenty minutes after we arrived at the hospital.

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It was kind of amazing how normal I felt immediately afterwards. Yes, I was a bit sore, but other than that I felt great. Not woozy or out of it, but full of adrenaline and happy hormones. We put a hat on Charlie and had great skin-to-skin contact. After we cuddled a bit, I started nursing him and he latched on immediately! I had been a bit worried about how that would be, but we’ve honestly had a really easy time of it. He was so alert and I think that was a great help. Tara went out and got us some food from Arby’s, and so I have an awesome picture that Caleb took of me holding a nursing Charlie with one hand and a roast beef sandwich with another!

We spent the next two days in the hospital, because they require any babies born there to stay for 48 hours of observation. It was actually pretty nice to have the nurses and the meals and the remote-controlled bed. Charlie was with us the entire time — he stayed in our room and Caleb went with him any time they needed to take him to the nursery to check his weight or check him over. The hospital was really great about our requests — the only shot he got was the Vitamin K (since we’d had such a long pushing stage), and they didn’t weigh him until we’d spent a few hours together (he was 6lbs, 8 oz). It’s taken me some time to fully come to terms with the fact that we weren’t able to have him at home, but I feel like 99% of his birth was a homebirth and while I wish we hadn’t had to go to the hospital, I’m so thankful that we still had a natural birth with minimal interventions. I definitely plan to birth at home with our next one, especially since this time the pushing stage should be much easier.

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I know that birth is different for every person, and with every baby, but I can truly say there was never a point when I thought we couldn’t do it. It was hard work, and it took a lot of energy, but it wasn’t torture. It wasn’t impossible. And it was so very, incredibly rewarding. Our recovery was really fast and went so well, and I know that not having drugs in our systems was a huge part of that. I am so grateful for the support I had — especially from Caleb. He was so encouraging and such an incredible partner. I’m also grateful for the knowledge we had and the preparation we did. It was all very much worth it. Just knowing what to expect, even if it wasn’t exactly how we thought it would be, made a huge difference in getting through labor. I am in awe of the way that God designed our bodies, and the birth process. I’m so glad He delivered Charlie safely and kept me healthy, and that thanks to him, we are now a family of three.

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A Quiet Day

12 Sep

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It’s been a quiet day. I love the way our weekly rhythm balances out — a busy day with errands and mom group, then a slow day at home. I definitely believe in the importance of balancing busy days, especially with little ones. A chill day at home makes going out much easier and is a nice recovery from all the outside sights and sounds.

I also really enjoyed doing a lot of observing today. Sitting on the floor, drinking a cup of tea, just watching Charlie play with blocks and dig through his treasure basket. Kylie over at How We Montessori wrote a wonderful post on observing your children that I love. It’s so easy to do a chore here and there, check the internet, etc while happy play is going on, and before you know it you’ve missed some great chances to enjoy new discoveries and see through little eyes.

Oh, and yes, in case you are wondering, lately I’ve been diving headfirst into learning more about Montessori. So many of the principles align with things I love and think are important, and the more I read the more I see how well it fits our family. I’ve been enjoying reading about Waldorf methods as well, especially for younger ages. My favorite parenting book, Simplicity Parenting, draws from both methods and is a great resource for minimizing a lot of the stress that can go along with parenting in a culture of noise and “more, more more.”

It’s funny how you don’t think much about the rhythm of your days or the little philosophies in the things you do before you have a baby, but as they grow you start to slowly chip away and discover the kind of parent you are. And as in life, every season is different; every child is different. What works now may not work in the future, or for every family. But I am thoroughly enjoying discovering the kind of mama I am, and the kind of child that we have right now.

Hay-On-Wye and the Waterfall Centre

1 Aug

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So I’ve gotten a bit behind — there are at least three entries in my to do list that start with “Blog post: ….” But we’ve been pretty busy, and a three week trip to the States got everything a bit backed up (more on that in the next entry). For now, however, I wanted to share some of the fun we had for my birthday (which, yes, was May 29th…quite a while ago).

In traditional Jones fashion, we did things “Indiana Jones” style (adventure in the country, then adventure in the city). Caleb had initially planned on a two day adventure with a one-night stay in the middle, but due to a tight budget (and the fact that staying overnight with a baby is typically a bit more planning than a normal night at home), we just broke things up into two days.

Day One: City

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Hay-on-Wye is an amazingly adorable little town known for being full of bookshops. I’ve wanted to visit since before we moved here but hadn’t had the chance until Mr. Jones planned a lovely day for us — made even cooler by the fact that the Hay Festival (a celebration of creativity and thought) was happening that week. If you’ve ever watched Gilmore Girls, all you really need to know is that this place is basically a Welsh Stars Hallow. For real. It’s quirky, village-y, and chock full of eccentric shops and vintage bookstores. So yes, I was in love.

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Day Two: Country

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For our second day, Mr. Jones found an amazing hiking trail to one of my favorite country things: waterfalls! We packed a picnic lunch and thanks to the Ergo (so handy), the three of us hiked nearly three miles and saw a load of waterfalls, both big and small. There were multiple trails and loops, so we definitely plan to go back (especially hike by the old gunpowder factory).

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So yeah…my birthday was a blast. I can’t think of a better way to spend my first birthday in a new place than exploring even more new places!

Day in the Life

26 Jun

A couple of weeks ago, I thought it would be fun to do a “day in the life” post. Now, by no means do we have a typical schedule, but there are certain rhythms that stay pretty consistent, and particular days that usually follow the same general events. So I picked a day, took lots of photos, and here we are!

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7:00am — Good morning! I love my happy morning Charlie, who is usually up and babbling around 7am. He is such a goof at this point and it’s a great way to start the day.

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While he’s still enjoying being silly, I spread out a blanket on our bathroom floor and let him play while I take a shower. My days for this are numbered, however, because he’s recently started rolling both ways and it’s only a matter of time before he decides to investigate things like, say, the bottom of the toilet (ick).

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Sure enough, I emerge from the shower to be greeted by this guy on his tummy, in a totally different place than where I left him.

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Time for a morning nap! After I’ve finished getting ready for the day, he’s usually ready to take his first nap. He doesn’t last very long first thing in the morning, so off to sleep he goes…

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While the little guy sleeps, I finish making the baked oatmeal that I prepped the night before. Mr. Jones and I enjoy a bowlful of deliciousness and talk about what’s going on that day.

9:00am — Aaand he’s up. The first nap is usually a short nap, but he’s also super happy when he wakes up. I usually hear him singing away and go into the room to find him grinning from ear to ear.

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Time to get dressed!

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Since Caleb has a meeting this morning and we only have one car, he drops Charlie and I off at the library. Charlie chills in the stroller (er, “pushchair”) and I browse through a few cooking magazines.

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9:45am — We walk through the park to the Leisure Centre, where my mum’s group meets. Charlie snoozes a bit and I enjoy the lovely weather.

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10:00am — Mum’s group! I always love this time. We’re here for two hours and it’s a great time for Charlie to play with the other babies and some new toys; I get a snack (and good conversation with other moms), and sometimes there’s even a special bit of instruction on infant safety, baby massage, etc.

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12:00pm — Mr. Jones comes to pick us up and someone is plenty happy to be in the car seat with Sophie.

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Playtime at home on his blanket. This is his favorite place to practice rolling around and pseudo-crawling (it’s coming, I know).

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I fold some cloth diaper laundry while he’s playing and get it put away in his nursery.

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Grunting begins, which means he’s ready for another nap. First, a pre-nap #selfie in our upstairs bathroom. Even when he’s sleepy, it doesn’t take much to get a good smile.

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Aaaaand he’s out. Minus one sock, apparently.

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1:15pm — While he naps, I do some knitting…

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…and planning for the rest of the week.

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2:30pm — Awake and ready to go! We have a late lunch, but that’s just how it happens. People in the UK tend to eat lunch a bit later than we do in the States anyway, so I’d say we’re adjusting pretty well.

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Time for a book! He really just loves to smack the pages, but I think he’s starting to appreciate the pictures a little more now.

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We play some more and there’s another short nap (he’s currently consolidating his many tiny naps into a few longer naps), so I work on a blog post and enjoy a cup of tea. After a while, Mr. Jones comes home and we hang out a bit, then he plays with Charlie while I make dinner.

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6:00pm — Dinner time! This was the week before we began letting him experiment with food, so he had started joining us at the table in his high chair. He got very good at knocking toys off the tray on to the floor (and so it begins).

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6:30pm — A quick trip to the Cwmbran Boating Lake with some friends of ours! It was beautiful out and we loved having a nice little walk around the water.

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(And no, Charlie is not big enough for the swing — Mr. Jones pretty much just held him in place and did a little pseudo-swinging. He really enjoyed it though!)

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8:00pm — Time to put on a new diaper and get PJs ready!

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8:15pm — No bath tonight (it’s getting late), so just a quick book and then off to bed! Caleb and I do a bit of reading and watch part of a movie, then it’s bedtime for us as well! Thanks for sharing our day with us. :)

Trip to Scotland

28 May

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The view from our flat.

Shortly after we arrived here in Wales, some of our friends from Florida told us they might be visiting Scotland in the spring. We decided to go in on renting an apartment for a few days (er, “letting a flat”) and explore Edinburgh! We had a wonderful time–not only is Scotland beautiful, but it was so good to see friends from the States after being here for nearly three months. They have a two and a half year old son, which is nice because we were all on the same sort of schedule (no late partying for us).

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One of the first items on the agenda was Arthur’s Seat, a group of super high hills nestled between Edinburgh Castle and the coastline. It was a gorgeous walk–we couldn’t have asked for better weather! The view was amazing and I took about a zillion photos.

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After our climb, us ladies booked it to The Scotsman Hotel for high tea (sans kids!). The scones with clotted cream and jam were scrumptious in the truest meaning of the word, and all of the other goodies were delicious as well. We each had a pot of tea and took a nice slow walk back to our flat, stopping at a few shops on the way.

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Edinburgh Castle was also on our list of things to see. I love that it kinda looks like Hogwarts (fitting, since J.K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter books while living in Edinburgh)!

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It was a windy, rainy day, but we still got to see the castle museums and a pretty great view. It wasn’t the most stroller friendly, but we managed (have I mentioned how much I love the MacLaren stroller? Because even though we got a great deal on it, I would pay full price in a second–it’s been invaluable). Mr. Jones put the Ergo carrier to use for some of the more “stair oriented” parts of the castle, and the rain cleared up enough for some nice view and photos at the end.

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The food was excellent as well–the typical curry and kebab, local mussels, and even haggis chips (they were fantastic). You can definitely tell Edinburgh is a university town, which means some great coffee shops (like The Brew Lab). Still, there are lots of family friendly places to see, including the National Museum of Scotland (which I wish I had left more time for).

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Our drive home was picturesque and so very “Scottish.” I’m sure the highlands are even prettier, but the clouds, castles, sheep and hairy coos gave us plenty to see.

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We had to stop in the town of Stonehouse on our trip back, because it’s where my great grandmother lived! My dad had sent me the address and we even found the house that she lived in — now a fish n chip shop. I talked with the ladies in the shop and they fussed over Charlie and thought it was great to meet the great granddaughter of the woman who used to live there. I love that we have photos of Charlie in front of the shop as well.

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Our friends spent a few days in Crieff, then came down to stay with us for two nights. We really enjoyed showing them around and giving them a taste of what life here is like. On their last night, we hiked up to the White Stone and took in the panoramic views of the Welsh Valleys. We were sad to see them go, but are looking forward to more visitors soon!

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Eventually I’ll Get Around to it

23 May

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All week I’ve been trying to get a post up about our trip to Scotland, but the evenings keep filling up and before I know it, I’m in bed after a looooong day.

Like today–whew. We went to Ikea in Cardiff to get a few things (including a high chair for Charlie–just a couple weeks until he’ll be using it). We also joined Costco (yes, they have Costco here!), taking full advantage of great prices on giant bags of almonds, shrimp, frozen berries, plus a huge value pack of contact solution (which for some reason seems to be really expensive in the UK). We will probably go just once a month to do a little stocking up on staples, but it’s so worth it.

Driving home was a bit hairy, as coming back from Cardiff typically seems to be: taking the wrong exit on a roundabout which then shot us back where we came from, with ten minutes before we could turn around, which then coincided with school letting out, crazy traffic, and rain. Driving is definitely the biggest stress and most difficult cultural adjustment we’ve had to make, but that deserves its own post.

The evening itself was pretty laid back, though, and I did my strength training circuit from 42 Days to Fit. I’m
looking forward to seeing a difference soon, as well as just to getting more energy in general.

All this to say, really, that a Scotland post is coming soon, just you wait! In the meantime, here’s a photo of The Cutest.

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Trip to Bradford, England

22 Apr

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Two weeks ago, Mr. Jones was accepted as a volunteer Financial Counselor for CAP (Christians Against Poverty). It’s an incredible organization, one that allows us to help people who are in financial need while also sharing the gospel with them: the good news that Christ died to pay our debt and give us eternal freedom. We are looking forward to seeing how Caleb will be used, as well as how it will help connect us to people in the community.

To start, though, he had to complete three days of intense training. The training was at the CAP headquarters in Bradford, England (about 4 hours away). Charlie and I figured we’d tag along and see what Northern England was like. We took a whole day to drive up, and stopped in Manchester to take a break from the drive. There’s a giant mall there called the Trafford Centre and the food court was EPIC. It felt like we were in a Disney theme park or something. It’s funny, because while we tend to enjoy indoor shopping more here (due to not having to worry about the weather and it being easy to push Charlie around in the stroller), we don’t really buy anything. Consumer goods (clothing, shoes, etc) are much more expensive here, and just knowing how cheap they are in the States makes it hard to pay the prices. I know eventually we’ll need things, but for now we’re holding out until we make a trip back to the US (after which I know we’ll return with full suitcases).

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Heading out of Manchester was a bit crazy, because we hadn’t realized that there was a huge football (soccer) match between Manchester and Manchester United. It was funny seeing people on Facebook talking about the match later after knowing we had driven right by the stadium. We arrived at our hotel fairly late, and got an American guilty pleasure — Pizza Hut. Definitely not healthy but pizza is pretty much the perfect eat-in-your-hotel-room food.

I had planned to do quite a bit of exploring over the next few days with Charlie, but we both were feeling pretty under the weather with this sore throat/coughing bug that has been going around. We did, however, make it to the National Media Museum, which was pretty cool. Charlie slept the entire time and I enjoyed looking at a giant exhibit on Bollywood, as well as learning more about the history of British radio and television. There are so many shows I had never heard of, but lots that I had, and it was neat to see how the history of the BBC compared with what I know of American television.

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Bradford is home to a large Indian population, so they’re known for having some of the best curry in the country. We got takeaway from Omar Khan’s (which looked lovely to eat at, but Charlie wasn’t up for hanging out) and it was incredibly delicious. Bradford also has some really lovely historic buildings that are still being used for shops, like a Waterstone’s book store that looked like it was straight off the set of a Harry Potter movie.

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On our last day there, I hung out for some of the training and then headed over to the Texure Yarn Shop. It was like yarn heaven…so big, so much yarn — they even had a cozy sitting area in the back with shelves full of knitting books and patterns. I’m sure I could have spent all day in there, but Charlie slept just long enough for me to ogle all of the yarn and pick out three skeins of super soft green that will soon become his own sweater.

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The one spot I’d hoped to see but didn’t was Saltaire. It’s the home of Salts Mill, an old mill that snow full of little shops and a beautiful art gallery. It’s a bit outside of town, though, and though we’d planned to stop on our way out of town, it was super rainy and we were ready to head back to Wales. If we’re ever back in the area, though, I definitely plan to go check it out.

All in all, it was a fun trip, and we enjoyed seeing a new part of England. Our hearts are definitely in Wales, though. Just crossing back over into the mountains, I felt like we were “home” again. It’s crazy still to think that this is our home, but it is. Slowly, as one day stacks on to the back of another, we are settling in.

 

Wales: Settling In

3 Apr

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My handsome husband, in front of a castle.

So we’re here. In Wales. I can’t believe I’m just now writing this, but things have been pretty nonstop. Moving to a foreign country can keep you quite busy, especially when there’s a baby involved! Even simple things like moving in and putting our mountain of IKEA furniture together take twice as long as they used to, since one of us is hanging out with Charlie.

We’ve been here for about six weeks — it’s hard to believe it’s already April! We are thankful for it, though, because the snow has melted (yes, we  had snow last week!) and the sun is out. We know our hot Florida summers will be nowhere to be found, but we are excited to do lots of exploring as the mountain air warms up a bit.

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The view from our bedroom window just two weeks ago.

Mr. Jones and I have both been hit with sinus bugs (blerg), but I’m on the mend and Caleb is no longer coughing every ten seconds. We hadn’t thought about the fact that all of our immunities are no good here! We will be hand-washing, citrus-intaking fools while our bodies get used to this new environment, and hopefully we can keep from catching every virus that goes around. Charlie, thankfully, is healthy as ever. He had his first GP (general doctor) appointment this morning and she called him an “applesauce baby” (I guess that’s kind of like a US “Gerber Baby”). She also jokingly tried to steal him and said she’s never seen a baby so happy and full of energy at his age!

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My “9 to 5″

I am starting to adjust to what daily life looks like here. It’s funny, too, because I’m also just now starting to adjust to being a full-time stay at home mom. We had so many things to do before we left the States, and nothing was consistent, that it just wasn’t something that I had to deal with. I love it already, and running our household/raising Charlie is what I want to be doing more than anything else. But I also know that it is a slow process when you’re a new mom in a new place. It takes time to build routines and friendships, and it is harder than normal being away from all of your family and friends. Thankfully, technology has been a huge blessing. Through the magic of iMessage (and thanks to the fact that most of my friends/family have iPhones), I can text as easily as I did before. We’ve had a blast using FaceTime and Skype to catch up with people, and I can share plenty of photos of Charlie via Instagram and Facebook.

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FaceTime is fun with this chunky guy.

Social Media is a double-edged sword though. Though it can be wonderful, it can also steal our time so easily. I want my focus to be on my family and on “real life” more than on the world inside my little black box. To help keep things balanced, our family is going to start doing a “Social Media Sabbatical” on the first weekend of every month. I got the idea from Lara Casey (I’m a little obsessed with her Making Things Happen series right now) and I think it’s very necessary. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Speaking of goal setting, it’s something I’m working on a lot this week. April is, in a way, our January — it’s the beginning of a new season and the beginning of a solid routine in a set place (something we haven’t had for quite some time). One of my goals is to blog more, and to take the pressure off of what a blog post needs to be. I’ve talked about this before, but I feel like I’ve never kept up with it the way I want to. I want this to be a place where my friends and family can keep track of what we’re up to; where I can share and record things that happen in our family; where I have zero pressure to be anything but exactly what I am. So, new season, new goal, and we’ll see what happens.

Finally, a few photos of life here lately!

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Coffee breaks are very frequent here. Charlie, you’ve got a while before you hit this stuff!

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Lovely cafe in Cowbridge where we ate with some friends from church.

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Happy Easter from Charlie! His Great-Grandma got him the sweet blue sweater and he loves it.

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We stayed with friends for the first few weeks here and they had llamas outside their kitchen window!

 

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Charlie may have been born in Florida, but he’s okay with the cold.

 

 

 

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