Christmas 2014

Jason had been up until 2am building Lena’s Christmas gift and Aksel had fussed at me through the night so Christmas morning was slow to get going. We finally headed downstairs around 9 am where all the presents had been carefully laid out in front of the tree.

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Lena immediately spotted her prize – a vintage style kitchen. Her face lit up as she came into the living room and told us, “I sure like that pretty kitchen, guys!” When the grandparents had asked what to get for Christmas this year, we mentioned we were doing a cooking theme. They went overboard outfitting our little chef with everything from felt food, pots and pans and even a Lena-sized apron.

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While Lena got down to business “cooking” for Jason and Aksel, I made BoBerry Biscuits from scratch. They were even more delicious than last year and I loved that we had continued our little tradition from the year before. Adding to our special breakfast, we drank milk out of the mugs we had picked up at a German Christmas Market in Birmingham. Lena loved that it was little and had pretty “dars” or stars on it.

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After stuffing ourselves full, it was on to stockings. As always, Santa had filled our stockings with oranges, candy, socks and undies and a special magazine for each person. Lena was pretty excited about Aksel’s magazine as it had some Thomas the Train toys on front so we let her read to him. She actually had picked out the magazine earlier in the week but somehow didn’t remember much to my surprise as she has the brain of an elephant.

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Wanting some family photos, I set up the tripod Jason bought me last Christmas and used the remote control to capture us in all our pajama glory.

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We had planned to have a very small Christmas with just a few gifts – we actually bought only the kitchen and a little tool set for Lena. Jason and I had agreed not to buy anything for each other but luckily, I knew better than to believe him and picked up an electronic kettle for him at the last minute. Of course, he had bought something as well – an iPod adapter for the car – despite his claims to the contrary.

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One of the most random gifts was a pack of Frozen Band Aids from my cousin, Laila Eva. Lena went crazy for them and I am probably going to steal that idea for future kid’s gifts. It was super practical but also fun (Lena thought they were stickers and asked that we put one on her ankle) and the styles are endless so they could work for any age.

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A big thank you to all of our family for sending such generous gifts. Everything from clothes to books and plenty of toys – we are truly spoiled and loved. We wish you all could have been here to enjoy the holiday with us and see Lena’s excitement over everything. Hopefully these photos captured some of that for you! We love you all and look forward to all being together sometime soon!

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December Rundown

It’s been exactly one month since our little guy joined us and it feels like he’s always been here. I’m not sure if it’s due to my short labor or just being a bit more savvy the second time around, but the recovery has been a breeze – can I get an amen for that?! Jason got ten days of leave to help us settle in and then it was back to work. In those ten days, he managed our entire household – grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, Lena duty (a full time job in itself), plus still had time to change diapers and give me plenty of breaks for naps and showers. In other words, I hit the husband jackpot. I know no one is perfect but he comes pretty dang close. If only I could get him to stop singing 90’s R&B in a nasally, out-of-tune voice ;)
Wanting to make sure Lena didn’t feel forgotten, we were intentional about doing some special things with her in the days leading up to Christmas. All the kids at her preschool exchange Christmas cards so we thought it would be fun to make some candy cane reindeer. The Bacon Bit was a big helper handing me red noses and googly eyes – I didn’t have the courage to let her operate the glue gun so close to my fingers.
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We also made these “pinecones” out of peanut butter and Nutella for a school fundraiser. The flyer sent home by her teachers asked for cakes but I am still struggling to figure out my fan-assisted oven so we stuck with the no bake option. And because they’re my favorite cookie, we did a quick batch of sugar cookies with some very cool sprinkles picked out by Daddy.
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Finally, we put together a quick gift for her teachers to thank them for all their hard work this term. I have no idea how they do it – I’m not sure I would survive 35 hours a week with a bunch of preschoolers. Ikea had these cute tins for just a pound so we picked up one for each teacher and filled the smallest container with some holiday pretzel mix. I figured they had received a ton of candy and they could use the tins after they finished the snack inside.
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We had originally planned to make a whole day at Elveden to pick out our Christmas tree but Aksel ended up making his appearance that weekend. So a couple weeks later, we attempted our first big family outing. Lena loved seeing the big dogs pulling sleighs topped with Christmas trees while I could not stop giggling at this trio of musical elves. They had used electrical tape to create pointy shoes and their face make up was really disturbing. Lena maintained a reasonable distance and avoided eye contact with them – I can’t really blame her. And since she loves all things carnival-related, she begged Jason to let her go on the bungee jump. He didn’t stand a chance.
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Since Aksel was born overseas, we had to jump through a few hoops to get him registered as a US citizen. So we got his British birth certificate then made the trek to the US Embassy in London. It was a bit of a mad scramble to get all the paperwork together as we had just a few hours notice. I collected our passports, marriage certificate, tax forms, plus all the necessary application paperwork. We were able to submit his birth certificate, passport and social security forms all at once which helped. However, we also needed a passport photo so at the very last minute, we set up a little photoshoot before hopping in the car and heading to the city.
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Not knowing how sleep deprived we would be, we decided to have a quiet Christmas Eve. The village church held their usual crib and christingle service and Lena went as an angel again. She was so excited to wear this vintage dress after I told her I had worn it as a little girl, too. It was originally worn by one of my mom’s cousins in Norway then passed on to my cousin Liv, on to me, and now to Lena.
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Our little angel decided she didn’t want to sit for the short service and instead, kept trying to eat the candy off her christingle. Luckily, Aksel slept through it all and then we headed home to eat dinner and open a few presents.
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Lena insisted on helping with dinner which resulted in Jason forgetting to make the potatoes. So dinner consisted of Swedish meatballs, gravy, brussel sprouts and biscuits. Lena was in a goofy mood, Aksel was fussy, Jason was sweaty so he stripped down to his tank top and my eye was trying to burst out of my face as Lena had infected me with a raging case of pink eye. This picture is not our most glamorous but it is definitely real life and makes me laugh hysterically. Makes for good memories, right?
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We opened a few gifts and suckered the kids into posing for embarrassing photos. I am fairly confident that Aksel wanted to punch me for taking the antler photo and suspect this is a look I will see many times in the future. After watching some Christmas movies, I took the kids upstairs to bed while Jason got started on building Lena’s big Christmas gift. He was up until 2am and I could hear some grumbling and loud banging going on in the process. It ended up being all worth it the next morning, though, when we saw Lena’s happy face.
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Aksel’s Unassisted Homebirth

With my due date less than a week away, we decided to spend Thanksgiving break getting things ready and decorating for Christmas. I was convinced I had plenty of time before baby made it’s arrival as Lena went four days past due so was in no real rush to get anything done.

Thanksgiving Day was busy between Lena’s ballet class, dropping off Jason’s car at the mechanic and my 39-week midwife appointment. My iron levels had been steadily decreasing despite my diet of kale and spinach so I was a little nervous I wouldn’t be able to have a home birth as planned. Luckily, the midwife said they still supported me and scheduled me to come back at 41 weeks if I hadn’t yet had a baby. The rest of the day, I rested on the couch while Jason prepared an elaborate feast for us and a few friends. He’s basically a superhero in my mind.

Black Friday came, we sent Lena off to morning preschool and then decided to make a trip to Ikea to walk around and pick up some Christmas decorations. There are few things I love more than Ikea and their delicious food so I was in heaven. A couple hundred pounds later, we chowed down on some Swedish meatballs and pølser then hopped in the car to head home. I was so excited with our new wares that I stayed up a little longer to set everything up and finally crashed at 9pm.

At 1:30am, I woke up with some light cramping and was slightly annoyed that it had interrupted my sleep. I “knew” it wasn’t labor because I hadn’t yet reached my due date but did notice they seemed to be building and getting a bit hard to deal with. Not wanting to make the rookie mistake of calling the midwife prematurely, I decided to get in the tub, fully expecting them to go away. My plan wasn’t working so I downloaded a contraction counter app on Jason’s iPod before waking him up to say I thought maybe it was go time.

I really just wasn’t mentally prepared to be in labor so soon as I felt like there were all sorts of last minute things I NEEDED to get done. So I told Jason we absolutely had to wash both the showers and the toilet plus start a load of laundry. Barely awake, I could tell he was annoyed with me but I didn’t care because these tasks suddenly seemed vitally important to me. After an hour of tracking, it was clear we were going to have a baby so I abandoned my list and told him to call the doula.

The surges were getting stronger by the minute as I tried my best to remember that it was just muscles moving my baby down and out. I had Jason pour water down my back as they went which helped create a different sensation to concentrate on. Apparently, I get a bit bossy when in discomfort as I barked at him to only go down the middle of my back and make sure it was a steady stream. I may also have said it felt like he was peeing on me otherwise and that it was making me angry. No doubt, he enjoyed my constructive criticism. In between my bossy demands, he fed me almonds and cranberries, made sure I was drinking some water and helped me get in and out of the tub to deal with the glamorous labor-induced bubble gut. Better to use the toilet than poop in the tub though, right?!

At one point, Lena woke up and realized she was in her own room which was entirely unacceptable to her. So Jason moved her into our bed as I hollered at him to come back and pour the water on my back. The surges were coming strong and hard by that point and I had a few back to back with no rest in between. I started to doubt my ability to ride them out and felt really vulnerable. I also realized my labor was progressing way more quickly than I initially realized and that we needed to call the midwife. Unfortunately, the labor hotline phone number was downstairs and I didn’t want Jason to leave me so I made him wait until after a contraction and then yelled for him to hurry up the entire 30 seconds he was away.

Despite knowing all the signposts of labor, I was still in denial that it was going so quickly and that I was likely in transition. I have to say, this is my least favorite part of the whole process as it is just so mentally demanding. As Jason was talking to the midwife and trying to ask me questions, I was getting more and more agitated. I just wanted his undivided attention and water poured on my back. Lena also chose this moment to call out for cuddles as well and I realized my poor husband was completely stressed out as he exclaimed, “everybody just chill!” Hehehehe… at least we can laugh about it now!

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Susan, our doula, showed up as I started grunting and feeling the urge to bear down. I had planned to be downstairs in a birth tub but there just wasn’t time for that. I remember saying that I didn’t have enough room and just couldn’t get comfortable. Strange, I know, as the pushing stage is generally such a pleasant experience. I could feel Jason’s relief at her presence and felt really comforted as she reminded me that my body was doing exactly what it was supposed to.

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My body basically took over at this point as I could feel the baby moving down at a very fast rate. The only way I can explain it is primal. I could work with it and let it happen or let fear take over and just amplify the sensations. It dawned on me that the midwife wouldn’t make it and once I accepted that, I just decided to get down to business. I got sideways in the tub and tried to spread out as much as possible in hopes that it would prevent me from tearing. Even in the midst of it all, I did recognize that the noises I was making were ridiculous but there was just no stopping it. Luckily, it wasn’t quite the exorcism that Lena’s birth was (Jason assured me after the fact that I wasn’t nearly as loud this time around). I had really hoped to have a more calm pushing stage and use some J breathing a la Hypnobirthing but my body had other plans. I could feel my pelvic bones open – and that is quite a sensation if you’ve never felt it – and as I reached down, I felt the baby’s head. One last big push into the water, and I caught our new little life in my hands.

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As fast as they came on, the contractions were over and I was holding our little boy in my arms. I was so excited to find out the gender and did a victory cry when I looked down and saw a little tinkler. There is no relief and joy like that of realizing your baby is out and labor is over. Jason just kept laughing as our doula took pictures and we commented in disbelief that we’d just had an unassisted home birth.

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My growls had woke Lena up but she had stayed in our room the whole time. Luckily, we had talked a lot beforehand about how Mama was going to push out a baby and might be making loud signs like a lion. So when we brought her in to meet her new little brother, she was really excited. No fear, no trepidation. It couldn’t have been more perfect. She immediately declared, “Oh Mama, that baby is weally cute!” and giggled at the noises he was making.

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I kept the baby in the water and we wrapped him in a blanket as the midwife, Ann, arrived and came upstairs. We transferred me to our bed in order to deliver the placenta. This was quite the task as the umbilical cord was too short for me to have him on my chest so Ann and I did a very intricate shuffle with baby at my abdomen and Jason and Susan following me with a barrage of chucks pads to prevent getting blood on the carpet. I’m really glad there’s no video of that little dance!

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Once in bed, I delivered the placenta, got our little man to latch for the first time, and ate an enormous plate of leftover Thanksgiving dinner because I was suddenly starving. Wanting to make sure Lena still felt special, we gave her the special present her brother had “bought” for her – an elk and a book about him. She flipped through the pages, calling out all the animals but it just couldn’t compare to her need to finally hold the baby we’d been promising her for the past nine months.

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She was absolutely in love and five days later, is still enamored with the little guy. We cracked up as she told him how she loved his “wittle ears and toes” and gave him kisses on the head. And even the slightest little movement or noise on his part elicited hysterical laughter from the new big sister.

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I’m still in shock at how quickly everything happened; it barely feels like I even gave birth. Being in the comfort of our own home was just amazing and made the whole transition feel seamless. Our birth team was incredible; letting us bond as a family and only popping in to get baby’s weight or help us pose for pictures. I really wouldn’t change a thing about the entire experience.

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And now, this sweet little baby is finally here after much prayer, worry, and intense hope that he would be a boy. Aksel Thomas Kosalka was born early on a Saturday morning at 4:06 at seven pounds, one ounce. He has beautiful dark hair and skin just like his daddy and I’m pretty sure he’ll have Jason’s brown eyes as well. Aksel means Father of Peace and so far, it seems to fit his personality perfectly. We are so in love and so very thankful to be chosen as his parents.

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October 2014 Recap

October was super fun and crazy busy – funny how having kids means you suddenly have a very full social calendar even if it looks much different from what it used to. After watching Curious George’s No-Noggin Halloween special on repeat, Lena was sufficiently excited for all things pumpkin and costume. She insisted she wanted to be a lion for Halloween (what a surprise; the kid roars at me all day long) so I decided to attempt a homemade costume. My sewing skills are minimal but I at least know how to thread a bobbin so I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. In case someone else is feeling inspired, here’s a quick rundown of how I turned my little munchkin into a ferocious lion.

I started with two faux fur shrugs that I found at a local store. They were about £8 each so not too bad.

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Then I measured Lena’s wrists and ankles (with boots on since they needed to fit over the boot). I added an inch to each and was lucky enough that I had the perfect amount of fabric.

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I then sewed two seams at my measurement markings so I could then cut in between and the faux fur wouldn’t unravel on me. Just a word of warning, faux fur likes to get everywhere – up your nose being a favorite spot – so just be prepared for that and don’t have a snack nearby unless you like your meals flavored with fur.

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After cutting in between my seams, I had two wrist pieces and two ankle pieces. I then sewed some velcro on each one and that was it! Pretty simple.

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For the head piece, I left the second shrug intact and just sewed a bit of velcro right under the chin so it could wrap around Lena’s face. Then we did half pigtails on top of her head to look like ears. Also, Lena likes to watch me put on make up so when I asked if we should paint her face, there were huge squeals of joy and she now asks if I’m turning myself into a lion anytime she sees me attempting to cover up my dark under eye circles.

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The tail was made from some extra scraps of stuff I had in my craft supplies. My aunt gave me a ton of random fabrics and accessories awhile back and I was really glad I had kept them as they were the perfect finishing touch.

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So there’s an easy way to make a lion costume!

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Lena’s preschool put on a great little Halloween party as a fundraiser so we all decided to dress up, much to my delight and Jason’s horror. His Michael Jackson Thriller costume is absolutely ridiculous and I could hardly look at him without almost peeing my pants in laughter. He’s like a Weird Al Yankovich version of MJ. I’m still dying looking back at these photos. We also had to walk through our village to get to the party and cars were actually stopping to admire our beautiful threads.

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It was all worth it in the end though as Lena had a great time and both she and Jason brought home prizes for best costume. I had planned to be a fortune teller and paint my belly as a crystal ball but just ran out of time. So I looked like a gypsy but that works, too!

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The next day, we joined Daddy at work to help him set up his office for a giant Trick-Or-Treat maze hosted by his squadron. There were inflatable pumpkins, spiders that jumped out at you and cobwebs galore. Lena didn’t seem phased by most of it (read: no tears of terror) which was great. She is a pretty brave and adventurous little lady which I love about her. There were also some games and coloring pages in one of the conference rooms plus more candy than I’ve ever seen in my life. I almost went into a sugar coma by association.

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Later that week, we had a special Halloween ballet class where all the kids came dressed in costume. Ridiculous. The cuteness was just overwhelming and every parent went picture crazy. They had all the kids line up along the wall at the end and then they got to take home a little goodie bag with a few pieces of candy and a balloon. Lena’s ballet teacher is just incredible and so gifted with little ones. We love dance class and look forward to going each week though I have to say the costume theme was a highlight.

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Finally, I helped plan and host a fall carnival in our village the day before Halloween. Wanting it to be family friendly, we stayed away from the scarier themes of ghosts and goblins. We had leaf matching, bobbing for apples, pumpkin balancing and lots of yummy food and drinks. In between running games, I was the designated picture taker for the photobooth and even got to pose in one photo with our neighbor who Lena adores.

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By the time Halloween finally arrived, I was tapped out. So Lena and I gathered all the candy around the house and handed it out on the street in front of our house. The Brits were ecstatic to get American candy and I was happy to have it out of the house. Thankfully, Lena loves to share and had no problem giving everything away. I’m not sure we’ll be as lucky next year but we did mention that if she ate all the candy, she would get sick and die. Okay, so maybe not that dramatic but we did warn of a giant stomachache.

So with October out of the way, we’re now on the countdown for Baby #2 to make it’s arrival. Lots of changes to come but we’re all getting excited!

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Chester Zoo

As a belated third birthday celebration, we took Lena to the Chester Zoo in Northern England. They claim the title of Number 1 Zoo in the UK and there is also a BBC drama currently being filmed about the history of it’s founder, George Mottershead. Having an animal-obsessed toddler, you’d think we would visit zoos a lot more often. But I find them to be a bit depressing when you think about these poor animals spending their entire lives cooped up in a cage just for our viewing pleasure. However, the Chester Zoo was nothing of the sort. In short, this place was amazing. It was impeccably organized with beautifully designed signage, a great layout, and the best part was that the animals seemed genuinely content in their environments. The “zoo without bars” describes itself as follows:

“Our vision is for a diverse, thriving and sustainable natural world

Our mission is to be a major force in conserving biodiversity worldwide”

They fight to save species from extinction all while protecting the land the zoos sits upon. Basically, they walk the walk and talk the talk and we loved it. So here are an inappropriate number of photos of the beautiful animals we saw during our visit. And yes, several weeks later, Lena is still talking about all of them with elephants being a particular favorite.

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I’ve always loved giraffes but after seeing this group, I was even more obsessed. The Rothschild giraffes are the second most endangered subspecies of their kind and there are likely just a few hundred left in the wild. They were just indescribably beautiful and my pregnancy hormones may have made me tear up and then pretend a bug flew in my eye. Go see a giraffe in person. The way they move and observe you is beyond description.

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In between visiting all the mammals, birds and amphibians, we stopped to let Lena run around one of the play structures and enjoy some pizza and pasta for lunch. Since we were road tripping, we didn’t bring a packed lunch and were happily surprised at the low cost and high quality of the food served at the zoo. This place can basically do no wrong in my eyes.

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After putting myself in a carb coma, we strolled through the rest of the exhibitions and then decided to take the Monorail back towards the entrance. For just a few extra pounds, you get a bird’s eye view of all the different habitats and a running commentary about which animals to look out for. Lena loved it, of course, and didn’t want to get off. There is also a Waterbus but the weather was starting to turn cold and rainy and I was feeling extra creaky in my bones so we decided to skip it.

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I would definitely visit Chester Zoo again and would love to let Lena play Zoo Keeper for a day. Judging by the giant grin on her face followed by a 3 hour nap, I’d say she enjoyed it, too!

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Chester

After being in the States the majority of the summer, the Sarge wanted to take a weekend vacation somewhere in England. Being 32+ weeks pregnant, I wasn’t quite as mobile as usual so we decided to make the three hour drive north to Chester and spend a couple days walking around the city. Chester sits right on the border to Wales and was originally formed as a Roman fort in the year 79. Seriously, I can barely wrap my brain around that.

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While most of the buildings look medieval in appearance, they are actually Victorian restorations. The black and white buildings make up The Row – shops, homes and offices at both street level and up and down various staircases. It was so pretty and very English.

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There is also a wall that surrounds the entire city and with the exception of a small, 100 meter section, it is entirely intact. I had wanted to walk part of it but my hips and back just weren’t having it. That whole altered center of gravity thing when you’re pregnant is no joke. You can see part of the wall extending over The Row here topped by an ornate clock. The amount of detail everywhere was just gorgeous.

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We really had no plan for this trip except to see some pretty buildings, maybe pick up a few Christmas ornaments, and eat yummy food. So we wandered down the road towards St. John the Baptist church. It was originally founded in 689 (again, mind blown at the history in this country) and you could walk through the ruins of the northwest tower on the west side of the building. This part of the church was built in sandstone and had the prettiest terra cotta color. We also lucked out with gorgeous weather so there was beautiful light and a faint breeze. I could have stayed here all day but Lena made friends with some squirrels and we were then on a mission to give them some treats. And by treats, I mean berries that Jason plucked from a random tree. Hopefully they weren’t poisonous.

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While my two animal lovers were busy chasing chipmunks, I walked around to the front of the church in search of a bathroom to relieve my perpetually-punched bladder. I snapped a few photos of the church interior – beautiful scaffolding on the ceiling and an impressive stained glass window. I’m sure you could spend hours here learning about the history of everything but I had an active toddler waiting for me outside.

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The church sits just above the River Dee so we followed a walking trail down towards the Queens Park Bridge. As we looked around, Jason commented that yet again, we were the youngest visitors by about 30 years. We are apparently ready to join the AARP crowd as most of our vacations attract a much more mature age group than our own.

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We always like to have one special meal when we take a trip somewhere and this time, we decided on Upstairs at the Grill. I’m not sure why, but it took us an hour to find the place despite it being right on the street. I think we were just so hungry and tired that our brains weren’t functioning. Luckily, the staff took pity on us and we were still able to get a table in spite of being embarrassingly late for our reservation. I didn’t take any pictures but trust me that the food tasted just as delicious as it looked. The restaurant specializes in steaks and cocktails and now my mouth is watering just thinking about it. I am not a drinker, pregnant or not, so I figured I’d just enjoy a glass of water but the waitress showed me their list of fruit cocktails and I was hooked. Cranberry and grapefruit is a spectacular combination, in case you were wondering. They even treated us to some freshly made rolls with bone marrow infused butter served in a hollowed out bone.

We started with pea and ham soup which came out steaming hot and was the color of kermit the frog. Jason and I both ordered the Chateaubriand which is apparently from the head of the fillet and came carved by the chef with a side of Bearnaise sauce, and a grilled mushroom and tomato per tradition. Not knowing what Lena would actually eat, we also ordered garlic sweet potatoes and a tomato and onion side salad. After declaring everything to be “gross,” she finally agreed to take a bite of chicken (her term for any type of meat) and then proceeded to devour everything in front of her. I’m not sure if I should be happy that she has such a refined pallet or if we’re creating a culinary monster!

Jason ordered chocolate ice cream for dessert along with an espresso despite having no idea what he was asking for. He heard the man next to us order one and decided it sounded delicious so he went for it. When his tiny shot of black liquid came to the table, the look on his face was priceless. The man despises the taste of coffee and here, he had ordered it in it’s most potent form. He attempted to choke it down in between intensely whispering to me how it tasted like a dirty diaper. He had me laughing so hard that I was crying and when he announced we needed to leave right then and there because he needed to make a phone call (aka go to the bathroom), I was done. He will barely pee in public let alone any other business but I suspect that shot of espresso got the best of him. We’re so classy.

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The next day, we made a quick visit to the Chester Cathedral which was just as beautiful on the inside as the outside. I was in photography heaven with all the stained glass windows and mosaics but Jason and Lena were anxious to get to the zoo, so it was a quick trip. There was a beautiful enclosed garden and someone offered to take a family photo of us. We almost never have pictures with all three of us in them and I love this photo despite Lena yawning in my ear. Jason let her throw a coin into the fountain (no idea if she was supposed to or not) then it was on to the gift shop for a quick browse of their wares. We picked up a couple Christmas ornaments – I have a new obsession with collecting an ornament from each place we visit – and then it was off to the Chester Zoo!

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Yellow and Grey Shower for Baby #2

I would just like to publicly profess (for the millionth time) that I have the best friends and family around. Right before heading back to England, my cousin, Laila Eva, hosted a baby shower for me and it was just perfect. Since we don’t know the gender of the bun in my belly, she used a grey and yellow color theme which I am now considering using all over my house as it was so pretty. A month or so prior, Laila Eva had created a Pinterest board and asked me to add anything I would like to see or do at my baby shower. She then somehow managed to include basically everything I had pinned while making it look completely effortless. Her attention to detail and thoughtfulness in planning the food definitely did not go unnoticed. I’m confident that at 21 years old, I would not have been able to pull off anything like this and as usual, I am just in awe of my beautiful, talented cousin.

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In between all the mingling and hilarious birth talk happening around the house (ahem, Molly, Kristi, Liv and Kim!), the kids discovered a frog outside which was basically more exciting than Santa Clause himself. There was squealing, jumping and feeble attempts at holding the absolutely terrified little amphibian. I love Boden’s excited face – so dang cute!

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We played just one game which I found absolutely hilarious. Everyone had to draw a picture of a baby while holding the paper to their forehead. Humans are so weird sometimes especially if you just step back and look at the things we do. Everyone was a good sport and I loved that it wasn’t your typical baby shower game (you nailed it again, Laila Eva).

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Lena was my little helper; opening all the presents and inspecting everything carefully. She was even gifted a few things which I thought was really sweet and thoughtful.

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My dad’s sister, Sheryl, brought one of the most sentimental gifts and totally made me do an ugly cry in front of everyone. Basically, any sort of crying in front of a group horrifies me so a full blown ugly cry is my worst nightmare. As soon as I saw the picture frame, I realized Sheryl had given me some of my grandma’s cross stitch pieces. I remember staring at them as a little girl and thinking they looked like watercolor paintings. There were three pieces depicting a little boy and girl playing at the beach – exactly what my brother and I did every time we went to Grandma and Grandpa’s house on Raft Island. Cue torrential tears. Now the pieces are proudly displayed in Lena’s room; making me smile every time I see them.

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A big, giant thank you to everyone who came to the shower and for all the thoughtful gifts. I could not be more blessed!

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