Here We Come


| Monday, 8 December 2014
Our 2014 holiday card - Minted, of course.
I've written a few posts about transitioning to parenthood that never seem to make it passed the 'Drafts' folder.  They seem to get wordy and as I reread them I wonder, "Does anyone really care to hear this?" So I'm going to scrap them - not entirely, I'll look back on them later when I can reflect on these early weeks with Jasper but I'll spare you.

The truth is, I'm now a Mom.  SURPRISE! (Ha)  It consists of everything one imagines motherhood to be.  We have good days and we have bad days.  Sometimes I feel like we've got a handle on this whole thing and the next we're flailing a bit.  But generally, we're doing ok.  Jasper is still alive, growing, learning, keeping us on our toes.  This week, he turns 10 weeks old.

This week he'll also board his first and second flights.  He'll land in Canada for the first time and he'll meet a bunch of people that have been impatiently awaiting his arrival.  As we organized travel a couple of weeks ago, it struck me that Jasper has never been held by anyone other than his parents and healthcare professionals.  The poor kid has no idea what awaits him.

It's been nice having this time alone as a family of three.  I think a lot of people assume that being away from our family and friends is a bad thing but honestly, for these early weeks as we adjusted, I've been thankful for the space.  Sure, there are times where extra sets of hands would have made all the difference and I would have loved our close ones to meet Jasper when he was teeny tiny but it gave us the time to get comfortable in our roles without interference.  But we're ready.  We're more than ready.

I can't wait to watch the grandparents and aunties and uncles see Jasper's big, contagious smile.  I also can't wait for someone else to feed me and my arms are excited for a break.  There's some trepidation for the flight - 16 hours of travel with a temperamental newborn - and a bit of anxiety as to how Jasper will take to all the ensuing excitement.  There will most certainly be overwhelming moments for him but I hope he feels the love.

While we're off for a white Christmas in Canada, I wish you the happiest of holidays whether you're at home or abroad.  (And apologies if you happen to be on one of our flights - Jasper is bound to be a traveler and I'm sure he'll get the hang of it soon enough.)

The November Blues


| Friday, 7 November 2014
November in Stavanger is difficult.  Day in and day out we deal with rain and wind.  The winter darkness is taking over, daylight savings time appearing to make it worse.  I look at the calendar and simultaneously think, 'how is it November' and 'it's only November 7th?'  These days the sun is setting at 16:30 and there are many times I feel like I've just gotten myself dressed and fed and it's nearly dark outside.

It can be quite easy to wallow in the November blues but in an effort to keep myself above water, here are some things making me smile these days:

+The opening of a Vinmonopolet (Norwegian liquor store) in our neighbourhood.  Alcohol is state run here and aside from beer in the grocery store, all booze must be bought via the Vinmonopolet.  Now we're never more than a 5 minute walk away.  (As long as it's between 10:00 and 18:00 on weekdays and 10:00 and 15:00 Saturdays.  Norway.)

+This post on Jess' blog on British English.

+Jasper learning to smile socially (as opposed to random upturns of the lips that are completely unintentional.)  I have to work really hard for them but the high pitched voice and exaggerated smile are completely worth it.

+My daily latte - taken with a shot of vanilla. The crappy weather seems to make it taste that much better.

+UnblockUs for giving me an American IP address and Hulu for keeping me up to date on Fall TV - essential with all the time I'm sitting around with an infant on top of me.

+Jimmy Fallon has been nailing it lately.  The Wheel of Impressions with Kevin Spacey, Daniel Radcliffe Rapping, Andy Samberg's Facebook Account, Wheel of Musical Impressions with Adam Levine --- pure gold.

+The rare days where blue skies (or grey) grace us and taking long walks with Jasper.  Fresh air does the body and the baby good.

+All the snail mail we've been getting lately.  Baby gifts and cards are showing up regularly and it fills my heart with happiness.

+WhatsApp for the ease of chatting and sending photos to friends and family back home and for simple conversations with the ones I love.

+Perusing the photos we had done when Jasper was one week old.  I can't believe how tiny and new he was and I love that we captured a few low key moments as a new family of three.  (Thanks Desiree.)

What's making you smile these days?

 Have a lovely weekend!

Jasper Magnus


| Monday, 20 October 2014

Our little Jasper was born at 8:06 am on Thursday, October second exactly two weeks ahead of schedule.  He was pretty little at 2.55 kg (5.6 lbs) but healthy and strong and as expected, we fell in love with him immediately.
As a first timer, we're told regularly to expect to go into labour late and expect it to be long.  We're also told to write a birth plan but be prepared to throw that plan out the window.  I felt like I knew what to expect yet at the same time, had absolutely no idea.  I suppose that's why despite a few signs earlier in the week, I was rather hesitant to acknowledge that I was in fact in labour Wednesday evening.

According to my birth plan, I hoped to labour as long as possible at home.  I would check in to the birthing loft on the seventh floor of the hospital where I would ask for minimal medical intervention and my healthy baby boy would be delivered by a wonderful midwife.

In actuality, my contractions began around dinnertime Wednesday evening and they went mostly ignored until I tried to go to bed when they became more uncomfortable and more regular.  I told Joe I was going to stay up and time them to see if there was any sort of pattern.  By midnight, I was pretty convinced 'this was it.'  We phoned the hospital sometime afterwards in which I told them I was still feeling good about being home but to expect us later.  The midwife advised us to come in when contractions were three minutes apart.

At four in the morning after a long shower, the contractions were coming much closer together (although still just over three minutes apart) and they were much stronger.  I knew it was time to go to the hospital so we somewhat frantically pulled our things together, trying to line up our movements in between contractions.  Upon arrival to the birthing loft, the midwife examined me and somewhat surprisingly exclaimed that I was already 8-9 centimetres dilated.

Three hours later, little Jasper joined us on the outside, not long after the sun rose over Stavanger.

Despite being told to plan for the unplanned, everything went exactly how I'd envisioned it.  I don't have any tales of woe that are so often recounted after birth.  While it wasn't easy, Jasper's delivery was manageable without drama or drugs.  His existence has continued down the same path and we now find ourselves two and a half weeks later, peacefully coexisting like he's been here all along.

Our first days together

Thank you for all of the well wishes over on Instagram.  

This & That: Pregnancy Update


| Tuesday, 2 September 2014
Lately on Instagram

It appears that time has sped up and I have slowed down.  Here we are at September second and I'm just over 33 weeks pregnant (meaning I have 7 or so left.)  While time seems to be flying (cue old age jokes now) the speed at which I'm doing anything is passive, at best.  I'm constantly several steps behind Joe, getting out of bed and getting dressed require grunting and a substantial break is needed after completing any task.  While my sleeping habits are resembling that of my teenage days, I'm also in a losing battle with insomnia.  It's actually quite cruel - everyone is telling you to sleep now because you probably never will again yet at 3 am, sleeping might as well be climbing Mount Everest.

Being informed…
Just over a week ago, Joe and I completed our Birth and Baby prep course.  I was hesitant going in (the whole ignorance is bliss thing) yet aside from a few 'oh shit' moments, I came out feeling quite capable.  We all know where babies come from and how they're born but the actual science behind labour is really quite fascinating.  Essentially, it's like a symphony and everything is designed to work together.  (Did you know that even if I were knocked unconscious during labour, my body would still know exactly what to do and most likely be able to deliver a healthy baby? Crazy!)  It was a good reminder that education is empowering with a dose of que sera, sera.

The Stuff…
I started a small list awhile back of the baby essentials that I figured we should have pre-birth and aside from a few small things, we've basically checked everything off.  It's interesting how different baby shopping has been for us due to our current lifestyle choices.  We've been moving around the world with 6 suitcases and one small air shipment.  We're renting a furnished apartment and we have no idea where we'll be heading next.  We just don't physically have the space for a lot of stuff.  Instead of spending the bulk of money on nursery furniture, our biggest purchase was easily the pram/stroller (thanks Mom & Dad) because we know it'll come with us.  It's been good to pare down, keeping our accumulation minimal, in a world where it is so easy to buy every crazy baby thing on the market.  But, I am human and there have been purchases that probably likely wouldn't be considered essential.  I have to have a little fun!

Also, like shopping for anything else in Norway, choice is rather limited.  Each of the baby stores in town carry almost the exact same merchandise and often, things I hear about from friends at home aren't available here.  There are, however, some fantastic European brands to try out.

Joe and I have not discussed one single name.  Early on we decided that we'd each create a list and at some point, we'd sit down and share our respective ideas.  If we were lucky, we'd find one or more names gracing both pieces of paper (I have my doubts.)  We've yet to do this.  My list is created; Joe's is 'in his head' (more doubts.)  I hope to have a few options agreed upon in the next few weeks but I don't think we'll formally make a decision until we meet the kid.

Speaking of the kid…
He's busy packing on the pounds and getting stronger.  Things are getting cramped in there and he lets me know all.the.time.  He's still moving and grooving regularly although he's gotten less spastic.  He pushes really hard against my stomach creating a hard lump that protrudes out my side and I have to remind him that that is not the way out.

The entire idea that we are having a baby is really starting to settle in.  The other night we were taking out the garbage and in the elevator Joe commented that pretty soon it won't be just the two of us anymore.  At the same time we both said, "I'm a little sad about that."  Clearly we're excited and happy about our expanding family yet there's something to be said about acknowledging the changes that are coming.  Life has been good as a couple and life will be good as a trio but there is the teeniest bit of sadness in having to share my husband.

Also, I bought diapers yesterday.  Aside from the visit to the hospital last week, that was the biggest dose of reality I've had yet.

Our Favourite Venetian Experiences


| Wednesday, 20 August 2014
While Venice may be known for hoards and hoards of tourists crowding St Mark's Square and expensive gondola rides, it's not that difficult to find unique experiences to take in the floating city.

Cruising with Context

I've touted Context Travel on this blog several times and our experience with them in Venice was no exception.  There were a few 'walks' that I had bookmarked for the first portion of our Italian vacation but timing was not on our side and the only one we could squeeze in was "Venice by Boat."  It did not disappoint.

We met our docent, the immaculate private boat and it's driver for close to two hours on the water.  Our docent did a fabulous job introducing us to the city.  We learned all about the history of the city from how it came to be to how it exists today.  We began to understand the challenges a city on water faces and often most interestingly, the quirks that visitors to the city almost never hear.  It was nice to hear a backstory to what we'd already seen but also led us to seek out different areas on foot for the remainder of our stay.

Our time on the boat was fulfilling enough that we decided to forgo the typical gondolier experience and we didn't miss it in the least.

Taking in the Views from San Giorgio Maggiore

Most people visiting Venice opt to visit the bell tower at St Mark's Basilica but we had heard that there was a lesser known tower across the water with fantastic views of the city.  We took a water bus over to the monastery where we were greeted by a practically empty cathedral and tower.  The views from the top were magnificent and with only a few other people in attendance, we could take our time admiring the city from above.  Also, the lift up the tower is half the price of the bell tower at St Mark's.


Getting lost is part of the Venetian experience so we decided to embrace it instead of fight it.  Each day we'd set off in a particular direction but without a strict timeline or destination in mind.  Our favourite moments were found in deserted alleys that I'm not sure we'd find again if we tried.  Also fun, trying to draw our route on our city map when we stopped to eat or drink.

Have you been to Venice? What were your favourite lesser-known experiences?

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