>> 12.30.2010

Okay, okay.
I know, it's been a week. 
However, Christmas was hectic, and my resolution to start blogging more doesn't kick off until AFTER the new year, so technically I still have another 48 hours of slacking to do.

This is just going to be a rambling photo post, so I hope you all enjoy.
Serious stuff to come later, I promise.

(If there is one thing I can be counted on for, it's bringing some serious thoughts into your life.)
 Christmas morning with the most gorgeous flowers from my family, coffee, and my Bible.

 Maternity clothes from Grandma! 
They are sooo comfortable.
I think I will be wearing them for the next five months.

 Aaaand, of course, no post is complete without a belly shot.
This is fourteen weeks.
I swear my stomach has exploded ever since this was taken. I feel like a whale.

 Christmas socks.

 My gift from my sister-in-law and her husband.
They're trying to help me out.

 There is no better gift for a pregnant lady than chocolate.
Except for maybe a massage.

 Very traditional English Christmas meal, complete with Christmas Crackers.
(Chicken, Roast potatoes, Brussel Sprouts/Carrots/Mushrooms, Pigs-in-a-blanket, Stuffing, Gravy, and Bread Sauce)

 Mum and Dad

Jessica and Nelson

 Uncle Greg and Aunty Fely 
(Nelson's parents)

And, us!
(Which one of us is not like the others...?)
This lovely couple celebrated their third anniversary, and were nice enough to let Hubs and I tag along for some real Mexican food.
Happy Anniversary, Zac and Erica!

It even looks like the ones you get in Mexico!

Best tortilla soup I have ever eaten, hands down.

Margaritas (for the men, of course, seeing as how Erica and I are both with child) and Zac's flautas.

Pork tacos.
Oh man, I'm getting hungry again just looking at this.

Strawberry cheesecake.

Happy us, with full stomachs.

There it is.
The past week or so that I've missed.
Like I said, blogging more is on my priority list, I just seem to find myself without a good chunk of time to sit down and put it all together.
However, I promise to make it happen more often. Promise.


a confession

>> 12.23.2010

This post has been brewing for quite awhile, I just haven't had the time to sit down and truly write it all out. It's long, and it might be a bit tedious, but it's the truth, and sometimes you just can't cut off the truth.

This story starts nearly a year and a half ago, when my middle sister graduated from high school. I flew out to Utah in the beginning of June to be there while my husband stayed in Chicago to work (What a guy...buys his wife a plane ticket home and then stays home working to pay them off). My family had recently joined a new, amazing gym and somehow scored me a membership as well. Part of the initiation into the gym included a physical assessment with a personal trainer, as well as a training session and program.

Fitness and working out hadn't been at the top of my list after I got married. We had a million other things going on (like all newlywed couples), I was trying to finish up school, and work, etc., etc. So I figured that getting a solid examination of where I was at couldn't hurt, and in the very least I might be surprised at what my numbers said.

My initiation day came, and I don't really think that surprise covers how I felt about the results I got. Try horrified and humiliated

(Brutal honesty coming up here...) I weighed 179.5 pounds, and am 5' 7" tall. That put my BMI over the top into the overweight category, and it wasn't by a small measure.  The worst part is when I looked at it and realized that I was only 20 pounds away from weighing 200 pounds.

Are you kidding me?

So, the shock washed over me like a bucket of cold water, and I realized that I had a few options.
--I could get myself together, figure out how to lose the weight and try to get myself in a better place.
--I could do nothing, but keep going in ignorance and telling myself that I didn't really have a problem.
--I could cry and moan about how it wasn't fair, and it wasn't my fault, and maybe it would just go away if I didn't think about it.

I think I took part in option three for awhile, and then decided that wasn't really working for me, so it looked like option one was quickly becoming my only choice. I went back for my training session and realized a few things: a) I didn't have to have gym membership to work out. I told my trainer what my lifestyle was like, and she came up with a program for me that could all be done in a park outdoors, or even in my living room. b) I was going to have to work for this. My muscles were going to get sore, and I was going to groan through the workout, and it was going to be painful. c) That success in this was all up to me. I could do this if I wanted to. Really, really wanted to. This wasn't about the luck of the draw in the fast metabolism category, or the body type identification program. This was about me, making a choice, and continually making that choice every single day.

I went back to Chicago determined to change. I was going to do this, and I was going to make it happen. I would watch what I ate, and work out regularly, and drop the weight in no time. Losing thirty pounds should only take about fifteen weeks, according to the two-pound-a-week principle, right?

If only.

Counting calories is time consuming, and shocking, once you realize just how much junk and fat you've been eating. It's stressful, when you have to figure out how to cut out 300 calories every day and try to not leave yourself hungry. And yeah, it sucks.

For awhile, that was all I could manage. Trying to fit exercise in there was too much, and so for the first time in my life, I let myself take a small bite of something until I could handle taking on more. I'm the type of person who dives headfirst into everything she does, and usually comes up choking because she realizes she doesn't know how to swim very well. So, letting myself go slowly was a milestone.

But it worked.

For six months I didn't exercise. I just wrote down everything I put into my mouth, and made sure that number was about 1700. And almost every week, there was a small drop on the scale (note that I said almost).
There were weeks where nothing changed, and weeks where it went back up. But over time, numbers started going down until January came and I had lost fifteen pounds. It was around this time that I felt like I had enough of a handle on "how" to eat (because yes, I had to re-learn what it actually felt like to be "full". And to realize what true "hunger" felt like as well. It was pitiful, but it is the truth) and now it was time to throw exercise into the mix.

I joined a gym five minutes down the street (because I knew that if it wasn't close enough, I just wouldn't go) and started exercising slowly. Again, a weird and big step for me, to not just try and grab it all at once. I started off with long bouts of cardio, where I wasn't forcing myself to feel like I was going to die. Just forty-five minutes on the elliptical while I read a magazine.
Then I threw weight training in there. Low weight, lots of repetition.
I mixed the routine up a bit--pulling ideas out of 'Self' magazine and things I had read online.
I started pushing myself harder, going a little bit faster, lifting just a little bit more.

I'm going to take a time out to be honest and say that I don't think I've ever been happy with my body. Ever since I was a little girl, and I could point to a section of myself and tell you what was wrong with it. There was a constant struggle to be beautiful, and to look beautiful, and to feel beautiful, and I lost often.

But soon, there came a day when I could see my triceps again, and my shoulders had nice lines and I thought to myself, "Your arms are amazing."
And then, my leg muscles started to come out from underneath the fat they had been buried under, and I thought, "Look. You are strong."
I began to give myself permission to feel beautiful, and it was a hard struggle. Battling twenty years of lies takes work.
But when it began to sink in, it was amazing.

Nearly a year and a half later, I had my numbers reassessed by the same trainer. I found out that I had lost 28 pounds of fat and put on 5 pounds of brand new muscle. My BMI was almost in the normal category, my strength and flexibility were higher, and I had literally transformed my body.
It is one of the biggest successes of my life. I had done it, and I was still doing it.
Let me fast forward to about four months ago.
My husband and I had been talking about starting a family, and having a baby. I wanted to be a mom more than anything, and I felt like now would be the perfect time to go after that dream.
But there was a niggling fear in the back of my mind--What if I got fat again?

I'm now fourteen weeks pregnant, and that is still a real fear.

So let me tell you the small conclusions I am coming to.
--I don't have to give up my body for my child. I don't have to give up myself, and what is good for me for my child. In fact, that's not good for my child either, because then I would simply sit around all day and cry. By taking care of myself, I am taking care of my baby. I think that is one of the first things that God is teaching me about being a mother--I have to make sure that I'm okay, so that I can make sure my baby is okay.
--I need to eat more food. This is weird, and sort of scary, because I'm so into the habit of 1800 calories a day. But my baby needs more food, and so do I. In fact, when I don't eat enough, I get headaches, and am exhausted and cranky. I have to give myself permission to eat more, which is frightening, but also sort of liberating.
--I need to gain weight. According to everything I've read, the average weight gain should be about 25-30 pounds. This is almost the exact amount of weight I lost, and the scale is going to read the same number it did when I was at a crisis point. But this time, it is going to be okay, and it is going to be a good thing. 
--I need to exercise to be healthy. This is the first time in my life that my focus in working out has not been about looking better or losing weight. In fact, that can't be my focus. Right now, I need to make sure that I am staying healthy and strong so that I can take care of my child when it comes. This is strange, because it's such a simple reason for going to the gym and the motivation is different, but deeper.
--I am still afraid of not looking like I used to after I give birth. I know that my body will change, but there are certain things that I want to avoid. And this is all going to be up to me. Just like it was before, I am the one who is going to have to decide what I want, and then go after that. It is going to be hard, and there are days I will feel hopeless, but I know I can do it, because I've done it before.

This was long.
It was hard to write.
If you made it all the way through, thanks. I hope it was worth your time.
This was simply honesty.
Take from it what you will.


cold hands, warm hearts

>> 12.20.2010

Christmas is almost here, and I realized that I haven't yet posted what I received in the "cold hands, warm hearts" swap that much love, Illy and sandyalamode put together.

Blame it on the holidays, and the move I just participated in, and the fact that I am nearly 14 weeks pregnant and struggling to remember much of anything other than how hungry I am.

Anyway, I loved the idea behind this (I always wanted a pen-pal when I was a kid, but it never happened. So this kind of made up for it.) and was super excited to get in on it, especially since I had just moved internationally and was missing America.

I got paired with the wonderful Tiffany, who runs Dancing Branflakes. Her blog is so cute, and I love all of her dinner party ideas, as well as her honesty.

So, without further ado, the loot!

 Yay! Look at all my treasures!
I was so excited while opening this--just as my husband.
The perfect cuddle blanket.
 I have used this every day since it arrived.
Not even kidding.
My husband keeps saying, "But you have other blankets!" and I reply, "But this one is so cute and the perfect size!"

 This journal is so beautiful and precious and I am almost afraid to use it.
I haven't decided what to put in there yet. 
I'm saving it for the perfect story.

 Loads of cute gloves, my journal, and some delicious-smelling hand sanitizer.
I will tell you a secret--usually, I have a huge aversion to hand sanitizer cause it smells all antiseptic and stuff.
But this stuff smells good. I guarantee you, I will run out of it. : )

Sadly, I didn't quite get my package out on time, as the English don't know how to handle the snow, and the first big snowstorm of the year had hit the day before they were supposed to be mailed out. We just got another storm, so now we're back in the same situation we were two weeks ago. The post has been backed up for ages, the airports are closed, and the country is in chaos.
So I'm hoping that Tiffany's package arrived in one piece, even though it was unacceptably late.

So there you have it. 
Some extra Christmas cheer to help this pregnant lady through her first Christmas season away from her family. 
It was nice.


honesty tinged with a ring of jealous overtones.

>> 12.16.2010

I am not a writer.

The words that flow from these fingertips are dripping with rust and overcome with the labor that it took to produce them.

I am not a writer.

I am just a girl wishing that she could be more in this life.

I am a woman who is about to be a mother, who is wondering why God chose her for ordinariness, rather than greatness.

I am a human being, who feels short-changed, as though they were judged to not be quite worthy of what they could have had.

What makes greatness great, and what makes every day?

Why do we strive to be recognized?

Why is there a burning in my desire to be known for more than this, but at the end of the day still finds me settling for being known by my family?

What does it mean, and where does the “more” go?

“If I have a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the explanation is: 
I was made for another world.”

--C.S. Lewis


birthday, baby.

>> 12.14.2010

The past few days have been busier than I thought they were.
My resolve to blog regularly has been shot down, and I didn't even know about it.
Ah, well. We'll keep trying 'til we get there.

A few major things occurred over the past few days, and the best part is that I remembered my camera for most of them! Yay!

My 22nd birthday was a few days ago, and my lovely husband took me out for lunch.
Every time we'd drive by the place I'd always say, "Oh, that place looks so cute!"
So I finally got to try it out, and it was just as cute on the inside as it was on the out. : )

 Unfortunately, the whole "eat free" thing only counted if you had four people with you. 
Oh well. We still had a lovely time.

 Handsome guy. He makes me smile.

 As I am nearly in my second trimester, it seems that I am sloooowly gaining back my sense of style.
It was pretty scary for awhile there.
I think I lived in sweatpants and a hoodie for a good four weeks.

 The best tomato and cream soup I have ever had.
No joking.
And it was only my starter.

 Hubs started off with the squid.
I'm definitely off seafood at the moment, as it just makes me want to hurl.
But I was glad that he liked it so much.

 I got to pull my first Christmas cracker and was super excited about it.
I read about them when I was little, and always wondered what they were and what was inside.
Well, now all you curious Americans know as well--
Paper crown, a little joke, and a fake fingernail that is perfect for scratching someone's eye out.

 It's my birthday!

 Hubs was also clearly entertained by said fingernail. 

So, I got distracted by the cracker and the fingernail and forgot to take pictures of our actual food. But it was delicious. I had chicken fajitas, which were almost legit, minus the fact that the chicken was coated in curry. But they actually had guacamole, sour cream, and salsa that were fairly passable.

Hubs had the traditional bangers and mash, which were also good. 
Except that I hate peas, and here, bangers and mash always include peas. Always.

The biggest and best part of the past few days took place this afternoon--

We got to see our baby for the first time!

 This is a body shot. The head is on the right hand side. The little dot by the head is it's hand.

This is closer in of the head. If you look at it closely, you can see the jaw line, the eye socket, and it's little fist again.

Apparently, our baby has already inherited the temperament of it's mother and father, as it decided that ultrasound time was naptime and it did not want to be disturbed.

I got up and wiggled, rolled over, the ultrasound tech poked at it, and it still did not want to move.
When it did roll over, it had both fists up, like it was boxing.
I said, "Hey, when you try and wake me up, I get all defensive too!"

It was amazing.

We heard it's tiny little heart beating, and I just started to get so choked up.
My baby has a heart that's beating inside of it, and it's also beating inside of me.

I truly have no words to describe this, except to say that it's that much more real now, and I absolutely cannot wait to meet it in six months.

Keep cooking, baby!


overdue. [pt. 2]

>> 12.09.2010

The day after the Dickens festival, we went to my sister-in-law's house to celebrate her birthday.
She hosted a cream tea (which means that they serve tea and a few goodies) and then she also had people bring cakes and other things that they had baked themselves.

This was the spread. There were loads of cakes and scones, along with fancy breads and cheeses, for the people who preferred savory.
They even baked some gluten-free stuff for me, which was so thoughtful and really tasty.

I loved this cupcake stand.
Plus, those are gluten-free red velvet cupcakes
Yes, they were as good as they looked.


So, if you know me at all, you know that Mexican food is a weakness of mine.
However, that doesn't really exist in the UK, as their version of a burrito is more like a sloppy joe wrap.
So, when I found out that there was a Chipotle in London, I made Daveo google maps it, and we went out and found it, despite the cold.

I can safely say that I was the happiest pregnant lady on earth after I ate that burrito.
And I'm sure I offended some Brits, cause after every bite I would sit there and go, "MMMMM. OH MY GOSH this is SO GOOD."
Daveo told me I had to calm down before he would even take me inside, that's how much I was freaking out. 

A sad sight--An empty Chipotle basket.
I'm thinking about just ordering them in bulk and putting them in my freezer so that I am prepared for my next pregnancy craving.
(Which would be happening right now.)

Best and most patient husband ever.
He is so good to his crazy pregnant wife.

After our Chipotle craving was sated, we went for a walk around Covent Gardens.
It's a very cute, posh part of London, and it looked SO great all decorated for Christmas.

They had gorgeous Christmas decorations up all over. 
I wish I had gotten better pictures, but the camera wasn't reading my mind and I was too cold and blissed out from my burrito to care very much.

Supposedly, if you kissed while holding the mistletoe, the tree would light up.
I wanted to try it, but it was a pound and Daveo said no.
That's okay. Again, too burrito-happy to mind.

The Apple Market, or main market area in Covent Gardens.
It gets all decorated for Christmas, and all the vendors start selling gift-y type things.
It was so cute, and very English, and we had fun.

And so, here I sit.
I'm having a hard time adjusting, especially because my feelings are kind of like a roller coaster. I can have a great weekend, as pictured above, and yet the next day I am in tears because I still feel like I would give it up if I could just go home.

I feel like I don't know what I want, and I hate that feeling.
I feel like I know what I should be feeling, and because I am not feeling those things, I get this overwhelming sense of guilt for not appreciating where I am.

The good news is that we officially have a flat, and will be moving in right after Christmas.
This is helping my demeanor, as I know that I only have to last a few more weeks, and then I'll be in my own place and I can really try and make that into our "home".
Also, our first ultrasound is on the 14th (which is the day after my birthday) and we'll get to see our baby for the first time. Plus, my belly sort of popped, so now I can't wait to see what's inside there!

I think I just keep coming back to "one day at a time".
I can have a truly hopeless and wretched day, but there is really nothing to do about it except wait for tomorrow and try to make that a bit better.
I'm learning God in all of this--nuances that I've never seen before, facets I didn't know existed. Complexities that are even deeper than I thought, and grace that is so abounding it's like a flood.
Truly, I have nothing left to cling to except for Him, and that is the path I have chosen.
Now I'm simply along for the ride.

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