30 June 2009

i am currently out of the office....

and i wont return until 15 July 2010.

yup. 15 July 2010. that is the first sentence of my 'out of office' message at work. Today was my first day of maternity leave.

i laid at the pool, really it was just a wadding pool overflowing with toddlers, but still. i got some sun, talked to leah who is visiting, kinda cleaned the house a bit, went to the mall, had a starbucks. it was fantastic.

so fantastic that i have tan lines. thats right. the weather is nice enough in the UK at the moment that I actually have tank top and flip flop tan lines. we are having a real summer. it was 32 degrees this afternoon! thats Spain weather folks!! and i am on maternity leave to enjoy it all!

until 15 July 2010!!

ah....its times like this that i love the UK. i for sure wouldnt get paid maternity leave like this in america!

and you can bet that i will be enjoying every, single day of my glorious year off.

29 June 2009

"I cant believe we are here!!"

that was the sentence that left my mouth at least a couple dozen times on Friday night. "I CANT BELIEVE WE ARE HERE!!" seriously. i was just in awe. not so much because it was the best performance by a band ever. not even because it was the best concert that i have ever been to. simply because i was seeing something i never, EVER thought i would. I was watching AC/DC live. and it was amazing.

the newspapers have said that the average age of the concert goer was 55. i agree with that statement. sure there were quite a few young people, but in a stadium that seats 70,000....the majority of those were in their 50's. which kind of made the concert a bit bizarre. I don't think i have ever been to a show that had such a variety of people. There were families there, entire families, with kids as young as 7 or 8. I probably wouldn't take a 7 or 8 year old to see AC/DC but an 8 year old a few rows back from us knew all the words and was rockin' out hard core. there were old rocker chicks...you know the ones who have faded tattoos and long stringy hair. the ones who you could tell were major fans back in the 70's. Then there were very respectable looking people, people i would have never put at an AC/DC concert. people in trousers and button down shirts, or women with long sun dresses. people who would fit right in at a Barry Manilow concert. although to be fair, rhys said if he didn't know me, he wouldn't put me at an AC/DC concert either. he said I looked more like the Coldplay type. slightly offended at that comment, but i forgave him.

Naturally there was quite a few people dolled out in leather. biker jackets with patches, leather vests, leather pants, ripped jeans, real vintage AC/DC concert shirts from the 70's and 80's. but real ones, not the kind you buy at target to be cool. by far my favourite concert go-ers were the two men at the end of our row. they were 6 foot plus, about 300 pounds each, wearing skin tight jeans, boots, and leather vests with no shirt underneath. just their big hairy chests. oh, and they both had about shoulder length hair. one guy was even wearing a bandanna around his super cool frizzy hair proudly displaying the name of another band he liked, twisted sister. you just cant beat old guys like that.

I kept looking, but its safe to say that i was the only pregnant person there. Ok, so i cant say that for 100% sure...but i feel pretty safe in saying that no one else at the concert was 9 months pregnant. I got quite a few looks and quite a few comments. One of my favourite comments was from a hard core rocker who commented that i was "smuggling an extra person in for free" didn't think of it that way, but i suppose its true. i did smuggle little eleri in. One lady in the bathroom however didn't take kindly to the fact that i was pregnant. whilst we were standing in line, she said to me "my concert better not be interrupted because you have your f*^$ing baby" hmm....even if i had gone into labour, they sure wouldn't have stopped the concert for me! i was so shocked i didn't even know what to say. another lady in the bathroom said "shut up you old cow" so at least someone wanted to defend me. But aside from crazy bathroom lady, everyone else thought it was great that pregnant kristina was there. i even got quite a few high fives. :)

Rhys bought a t-shirt, we got a souvenir program and were so close to buying eleri a child's t-shirt. the only one they had would have fit her when she was about 2. it was faded black with a a picture of a big canon on it. Emblazoned on the top was AC/DC and written underneath the canon was the sentence "for those about to rock". As much as i say i am not a 'girly-girl' i just don't think i could put my 2 year old girl in that shirt. so she got nothing but an ear full of classic rock.

and rock she did. it was funny because i was expecting her to move pretty much the whole time. granted we were sitting in the highest level possible in the stadium; and we were pretty far away from the speakers, but it was loud. very loud. suprisingly she didnt move around the whole time. she only kicked on her favourite songs. or maybe i should say the songs she recognized. the two of us listen to AC/DC in the car often as we are driving to work or the store, but mostly their older stuff. Back in Black is my favourite album. when that song came on, i thought she was going to jump out of my stomach. TNT, Thunderstruck, For Those About to Rock, and Angus Young's guitar solo....little eleri was definitely rockin' out. she can proudly wear her AB/CD onesie that we have for her. (get it? ab/cd in stead of ac/dc? clever eh?)

i took some video of Back in Black and Thunderstruck, but no matter what i try to do, i cant seem to upload the videos here. so instead i will put up a few pictures. but those don't really do the concert justice. it was fantastic. it was amazing. it was a very surreal moment for me. and i loved every second of it.

25 June 2009

Europe....and a plug for a friend

ok. first...go to this site and read! My friend Matt is working for International Justice Missions in Cebu in the Philippines for the next year. His primary goal, as i understand it, is to make contacts and liaise with local business in an attempt to place woman in jobs that they so desperately need. he is doing some neat things over there, and whilst he is just getting his feet wet, i expect many heart wrenching and moving stories in the months to come. go read his blog, keep up with his experiences and there is even a link to support him if you feel like that is something you want to do. if nothing else, prayer support is always welcome.

Oh, and i am writing this without the knowledge of matt (hope you dont mind dude) so dont think this is a shameless plug from him. I just think that what he is doing is great and the word should be out there. when i talked to him yesterday he mentioned that he wasn't sure a lot of people knew what he was doing...so i just want to do my part to spread the word! good luck matt. we'll be praying for you!

ok, that said....i have been thinking lately about how this pregnancy has taken over my mind. I am not really sure what i thought would happen, as being pregnant really does change, well, everything. but the point is that since being pregnant i have forgotten quite a few things that i love and have instead focused on the negative. that is so unlike me. and i hate it.

for example, i used to view living in london as an adventure. i always said i would marry an international and live overseas. literally this is my dream life made into reality. but how have i been looking at it the past few months? As a restraint, as a place that is keeping me from 'necessary' comforts. i am not sure what i thought living overseas would be like, but apparently deep down i thought it would be america with an accent. I really hate to admit that, but i do think that part of me excepted all the normal aspects of life to stay the same, but instead of the oklahoma plains and rolling hills of northwest arkansas, i would have Big Ben, Tower Bridge and all of Europe at my finger tips. But you cant have your cake and eat it too. (don't you just love cliches?)

the thing is, everything about europe is different. and lately instead of viewing those differences as good and exciting things, i have been viewing them as negative and binding things. Which is unfortunate because it has made the last few months pretty difficult. remember the dream house post? i am not saying there is anything wrong with dreaming. heck, i'll be the first to admit that i live in a dream world pretty much 100% of the time. but its the comparative aspect that can become detrimental. All through our 'growing up years' people have told us to not to compare ourselves to one another. don't look at another girl and think she is fatter or thinner than you, more popular, smarter, funnier, more athletic etc... be content with who you are and with the talents that you have. So if i know those things about my person, why do i choose to ignore those things about my life? shouldn't they apply in the same way?

the answer is yes. i am an american, but i am also an ex-pat. (ex-patriot) Both of those descriptions are equally as important because it clearly demonstrates where i am. i am an american NOT living in america. therefore my life, my choices, and my circumstances will not be comparable. why is it just not occurring to me that that is ok? guess i am a pretty slow learner.

starting from about 8 or 9 months ago whenever people would mention how great and exciting it was that i lived overseas my default response was always "it has its ups and downs. not as exciting as you might think" seriously. that is what i said. now, as i sit back and read that sentence out loud, the image that comes to mind is one of misery; one not of joy and pleasure, but of annoyance and dislike. and that is not the picture i want to paint. every place you live has its fair share of ups and downs. no one likes their town 100% of time. people who live in the south complain about the weather being too hot, tornado season, rainy springs. people that live in the north and on the east coast complain about the long, heavy winters. my dear friend Leah who has recently moved to Denver absolutely loves it. Has she ever mentioned negative things about it? sure. has she ever mentioned that it has been difficult? of course. what does she say when someone asks her about living in colorado? she loves it; so glad she moved. that is an appropriate answer for someone who likes their city.

and i like my city. i like london. i don't want to live her forever, but i do want to live her now. and somewhere, in my crazy pregnancy induced freak out about america vs. the uk, i forgot that. but i remember now. no longer will my response be "yeah not as great as you think" but instead "yeah, its quite the adventure, and we love it for now" because that is an appropriate response for the stage of our life at the moment. rhys and i don't want to live in london forever, but we want to take advantage of it whilst we do live here.

in November we are taking little eleri to the Remembrance Sunday military parades and cenotaph in central london. we will tell her all about the World War One and Two veterans who are proudly marching down the street. Granted, my 4 month old may not remember everything we tell her, but she will be there all the same. and for the same price that american families go to texas and florida for holiday, we can take our little family to spain, or germany, or france. disneyland paris is in our future. :) the point is that there is good and bad to both. one side should not be the only focus. if i am going to look at the good of america, then i also need to look at the bad. and visa versa for the uk.

i also need to remember that i am claustrophobic. not in the sense of panicking if locked in a small room, but claustrophobic in the sense that i hate to stay in one place for too long. i start to crave change. i crave adventure. before i moved to europe, i travelled abroad at least twice a year. for several months at a time each go. i just couldn't bear to 'stand still' so to speak. i needed to go, to move, to experience life.

so here i am. experiencing life. and even better than that? I am experiencing life in a new culture, a new place and soon, with a whole new life. i hope that little eleri can grow up not only respecting and understanding different cultures, but having a love of travel, a love of the new and exciting, and a love of adventure. cause after all, europe is an adventure. and i really do love it.

23 June 2009

umm....no thanks

i went to a local cafe for lunch today. i asked for a chicken club baguette. the woman started to reach for the tongs and then sneezed. she covered her mouth with her hands, no gloves, so i assumed she would wash her hands. um no. she grabbed the tongs, picked up my sandwich and then instead of putting the sandwich directly into the bag, she transferred the sandwich from the tongs TO HER HAND (hands with sneeze on them remember) and then transferred it to the bag.

during this transferring process, about 2/3 of the bacon and salad actually fell out of the sandwich on the counter, floor or loosely hanging onto the rim of the bag. I looked up to point this out to her, just in time to see her wipe her nose with the back of her hand. and then sniffle a bit. and wipe her nose again. aklfjkladshfliawe!!! made me want to vomit.

I proceeded to tell her that about 2/3 of my sandwich was missing and she said "oh, i know" and then began to pick up the bacon and salad bits off the counter, floor and bag with her hands...hands that now not only have sneeze on them, but also have gross snotty nose wipe on them too!! she stuffed all the pieces together in the bag and then told me i owed her £2.50. I said "umm...no thanks. i think i will just pass on that today. thanks"

really? it cant just be me. that is disgusting! would any of you have eaten that sandwich?

19 June 2009

two of my hero's

Harry Patch celebrated his 111th birthday on 17 June 2009. 111. And he celebrated by going to his local pub for lunch and a pint. Normally i am not captivated by the birthdays of people whom i do not know personally. But Mr. Patch is a different story.

Harry Patch enlisted in 1914, was involved in several major battles, managed to live through 14 of his enlisted mates being killed or seriously injured, and fought through to 1917. In 1917 he was seriously injured in a mortar explosion in western France that killed 3 of his comrades and sent him back to England. Mr. Patch is the ONLY surviving veteran of World War One who saw active duty in the trenches on the western front. To those of you not familiar with the First World War, this many not seem like a big deal. But it is. The life, and more often death, of the trench soldiers of the Great War was unimaginable, indescribable. My vocabulary does not consist of enough words, or the right words, to accurately describe the horror that faced these soldiers everyday.

There are no words.

But these brave young men went out and fought for freedom, for their country...for their lives. The world will never know warfare like these men experienced. No war is pretty. No amount of death and destruction is better than another. However, the archaic method of trench warfare--of men leaping over the parapet at the sound of a whistle, to struggle across the mud soaked, shell holed, mine filled fields in a desperate attempt to reach the enemy on the other side of the barbed wire, to be met with machine gun and artillery fire, to see comrades gunned down on all sides but still forced to trudge on--never reaching the goal, never really succeeding. the sheer terror of having to carry so much weight in supplies on their back that they knew one slip off the narrow piece of battered wood barely covering the giant water logged mud holes, would mean certain death. a slow sink into the mud hole, unable to pull out and others incapable of helping lest they be sucked in themselves. the horror of hearing fallen comrades screaming and writhing in pain on 'No Man's Land' but knowing that they can not be rescued as the enemy is waiting for any opportunity given to shoot a walking solider, medic or not. can you imagine? once these men are gone, this type of warfare, their experiences, the horror, the fear, the struggles, the pain, it will slowly fade away from our memory.

Whilst the type of warfare is hideous, it saddens me to think of the day when the memories will cease. There are so few men alive today who fought in the First World War. In fact there are only 2 British veterans alive . Harry Patch and Henry Allingham.

Earlier this year there were 3. Sadly William Stone died a few months ago. Harry Patch and Henry Allingham are alive and well. As already mentioned Mr. Patch turned 111 on Wednesday. And Henry Allingham? He turned 113 on 6 June 2009. and today Today, Friday 19 June 2009, he was officially named the worlds oldest man.

Mr. Allingham was born on 6 June 1896 in Clapham, South London. He has lived in three different centuries, seen six British monarchs on the throne, and has five grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, 14 great-great grandchildren and one great-great-great grandchild.

He was in the Air Force in the First World War, and saw duty in quite a few major battles. The Battle of Jutland as the most major. He served the duration of the war as well; 1914 all the way through to 1918. Few people managed that incredible feat. An even smaller number are alive to tell their story.

After the end of the war, Mr. Allingham was one of the founding members of the Royal Air Force as it is known and recognised today. He work tirelessly for years for the military, his country and his people. Even now, he tries to stay active doing what he can for his family, friends and community. at 113 he is a more courageous and stronger man that some young people i know today.

Both Harry Patch and Henry Allingham are true, living examples of bravery. They are legends in every sense of the word. It saddens me to think that the time is coming very soon when men such as these will no longer be alive. There will be a day when the epic story of life in the trenches and skies of the First World War can no longer told from first hand experience. there will be a day when these men will be forgotten. My children, even little eleri who is due any day now, will never be able to hear the voices of the courageous soldiers of World War One. That will be a sad day.

Until then,

Lest We Forget.

(from R to L: Patch, Allingham, Stone)

18 June 2009

what if i give birth at the AC/DC concert?

So today I am "officially" 35 weeks pregnant. according to the floating baby on this page, i only have 35 days left. wow. but i think i am more like 37/38 weeks. i think i only have a couple weeks left. an even bigger wow.

I have been saying to Rhys for weeks now that I think I am further along than everyone says, that the baby is closer to being born than people think. I keep having funny 'feelings' and weird 'pains' and after lots of book, magazine and Internet research, I have concluded that i am in fact close to giving birth. that's right, i have diagnosed my self.

and yesterday it was officially confirmed.

I went to the midwife yesterday who did all her checks and examinations and told me that the baby's head was almost fully engaged. She said she was shocked as that usually doesn't happen so early. i explained to her that i thought i was further along and she agreed.she said that the baby was definitely coming early. she said we would have the little one within the next 3 weeks at the latest!

I called rhys and said "ha! i was right" and then it hit me... I WAS RIGHT. that means that in just a few short weeks I will be a mother! i will have a child that i am FULLY and COMPLETELY responsible for. yes, all those capital letters are necessary because I will be responsible for another human life. whilst rhys was really excited that he would be a dad sooner, i had a bit of a mini freak out. we don't even have the bedding yet! my mom is bringing that over with her when she comes on 15 July! we may already have a baby by then! we still have to wash baby clothes, get diapers ready, clean the house, dust...you know things like that. But whether i think i am ready or not, baby is coming. at least rhys thinks we are ready. that is half of the parenting team ready to go!

but strangely enough, i am looking forward to the birthing process. Perhaps interested or curious is a better way to put it. but the birthing pool and relaxing nature of the midwives is encouraging. after hearing some birth stories of late, i am looking forward to the water/natural birthing process. here's hoping i can stay this positive all the way through!!

aside from frivolous fears of the house not being ready, my one real fear is if this baby really is set to come early, is it still wise for me to go to the AC/DC concert? People have said all along that the show would put me in labour but to me that idea sounded a bit foolish. how can a concert really make you go into labour? The show is Friday 26 June. When we bought the tickets, we were going off my due date 23 July. basically 4 weeks of leeway. i figured that was fine. If the baby is suppose to come in the next few weeks, there is now a real possibility that little eleri could make her first appearance not to the soothing tones of Jack Johnson which is the majority of my 'labour CD' but instead to the ever so distinct guitar riffs of Angus Young and his fellow rocker band mates. I do love Thunderstruck but i cant say that is how i pictured my birth :)

although...perhaps if i did go into labour and actually give birth at the concert, perhaps the band would come visit us? we could have a picture of little eleri in her AC/DC onesie (yes, we have actually purchased one of those for her) posing with the band. that would be a fun picture to have. all the same though, i hope that is not the case. people who have actually birthed children...is this a real possibility? should i really twice about going to the show if i am really 38 or 39 weeks pregnant. I had no second thoughts when i thought i would only be 36 weeks, do the extra few weeks make that much of a difference?

17 June 2009

creepy things....

so two things have happened recently which have been a bit creepy. one of the occurances was EXTRA, SUPER creepy and if it had happened to me...oh, man! i would be freaking out!!

1. A friend from a baby class has recently moved into a new house. they were taking it slow, moving and unpacking for just over a week. When they were close to being settled, the couple ventured into the lounge for a rest and found a note taped to the window. It read:

"I've noticed you moving in. cant wait for you to have the baby....cause its mine after all!!"

yeah, that's a bit creepy. so they called the police and when they came out, the police said that a few years ago some neighbours of theirs received a similar note. the woman was also pregnant and they suffered months of harassment, break ins, threatening letters etc... so much so that they moved, afraid that some psycho was going to come and take the baby! the police took the note away to analyse for fingerprints, and told the couple to be careful. HOW CREEPY IS THAT!?!

2. I logged on to facebook this morning and my friend Stacey said hello in that facebook chat feature. Oh great I thought, i like Stacey, we can have a chat. So i told her how the midwife appointment that i had this morning went and then asked her what was going on. she said she was stuck in London because she had been mugged at gun point! WHAT?! so i decided to call her because clearly that is big news! Turns out the REAL Stacey was at the British Museum with her family and NOT at the computer. someone had logged into her facebook account, was pretending to be her, and telling people that she had been mugged!! CRAZY!! so i logged on for her and changed her password thinking that would kick the fake Stacey off. when i logged back in as me, they were still there!! still pretending to be her!!

then i got freaked out that perhaps they were trying to steal info from me....but aside from pictures, there is no personal information on my account. people can see where i went to school, and that i live in London...but lets be realistic here. London is a pretty big place. It would be next to impossible to find me here. but still creepy!! why do people do strange and creepy things?

15 June 2009

not counting today....

not counting today i have 13 days of work left. 13. that's it. just 13. and then i am off for over a year.

i don't think i can make it 13 more days.

I have already checked both of my email accounts, eaten 2 granola bars, had an extra large 40oz smoothie, talked to Rhys twice, sent pretty much everyone i know a text, written 2 blog posts, read all the blogs i read everyday plus some additional ones....and its not even 11:00 yet!!

i am so bored. i hate my job. (for reasons largely unrelated to the post directly below this) I am so incredibly, beyond belief, brains dripping out of my ears, SO BORED!!

I don't think i can make it 13 more days.

typical day in the office.

so many times at JBU friends and i would have the conversation of "i cant wait until i get out and live in the REAL world" i longed to escape the bubble that was John Brown. don't get me wrong, i loved tremendously and would never, ever take back the 4 glorious years that i spent there. But when graduation came around, it was time to go.

looking back now, 5 years post graduation, i see so many of the good things that i took for granted. and so many of those things i am missing now.

"out of the abundance of his heart, his mouth speaks..." Luke 6:45.

its cliche, but true, you never truly realise what you have until its gone. Being in an environment where uplifting words are spoken, thoughts are carefully considered and processed, and people are generally considerate and compassionate really makes a difference. By no means do I mean to paint a picture of John Brown as some prefect paradise where never a foul word is spoken and everyone is always at peace with one another. whilst that does sound appealing, that is not the truth. however, the truth of the matter is that the attitude at a place such as JBU, is so difficult that it in turn affects the attitudes of those there. students, faculty, staff, visitors...when an environment is so positively focused, it is bound to have an impact.

and that is what i miss. the positive. the uplifting. the encouraging. the smiles and genuine laughs. i miss the type of environment that a place like JBU creates.

i miss that more so now that ever.

for example, take my office this morning. I am writing this at 9:45am, the day has really just begun. about 15 minutes ago "what the f*@#...i didn't authorize that! Holy S*#!." was yelled out of an office. and then just for good measure a "F*&%" and a "S*&#" were added on the end. (i edited those out for you mom :) nice eh? just the kind of atmosphere that fills you with joy and makes you want to smile right? Unfortunately today is not an isolated incident. everyone in office prefers certain choice words as opposed to trying to utilize a more appropriate vocabulary. The stories they tell of drunken escapades and insane night outs, the way they 'jokingly' put one another down all the while really looking out for 'number one'. Why is it necessary to make obnoxious comments about people when they are not around? why is it acceptable to down play the role and importance of woman, making them objects worthy only of inappropriate jokes and unwanted leers? why is it funny to laugh about other peoples failures? its just not my kind of place.

"reckless words pierce like a sword.." Proverbs 12:18

perhaps this is normal corporate office behaviour. maybe i am just that naive to believe that you don't have to behave in a negative and derogatory manner to advance in the world. or it could be that this kind of environment is lacking...that there is something better out there. someplace where people are positive, encouraging, joyful. and its days like this, in an office such as this, that i miss the good ole' days of JBU.

as a side note, i should say that there are a small handful of people in the office who are actually decent human beings. who are kind, and genuine and enjoyable to be around. sadly though, they are not the majority.

11 June 2009

"imaginary world come to life..."

today began as one of the worst days ever. even before i got to work it was awful. hellishly awful.

My boss called about 815 asking about something or other and, of course, i made myself look useless by not knowing the answer. Then by the time i sat in hours of traffic and finally made it into the office...it just went downhill. people telling me to do things that i couldn't do because some section wasn't approved. or my boss needed something but being completely unrealistic with his expectations. basically from about 815 this morning until 1130 everything that happened made me look, and feel, like an idiot. and it was not cool.

it was that worst day. ever.

so after calling my husband in tears, complaining that yes he may be wearing fancy business clothes and sweeping a floor, doing common manual labour, my day was worse because...well, because it just was. no, i was not being the least bit self centered. my day really was worse. (right?) after we got off the phone i decided that since rhys always makes things better i would go to my old, OLD email account and read all the emails between Rhys and I when we first met in New Zealand.

then i remembered that a certain someone had broken into my email account 4 years ago and deleted them all.

and that made my day worse. at this point i have started crying again. how irrational can i be? (i blame the pregnancy hormones)

so my plan? go back through my sent items from 2005 and see what emails i sent to rhys. i figured i would have responded to some emails, so i would somewhere in there have some Rhys originals. i thought this was a fantastic idea. and it was.

in the process of finding rhys emails, i found general emails i sent from New Zealand to friends and family back home. and now i cant stop smiling. While i remember very fondly lots of things about New Zealand, its the little details that i have forgotten. Unfortunately i burned my journal from New Zealand (a long story and a rather foolish choice) but all the same, i have no journal from my time in NZed. So these precious few emails are all that i have.

i am so glad that i have them. I love remembering the little details about how New Zealand touched my heart and soul in a way that no other place has. The lush green rolling hills, the beautiful snow capped mountains, the relaxed culture, the active lifestyle, rugby as more than just a game, the food, the friends...the memories. New Zealand was everything that i had imagined (and needed) and so much more. I have said countless times that i really 'came into my own' whilst in NZed; and while that is true, it doesn't really communicate the whole story.

My heart was truly opened for the first time. I was not only open for what God wanted to teach me, but open to people in a completely different way than i had ever been before. Obviously I got a husband out of it, but even the second time i went back...the following February, sans Rhys, I gained so much more than a mate. I gained independence, confidence, humility, tolerance, patience, purpose, direction and enough memories to last a life time. my heart felt truly full, and fulfilled, for the first time.

i don't think i could say it better than i did on 14 June 2005..... "Everything is wonderful as New Zealand is my imaginary world come to life"

10 June 2009

10 June

exactly 4 years ago, 10 June 2005, I walked by this table of guys. YHA Hostel, Wellington, New Zealand. They were in this exact spot the day I met them. Probably even wearing the same Lion's jerseys. oh, how little i knew then....

my thought when i saw them? "Great, here is a table of cute boys and I have to walk by them COVERED IN WATER, looking like a fool" About 5 minutes before i spotted the boys, i had a bit of an issue with the tap in the hostel kitchen. and by bit of an issue, i mean that i turned on the tap and it sprayed ALL OVER ME. i did not look cool. and such was my predicament. stay in the kitchen forever, or suck it up and walk out into the dinning room, right past the guys, and hope no one noticed a thing.

it didn’t quite work that way.

one of the boys made a smart comment such as "oh, had a bit of trouble with the tap i see?" great, they noticed. But one thing led to another and soon American, New Zealand, World War One, and Rugby were all being discussed. and they invited me to hang out with them. i was in!

Since i was a single traveler any invite to hang out with people that seem cool was usually readily welcomed. But since these were cute boys, i tried to play it cool. "oh yeah, i may stop by and watch the match there...i have other plans but maybe I'll bring him along too." The him in that story was an Italian guy I met at breakfast. (seriously, my trip was NOT just full of meeting guys, although it is starting to sound like that....) He was nice, but barely spoke English. ok and he was pretty cute. We bonded because he too was doing research at the National Archives, the supposed purpose of my trip :)

so me and the Italian headed over to the Welsh bar down the road and watched the first half of the Lion's match. and the 3 boys from the dinning room? only one was really speaking to me. and it wasn’t the one that i thought was the cutest. so we left. agreed that later on we would meet up at the Wellington Sports Cafe after the game for some drinks and dancing. ok...fair enough, i thought. we'll see how that goes.

it went well. really well. the boys came, immediately won me over with their wit and charm, the Italian guy decided he was bored and left...and me? well, i decided to stay to see where the night would take us. It took us from the sports cafe to a dance club across the road. where the boys just happened to run into about 10 other Welsh and Irish that they knew who were also down watching the Lions Tour. we were now a giant group of boys and girls, and i was having a blast. after a few drinks the boy i thought was the cutest, who introduced himself as Will, finally started to open up and it turned out it was quite funny. Not only did i love his accent, but we seemed to have a lot in common. we got on the subject of running and even agreed to run together the next morning. i couldn’t have planned it any better. everything was going perfectly. Until Will said he was going to the bathroom and would grab us some drinks on the way back.

and he never came back. and, like a fool, i waited.

his friends kept asking me where Rhys was, but i didn’t know who that was. His name was Will right? So not only did i get ditched, but i got 'fake named' too!? He didnt even like me enough to tell me his real name?! Great, I am a loser. Oh well I thought, might as well enjoy the rest of the night. and i did. after a few more hours the group of us decided that we were hungry and went to a little kebab shop across the road. and there was Will. eating a kebab, all by himself. Turns out he had gotten kicked out the club for no valid reason (the bouncer thought he was someone else..) and figured we would all eventually find him. and we did. and it was great.

as it turns out since his last name was williams, and because he was traveling with another boy called rhys, everyone just called him Will. So i didnt get ditched or faked named. turned out to be a great night after all.

we ended up running the next day, and the following Monday when i had to go to the library to actually do some research? he remembered that I said I had to go there, walked 45 minutes from the hostel (in the rain might i add) to find the archives, then find me hidden away in the back corner and surprise me with lunch.

and, as they say, the rest is history.

4 years later from that cold, rainy, New Zealand winter day--10 June 2005--I am now married to that cute boy from the hostel table. even though the long distance was one of the most difficult things I have ever done, i wouldn’t trade a second of it for anything. becasue at the end of 2 years of New Zealand to America...then Wales to America...never living in the same country, $500 a month plus on phone bills, thousands of dollars on plane tickets, and months and months of missing each other. it has all been worth it.

we have gone from this......

to this......

so thanks to you, other Rhys and Gareth. Without you two....who knows what might have happened. Happy 10 June to you all!!

8 June 2009

the fantastic weekend

quite a bit happened over the weekend. it was a great weekend really, i enjoy everything about it immensely. so in no particular order, below is a brief description of the weekends events.

1. we had thunderstorms. and it was fantastic! sure, we get rain ALL THE TIME, but that’s all it is. rain. this weekend, 3 days in a row, we had thunderstorms. in fact, it was so loud, and so unexpected, that the claps of thunder woke me up Friday night and kept me awake for quite a while. it was either the thunder or the crazy pregnant tummy that kept me awake...but regardless. the storms were great. and because it was actually a storm, with wind and thunder and heavy rain, the lack of sun didn’t bother me one bit. ah, and that smell. the particular scent that comes with the thunder which signifies summer. it smelled like home. and it really warmed my heart.

2. I am FINALLY the proud owner of two ever so coveted tickets to see AC/DC when they come to London. IN TWO WEEKS!! and i cant wait! sure, i will be 8 months pregnant but who says hugely pregnant ladies cant rock out at concerts? for obvious reasons, we had to get seated tickets because no matter how much i tried to convince Rhys that i could stand right in front of the stage for the entire show, he still said no. so we are sitting pretty far away...and up really high. i can only imagine the funny looks i will get as i slowly waddle up countless flights of stairs to find my seat. and as i slowly waddle back down those steps go to the bathroom who knows how many times during the show. but it will all be worth it.

people keep saying that the show will put me into labour. but think of it this way...if i do go into labour at the show then perhaps our little eleri will have some famous visitors at the hospital. a family picture with Angus? that would be one for a frame :)

3. we got another bookcase for the living room. we needed another bookcase. not necessarily because we have a superfluous amount of books strewn about the living room, but because we needed storage space for Eleri's books, toys, blankets, pictures etc... we figure baskets make for great storage and nice decor. Rhys put it all together last night and i am really looking forward to organising it tonight when i get home. at the moment the living is just full of crap, so any organisation would really be welcome.

4. Saturday was the NHS hospital/ante-natal class. it was interesting. to be fair, we did get some good information regarding birth and hospital policy/procedure, but at the end of the class, both Rhys and I were REALLY glad we had scheduled to have private classes as well.

the only real benefit was the tour. the tour simultaneously reassured me about birth and made me freak out about the hospital. no matter how much i thought i was prepared for the NHS vs. American Private care....i was not. it was night and day difference in all ways. it smelled different, looked different, the people acted differently, they have completely different policies and well...it was just different. and i had a bit of a meltdown. thankfully rhys was the only one who could tell that i was having a meltdown and he held my hand and cracked jokes the rest of the tour in an effort to make me smile. but it was just such a shock.

the tour did offer one great point though. it solidified my decision to have the baby in the birthing centre, assisted only by midwives, with no choice of pain relief. now before all the mom's out there tell me i am crazy and that i will want an epidural, listen to the options. the birthing centre offers me a private room, a private bathroom, one to one midwife care, a private delivery suite and the option for rhys to be with me the whole time. but because it is midwife led, there is no pain relief as they are not authorised to administer it. The regular hospital maternity ward however has all the pain relief you could want, but no private rooms… they offer 2 person delivery suites, 5 people to a room for after birth, a community bathroom down the hall for the entire ward, rhys cant stay the whole time, no personal doctor care, just 2 or 3 for the ward, plus hospital visiting hours. now you tell me...which would you choose?!

But I really do like the idea of midwives and active birth. And i shouldn’t complain because thousands and thousands of woman give birth everyday in situations far worse than mine. plus, i always say i am up for an adventure and this is an adventure for sure. so really its not as bad as the previous paragraphs made it sound. Readers such as Saskia can vouch for me that whilst there are downfalls to the NHS, there are good points too...right? but regardless, that was Saturday and despite everything, i am glad that we went.

5. pregnancy finally hit me over the weekend. all throughout my pregnancy i have been reading books, articles, trolling the internet, basically trying to gather all the information that i can relating to babies, birth and pregnancy. whenever i would read something that occurred at some stage in pregnancy i would always disregard it, thinking oh that wont happen to me. like swollen limbs, or difficulty in breathing, eating, bending over, seeing your toes. or things such as mood swings or tiredness. Yet when those things slowly started to happen, i was always surprised. 'man, i am really tired today! i cant understand why?' or 'gosh its really hard to bend over and pick things up, that’s strange' hmmm....or could it be that they are just normal things that happen to woman who are pregnant? i think so. and this weekend it all hit me. my feet are starting to swell, as are my hands. I am exhausted all the time. I can still touch my toes when i stretch, but if i stand up straight and just look down i cant see them. all i see is giant stomach. its harder to eat normal sized portions. its harder to breath. Basically this weekend, i felt like i became a pregnant person. i need help getting up off the couch when i have been sitting a while, i really struggle to bend over, and sleeping is a nightmare. nice. i am finally a pregnant statistic.

6. rhys. we spent so much time together. So much. And it was great. Words cannot express how much I appreciated spending so much time together. We watched t.v and movies and cuddled on the couch and went on a walk and really were just together. I love my husband tremendously. I wouldn’t trade a second of the time spent with him for anything.

Combine countless hours of quality time with rhys, with NHS tour, thunderstorms, AC/DC tickets, and a new bookcase…and it was a superb weekend.

4 June 2009

my dream house

the majority of the time i am really quite pleased with my situation. I love my flat, I like the adventure that living overseas offers. I love that my life is a little less typical than the average married, with child, 27 year old. basically, i enjoy my circumstances, my situation, and my life.

I wouldn't trade my husband, my family, my life for anything.

However there are some days that prove quite difficult. perhaps it is the pregnancy hormones, perhaps it is just because i am getting a big older and want more stability than i have ever desired before? As i typed in that last question mark I shook my head; it cant be that i want more stability because if rhys and i had the money we would take off tomorrow and travel the world--baby and all. but its something. I just cant quite put my finger on it.

The first 3 hours of work this morning were spent looking at Kelly's Korner blog and the picture post of baby rooms that people put on. over 400 people posted their bedrooms and whilst i didnt actually make it through all of them (i'm not that sad people) i did look through quite a few. and it made me a bit, shall i say, reflective. and envious. i would love to be able to decorate a nursery.

but then, as i looked further and read a bi of the writing instead of just looking at the pictures, i realised that about 98% of those people who posted pictures of their well planned and nicely decorated nursery's have yet to actually let their baby sleep in their nursery. They are in pack and plays or cots in the parents room. Pretty much how little eleri will be. in our room. so do i really need a nursery? and then as i looked even closer, i realised the excess that was overflowing in a lot of the nursery's. Now dont get me wrong, i loved the decorations, but rhys and i always save with the thought that one day we will have enough to just travel. travel forever. so would buying more than i need for the little one help with that travel plan? no. is it best that we are not able to do so... knowing the way i like to shop and frivolously spend money, probably so.

but, even with all of that said, the one bedroom flat has been getting me down a bit. yes, i admit it. even after all the posts about how great it will be and how people should back off about the fact that we only have one bedroom. even after all of that, its still getting me a bit down. so i have spent the entire afternoon trolling the Internet and i have put together in pictures my perfect house. there are lots of pictures, but just imagine how fantastically wonderful it would be to live in this house. Until i have my own, or a backpack permanently strapped to my back, my pretend dream house will have to suffice.

front of the house

or maybe this one, i cant decide

the kitchen

or this one. i love them both!

the living room. of course with an ocean view!

this look is also ok with me

master bedroom

nursery, but...

with this bedding instead of the multi-cloured stripes and such.

guest room

and in case i have an attic space that could be turned into a room...

I LOVE this dinning room! LOVE IT!

i think this sunroom would be great at the back of the house

So at the moment, that is my dream house. i would move into that house tomorrow if i could. sigh...oh well. i will just dream of the one day when i can put together all of those rooms and make it my home. and i am sure that tomorrow i will go back to being fine with my flat just the way it is. plus tonight i am planning a trip to ikea, and that is always fun!

2 June 2009

apparently I am not normal (really just a GIANT rant)

i have always prided myself on being a bit out of the ordinary. doing things just a bit differently, but not so much so that it was strange...if that makes sense. I knew what i liked and even if others didnt, i still went with what i wanted. and that was ok with me. But i have never been so different as to really stand out. and by stand out I mean the kind of different that causes people to stare, or comment or offer disapproving looks.

until now.

apparently I have become that person. the person who elicits looks from complete strangers where ever i go. and more often than not those looks are accompanied by comments. comments that are for the most part pretty negative. I have concluded that it is one of two things. people just like to stare and be judgemental or i am not a normal pregnant person. I have complied a list...you be the judge.

1. classic/hard rock is probably my favourite type of music. nothing beats ac/dc on a sunny day, driving with the windows down, sunglasses on, hair whipping around my face, music cranked up as loud as it will go, me belting out the lyrics as loud as i can "Back in black, I hit the sack, I’ve been too long I’m glad to be back...." i see nothing wrong with this. its feel good music and sometimes you just want to feel good. but i have found that others don’t agree. i realise not everyone loves ac/dc, but i ask, what is wrong with me loving it? apparently a lot, or so I have been told. "silly rubbish for a pregnant lady to be listening to" what?! really?! "do you want your child to grow up and listen to that?" well...yeah i do, to be honest. I find it much better that the techno rave junk or the rap crap that is around now-a-days.

take yesterday for example. I drove into the mama's and papa's baby store parking lot, windows down, ac/dc blaring, me singing along. i got quite a few nasty glares from the mothers unloading their children from the car seat or pram. I even got a comment from a mom and grandma who were strapping the baby into the car. "young people today dont understand" hmmm....ok, lets review. I was NOT speeding, I was carefully watching the road, looking where I was going, and rockin' out to ac/dc. i did nothing wrong. when i got out of the car I made sure to point my heavily 8 months pregnant belly in their direction. I almost said something, but instead just smiled, shock my head and walked away. i decided it wasn’t worth it.

Fortunately not everyone judged me yesterday. Two construction workers were loading their van up when i pulled in. They smiled and did a mini head bang as i pulled into the stop almost next to them. and i wish i had a picture of their expressions when i got out of the car with my big pregnant belly. priceless, but appreciated.

2. the gym. not a place that would normally spring to mind as being full of disapproving and judgemental people. my gym seems to have an abnormally large number of, shall we say, plump people who are trying to get fit. which is admirable, but also leaves them no leeway to offer advice to me. at the risk of sounding obnoxious, if you are 150 pounds overweight, i will not accept any health advice you want to give me. so if i want to do low intensity, low strain work outs whilst 8 months pregnant, that is my choice. i do not want you to tell me that i should sitting at home with my feet up, eating for two. clearly that is what you did to get the extra 150 pounds that you are now trying to burn off!!

I know my body.

I was in shape before i got pregnant. heck, i ran a half marathon in my first trimester. so if i feel that i am up to water aerobics, 45 minutes on the cross trainer, of 50 lengths in the pool, than i am fine to do those things. comments such as "you really shouldn’t be at the gym in your condition" make me furious. since when is pregnancy a condition that incapacitates you, making you only competent for a couch potato life style? i will take health in pregnancy over obesity any day. apparently that makes me not normal.

3. giving up coffee, alcohol, soft cheese, etc... apparently giving up food that is not recommended for pregnancy makes me overly paranoid and a bit freaky. "everything in moderation" i hear often. "its ok to have the occasional pint, Guinness has iron in it which is good for pregnant people" true, but thats what vitamins are for, NOT alcohol. At the end of the day everyone has to choose for themselves what they feel is right and wrong. So just because i dont want to drink coffee and eats loads of chocolate, does not mean that i want to hear you say that it is ok in moderation and experts always change their mind about what is and isnt good. etc, etc....

One thing in particular is aspartame. in general aspartame is not good for people, let alone pregnant people. and it is in practically everything. candy, chewing gum, squash (UK juice drink) powerade, diet pop's and on and on and on. just because when you were pregnant 5 years ago the 'experts' never said anything about aspartame doenst meant that its ok to consume. 5 years ago aspartame was not in nearly the amount of products that it is today. not to mention, science has made quite a few advancements in the past years. we know more today about chemicals, the human body and how the two interact. Just because they didn’t perform advance neurological surgery 50 years ago doesn’t mean we shouldnt do it today. things change. times change. and as a result, how we treat our bodies should change.

my baby did not ask to be conceived. rhys and i made the choice to bring children into this world. a world that is often cruel and uninviting. therefore, i feel it is my responsibility, nay my duty, to do everything i can to provide my baby with the best start possible. if that means giving up alcohol, caffeine, aspartame, or whatever else...so be it. apparently this not only makes me paranoid, but also not normal.

4. birth stories. i have discovered that people like to share these with pregnant people. suddenly you start to show and everyone wants to tell you what labour will be like. except no one tells you that it is ok. or bearable. everyone wants to say that it is the most painful, worse experience of their life. but at least at the end of it, they got a cute little baby so it was all worth it. that is fine and all, but is their harm in me thinking that i can have a peaceful and easy birth? is there? i have been told that i am naive, foolish, setting myself up for failure, unprepared and unrealistic. seriously, i have been called each and everyone of those words. nice.

whilst I do not buy into the hyponobirthing concept entirely, i do think that there is something to be said about the idea that our mind and body is capable of a lot more than we give it credit for. Athletes can train themselves to focus the goal, regardless of conditions or pain. people have been known to perform unbelievable feats in times of need by refocusing their mind and emotions to the task at hand. why cant woman to the same in birth? why does birth have to be something so dreaded that it is feared? in normal, everyday situations if nerves take over creating anxiety and fear, then a situation becomes more difficult, focus is lost and tension is created instead. what about when one is relaxed and clam? Focus is easily maintained and tasks are completed fully and with an ease that is absent when anxiety is the primary emotion.

what is wrong with me wanting to view birth in the same way? so what if i want to think about it calmly, believing that i at least try to stay relaxed? so what if i am not planning on having an epidural? does that mean that you should have the right to say things like "good luck! just wait until you get in there, then you will see how stupid you are being" that’s not the positive response i am looking for. heck, i am not even looking for a response. but if you want to volunteer your birthing story/opinions then be willing to hear mine in return. (especially when you ask what my opinion is!!) my mom was in labour for under 3 hours with me. under 3 hours in total. why cant i follow in her foot steps? apparently thinking i can is stupid....and not normal.

ok...so its lunch time now and i am hungry. plus i have lost steam for my rant. basically i just wanted to write out my thoughts at the moment. and they are that i am either being judged or being abnormal. whatever the correct answer is, chances are i wont change. cause hey, i am stubborn like that. And for good measure I have included a picture of me happy, a bit chubby, and boiling hot at nearly 33 weeks pregnant.