30 March 2010

a lot to think about

there are so many things that i want to write about. for example, i would love to devote entire posts to:

-how staying home with ele has been so incredibly different, and more amazing, and more challenging, and more fulfilling that i ever could have imagined

-how living in europe has changed me

-how i have two new tattoos coming soon

-why i must start each day with diagnois murder

-how much i LOVE Christian Dior mascara

-how i feel it is a necessity to live by the sea/ocean/giant body of water at all times. i have no desire to live in a city again if it is not centered around water.

-how stupid obama and his health care plans really are.

-how much i want a pinate for e's first birthday (yes, i am thinking about her birthday already)

and the list goes on and on and on and on....but, i am not going to post about any of those things. i am rather tempted to write a few paragraphs about how wonderfully amazing Dior mascara is, but that probably wouldnt appeal to my male readers as much. so instead i will write about change.

lots of changes are happening with team williams. some are major and some are minor, but within the next five months big things will be happening. waves of emotions are washing over me, even as i write this. there is a lot to anticipate, but a lot to fear at the same time. granted, the bag of english chedder and red onion crisps i am eating right now are helping a bit, but no amount of baked yumminess can take away all of my anxieity. i never imagined myself as the type of person that needed to be in control. i know i am not the most laid back person in the world, but if i had to pick one or the other, i would say i lean towards the 'easy going' instead of 'uptight control freak'. But as the changes begin and things become more challenging and less certain, i find myself longing for the ability to control the future. and i cant. i have absolutelty no control over tomorrow, let alone five months from now. and for the first time i can remember, that is making me very nervous.

i feel fairly certain in saying that i crave change more than the average person. its a quality that i have always had. between the time i started school and left for unvieristy, i changed schools 7 times. all but one of those was my choice. I wanted to change schools because i liked the new enviornment. i like meeting new people and i looked forward to the challeneges. those are the same reasons i love to travel and i so desperately wanted to live overseas. i have always been like that, always looking for something different.

but for some reason when i look at what these next few months hold, i am NOT looking forward to all the changes. i want to know exactly what the future holds. and there is no possible way that i can. normally that would be ok, but for some reason its not now. i have a very dear friend who has recently undergone some of the same changes. and i dont envy the difficulties i have seen her go through. but i am glad that she is out there paving the way. (thanks kb, really appreciate it)

the point is, sometimes things are just difficult. and right now not being able to see the future is proving a bit difficult. however, i dont want to make it seem like everything is doom and gloom because its not. so i will leave you all with this, my daughter barefoot and in a straw hat. does it get any better than this?

29 March 2010

a conversation

rhys loves to take responsibility for e's night time routine. he is completely in charge of bath time, night feeding and putting her to bed. he loves his special father daughter time and i love the little break. last night, as i was tiding up the living room, i overheard the following conversation between rhys and eleri.

rhys: can you say mama? mmmmma mmmmmmaa, mmmma mmmmaa

e: (insert lots of cute baby noises)

rhys: can you say dada? ddddddaa dddddaa, dddddda ddddddda

e: dada. dada. dada. dada (insert some giggles too)

rhys: can you say equilateral?

wait, what?......and that is why i love my husband.

25 March 2010

big e is getting old

8 months already. i cant believe it. it really does go by quickly. she is growing more and more everyday, learning how to do so many new things. and the things she has been doing lately, well they make she seem even older. so as way of an update. e is now....

-pulling herself up and walking around furniture, our couch, her play toy, basically everything she can get her hands on.

-feeding herself milk every day and trying so hard to eat with the spoon. however, everytime she gets the spoon she manages to dump all the food off (and onto her) before it actually makes it to her mouth.

*as a side note, e is quite adventerous with her food. at the moment her favourite is chicken and veg korma with rice. yup, my little e loves indian food.

-e can wave! she doesnt quite have the hang of when exactly she is suppose to wave and she usually waves to people about 10 minutes after they have left. but she is trying, and it is so cute.

-give high five. but you have to say "gimme five" exactly or she wont do it. perticular, i know.

-walk along only holding one hand. she is getting closer and closer to walking. its crazy.

whilst there are many more fun and exciting tibits i could tell you all about big e, I will instead leave you with her 8 month picture. we had a bit more issue this month than we usually have. she was not interested in smiling at all, and once she discovered where i had put the sign, well that was the end of the pictures. so here is her 8 month sequence.

also, I would like everyone to take note of how adorable ele is in her 'jeggins' thats right folks, i make my daughter wear the ever so popular (at least in the UK) jeggins. thats jeans and leggings combined. stylish i know. :)

20 March 2010

on discipline

e is pushing 8 months. i realise that she is still young; she is still a baby. But the amount of knowledge she already has is astounding. and her little brain is soaking up more on a daily basis. along with things like crawling, walking, colours, words and other early basics, i also want e to understand discipline. that can be a tricky word because most people associate discipline with punishment. to me they are two completely different things. granted they work in harmony with one another, but at the root, they are different things. a punishment is something that happens to you when you do something you are not suppose to. discipline is training. discipline is teaching; it is heart and head knowledge. it is not only knowing right from wrong, but making the choice on which behaviour is the correct one given the circumstance. and i want e to have discipline in all areas of her life.

i never really baby sat growing up, but somehow i seemed to be around kids a lot. i was a camp counselor, my brother has two kids, i taught preschool/kindergarten for a year and friends have had loads of babies over the years. seeing a variety of parenting sytles, i saw things that i liked and disliked. and i began to form an opinion on what i did not want to do as a mother. i knew that i did not want to be the type of parent that bribed her kids with candy or toys to obey. i didnt want to be the mother that ignored wrong behaviour until it reached a really obvious point and then just yelled. i didnt want to threaten and i didnt want to just allow any kind of behavior.

now that i am parent, i still feel the same way. all the aforementioned things are still things that i do not want to do. but now i need to decide not just what i dont want to do, but what i DO want to do. i do want to be the mother that talks to her child, the one that explains not just what is right and wrong, but why it is right and wrong.

i want e to really understand that things i tell her are not just coming from me, but that they are based in scripture. i want her to understand that we have 'right' and 'wrong' because of jesus. Jesus, through the words of the Bible, teaches us how we should behave in all circumstances. I believe it is my duty as a parent to pass on biblical teaching, biblical discipline. "train a child in the way he should go and even when he is older he will not stray from it" Proverbs 22:6

and now is the time to start.

i dont want to be the strict parent that doenst let their kids do anything. but i do feel like kids need boundries. my personality tends to be laid back. and my views on a lot of things tend to be more on the liberal rather than the conservative side. i know that ele will have a wide range of freedom in terms of what rhys and i will allow her to do, but on the flip side of that i will expect obedience. if e knows from an early age what is right and wrong and what is allowed and what is not, then it will be easier for her to obey in any given situation. It has always baffeled me when parents do not set standards on behavior and then get frustrated when their kids act out. make rules and follow up on what happens if those rules are broken. empty threats and yelling, to me, are not the way to gain respect, trust and in turn, obedience.

so why am i thinking about this when my daughter is 8 months old? because e is already learning right from wrong. she understands the word no and stops doing whatever she is doing when i say it. she smiles and gets excited when we tell her good job and she sneaks glaces at us when she is pushing the limits. she knows what she is doing. even at 8 months, she knows. and because she is learning more and more daily, i really feel that now is the time to start teaching her discipline. now is the time to start explaining to her why i say and do the things i say and do. becasue one day, in the not so distant future, she will understand every single word i am saying. and when that day comes, i want to be in the habit of not jsut telling her "yes" or "no" but explaining the meaning and reasons behind those words. i am a firm believer in the idea that if you understand the reasoning behind something then you are more apt to follow/listen/believe. it works with adults so why wouldnt it work with a child?

what brought this on today you ask? i was on the tube coming back home from fun day out in the city and e decided she just wanted to scream. for no reason. just a very loud scream. i looked at her and in a normal voice, i shook my head and said "oh no eleri, we dont scream. we use our normal voice when we are inside." and then we continued playing. a few minutes later she did it again. and i said the same thing. then a few minutes later, she did a half a scream, and then looked at me and smiled. i shook my head, said no and she giggled again and open her mouth like she was going to scream. but she didnt. and she didnt do it again. i am not saying that she understood everything perfectly. and i am not saying that if the exact same situation happened tomorrow the same result would occur. but the fact that she stopped and changed her behavior shows me that, without a doubt, she understands. and that is not an isolated incident. She stops and looks when we tell her no or yes on a regular basis. again, i am not saying she understands perfectly. but she does understand.

apparently not everyone else does. there was an older woman on the train who was watching the whole thing. about five minutes after the scene played out, she turned to me and said "for goodness sake, she is just a baby! let her be a baby and find her voice. dont tell her no" i just smiled and got off on the next stop. what i wanted to say was, "first of all, crazy woman, i did not ask for your parenting advice. secondly, would you want me to 'let her find her voice' if she was 1 and screaming? or two? or 3? NO. so why would i let her do it now if later on i will expect different behavior. and thirdly, again, i did not ask for your help in raising my child" i dont mean to sound bitter but i will never understand why people feel they have the right to offer thier opinions. i was not yelling at e. i did not raise my voice or hand to her. i simply spoke to her in a normal voice and explained what behavior i expected from her. is that werid? i didnt think so.

But it is important to me to not send mixed signals to ele. If i dont want her to pull hair, scream, throw things (or throw a tantrum) bite, hit, or any other behaviour that is often jsut laughed off as "baby-ness" when she is older, than why would i allow that behavior now? granted the way i talk to her and the way negative behavior is handeled now verses a year from now will be vastly different. but its still important to teach discipline from an early age.

and that is why, at 8 months, i am teaching e about discipline. fellow parents...what are your thoughts?

reason #3,456,789 why i love living in europe

it's the cheese.

ah, cheese.

the variety of cheese that exists in europe is second to none. and i love cheese. there are not enough words to adquately explain just how much i love cheese. (its right up there with fries. and chick-fil-a.)

ah, i digress.

rhys is away this weekend on a good mates stag do. and what did kristina do on saturday night home all by herself? I went to the store and bought the following: cave aged emmental, extra mature chedder, 8 month farmhouse mature red leicester and wensleydale with cranberry and blueberry. throw in some table water biscuits, scottish oatcakes, mango chutney and sparkling red wine and voila! saturday night a la kristina.

19 March 2010

Disneyland Paris

it really was like magic. i have been to both disneyland and disneyworld in the states, but there was something different about eurodisney. it was not as big, it didnt have as many rides or shows, but still. it just seemed more magical. perhaps it was because everything was in french so it already seemed a bit more exotic. or maybe it was the crepes, cheese trays and expresso you could order at the food stalls instead of the typical burgers and hot dogs. it could have been the fact that american accents were few and far between, making it feel all the more european. but whatever it was, eurodisney was vastly different than the other two parks. and it was completely and utterly amazing.

granted eleri is not even 8 months old yet, but i know that she had a wonderful time. Her facial expressions when she saw the characters dancing around and the flashing lights of the parades; her giggles as we went round and round on the mad hatters tea cups; her eyes wide in amazment as we sat in Dumbo, going up and down, flying high into the sky. I will never forget her smiles, her laughs and her squeels of delight as she took in each new sight and sound. eurodisney may have been unbelievably expensive, but it was worth every penny, every pound, and every euro because the memories are priceless.

i could go on and on about how wonderful it was but i think the pictures would be much more exciting. so here is our trip to eurodisney...

here we are at the enterance to the park.

e loved watching the parades. here she is smiling away as the characters were coming down the street

as no trip to disneyland is complete without the minnie mouse ears, we got some straight away and didnt take the off the entire time we were there. e loved wearing hers

and everyone must pose with the characters. here is us with pluto

and goofy

the age limit for the rides was 1. but my child is advanced (yes, i am that mom who brags about her kid) however, eleri is quite strong for her age. so i used my judgement on what rides i thought were ok, and then just lied and said she was 1. yes, yes, lying is wrong but little e wanted to go on rides. i know she did. So with her minnie mouse ears on, i would let her walk (holding my hands, not independently just yet) up to the gate of the ride. wearing costume ears and walking made her seem a lot older than 7 months. so there was never really any problem. and i am so glad that we were able to enjoy the rides with cousin nia. it was a blast. Look at her here on Dumbo...

and if you look closely, you will see us smiling away in the corner here

how cute is she sitting on her own, getting ready to fly away on aladian's magic carpet ride.

and of course the merry-go-round

rides aside, we had a great time looking through the different parks, the castle and eleri even took some time out to pull the sword out of the stone. check out her facial expression. its as if to say "guys, of course i can pull this out. with just one hand. come on, give me a challenge"

it was great. i couldnt have asked for a better weekend away. and i owe it all to my amazing sister in law. thanks kath, it was an AWESOME weekend.

it was worth every penny. look at that face.

12 March 2010

thouhgts by henri nouwen

Henri Nouwen is one of my favourite authors. his unique perspective on Christianity and more specifically christian leadership is thought provoking to say the least. in his book, In the Name of Jesus, Nouwen has taken on the task of discussing christian leadership for the new century. as the book was written in 1989, so he was writing with 2000 in mind, but that in no way out dates anything he has to say.

one passage in particular has been stuck in my mind for several days now. as i am away in france from tonight until next wednesday, i will leave you all with this thought. The context is Nouwen discussing the center where he works in which he lives in community with the physically and mentally handicapped. and he writes...

these broken, wounded and completely unpretentious people forced me to let go of my relevant self - the self that can do things, show things, build things - and forced me to reclaim that unadorned self in which i am completely vulnerable, open to receive and give love regardless of any accomplishments. I am telling you this because i am convinced the christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self. that is the way Jesus came to reveal God's love. The great message that we have to carry, as ministers of God's word and followers of Jesus, is that God loves us not because of what we do or accomplish, but because God has created us to proclaim that love as the true source of all human life.

its always a good reminder, at least to me, that god loves us not because of our job and how successful we are in it, or because we have a great education with lots of honours, or even because we are involved parents raising children in a godly manner. God loves us inspite of all of these things. god loves us just because we are. and that opens us up to stop trying so hard to be something that sounds good or looks successful and allows us to embrace who we really are inside; who He creates us to be.

so those are some thoughts, via henri nouwen, for the weekend. everyone enjoy themselves. i sure will as me and little ele live it up in eurodisney!!

5 March 2010

it was awesome

Finally, the post about wales!! It was such a fantastic weekend; it was perfect really. and i am not just saying that because my father in law reads this blog (hi alan) i am saying that because it was. everything about the weekend was just right.

we had a fun night out in cardiff

and since we left the baby at home, in the very capable hands of my in laws, rhys and I were able to take in the Wales rugby match and even a pint afterwards

Saturday i spent the entire day out and about with my mother in law. she is such a sweet lady. we had a great afternoon shopping for the baby and finished off the day with a nice cup of coffee in a little cafe. rhys played rugby for his old side and his dad watched. so everyone was happy. especially the baby. check out that smile.

Moonday was St. David's Day, the patron saint of wales. all the girls were these traditional welsh costumes and daffodils. the boys wear leeks on their shirts.

later in the day we went to the tiny village where rhys grew up and had a bit of a look around. we went here

and then made a stop off in the minners musuem. Rhys' grandfather was a minner. the welsh valleys used to be known for their coal. in fact, they produced the majority of the coal used in WWII. this is the actualy engine block that was used in the mine where rhys' grandfather worked. he has such a neat family history.

and it was eleri's first time on a swing. it was great! she loved it.

so as you can see, it really was a great weekend. one of the best i have had in a long time. i really enjoy my in laws and i am very grateful to have married into such a wonderful family.

3 March 2010

happy mothers day to me!

this past weekend in wales was AMAZING! it was such a great time. very relaxing and very refreshing. there is a whole post coming on wales shortly; as soon as i can get my computer to upload pictures. but in the meantime, i have some exciting news to share....

Mothers day in the UK is in March. why it is a different day in america, i have no idea. but that means that next week the Brits celebrate mothers. since i am officially a mother this year (and not just pregnant) i get a mothers day present. and here is the exciting part. remember that post about going somewhere for my birthday and i couldnt decide where? well rhys and his sister have eleminated the problem.

for mothers day, i get to go here....

to hang out with these people

with a stop off here

and a visit with this fellow

oh me and the baby are so excited!!! I am going with my fantastic sister in law and her nearly 3 year old daughter. little ele will get a few days away with her cousin....in paris! i cant wait!!