Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Quality Friend

My longest-standing friendship has been with my dear friend Matt. He started off as my travel soccer coach and school gym teacher in fourth grade, I believe, and has stayed in my life ever since. He quickly became my mentor and good friend on and off of the soccer field, baking cookies with me, visiting me while I stayed after school with my teaching parents, and taking a genuine interest in my life.

When I learned he was leaving our school prior to my eighth grade year, I remember having a massive lump in my throat. Life wasn't going to be the same and it really wasn't. But that didn't stop our communication. We started writing lengthy emails back and forth, since that was about the time when I got my own email address. Occasionally he'd call me on the phone and ask about my life and share his own. A couple times a year he would venture out our way for a short visit, but it wasn't until I got my license that we met a few times for a hike or rock climbing. 

In every conversation, Matt was real. He shared about the joys in his life, but he also shared his frustrations and struggles. His compassion and authentic outlook really had an impact on me. Anyone who knows him can attest to the fact that he just exudes enthusiasm.

While we may not email as often or talk on the phone very frequently, Matt has continued to pursue a friendship with me to this day. I am forever grateful and honored to call him my friend.

When he called to tell me he would be passing through with his family and wanted to come for a visit, I was ecstatic! In recent years we've had an afternoon visit once a year, if that. But this would be for a longer duration and I could spend more time with his wonderful family!

Matt, Kristin, and Lev arrived for two nights a couple of weeks ago. It was great to have them around and to get to know his family better! Lev was born a few weeks before we got married, so I'll always know how old he is! (That's four, by the way.) He is adorable and really takes after his dad. 

First we went to The Cascades which, as you know, is our favorite hike in the area. The drive there was sunny, the hike up and down drenched us in rain, and then the drive home was sunny again. Fortunately, Matt & Kristin are two of the most positive people in this world and enjoyed it anyway!

But the climax of our trip was going to Floyd, VA. We had a delicious pizza dinner before heading over to the Floyd Country Store for some flat-footing. Lev immediately wanted to get out on the floor and Matt obliged him. They didn't stop dancing all night! It was so much fun to see them enjoying themselves on the dance floor. 

My sister, Phoebe, came into town around the same time and definitely didn't want to miss a night of flat-footing! Here she is with her square-dancing partner, having a grand ol' time.

Then Kristin took a turn or two with this fine gentleman...

The woman on the left below is always at the Friday Night Jamboree and she was quite keen on dancing with Lev.

 But who can resist dancing with this little fellow, really? Not this pregnant lady!

And it must run in the family because Phoebe couldn't resist him either.

Thank you for stopping through, Matt!

Before they left, we all went to the Blacksburg Farmer's Market together. Jim, who was on night shifts during this time, also joined us for a morning at the market. I'm so grateful for the friendship of this family. We look forward to more hiking, dancing, and enjoying time together in the future! 

Until next time :)

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Final Stretch

We are entering our final weeks of pregnancy! Tomorrow will mark 37 weeks and I just cannot believe that we're here already, and yet I cannot wait to meet our little one!
Almost 36 weeks at the
Blacksburg Farmer's Market
Last week the baby made his/her descent, which means that there are mere weeks left in our pregnancy journey, one book said 2-4 weeks, and that parenthood will soon begin. As I went on walks with Jim and friends last week, I could feel the baby lower in my abdomen than ever before. It was a physical reminder that the end is approaching.

By the way, I like the term "descent" so much better than the baby "dropped." Dropped? Really? This sounds much more dangerous and terrifying for all involved.

Also within the last week, a beautiful baby shower was thrown for me & Baby B (more to come soon!), we finished the nursery (another future post!), received our stroller (Woohoo!), made a few last purchases, and installed the carseat. Tomorrow marks our last birth class. We'll have had a total of six classes taught by our doula and alongside four other couples. We are grateful for the pain-coping strategies we've been learning & practicing, and the conversations that the class has sparked between us about the labor & birthing process.

With all of these things being celebrated, experienced, and checked off of the list, it makes our excitement grow daily.

With excitement building I want to remember/attempt to do the following in the coming weeks:
- be calm
- conserve energy
- sleep whenever I can
- drink water, water, water!
- walk/practice yoga
- confront or dig into any axieties or fears that arise
- savor these last few moments as a couple before we become three
- breathe
- be patient
- allow myself the privilege of relaxing
- trust my body

Baby B, we love you and cannot wait to meet you! But come when you're ready and in your own good time; we'll be waiting for you with open arms. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Baby Moon: Cape May

This year Jim and I decided to try something new while on our own personal vacation time. Yes, this year we decided to try this thing called "relaxing."

Our typical vacation includes booking it to wherever we are going, seeking out as many adventures, hikes, and activities as we can to fit into the day, eating on the go or cooking our own food, and falling into bed exhausted at the end of a fulfilling day. Now this is great, don't get me wrong! We will be returning to this whenever possible, but this year we decided to really take it easy.

We also decided to hang nearby (no crazy road trip or flight across the country) AND we decided to go to the beach, a place we never go. As a pregnant lady who was trying to plan the summer ahead, while having no clue what I would be feeling like at 7 months, the beach seemed like a good, laid-back, cool plan.

It turned out that this was just what the two of us needed.
Our days revolved, quite literally, around sunblock application, if you ask Jim. If you ask me, they revolved around my body temperature, food, and peeing (typical pregnant lady, here). But, decked out with a cooler with food, and ice-water-filled thermos, two beach chairs, an umbrella, and the paddleboard game, we were quite comfortable.

It was lovely.

After a wild year of Jim living multiple places away from home, me switching jobs, and then the final month before vacation started Jim was preparing for his medical board... it was so nice to have him around, available, relaxed, and (selfishly) all to myself. We had time to think/talk about things related to our baby and growing family and to write to our baby in his/her journal.

It was wonderful.

We watched a man catch a shark on his fishing pole and got to watch dolphins swimming out in the ocean for two days in a row, while we walked along the beach or sat in our chairs. I'd never seen dolphins in the wild, that I can remember.

We both agreed that the beach is definitely a vacation that we'd like to do again.

31 Weeks 

So happy we had those three days and nights together. A baby moon was just what the student doctor ordered! :)

P.S. Cape May is a beautiful and relatively quiet, family friendly beach. Definitely wouldn't mind going back there in the future!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Family & Berries

Time with Jim's parents was spent between Erin's wedding and before we went to New York City, then again a few times throughout the travels of this summer. It was great to have time with them!

An orchard nearby has beautiful black raspberries that were ripe exactly during the time we were there. The orchard was overflowing with these raspberries and were desperate for pickers- we were happy to oblige and went twice. One time we went with John & Kim and the second time we went with Christine & Kim. We then enjoyed delicious, fresh berries for days!

We were there over the fourth of July and enjoyed a cookout with some of their friends, a walk around the beautiful houses at Mt. Gretna, and then we topped off the night by watching the fireworks from the park behind their house. Christine celebrated that holiday with us, too!

On our last day there we went to Inn 422, which is one of John & Kim's favorite places in Lebanon, PA. It was a really delicious brunch where Jim and John got stuffed french toast and Kim and I got huge and overflowing omlets. Yum!

Here we were 31 weeks and 5 days pregnant!

Thank you to John & Kim for hosting us and for watching Leif during our time in NYC and in Cape May! We are very grateful.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

River Time

One week of this summer was spent on river time. Our days revolved around family, eating, kayaking, swimming, playing games (crochet, badminton, cornhole, & a new frisbee game), campfires, sleeping, and as many other ventures and activities we could throw into the mix. 

Here are a bunch of pictures from our time there. Let me just say that I LOVE our new camera. We bought a refurbished one from B&H Photo in NYC in preparation for those precious moments we want to capture in our childrens' lives. Most of these were taken with it, except for the kayaking & berry-picking ones.

Sorry for the tiny pictures, but there were just so many moments to capture!

Highlights included:

  • Time with Grandma, Aunt Beth, Julie, Jake, Hazel & Heidi. Cute kisses to my belly from the two little ones :)
  • Meeting James, Phoebe's boyfriend for the first time and getting schooled in crochet. Next year we want a rematch!
  • Conversations around the campfire every evening.
  • Hiking Cathedral Pines with James, Phoebe, Jim & Leif and creek walking.
  • Kayaking with the whole family to the ice cream place!
  • Going to the Boalsburg Craft Fair with Mom and Phoebe.
  • Celebrating my 27th birthday at my favorite place and while being pregnant and getting wonderful gifts for baby! Yummy steak dinner & chocolate cake!
  • Playing with Leif in the water and learning that he is happy to swim upstream for 45 min to 1 hour.
  • Delicious bread from Dad's CREO (Clarion River Earth Oven).
  • Hiking through the woods and into the marsh to pick blueberries with Willem, Mom, Dad, & Jim.
  • Yahtzee on our last evening.
While at The Pinery we crossed into being 30 weeks pregnant!

Thank you to Mom & Dad for hosting us for a week! Thanks to Willem & Phoebe for being there while we were there, so that we could all be together. We're looking forward to river time again in the future, but next time with the first grandchild in tow :)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Swiss Independence Day

In my childhood I spent every summer at my parents' summer cabin called "The Pinery." When there we were only forty-five minutes away from my grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins, compared to spending the rest of the year six hours apart.

Well, I have memories of Swiss Independence Day with my swiss Grandpa. He'd come over wearing his edelweiss suspenders and equipped with his harmonica. Grandma would hold a small swiss flag and wave it. He'd pull out his repertoire of Swiss Folk songs, all within his head, and play for us while sitting in the adirondack chair on the front porch. It was a uniquely Grandpa thing to do and I loved that. 

Somewhere I'm sure there's a picture of it, but I don't have access to it right now. I'll allow my mind to journey back to those wonderful summer days, where we were together, enjoying beautiful music, and celebrating his heritage.

August 14th will mark a year since his passing. Somehow Swiss Independence Day and his departure for heaven seem appropriately placed in the same month. Before today I'd never thought about that. 

Happy Swiss Independence Day!