17 December 2009

so great.

seriously. how cute is this?! my mom was making faces at the baby and she obviously thought it was pretty great.

7 December 2009

a day that will live in infamy

on december 7, 1941 the course of united states history changed forever. in the early hours of the morning, the air force base at pearl harbour was attacked by the japanese. the raid officially forced america into the already waging second world war. until september 11, 2001 it was the single, deadliest attack on american soil.

on december 8, 1941 President Roosevelt gave a now famous speech that began with the words "yesterday, december 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the united states was suddenly and deliberately attacked...." thirty three minutes after he finished his speech, the united states declared war on japan.

today is the anniversary of that horrific day in our history. its not a national holiday, or even a widely recognized memorial day. and veterans day has come and gone. but those courageous men and woman who fought so bravely to defend our soil that day deserved to be honoured. us, of the younger generation, need to stay abreast of crucial times in our history so as the survivours slowly pass on, their memory is not lost forever.

let us take a moment to remember that fateful day 68 years ago. and to remember the courage and bravery of our service men and woman. some veterans feel that as their numbers decrease, so does the nations awareness and understanding of pearl harbour. and whilst none of us can truly understand what it was like that day, let us be the ones to show our veterans that we have not forgotten them.

so today, december 7, 2009 let us remember and honour our world war II veterans, both those who are still with us, and those whose memories will live forever.

4 December 2009

in the land......

that sentence has many endings. however two endings in particular are standing out to me at the moment. "in the land...where people say excuse me" and "in the land...of good food."

for some reason people always associate brits with great manners. i can not speak for the entirety of the UK, but people in London are not really polite. well perhaps the queen is polite, but she is not your everyday, average joe on the street. those people are more than happy to run you over and never look back. i was surprised at how quickly i forgot that in some places people say hello and wave for no reason; even if you are a complete stranger. i am so used to people reading as they commute, walking as fast as they can to their next destination and having no superfluous conversation that i forgot it even exists. and then i came back to oklahoma. people say excuse me when the bump into you. they stop and let you pass if two of you happen upon a junction at the same time. people randomly start conversations with you in stores, at cash registers. its crazy. people are so friendly. and i didnt realise just how much i missed that until this week. its so lovely to say hello and smile at complete strangers. and i cant get enough of the "excuse me" Sure brits can queue like there is no tomorrow. make no mistake about it, if something has a wait, there will be a quiet, orderly and tidy queue. but, in london at least, a queue is where the manners stop. and to be honest, i am really loving the friendly down home feeling that middle america has. i just cant get enough.

but its not just the manners that has acted like a comfort blanket for me the past week. its the food too. and it has been amazing. so much for my diet and the last 10 pounds of pregnancy weight. i miss my american food SO MUCH in the UK. and now that i am here, i just want to eat whatever i want. so far i have had real mexican, a party taco from taco bueno (not quite as authentic but just as yummy), chick-fil-a, sonic, real ice tea, panera (oh how i miss the bacon turkey bravo) colby jack cheese and more gold fish than i can count. oh, and of course thanksgiving food. i am still looking forward to some fantastic dishes my mom makes like sloppy joes and her chicken casserole, plus los cabos, cheddars, bbq and of course, many more trips to chick-fil-a.

ah, its good to be back.

2 December 2009

stuck in the middle

the post about the flight is coming. promise. but something else is consuming my thoughts. health care. i know, i know, i just wrote about health care. talk about beating a dead horse. but a situation arose today that really caused me to question everything.

as you all know, i have never been a huge fan of nationalised health care. i think it sucks. but i also think its about time i pointed out some of the strong points of the system i live under in the UK.

the main one being that is free.

i dont pay to see a doctor. ever. the NHS has a flat rate of 7 pounds for prescriptions. and well, everything else?...its free. i didnt pay a dime when i had eleri. we just walked in and out of the hospital; no insurance card, no paperwork, nothing. ok, sure we had to stay on a ward with lots of other people. and bring our own blankets...and pillows...and sheets. and yeah, the bed was all metal, with a metal headboard and it was built in 1950. and ok, no air conditioning. but it was free. according to the american association of pediatrics, the average cost of having a child in 2008 was $3475. that cost was what people had to pay in addition to the costs covered by their insurance companies. ok, so those americans didnt have to bring in their own sheets and pillows; and they probably had a nice padded bed that could be adjusted. but they had to pay. and i didnt.

and whenever i have to go to the pharmacy. its only 7 pounds. no wondering how much it will be and if my insurance company will cover that particular prescription. its a flat rate.

my cancer removal/treatment? free

rhys' x-rays for rugby injuries? free

doctor visits? free

and that is nice. i realise the flip side to that is the HUGE waiting time to see a doctor or a specialist. the way the NHS judges procedure on a cost basis, refusing treatment if they feel it is too expensive. and that is not ideal either. but you know what really sucks? being in america without insurance. it sucks even more than i remembered.

a few days before we left for america, eleri seemed to get a bit of a cold. but that happens in the winter time, plus some of her little friends had colds and we had been around them recently. so no big deal. since we were flying for so long, i figured i would take her to the doctor and see what he said. i assumed he would say it was just a cold. and i was right. his exact words were "she has a cold. it happens. enjoy your flight" fair enough. on we went.

its now been a week and she has the same cough that she did before we left. and since my mother HATES nationalised medicine even more than i do, she really wanted eleri to see an american doctor. so we went to the doctor today. and the american doctor said that she had a chest infection, probably asthma, and needed a breathing treatment. she did one in the office and then gave me 3 different prescriptions. i was told to give her the antibiotics for 5 days so she doesnt get pneumonia, do one type of medicine in a breathing treatment 4 times a day, another type of medicine 2 times a day and come back for a chest x-ray in a week if she is still coughing. wow. know how much that visit cost me without insurance? $437. and that doesnt even cover the prescriptions. just one of the prescriptions she gave me is $207. and i have 3 to fill.

there was no change in eleri in the week that passed. but those are two VERY different diagnosis. one was free. and one cost me nearly $500.

so i am stuck in the middle.

i dont think the NHS does enough. but does american health care do too much? is that too extreme? before you all go thinking that i am bad mother, i filled the prescriptions and i will give eleri the medicine, but i am still questioning the necessity of it all. there has got to be a middle ground. there has got to be a system that checks people out thoroughly, doesnt over medicate and doesnt charge so damn much. because as it is, i cant afford it.

the american health care system leaves people like me out. i cant afford those kinds of bills. its just too much. i buy a lottery ticket every week hoping to cash in on my share of the millions of pounds up for grabs, but until i win, i am poor. too poor to be paying hundreds and hundreds of dollars in medical bills just to see a doctor. something in me says seeing a doctor is a basic human right. am i starting to sound a bit like a socialist? perhaps. but the system has some major flaws.

unfortunately, so does the UK system. which leaves me in the middle. i am not a fan of having to wait over 3 months to see a specialist for eleri. i want her to be seen straight away. but when i see said specialist, it wont cost me a penny. but it may be to late to correct her problem. flip to america, and i got to see a doctor straight away who took immediate action. but i cant afford to pay the bill as a result. i really am stuck. people need to be taken care of. but they need to be done so in a way that is affordable. i dont have the solution. i am not sure that it is nationalised health care. i have lived in that system and it lets people down. but i am not sure that private insurance is the way to go either. i have lived in that system. and it lets people down too.

so for now i will stay stuck in the middle; forced to live in the pros and cons of both systems.

26 November 2009

im here. finally.

hello america. we have arrived. after 20 hours of travelling, man! i am SO glad to be on solid ground. I will have a post shortly about the plane journey of me and the 4 month old, but for now i will leave you all with some some great quotes from the trip so far.

"well thats a Gerber baby if i have ever seen one!" flight attendant on the plane

"i was holding your baby and then the flight attendant came and FORCEFULLY took her out of my hands because she wanted to hold her instead. bitch." from the woman across the isle who held eleri when i went to the bathroom. people were literally fighting over her.

conversation between me and a woman in the customs line when we landed in chicago

woman: "oh what a cute baby. what is her name?"

me: "eleri"

woman: "LARRY?! i thought it was a girl!"

"wow what big eyes! i think she might be the cutest baby i have ever seen. probably even cuter than my own baby" woman in chicago.

conversation between me and mikey, my 6 year old nephew.

mikey: "i just drew a picture of eleri with a mustache"

me: "what? eleri doesnt have a mustache!"

mikey: "no, not yet. but she may grow up to have one. you just never know."

so far its been good. and as tomorrow is thanksgiving, i imgaine the trip will only get better.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

20 November 2009

tuesday is coming fast

i leave on tuesday. i will be gone from my house for 42 days. that is a long time to have to pack for, especially when that invloves packing for a little one. and i really havent even started yet. good plan kristina, good plan.

but what is really making me nervous is the day of travel. here is what is looks like

6.30am: arrive heathrow

9.00am: plane leaves heathrow

9 hours later.....land chicago

customs, baggage re-check, terminal change

4 hours later.....leave chicago

6.30pm: land tulsa

plus throw in a crazy 6 hour time change and there is my day. the long haul flights are bad enough when its just me. and i can read, watch movies or sleep.

there will be no sleeping or watching movies this time around. just me and little ele. and its kind of freaking me out.

not the fact that i will have my daughter all day, because we do that all time. its the having to occupy a 4 month old on a plane. and what about the air pressure? what if it bothers her little ears? and what about sleeping and diaper changes, and toys, and breast feeding? so many questions. and instead of dealing with them in a calm, cool and collected way....well, i am kind of freaking out. maybe once i start packing and get some things out of the way, i will feel better.

but until then, i need some help. any suggestions? any tips on flying with a little one? even if you dont have kids, but you have a good idea, throw it at me. i am accepting all the help i can get!!

oh, and eleri's british passport just came in the post today! woo hoo!! she has both her passports now; we really are all ready to go!

18 November 2009

it's all make believe

sometimes that is how i feel. like the country i live in is really some giant fairy tale land with kings and queens and funny accents. in reality, its just Britain. but sometimes the pomp and circumstance of it all causes my breath to catch in my throat and i think "really? such a place actually exists?" and it makes me smile. because as a little girl i read story after story of the princess, the dragon, the queen, the carriage taking the fair maiden to the ball. but the book always came to an end and then it was back to real life. but every so often, that fairy land of my childhood becomes a reality here in the UK.

and today was one of those days.

today the queen gave her annual speech at parliament. this is how she arrived.

and this is what she wore

but sometimes it feels like a fairy tale land for other reasons. something else happened today. far from fancy carriages and sparkly jewels, there was a more sinister side to the day. There was a shooting on old kent road. my husbands current project is on old kent road. not only was i worried for his safety, but when it came time for him to come home, all the buses were cancelled due to the gunman lose on the streets. When he finally made it to euston station to catch a train home, he saw a sign quite similar to this.

this particular sign was from my commuting days, but the situation was the same. a man jumped in front of the train and was caught under the carriage. I will never forget the first time this happened on my commute. 5 November 2007. I walked into the station and saw hundreds of people just milling around, looking annoyed. I asked someone what was going on and they said, and i quote "another damn jumper. couldnt have waited until after rush hour" how inconvenient of the poor, depressed soul. it actually happens quite a lot. about 2 or 3 a month. sometimes i cant believe that is real.

so he finally made it home. we put our daughter to bed and ate dinner. and i kept thinking about the dichotomy of today. a make believe, fairy tale of fancy dresses, horse drawn carriages and priceless jewels right along side the darkest and most depressing aspects of human nature.

to end on a happier note, this was another sighting. check out all those buses!!

crazy fairy tale land....

17 November 2009

some thoughts on the "public option"

with all that has been happening in america recently, i have had many discussions with my fellow americans regarding health care and obama's plans to "revitalize" the system. Because i live here, in the UK, and we have nationalised health care, people have been asking me lots of questions. and offering their opinions. most of those opinions are based on exactly that, opinion. since the american system basically offers you two choices, private insurance or no insurance, most people have never had the privilege of dealing with a nationalised system. or public option as obama is choosing to call it.

and the general consensus of most americans that i speak with is that the plan is a good one. it will benefit the poor, help those with little to no insurance, and on a whole wont really change the system. because what could be bad about health care that is free right? hmmm...

i recently had one friend point out that the new plan will predominately help those who really cant afford health care. he ended his argument by pointing out that we have never really been poor and in america. true. i have never really been poor. i have been a struggling college and grad student, working 40 plus hours to try and make ends meet. i have been a struggling new graduate, working a crap teaching job that didnt even pay enough to cover rent and bills. but i have been all of that as a single person, no husband, no family. so my friend was right in a sense that i have never really been poor and needed health care. but i have been without insurance and needed medical attention. oh boy, that was a challenge.

during graduate school and my first year out, i did not have medical insurance. i couldn't really afford it. but i did get sick in those 3 years. and i had huge amounts out of pocket to see a doctor and get prescriptions. and the care i received was different. the clinics i had to go to were not as nice, not as well staffed and well, pretty much you could tell that i was at a place that would see people on a cash only basis. its hard to be in america without insurance.

but hear me on this. i would take america with no health insurance over government run health care any day. there is no choice. because even though the care wasnt the same as if i had had health insurance, and even though the clinic may not have been as nice, i was still seen in a timely and efficient manner. the problem was address quickly and effectively.

timely and efficient are words that seem to evaporate over here. because health care is government run, everything is worked out on a cost/time/effort basis. will the procedure be lengthy and time consuming? if the answer is yes, then dont expect it to happen. doctors (GP's as we call them over here) are paid based on how many people they see in a day. when you have an appointment you are given 10 minutes. well 10 minutes at my doctors office. its less elsewhere. but when you allotted time limit is up, you have to go. my sister in law was actually told, and i quote, "your 5 minutes are up. if you have more questions you will have to make another appointment." she did have more questions. she had only briefly discussed her problem and had a questions about her daughter. she had to make another appointment.

and before you think "yeah, thats just an isolated incident. doesnt happen all the time" think again. if something is not cheap, quick and easy then its more than likely they wont do it. sometimes you get a doctor who is willing to take the time to actually talk to you and investigate, but those are few and far between. and the really disheartening thing is that even when you get a doctor who is willing to help, to really investigate, you still have to fight with the NHS system as a whole.

take my daughter for example. There is potential that due to the difficulty in labour and delivery, eleri may have some nerve damage in her right arm and hand. we went to the doctor to get it checked out. he agreed that there was potential she has some weakness and sent her to the hospital paediatrician/neurologist to check it out. we went into the GP on the 6th of November. The FIRST appointment available at the hospital is the 20th of January. that is almost an entire 3 MONTHS after i would have had the first doctors appointment. 3 MONTHS. but i cant do a single thing about it. the doctor mentioned that catching nerve damage within the first 5 months means that there is a big chance the problem can be corrected. by the time we get our appointment that 5 month window will be gone. She will be 6 months old already.

and there is not a single thing i can do about it. i just have to wait. but hey, at least its free right?

and what could possibly be wrong with free health care?!

the problem is that you pay for what you get. if you pay nothing, then that is what you can expect to get. nothing. and as a new mother who wants the absolute best for her daughter, nothing is just not good enough. waiting 3 months to see a doctor is not good enough. and what can i do about it? nothing. sucks.

i could pay to go private in the UK, but the cost is astronomical. essentially there are two choices in this country as well, government run health care at a sub par level or pay out huge amounts of money for private care. not too be a downer, but i foresee this as the way it will end up in the states. people keep saying that the public option really wont affect the system as it is now. but i dont buy it. at all. i have experienced government run health care. and it sucks. i can only imagine what americans will think of it.

to be fair, i will say that not every experience i have had with the NHS has been negative. when i went in to the doctor in the summer and was diagnosed with skin cancer, i had a fantastic NHS doctor. she was brilliant. quick, efficient, and free. so in that instance the government run and paid for health care was perfect. but there have been more times than i can count that have been awful.

so forgive me, fellow americans, if i can not jump on board 100% with obama's plan of government run health care. I do agree that something needs to happen to change americas system. it does not work for every one. i do understand that. but i do not think that health care run and paid for by the government is the right answer. i know that the NHS is a more extreme version of what obama wants. i realise there are many differences between what i have described and what obama wants to implement. but the basic principle is the same.

and in my opinion the outcome is the same. government run health care sucks.

its official

finally. its official. 100% for sure. we are coming to america.

I have my passport.

eleri has her passport. (well, one of them anyways.)

we are coming to america in less than a week!

11 November 2009

the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month,

remembrance day. its a special day for me. it always is. it just means a lot to me that worldwide there is a celebration for those who have served their country, both past and present. remembrance day last year will forever hold a special place in my heart as i got to experience a once in a lifetime ceremony with 3 of last surviving world war I veterans. it truly was a once in a lifetime as just one short year later, all 3 are dead. (for more info read HERE and HERE)

and this year is special but for another reason. this remembrance day is eleri's first. i realise that she is just 3 and a half months old and will have no recollection of this time. but its important to me that even from this early of an age she is surrounded by the words, pictures and memories of those who have so bravely served their countries. i want her to remember so that their sacrifices are not forgotten. i want eleri to know, to understand, to care.

I wanted to take her to the ceremony at Westminster Abbey. It was focused on the first world war because, as i mentioned earlier, all the surviving british WWI veterans died this year. it didnt quite work out that way, and we ended up staying home. we read poems, sang songs, looked at pictures and observed the 2 minutes of silence at the 11th hour.

and in an attempt to familiarise my daughter even more with great 'war' moments of the past, i read her all the famous speeches i could think of. i

"we shall fight them on the beaches" winston churchill

"a day that will live in infamy" franklin d roosevelt

"sixteen hours ago" (in reference to the atomic bomb) harry truman

"scorched earth" joesph stalin

"the iron curtain speech" winston churchill

"peace for our time" and "this country is at war with germany" neville chamberlin

"the war to end all wars" woodrow wilson

and at the end of president wilson's speech, eleri started to goo and giggle. i think she missed the poignancy that is remembrance day. all she understood was that her mommy was playing with her. and as she laughed, i started to cry. I was struck with the dichotomy of the situation. i was reading words telling of great destruction and tragedy, stories that recounted the most horrific situations. i was reading the words of war to my sweet, innocent daughter. and it broke my heart.

i cried because the men of the two world wars are dying out. i cried because we still have men and woman fighting and dying in wars even today. i cried because someday she may know the pain of loss that comes with war. and she just kept smiling, goo-ing and laughing.

this day will hold a special place in my heart. i will tell her about her first remembrance day. and when she is older, and can actually understand what courage and sacrifice are honoured on this very special day, we will read through the speeches again.

thank you soldiers past and present. thank you for your selfless sacrifice to help bring peace and security to our world. soldiers, you are not forgotten.

9 November 2009

the terrible, horrible, no good, very....AWESOME day.

embassy day has come and gone. and boy it was quite a day. it started about 8.30 in the morning. eleri and i were dressed, bag packed, baby bjorn strapped on and adjusted and at the train station. just in time for the signal failure and train delay. sweet. an excellent start to the day. we finally made it into central london an hour later (two people offered me a seat on the train! unbelievable london commuting behavior) and slowly began the tube journey to paddington station.

in an interesting development that occurred the night before we were to go into the embassy, i found out that i needed the actual paper ticket that eleri will travel on in november. the embassy wanted to see it as proof of travel for her rush passport. I was not planning on getting the paper ticket until we actually went to the airport to check in, but clearly that would no longer work. so before the embassy, me and big e would have to go to heathrow and back. not ideal, but hey, you do what you gotta do.

so from paddington we caught the very expensive, but very fast, Heathrow Express. and she cried the whole way to the airport. i couldnt figure out why until i looked at my watch and realised it was time for a feed. 'i will just hold her off until we get to heathrow. surely they will have a feeding facility' i thought to myself. WRONG. NO FEEDING ROOM. i even asked just to make sure. seriously?! what about all of us breastfeeding mom's out there who want to maintain a little modesty? well, for me that meant feeding the little one in the airport bathroom, sitting on the toilet. nice. but hey, no more tears after that. and i was able to quickly sort out the paper ticket and be on my way back into london.

from paddington to oxford street. at this point we were just killing time until our appointment at the embassy. we walked up and down oxford street, looked at all the nice shops. e was enthralled by the christmas lights and i was beyond annoyed by all the londoners who kept bumping into us. now before you say "oh, everyone bumps into people occasionally" London 'bumping' is not an accident. people in the city are more than happy to run you over if it helps them get where they are going 2 seconds faster. obviously saying excuse me would slow them down too much, so they just run you over. i cant count the number of times that we were shoved, hit, run into and pushed out of the way. people i had a BABY, an INFANT, strapped to my chest. how could you miss that?! why would you think it would be ok to run into me?! it was not ok with me. so by oxford street, whilst eleri enjoyed the sparkly lights, i was pretty much walking with my elbows out just daring anyone to come close. one woman did and she got an elbow in the face. (i am not mean people, she hit eleri and made her cry. and she only got an elbow in the face because she was just that short)

rhys met us shortly thereafter and we started to make our way to...dun, dun, dun....the American Embassy. apparently i killed a little too much time wandering oxford street because rhys and i were practically running to make it for our appointment time. it was a nice run through mayfair and down park lane though. two of the nicest, most posh areas in london.

we arrive at the embassy and begin the 30 minute process that is american security. we finally make it inside, to the right room and joined the massive queue. about an hour and half later our number was called and we excitedly made our way to window one. i had carefully been collecting all the necessary documents for this day. all of my passports, expired and current, rhys passport, marriage certificate, birth certificate, school transcripts, proof of residency in both the us and the uk, pictures, drivers license etc... etc... i was sure everything was set. and i was wrong. the woman behind window one informed me that eleri's passport photos were the incorrect size. crap. she was actually really helpful though. she sent rhys and the baby back out of the embassy and down to regent street to an 'american approved' photo shop. i had to stay and have an interview to prove my american-ness. because clearly my american passport, american birth certificate, american marriage licences and american accent are not enough proof. i had to name in order every, single school i attended from preschool to graduate school. i passed. they told me to sit back down and they would call our number again. so i waited. and waited. and rhys came back. and we waited some more.

window four. some more questions. window eight. pay for the registration of consular birth. wait. and then wait some more. window one again. window eight again to pay for the passport. then wait. wait. wait. and then window one yet again. she said it all looked good. they would send us everything in the special delivery envelope that we had to buy from the embassy. how kind of them to offer that service, and for only twenty pounds at that.

by this point its been nine hours since i left the house. i have been carrying around a baby that weighs almost 15 pounds and waiting in more queues than anyone would ever want to. i am tired. i am hungry. and i am grumpy. its dark outside because in the winter it gets dark about 3.45.

and it has started to rain.

rhys is holding the baby and i pull out the umbrella. we all huddle under, pop into starbucks and head back down oxford street to go home. and then.....then it happens. everything fades away and it becomes magical. here we are, arm in arm, huddled under a tiny umbrella trying to shield the side ways rain drops off eleri's face, gingerbread latte in hand, and christmas lights glowing overhead. it doesnt matter that it has been a very long and very expensive day. it doesnt matter that i haven't eaten anything since 7am. nothing matters anymore. i am with my family in one of the most exciting cities on earth. it was a glorious moment. i turned to rhys and said it was probably one of my favourite moments ever. and to be honest, it probably makes the top 5. my husband, my daughter and me; walking along the crowded streets of london with millions of lights twinkling just for us.

it was the perfect ending to a not so perfect day. the morning and afternoon may have been a bit rough (to put it mildly) but by nightfall, it was a magical wonderland. moments like that remind me how lucky i am to live in london.

however, as we came in off the street and tried to make it on the tube in Friday rush hour...well i was reminded why i am NOT lucky to live in london. but hey, you give and take. and i would never take back those magical few moments with my family on oxford street. for lack of a more articulate word, it was awesome.

5 November 2009

remember, remember the 5th of November

today is bondfire night, or guy fawkes day. there is a cute little poem that school children say but "remember, remember the 5th of november" are the only lines i know. its a big celebration over here: fireworks, parties, the whole lot. I was planning on taking eleri down to the rugby club for the fireworks display and bondfire. we even made a little, tiny effegy to burn. but then i decided it would be best to feed her and put her to bed instead. you know, more essential things for a baby. (for those of you unfamiliar with the background of guy fawkes and the effigy thing, click HERE for the handy wikipieda article about it all)

so whilst i was respectful of my little chicklets schedule and put her to bed instead of fireworks, others were not so kind. they sell fireworks everywhere for this holiday, and they are 2 for 1 at Tesco (walmart) so of course every one has some. plus its legal to set them off anywhere. so of course they are going off everywhere! and it is SO LOUD; the flash and band keep coming through on the baby monitor. i am not pleased. boo on bondfire night.

plus, we need our sleep. tomorrow is THE big embassy day. off into central london to the american embassy for "Registration of Consular Birth" and baby e's first passport. she will have such a variety of official documents before she is even 4 months old, its ridiculous. big day, big day. wish us luck.

30 October 2009

seriously? again?

i was lying in bed, enjoying the fact that my babe was sleeping like a champ when i heard a knock at the window. as you all know, i am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my passport. so i quickly jumped up and tried to grab clothes and run to the door.

a second knock.

i knew the postman wouldnt wait long. and what if it was my passport? i was missing it!! i couldnt grab clothes quick enough. a blanket seemed a good option. so i grabbed my huge quilt off the bed, ran to the door, threw it open and was met with a very surprised face from the postman. to be fair, i am sure i was quite the sight. hair down, disheveled and still wet with a giant blanket over my shoulders, wrapped around my body.

and it was a royal mail special delivery package. in the ever so coveted silver packaging. it could very well be my passport i excitedly thought.

and then he asked for my signature.

how was i going to do that? i was holding the blanket around me, on the inside with both my hands. but i had to sign. i HAD to get the package.

so i delicately tried to balance holding the blanket whilst slowly snaking one arm out of the top. but i failed. pretty badly because the blanket fell down to my waist. revealing to the postman, again, my bra. sweet. i can only image what he must think of me now that i have essentially answered the door not once, but twice in just my bra. but at that point i was too excited to really care. i had to get inside and open the package. would it finally be my passport?


woo hoo! passport! i am now an official UK resident, expiry date: NEVER. my status lasts indefinitely. sweet. and i have also made an appointment for eleri at the American Consulate to get her 'registered' so the american government will finally know that she exists. and get her a passport.(side note: its quite a challenge to get a 3 month old to hold still long enough to get passport pictures)

and this also means that we are for sure coming to america in 3 weeks!! woo hoo for america!

so i suppose all in all, not a bad deal. for me or the postman :)

also, we are road tripin' to wales tomorrow and wont be back until wednesday. so i cant foresee any blogging between now and then. see you when we get back!!

26 October 2009

102 days

my baby is exactly 102 days old. i cant believe it. i cant believe that its been 3 months already. 3 months exactly last saturday.

she has gone from this

to this

i sound like my mother saying this, but i cant believe how much she has grown up. she is a proper little person and is doing all kinds of new things. the little chicklet can roll onto her side, she can sit up as long as she is propped against something (but she balances all by herself). she laughs ALL THE TIME and she smiles like there is no tomorrow. I havent managed to capture it on film a lot because she gets this confused look on her face whenever the camera comes out. but man, i love her smile. she has super strong legs and likes to 'stand' on them. she loves baby enstien and recognizes the tune already. and most wonderfully, she sleeps like a champ. an average of 10 hours a night.

when she was about 10 weeks, rhys and i had the conversation of 'crying it out' would we do that? would we just wait for her? what was the best method?.... so many people had their opinions. our parents offered their advice, the books all had an opinion and all the blogs i read about other peoples babies... I didnt want to get up two times a night to feed her, even if it was only for 10 or 15 minutes. i wanted my sleep. nay, at that point, i needed my sleep to function as a sane person. it was a big discussion in our household. WHAT SHOULD WE DO. and, being the natuarally laid back person that i am, i freaked out about it. so one night, we decided to let her cry. she cried for an hour and half. and i cried. and then i picked her up and fed her anyway. smooth. way to go with the 'crying it out'

and the next night she didnt wake up. or the next. or the next. seriously? i was so shocked. she gets a bath about 7.15, then eats her last meal and we put her down for the night. she stirs about 4am, i re-wrap her and she goes back to sleep until about 6.30am. its fantastic! i couldnt ask for a better 3 month gift! and all my stress was really for nothing.

if 3 months of a baby has taught me anything, its that every baby is different. no book, person or blog can tell me exactly what i should do with my baby. i know my baby and we need to do what works for us as a family. i was really freaking out about sleeping and what eleri should or shouldnt be doing. and i didnt need to be. the sleeping episode has taught me that i just need to be patient and work with my baby on my terms. by what my baby tells me. because she will do things in her own time.

i have had such a tremendously fantastic 102 days with my little chicklet. we have laughed, cried, danced, slept, giggled, rolled, and made more 'goo' noises than i can count. i wouldnt trade a second of the time i get to spend with her. i am so blessed to have had this time and i pray i have many, many more days ahead.

happy 3 month birthday little one. you are my world.

21 October 2009

dont worry folks, i'm just fat

thats right.im just fat. i say just because there was a question of whether it was fattness or if my hips had actually spread during the joyous experience called child birth. and i really thought it was the later. and i am so glad that im just fat.

SO glad.

before i got pregnant i was in the best shape of my life. and thats not a kristina exageration; its the truth. i dont talk about weight in specific numbers because everyone is different; body type and height matter. so i will just say that i was in great shape. i weighed less and had more tone than ever before. even better than high school! and i was determined to stay that nice, fit weight forever. so about a week before i found out i was growing little e, i cleaned out my wardrobe. i got rid of all my clothes that were not in my great fit size.

and that was a mistake because then crazy big pregnant body happened. and then the birth.

roughly 2 weeks after i gave birth i could fit into 1 pair of my pre pregnancy jeans. i thought i was on my way back to my pre pregnancy weight at record speed. but 13 weeks on, i still cant fit back into my 'normal' clothes. and a few days ago i was really starting to get down about it. they say that hips can spread during pregnancy and child birth and NEVER GO BACK. thats right NEVER GO BACK! while that may not seem like a big deal, to me it was practically the end of the world! ok, that was a kristina exageration. but it was really disappointing to me to think that my hips had spread and would never go back.

but a few days ago my mind was eased. i am just fat.

i could pull my jeans up over my hips and while i cant quite button them, they at least pull up. and in about 2 inches, they will button. and that is the best news i have had all week.

in other news, i keep wanting to have a post full of eleri's photo shoot that saskia over at sakis's spot shot. but my stupid computer wont let me upload more than this one. so enjoy this for the moment and when my computer stops being stupid, i will add some more.

20 October 2009

suzie homemaker or betty back to work

lately i have been 'evaluting my life' if you will. rhys and i are trying to figure out what the next step is for us. we have some ideas, but nothing is set in stone yet. the only thing we know for sure is that the next step is not london. as most of you know, i have sent a plea out to practically all of my american friends asking them to help us move to the states. rhys is looking to his buddies about other jobs in england or wales. so far nothing fantastic has really jumped out. its been discussed that perhaps rhys will go back to school and get his mba. or maybe try to get a job with an international charity. or we could win the euro millions this friday and be 50 million pounds better off.

all the uncertainity has caused me to really think about what it is that i want. kitchen table and back yard aside, what is it that i really want? i am thinking i better make a list. i have always made lists. my freshman year of college i made a list of things i wanted to do before i was 25. Get a graduate degree, check. Go to europe with my friends, check. travel around the world, check (for the most part). get married, check. more specifically marry someone with an accent, check. (yes, the accent was was honestly on my list.) live overseas, check. once i got married i said that i wanted to have a real job in the corporate world, commute to work and then have a child. i did those things, pretty much in that order too. gotta say though, communting to work was not nearly as cool as i thought it would be. that aside, i have pretty much accomplished everything on all of my lists that i have set out to.

except now.

now i feel slightly stuck. i always said when it came down to it, i wanted to be a mom. a mom of the stay at home variety. i wanted to keep a house, take care of my husband, my children. and i feel that i cant do those things based soley on the fact that i live in the second most expensive city in the world. i must detour here for a moment and add a slight disclaimer. this is not a giant "rant about london" post. i am just processing out loud. so, back to the post. since rhys and i currently reside in the second most expensive city, i feel that the current things that are starring me down on my list keep slipping further and further away from me. it seems like i will never be able to cross them off.

if i want to be suzie homemaker i like always said, then we will never be able to afford anything bigger than our current residence of 380 square feet. however, our flat at the moment does not lend itself to family living. there is constantly laundry hanging in the living room because that is the only room large enough to hold our drying rack. the only time laundry is not up is when rhys' family comes to visit and we try and make our flat look presentable. because our kitchen is not big enough to hold more than 2 people in it at a time, rhys and i never cook together. we dont have a dishwasher which makes it hard to keep the kitchen clean. basically because of the space situation, cleaning is dificult. again, i am not complaining. (sounds like it though, doesnt it?!) there are things i love about the flat. but i dont love that the situation at hand makes it next to impossible to fulfill my dream of suzie homemaker.

it werid, i have to think about things that never would have entered my mind before living here. for example, i really want to be able to have eleri on the floor so she can roll around and explore. however, because we have no ac or ceiling fans for circulation, we have to open the windows. because we live in london, big red double decker buses and taxi cabs galore are constantly driving up and down our street. the amount of smog and soot that enters our home daily through the windows is insane. curtains turn black in a matter of months. so to have eleri anywhere on the floor, even on a playmat or blanket, would require a thorough clean and dust and vacaum every single day. thats a lot of time. perhaps that is what normal people do and i am strange for thinking that i dont want to dust, sweep, mop and vacum every single day. is that werid? other moms? werid? the point is, this city makes living the life i imagined difficult. does that make me materialistic? the jury is still out on that one.

i could have a different home, a different space. but that would require me to be betty back to work. because london is so expensive to have anything different that what our current situation is, i would have to go back to work. and not a nice, part time job that would let me hang out with the babe. a real, big full time job. becoming betty 'full time' back to work was not on my list of things to do. i want to raise my daughter myself. i want to teach her things, not have her in day care where someone else gets to do all the fun day to day things.

but being here does have HUGE advantages. the biggest one being that europe is on my doorstep. literally. and its not just europe, its the entire world really. it is dirt cheap to go to say, egypt. or morroco. or russia. or china. plus, there are amazing all inclusive travel deals over here. unlike anything i have seen in america. i would love for my family to be able to travel the way that living in the uk would allow us to. at heart i will always be somewhat of a wanderer. no matter how much it sounds like i want the picket fence and apple pie baking the oven; the backpack living will always hold a big part of my soul. and i want to share that with my children. but then living in the uk wouldnt really allow us to have more than one child.

so its all give and take really.

so where does that leave us? i feel another list is probably in order. but until i can muster up the energy to make a list that could possibly determine the next few years of my life, i still have some questions. like do i become betty back to work or stay suzie homemaker? and even though asking this next question is opening up another can of worms entierly, would i ever really be content living in america long term? moving to arkansas so rhys can go back to school is an option. could i handle arkansas? or woud i be longing for the european lifestyle?

see? i said i was stuck. i am stuck between not wanting to be in london anymore, but not really knowing where that means we should be. i want to give eleri the very best. i want her to have the best education, the best homelife, the best opportunties, the best, well the best of everything. i dont think she can get the best of everything here. but she cant get the best of everything in america either. i know, i know, no place is perfect. so for the meantime, here i shall stay.

16 October 2009

gotta love the nhs

today big e is 12 weeks old. (12 weeks! ahh! 12 weeks!!) so off we went to the doctor to get her 3 month immunizations. its a fairly routine procedure so no problems, right? you would think. but with the NHS apparently everything is an issue. here is what happened...if you can even believe it.

after a 20 minute wait at the reception desk, i finally get up there and say "i am here for my daughters 3 month shots" i tell her the name and she corrects me about the pronunciation of my daughters name. MY daughter. i am told that you dont say it a-lar-y. that is incorrect. if i want to say it that way then i need to spell it a different way. seriously? is the receptionist telling me how to say my daughters name? once we get over the 5 minute argument about pronunciation, i go back to the nurses room to wait for her shots.

the nurse comes in and tells me what shots they are giving the baby. they are the wrong shots. i tell the nurse she has already had those shots; she got them when she was 2 months old. now she needs her 3 months shots. "no she has not had any shots before. its not in the computer" ok. well i dont really care what the computer says, i was there. i heard my baby scream. she cried. i cried. i KNOW she had shots at 2 months. "well i cant find record of that here..." so i pull out the RED BOOK. oh, the book. the red book is something they give you at the hospital right after you give birth. esentaially it is a tiny book of medical records from birth to 6. you are suppose to carry it with you everywhere. thats right, i have the only definitive health record of my daughter, in my purse, all the time. (i find that a bit strange) the nhs does not have a general computer system so if, for example, you have to go to the hospital, the red book has record of what the nhs has done previously. and doctors have pretty poor records, so the red book has an accurate account of everything. so i pull out the red book, hand it to the nurse who says "oh, well she has already had her 2 month shots. I will give her the 3 months set" really...isnt that what i just said? so out comes the needle and into my baby's cute chubby leg. oh, the scream.

the nurse pulls the needle away and offers to cotton ball or band aid, nothing. she is bleeding but the nurse just pulls out another needle and tells me to turn the baby around. i ask for a band aid so she doesnt bleed everywhere and after a "humph" and an eye roll, the nurse puts down the open needle on the counter and hands me a band aid. then she picks up the open needle off the counter and tries to put it in the baby! WHAT!!! no way is that needle going into my child's leg! "umm, that needle was on the counter. its not sterile anymore" isnt that obvious? "oh, its fine" she says. Um NO. its NOT fine. so after i make her open another needle (more eye rolling and humrph noises) she again offers no cotton ball, no band aid and instead sits down to write in the red book. "can i please have a band aid before you sit down to write?" i was so annoyed. after yet another eye roll, she got me a band aid and put it on eleri's leg. with the sticky bit right over where she got the shot. give me the damn band aid and i will put it on properly if you aren't even going to watch what you are doing. ok, so i didnt say that last bit, but i wanted to.

finally it was over. i was trying to dress a half naked, screaming baby in my lap and big e decided to throw up. all over. i asked the nurse if there were paper towels anywhere. "yeah, over there by the wall" nurse who is doing nothing and has nothing in her hands and me who has a half naked screaming baby. sweet, i will just juggle the baby and walk across the room and do it myself. thanks for all your help, you devil woman.

on my way out whilst trying to set up an appointment for next months shots, i again had to argue with the receptionist about my daughters name. are you kidding me? man, you gotta love the nhs. (read: despise with a hatred that burns brighter than the sun)

13 October 2009

miss it, love it

i miss....

the leaves changing

the pumpkin patch. i really want to take little eleri to get a pumpkin

pumpkin pie

getting ready for thanksgiving

apple cider

j. crew fall collection

pumpkin spice latte from starbucks

but i love....

random fall sunshine that is gracing us here in the UK

big red double decker buses driving down my street

christmas lights out already

eleri's dalmation costume for halloween

ted baker fall collection

butternut squash soup

the start of autumn internationals in a few weeks (rugby seasons people!)

disneyland paris (its my goal to go this year)

7 October 2009

me and the postman

as everyone is well aware, i am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my passport from the British government so i can go to america in november. they will be sent back by special devliery so everytime i hear the postman my heart races a little bit. every day i wait for him to knock on my window and let me know there is a package for me. every day i wait and every day he doesnt come.

and then today....today i heard the postman come, and then i heard a knock.

i was so excited i put the baby in her chair, hurried to unlock the door and ran out into the communal hallway to meet the postman. i signed for my package, collected the rest of my mail from him and went back to my flat. i sat down on the couch to find out if it was my passport and thats when i realised it. i did not have a shirt on. thats right folks. i was so excited about the possibility that the postman might be delievering my passport that i ran outside in only my bra. sweet. i had a good laugh about it becasue at that point, what could i do? i am surprised that the postman managed to keep a straight face. perhaps its more common than i think? do people reguarly come to the door half naked? i sure hope i never do it again.

and it wasnt even my passport.

3 October 2009

its not like riding a bicycle

you can forget how to run. who would have thought!? its been exactly 356 days since i have run. i know this because i ran a half marathon when i was about 4 weeks pregnant on the 12th of october 2008. i know i ran on the 13th because i always have a cool down day the day after a run. and today is the 3rd of october 2009.

almost en entire year of NO running!

if you dont like to run, this may not seem like a big deal to you. but to me, running was a HUGE part of my life. my running shoes were more than a means of exercise to me. they were a way to process the day, ponder the future and gain both physical and mental strength. i really looked forward to my run every day. and i looked forward to training, to the next big run. I was planning on running the London marathon this spring.

and then i got pregnant. and didnt stop throwing up for about 20 weeks. the doctor advised that i not run until after the birth. and then i had another stupid operation. and then had to wait the recovery period. which brings me to now. and the fact that its been 356 days since my last run.

and its not like riding a bicycle. you can forget. i did. i forgot to strech before i started, i wore a loose sports bra, i wore a long sleeve shirt and nearly over heated, i tied my shoe laces to tighly, i tripped over my own feet countless times and i barely made it a mile before i came panting home. it was a pathetic attempt at a run (if i can even call it that) rhys says i am being to hard on myself; it has been nearly a year after all. but its hard to go from 7 or 8 miles a day to barely 1. but hey ho, never too late to pick it up again. i have a 10k booked for january and another half marathon in the spring.

and now the running shoes beckon. off i go again.

30 September 2009

everything....and the kitchen sink.

i have so many thoughts running around in my head. so many things that i want to write about. yet every time that i sit down to actually post something it ends up being either too detailed or too personal and i just write it in my journal instead. perhaps its just taking a little longer than i thought it would to adjust to motherhood. or perhaps i just dont want to seem like i am complaining about small, insignificant things. perhaps its that my house is just a bit too messy at the moment that when i sit down to write i feel guilty, like i should be cleaning instead. (really, who likes to clean anyway?)

but i do have some thoughts.

first and foremost, i couldnt imagine life any other way. i couldnt imagine not having little eleri, i couldnt imagine not being a stay at home mom. i just couldnt. what do i other people do? i dont know. i stay at home and hang out with the most precious little girl in the world. i love watching her little mouth move when she sleeps. i love seeing her wake up with a little stretch and i LOVE it when she looks over, sees me and a big smile breaks across her face. i love singing to her, teaching her things like clapping and rolling over. basically i just love her. and i couldnt imagine it any other way.

and it only took about 6 weeks to get there. i wasnt prepared for that. i loved my daughter instantly. and it grew a little more each day. but it wasnt until 6 or 7 weeks down the line that i actually felt adjusted, normal. it took that long to get the hang of her schedule, to put her on a schedule really. it took that long to be able to play with her, feed her, change her, take care of her and take care of other things. its really only been the last few weeks that i have managed to do any kind of cleaning, cooking, shopping and not neglect the little one. before that it was one or the other. obviously it was the housework and cooking that fell by the waste side. that was hard on me and rhys. now? well, now i feel adjusted. which is great, i thought it would happen instantly. i thought i would bring the little one home and i would have no struggles, no adjustment period, no tiredness, no sadness...all sunshine and roses. but then i thought labour would be pain free too, so clearly i have unrealistic expectations. i read other peoples blogs who said they were instantly comfortable with everything, people who only needed 1 or 2 weeks to feel completely normal. i heard about friends who were completely fine. i think there is an element in there where people just dont talk about the hard things. but also the element that everyone is different. each experience is individual. and the same principal about not comparing yourself with others physically, financially etc... well that principle also applies to motherhood. each mom is different. each baby is different. and that is what makes it so exciting.

thought number two? i still LOVE diagnosis murder. no matter how much i watch it, it just keeps getting better. what ever happened to classic actors like Dick Van Dike? i think modern hollywood is really missing in the mark. and todays episode was even more fantastic than usual. why you ask. because today not only had Dr. Sloan (aka dick van dike) the guest star was Matlock!! (aka andy griffin) seriously how great is that?! it was a good show. cheesy? yes. predictable? yes. but fantastic all the same.

next thought? i want more of the suburban life than i ever thought i would. i have always claimed that i would be fine travelling, adventuring around the world, living out of a backpack, never really having roots. and then eleri happened. and ALL of those ideas went out the window. and down the drain. and as far away from what i want for my reality as possible. i want roots for eleri. i want her to have a home, a yard to play in, a street to ride her bike down. a street that does not have double decker buses zooming up and down it. i want her to have a table to eat at, room to crawl and walk around in; and selfishly i want a dishwasher. i dont necessarily want more things (well, aside from the dishwasher) like extra toys, or more clothes or electronics...its not the things, but the place. london is no place to raise a child. rampent knife crime, busy streets, small spaces, smog. its the lifestyle that i want. who knew, i want the white picket fence! dont get me wrong, my love of travel will NEVER go away. i am already making plans to take the little one to Paris, Rome, Berlin, Zurich; major European sites whilst we have the chance. but there is a massive difference between travelling as a single person, even as a married couple, and trying to have a travellers lifestyle with a child. my sense of adventure will never go away. but my need to provide a stable lifestyle is taking over.

and finally, i love mcdonalds. i know, i know, that is disgusting. who likes mcdonals? really? its greasy, fried, soaked in oil and fat, processed, no natural ingredients at all, and basically one of the most revolting things you could eat. and yet, inspite of all that, i still love it. to me those golden arches mean more than fried, fast food. to me it means happiness, memories. i had some of my childhood birthday parties at mcdonals. back when the hamburgerler and grimce made up playground rides. i won $50 on the mcdonalds monoploy when i was 8. $50 is a lot to an 8 year old. i was with my grandparents and they let me keep all the money myself. in high school my best friend and i used to skip school and go to mcdonalds. (or sonic...mmmm...sonic) mcdonalds was the first place i drove on my own when i got my license. i ate at mcdonalds the morning of my wedding, on my way to the church. i had mcdonalds for lunch about 30 minutes before i found out i was pregnant. i had a happy meal when i found out about the cancer. and i had mcdonalds today. nothing special about today, i just happened to have it. i have limited mcdonalds recently, and i can count on my two hands the number of times i have eaten there since i became pregnant and am breastfeeding. but sometimes, man its just nice. probably even nicer to me now in the absence of other fast food places like sonic, or taco bell, or chick-fil-a.

so there it is. my thoughts for the moment. now i am going to go and play with my daughter. she is just waking up and has the cutest little confused look on her face. gosh, i love her so much. i am so lucky to be able to be with her everyday. thank the lord for UK maternity leave. i love my life.

29 September 2009

yes, he is outstanding!

so everyone go this website and check out how great my husband is :) just look past the word "autumnal" at the start of the article. seriously? autumnal? who came up with that word?

(my favourite is the "man of the match" mention at the bottom!)

26 September 2009

dinner conversation

me: ah stupid fly

(so i watch the fly carefully, reach out and grab it in my hand)

rhys: ok then mr. miagi (karate kid reference)

me: ha ha! i am so cool

(i open my hand to kill the fly, but instead it flys out...buzzing back around the house)

rhys: not so cool anymore eh?

me: i catch flies in my hand ALL THE TIME. i am super.

24 September 2009

2 months

my baby is two months old today. i cant believe it. i know its a cliche, but its gone by so fast. or is that an addage? cliche because its a stereotype that sometimes proves true and addage because it is true? is that the rule? or could it be that i am even having that discussion because i am so exhausted that i can hardly think straight. addage, cliche, does it even matter?!

the point is that whilst i love my daughter so much, and still hold that she is perfect, this whole week she has decided that she prefers to be awake in the night. she slept from 9pm to 5am 3 nights in a row. and i was so thrilled that yes, in fact, i did have the perfect baby. but now? all week she has gotten up at 2 or 3. then again at 6 or so....not really what i was used to. even before the 9 to 5, she would get up at 4 go back to sleep until about 9. perfect. i got used to that. 2 and then 6? not so used to that. and i as exhausted. so the lengthy 2 month post wont really happen. here are some bullet points.

*went to the weight clinic today and the babe weighs 12.6!! yup, she can still have the classification of giant baby.

*first rugby match. i carried her around in the baby bjorn and she was perfectly content the entire game. and everyone thought she was so precious. it was a great day. (at her second rugby game, she got to see daddy score! woo hoo daddy!)

*big e had her first bottle. rhys has really been wanting to feed the baby so we have been freezing little bits of breastmilk here and there. we finally got it out and rhys feed her. 3 times now. she took to it perfectly and it was so cute. we have a picture of it but my computer wont let me up load. man i need a new computer.

*i am sure there are more...but my brain is turning to mush so i am going to bed. good night.

happy 2 month birthday little chick pea!! mommy loves you!

22 September 2009

appeal to the masses

i am ready to move! really REALLY ready. its crazy how much having a child changes things. i dont mean everyday life functions, although a baby changes those. i mean mentally, emotionally. my thought process has changed. the things i look for and desire are completetly different. and the little flat just doesnt cut it anymore. I love that we share a room, so the one bedroom is totally fine. but i want a back yard for eleri to play in. a nice neighbourhood street for her to ride her bike down, space to play, crawl, walk, a kitchen table so we dont have to eat on the couch. and i dont feel like these are unreasonable requests. but they are requests that can never be realised as long as we stay in the second most expensive city in the world.

its time to move.

and when it comes down to it, you really get more for your money in america. thats just how it goes. the pound may be worth a lot more than the dollar, but you can do a lot more with the dollar in america than you can do with the pound in the uk. and so its time to move. hopefully to america.

so this is where you all come in. we need jobs. we need a kitchen table, but i suppose the job has to come first. so blog friends and real friends if you know of anything, or have some great connection or even just a good idea, let me know please. our little family is ready for a change!

21 September 2009


i am hoping that was the last time. the operation went well on friday. i am just waiting for the biopsy results now. and i am hoping that is the last time. as i mentioned before i am sure tired of stitches! plus my left leg is beginning to look like it was stitched together by the same scientist who put together frankenstein. it is not attractive. i am glad we are going into winter...no shorts for me!

thanks for all your prayers. i will let you all know the results.

18 September 2009

perfect and not so perfect....

for as long as i can remember i have personified inanimate objects. when i was younger i believed that everything had feelings. if i didnt hug and say goodnight to each and everyone of my stuffed animals, well someone would feel left out. i had to look at both sides of my closet, all of my shoes, each of my bows for fear of one feeling neglected. i remember once when we were taking a family vacation to texas, my mom said i could take a few stuffed animals with me. i snuck about 50 into the car each time my parents turned around. under the seat, in the pockets, in the trunk. everywhere i could put an animal, i did. i didnt want any to feel sad because they were left at home. i had so many stuffed animals in that car that i had trouble sitting in it myself! i type that out i realise how silly that sounds, but i really thought that. as i got older i think those thoughts let to a bit of my OCD tendencies. for example, if i open one drawer in the kitchen, i have to open the drawer opposite. and i have to check that the door is locked at night exactly 10 times, and so on. (note: i do realise that this makes me sound a little sad, and a little crazy,...but hey, what can you do)

and now that i am older, inanimate objects are still personified. for example, if i buy a punnet of strawberries and one out of the entire box is gross and i dont eat it, i feel bad. like it did not fulfill its 'strawberry destiny'. and all the other strawberries will make fun of it because they will be eaten and the lone gross strawberry will go on the trash. i know that strawberries are not capable of feeling, but...(again, i promise i am not crazy regardless of how it sounds)

so imagine my excitement when i found out i was not alone in this thinking. Rhys and i made popcorn this afternoon. just the microwave variety. and when we took the bag out and dumped the popcorn into a bowl, Rhys took note of the unpopped kernels. He said "do you ever feel bad for the corn that didnt pop? like they are not fulfilling thier destiny?" seriously? did he really just say that?! did he just give corn feelings? a destiny?

i am not alone in my crazy. he is perfect for me.

what is not perfect is years and years of sun exposure and tanning that has led to cancer. unfortunately the operation in may did not take care of everything. the check up i had in august after big e was born showed more. so today i had another operation. and it was not cool. at least this time i had some atheistic so that was better. but more stitches. boo. i have had stitches 4 out of the last 6 months. that is 4 months too many. hopefully this will get it all because i am really really tired of getting cut open and stitched up! enough is enough people. not fun. moral of this story? WEAR SUNSCREEN or else you end up with less than perfect results.

*edit: i mentioned to rhys that i wrote about the popcorn conversation on the blog and he added the following comment. "i also think what if there were little corn brothers in there and one got popped and the other didnt. 'johnny be strong. its ok' yells one as he gets popped and his brother stays behind." so see? we really are perfect for one another.

14 September 2009

stupid governments are making me miss christmas!

i have a bit of a problem. its confusing so lets see if this makes sense.

rhys and i alternate Christmases. this year it is our turn to go to my family. its my Christmas. and i am REALLY excited. its big e's first chirstmas and i was super excited about it being in tulsa. obviously we need passports to leave the country. big e doesnt have one yet.

my visa expired on 20 August. I had a certain number of days before it expired to send off all the necessary documents to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. and by necessary documents i mean every tiny little detail and piece of paper showing identification that they could possibly ask for. how can all of that be necessary?! that aside, i sent everything required off to the Home Office. including my passport and rhys' passport. that was on 5 August.

as you all know, i had a child just a few weeks before that. she needs a passport. i have to go to the embassy in central london with the following documents: my passport, rhys' passport, our marriage certificate, proof of residence in the UK currently, proof of residence in America before the birth of the child. they recommend tax returns and school transcripts. oh good, i have those things with me. cause when i was packing up to move overseas i thought 'you know what? i think i will bring some old tax returns with me to england. bet those will come in handy' yeah. so i dont have ANYTHING that the embassy wants. most importantly, our passports.

stupid british government still has those.

so i call said stupid government to find out about the status of my application. i have to wait 14 weeks before they will give me any information and even then they will only tell if my application has been decided or not. they will not give me any further details, like when i will get my passports back. so even if i manage to wait 14 weeks (which is only another 8 from the time i sent things off) that puts me at the beginning of November. my ticket is for the 24 November. i then have to make an appointment with the american consulate, bring in the documents (which i dont have in this country) and apply for a passport for eleri. however that can take up to 3 weeks to get back. so even then i will still miss my flight.

i explained my situation to the nice lady (she was actually very nice) and she said they will send me my passport back at any point. i only need to ask. oh great, i say. problem is that counts as withdrawing my application. so i would lost the 820 pound fee as well as my right to reside in the UK. i would have to leave the country and reapply from the states. at the british consulate in California. how convenient to OKLAHOMA!

so the stupid american government wont let me register eleri's birth, get a social security card or her passport and the stupid british government wont give me my passports back. stupid governments.

so what all this means is that they is a very strong chance that i WILL in fact miss my christmas. and that really sucks. so thats my problem. nice eh? if you are the praying type...start praying! i need my passports!!!

11 September 2009

where were you....

its 4.11 the morning and i have just laid my daughter back in her crib. usually i head straight back to bed, having no problem falling back into a deep slumber. today is different. today i am reminded of a conversation i had with my dad many years ago. as i have always loved history one day we were discussing major historical events. he said that he would never forget where he was the day that heard President Kennedy had been shot. he was in his high school classroom and they announced the news over the intercom. every was shocked. he said it was just one of those things that you would never forget.

i too will never forget where i was when i heard the news. I got up early that morning so i would have time to get a breakfast sandwich from the LRC cafe before chapel. i had just gotten my sandwich and was getting ketcup when Pablo came up to me and told me that a plane had flown into one of the twin towers. what? i didnt believe him. i asked him if he was kidding. he assured me he wasnt, it was on the news, go and see for myself. I grabbed my sandwich, ran across campus to my dorm room and found my roommate already glued to the tv. I got there just in time to watch the second plane hit.

and i couldnt believe what i had seen.

by now words like 'terrorist' and 'war' were being thrown around. after news of the pentagon and the plane in Pennsylvania were broadcast, we were in shock of what would happen next. i just couldnt believe it. this was insane. on a normal day roughly 50,000 people worked in the trade center. i remember thinking how many of them would survive. i had a friend who worked in the second tower. on the 52 floor. i tried to call, but no answer. i sent an email and waited 3 days before i got a response. he was fine. his best friend and girlfriend didnt make it out. can you imagine? what do you say back to that? any words seem trite and insignificant.

my country was under attack. MY country. my friends were talking about war. would they go? some wanted to enlist straight away. the sense of patriotism was unlike anything i had personally experienced before. i have wondered if those days after September 11th were a bit like the days after December 7, 1941. I realise there was not a world war going on in 2001, but i imagine the sense of unity of country and defiance towards the aggressors was similar. American sentiment was so strong. i dont think i have ever seen so many American flags flying before.

images of New York and Ground Zero will forever stay embedded in my mind. I started collecting newspapers and magazines from the 12th on. i remember thinking that i wanted to save as many articles as i could. it was history and i wanted to have it for years to come. and then i remember feeling really bad about that. collecting newspapers of a disaster? what kind of person was i? thousands had lost their lives and i was busy collecting clippings of those accounts? i took everything i had collected, put it in a box and sealed it in storage. it still sits there today. unopened. untouched.

perhaps some day i will look through those images and read the words still raw with emotion. perhaps i will teach history one day and my students can read accounts of what happened. accounts not written years and years later by people far removed from the attacks, but stories from people involved just one day after it happened. perhaps i will get the box out and show my children what the New York skyline looked like the first time i saw it. but i think mostly those newspapers and magazines, whenever i get them out, will serve as a visual reminder of what the world used to look like.

i remember visiting Washington DC and the White House before there was a giant barricade around all government buildings. there are some parts that you cant even see anymore. i remember taking a tour of the White House. now you are not allowed. i toured around government buildings and the Mall without armed guards, security checks and intense scrutiny. my daughter will not have the opportunity to do those things. I remember going to the airport as a child, watching the planes fly away, waving good bye to people at the gate. I remember when you could go the airport without hours of security check points, regulations on what you can and cant fly with. i remember when it used to be easy and exciting to fly. my daughter will never have that feeling. I remember countless trips to New York City, going up in the statue of liberty, touring the twin towers, seeing the ever so famous NY skyline. my daughter will not have that chance. that breaks my heart. and makes me angry. the future generation has lost some of its freedom, freedom within their own country, because of the actions of outsiders. and that is despicable.

the first week in October of 2002, just a year after the attacks, some friends and i took a road trip to the east coast. our trip involved stops in both New York City and Washington DC. i will never forget the sight that we were met with at Ground Zero. where the twin towers once stood there was nothing but a gaping hole. the make shift cross, created from steel beams and put up by the rescue workers was still there. a silent memorial to those who never left that spot. the air still had a faint smell of ash and burning steel. the buildings surrounding Ground Zero were still closed off, boarded up and vacant. windows off street level still had broken glass hanging in the windows, an eerie reminder of what had happened. and the walls and fences boarding the WTC plaza were covered in signs of the dead and missing. husbands, fathers, mothers, wives, daughters, sons....people desperately searching for a sign of a loved one. most never to be seen again. there was a fire station across the street from the towers. directly across the street, maybe 20 feet away. the men of that station were the first brave men to respond. and they lost all but 2 of their men.

to say the sight was moving or heart breaking is an understatement. there are no words. i will never forget reading through the names of the thousands that died.

September 11th came with unbearable heartbreak, but also with undeniable courage. the strength of the fire fighters and police who ran into danger instead of away from it. the spirit of the new yorkers who helped on another. the selflessness of the relief workers who worked tirelessly around the clock, desperately searching for survivors. and the resolve of a nation, a nation who vowed to not rest until those responsible paid.

i am not sure that those responsible have paid. i am not sure that that is something that will happen in our lifetime. but i do know that on September 11, 2001 my country changed forever. the world changed forever. not only did the hijackers take thousands of lives in New York, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania. they took away a bit more of our innocence, a bit of our freedom. i was both appalled and amazed at what my fellow human beings were be capable of. incredible bravery and undeniable cowardice were simultaneously evidenced that day.

and i will never forget

9 September 2009

labour story. finally.

i have hesitated to write about my labour because do people really want to hear about that? but i have had lots of questions about it, so apparently people do want to hear about it. but then i wonder how much detail to include. i am mindful that people like my father-in-law and brother read this blog. how much to do they really want to hear about my experience of birthing a child? but nevertheless, i will acquiesce and write out what it was like for me.

All through out my pregnancy I had convinced myself that birth wouldn't be so bad. sure people talk about the pain and hours of anogy that labour entails, but i was convinced that it was one of two things: 1.) they were being too negative and having negative perceptions to begin with or 2.) they were just being pansies. really, birth couldnt be all that bad. as long as i had a good attitude and went in thinking positively i would be ok. plus i always considered myself to have a pretty high pain tolerance. I mean come on, in May I had 45 minutes of stitches with no anesthetic. so that makes me tough right?

Lesson #1: no amount of previous experiences with pain can prepare you for birth. its unlike anything you have been through before. granted birth is different for every person, but it doesnt matter how many stitches you had with no pain relief or the fact that you were run over 7 times by a car and still managed to drag yourself to the nearest hospital with your arm only hanging on by a thread....birth is different and if you have never experienced it before, its hard to prepare yourself for it.

lesson #2: even my husband agrees with me. after being with me for the entirety of my labour and birth (depending on who you ask, somewhere between 22 and 15 hours) he agrees. birth is intense. the whole time i was pregnant we had the 'which is worse' discussion getting kicked in the balls or birthing a child. after watching me give birth, he was quick to say he would rather get kicked in the balls than go through anything close to natural labour. nice to have that one settled finally.

my due date was 23 July. the 23rd came and went with NO BABY!! I was furious. to put it nicely. I compare my situation to that of Rachel on Friends. She was late and miserable. and miserable to everyone that she was around. i think its safe to say that i was like that. i could not wait to have the baby. i was so tired of being pregnant and it felt like it was never. ever. going. to. end!! when i got into bed on the night of the 23rd, i was so discouraged. i just wanted a baby! all along the midwives had said that my due date was wrong and to except the baby early, but it here it was, my due date, and still no baby.

i was up at 1.30am with a very intense contraction.

and they didnt stop.

woo hoo labour! i was thrilled. i remember thinking "yes! i am in labour! i am so excited!!" perhaps a weird reaction but remember 1.) i was SO tired of being pregnant and 2.) i was convinced labour was not going to be that bad. My contractions kept coming all through the early hours of the morning and by 6.30 we decided to go to the hospital. Not sure what the procedure is in the states, but over here they say not to go to the hospital until your contractions are 2 to 3 minutes apart consistently. my mom found that advice appalling so i imagine it is a bit different in America. anyway, we got to the hospital and i could barely walk. every few minutes i had to stop because i felt like my insides were trying to come outside. and it was not very comfortable. a midwife examined us and said i was only 4cm dilated so not even in real labour. they were going to send me back home. i asked it i could stay and finally the midwife relented. so i was admitted about 7am. a new midwife came on shift at 7 and she was so lovely. young, but cheerful and pleasant. rhys, my mom, kayleigh the midwife and me settled in for the day.

the UK is very particular about birth plans. you write one, sign it, have your midwife sign it, take it to the hospital and that is what they stick to. since i was convinced that labour wasnt going to be all that bad, i was very adamant that i wanted no pain relief.

lesson #3. be flexible. i should have allowed for more flexibility in my birth plan. writing no pain relief AT ALL meant that they didnt even offer. never having been through labour before i should not have assumed i knew what it would be like. i should have offered myself some options...hmmm something to remember for next time.

they came to check me again about 11. i was only 5cm dilated. apparently my body wanted to drag this process out for as long as possible. i remember calling stef, tara and leah between contractions, having a chat when i could then passing the phone off to my mom when an intense contraction came. jack johnson and stereophonics were playing in the background, in alternating playlists. all day it went like this, intense contraction, nothing, intense contraction, nothing. no pain relief for little kristina meant that i was pretty tired and in pain all day. since things started at 1.30am i had not slept at all. Plus the midwives kept telling me to walk around. so here i am, 5 or 6cm dilated, in intense pain, struggling to walk up and down the hall. one midwife even suggested that i talk a little stroll outside! i got as far as the hospital door and ended up almost in tears, so we just turned around and went back to bed.

finally at about 5.30 i was determined far enough along (between 7-8cm) to get into the birth pool. off i went down the hall, jack johnson in hand, and got into the giant hot tub like pool, positioned my arms nicely on a floaty and prepared to birth my child in the warm water. about 6 i got the urge to push. so i did. 45 minutes of really intense pushing in the birth pool amounted to absolutely nothing. the midwife had me get out, examined me again and decided that the pool wouldn't work for me. so back to the room i went. walking down the hall at 9cm dilated, fighting the urge to push...lets just say i was not a happy camper.

by this point my mom is getting worried. which was making rhys and i a bit nervous. my midwife called another midwife in and they were discussing what seemed to the be problem i had been pushing for about an hour now with no real sign of baby. They determined that my water had not broken and that they would manually do it and that would speed along the baby. i was still standing up at this point, leaning on rhys, and just as they decided they would have to break my water, it broke. all over rhys. (he later told me that it was one of the most disgusting experiences of his life. i can imagine) there was lots of blood in the water which freaked me, and everyone else, out. my mom was asking for an emergency c-section. the midwives were saying it was ok and i was exhausted, leaning on rhys, just wishing the baby would come already.

by now its almost 8pm. i have been in intense labour since 4 in the morning! i have been pushing for 2 hours! the average it about 30 minutes. so 2 hours is crazy!! i am exhausted both emotionally and physically. i cant imagine anything else. plus its time for a shift change. thats right, i went through an entire 12 hour shift and NO BABY! kayleigh, my all day midwife, said she would stay on until the baby was born since she had been there all day. and a new midwife came on to help out. the new midwife had practiced for nearly 10 years and she recognized right away that there was no way this baby was coming out on its own. my muscles were too tight. great when you want to look good in a bathing suit. not great when you want to push a baby out.

so after 15 hours of labour and 2 straight hours of pushing, i was told that nothing i could do would get the baby out on its own. i needed some help. some she helped the process along (i am trying to be discreet for the male audience)with a cut and 2 pushes later, at 8.08pm, out came little eleri. all through out my pregnancy my midwife was estimating the baby was about 7 pounds. when i was admitted to the hospital based on my weight gain and what they could feel, they also estimated about 7 or 7 and half pounds. but out came eleri. 9 pounds and 7 oz. yeah, she was giant.

she was also bright purple and i thought she was dead. i kept asking if she was ok but no one would answer me. obviously everything turned out ok, so i will spare the details there but basically the moral of that story is that the NHS sucks.

then, after all of that, they asked me to get out of bed, get into a wheel chair, go down the hall and get some stitches. but then again, thats a whole other story. and one that will have me ranting about the NHS. so i will leave that alone as well.

lesson #4 the NHS really sucks. from long labour, to non-private rooms, to 1950's style beds, to bad advice. and the lists goes on and on. so whilst i was actually pretty positive about the whole midwife and natural birth thing, after going through it. well cant say it was all that is was cracked up to be. and i will never birth another child in the UK. ever.

lesson #5 i am really glad that i gave birth naturally. it was really important to me whilst i was still pregnant to be as natural as possible. i wanted to be fully aware of everything that my body was telling me. i wanted to be awake, alert and in full control. believe me, i was aware of absolutely every single thing my body was telling me. but i wont do it again. there is something to be said not for no pain, but for the end result. After labouring for so long, in so many different positions, with such strong intensity i was beyond exhausted when it was all over. they made rhys and my mom leave that evening and left me with a newborn that i couldn't even pick up because i was so weak (again, a long story that involves many negative words about the NHS) with pain relief (and perhaps a doctor) that wouldn't have been the scenario. so next time i birth a child, i will have an epidural. hey, i have been through it once so i can safely say what i will want next time. if i labour for 15 freaking hours again, it will be a heck of a lot less painful.

so there it is. my labour story. hopefully that satisfies everyone questions of what it was like giving birth in england. and hopefully it was not too detailed for people like my father-in-law :)

7 September 2009

beware....a long post

I usually try and stay away from religion and politics in my posts because those are two of the most controversial topics out there. i prefer to stay on an even keel with those of you that read this. the exception of course is if i feel really strongly about something. usually that means something about the military or soldiers and nationalised health care. looking back through my blog, those tend to be the only controversial things i write about. and i feel VERY strongly about both of them. Soldiers should always be respected because they deserve it and nationalised health care sucks.

and today i am faced with yet another truth that i feel just as strongly about.

almost every time i feed my baby i think about my relationship with God. He created us to have free will, to make our own decisions. Yet HE clearly states that He will never leave us nor forsake us (joshua 1:5) so regardless of the fact that we are more than capable to make everyday decisions for ourselves, He is always right beside us, leading and guiding us. All we have to do is ask. and He is always faithful to answer us, pointing us in the right direction.

funny thing is, more often than not I dont ask. I dont seek out Him and His will for my life, I just bumble along in the dark, wondering why things are not working out or going smoothly. and there He is, right in front of me, just waiting for me to ask for His help. See the thing is, since He gave us free will to make our own decisions that is exactly what He lets us do...make our own decisions. so how ever foolish or damaging our decisions may be, God is not going to hit us over the head, telling us we need to be doing something else. but He is always there. looking over us even when we are pursuing the wrong thing, heading in the wrong direction. He has more than enough grace to welcome us back each and every time. He never holds our bad decisions against us. He always forgives, always accepts us back. He is always willing to help us out, no matter how many times we have screwed up before.

so what does this have to do with feeding my baby you ask?

every 3 to 4 hours when Big E wants to eat, she makes the cutest little bird face. she purses her lips, makes a little sucking noise, and starts trying to suck on anything. seriously anything. it ranges form her tiny, little fingers, to an arm, to a shirt, to the burp cloth. anything and everything she sees, she goes for. even though i am right in front of her with what she actually wants, more often than not she ends up getting a mouth full of cloth instead of her much needed nourishment. sometimes she doesnt slow down long enough for me to give it to her. she is too busy trying to find it herself.

just like me.

sometimes i am so busy trying to find the answers myself that i dont actually slow down long enough to realise that God is right there in front of me with exactly what i want and need. and i am eternally grateful that He has enough grace to welcome me back each and every time.

and what brought all this on today? this article from the BBC News Homepage.

In case you dont go to the link and read the story, here is a summary. An 18 year old muslim girl has just graduate from jihad training camp. she is training to be a martyr. whenever she is told, she will strap a bomb to her waist and blow herself up; hoping to take men, woman and children of her opposition with her. suicide bombers are not a new thing. its something we have heard about for years. so why this story? because of the last sentence. All through out her interview she spoke of how this was an honour, to serve her god in such a way. and she concluded the interview with this...

"There are many duties to preform before we are ready to face god. I am trying not to make any mistakes so that i do not miss this opportunity"

and that broke my heart. She is serving a god that not only keeps a record of what she does and doesnt do, but one that also holds her wrongs against her.

one of my favourite verses is found in 2 Corinthians 12:9 "My GRACE is sufficient for you for MY POWER is made perfect in WEAKNESS" What a beautiful example of the power of God. His power is not made perfectly evident when we are super strong and doing everything just right. His power is evidenced the most when we are at our weakest. when we are truly dependent upon Him. and to me that is wonderful. It no longer is about what i can do; how many good deeds i do in a day, how many prayers i say or religious acts i complete. Instead it becomes about God evidenced in me, in helping me when i can not do it on my own any longer. Sure He gives us free will, knowing that sooner or later we will remember that we cant actually do it without Him. and that is where His GRACE and POWER come into play.

i am so thankful that i dont have to live in the fear of making sure that i do enough things; pray enough, fast enough, wear the right clothes, talk to the right people, preform enough of the right tasks...and having the fear that if i dont do enough of those things then i will "miss out on the opportunity" to serve my Lord. To me that is not a faith that offers hope, a religion that has a promise of a better tomorrow, or a God that is trustworthy.

and so even though this post turned out to be incredibly long, and potentially controversial, i feel strongly enough to write about it. so there you go.