Saturday, February 28, 2009

One year ago..

The last photo of me pregnant taken February 26th

Well, it was leap year so that throws it off a bit, but on this Saturday one year ago I began my two day labor of love.
Nearly two weeks beyond the latest of the three due dates I was given, I was near my breaking point. I had already called my midwives and broken down sobbing, I wanted to have this baby and I wanted my husband to be with me, if I had to be induced, c-sectioned, I wanted him by my side. It goes to show that when we plan, life has a way of intervening to change things up. We truly thought that our son would be born somewhere between February 11th-February 22nd. Kevin would be with me for a couple weeks post-delivery and then he had to go wrap things up in Vienna. His plan was to leave that first weekend in March, and here we were on the 28th of February and no baby in sight. I was beside myself. I had fully prepared to have the baby without him if Jameson decided to make an early entrance, but we had been sitting on our expanding-butts for three weeks. My midwife, Adele, said that she would call the hospital to see if they would schedule me for an induction the following day, February 29th. I just laughed through my tears, thinking to myself, of course this baby would be born on the 29th.

She called back an hour later saying they wanted me to be two weeks post due date which wouldn't be until March 04th, but had I tried accupuncture? No, but I had tried everything else, so I called up the birth center to get a recommendation and promptly called to make an appointment. They were amazing and told me to just come in and they would fit me in. The doctor was wonderful and warm, and his name was Dr. Zhou. He was an MD and a doctor of traditional Chinese Medicine. He looked at me and said, "Yes, the baby is very big and ready to come out, let's see what we can do."

He was a bit worried since my last ultrasound had been awhile ago. He wanted to make sure there wasn't a medical reason I hadn't delivered. He performed some light accupuncture that did start some soft contractions, but I scheduled an appointment for the next day too. After the "all clear" on the ultra sound and the tech said something to the effect of he is just comfortable in there, but he looks great. I headed back to the accupuncturist. This time he said to me, "OK, now I give you accupuncture like a strong chinese woman. This is a big baby, maybe 8 pounds 4 oz, time to come out Jameson." (He got the 4 oz right...but he was three pounds off). I received the accupuncture at noon on Saturday (March 1st) and leaving the office holding Kevin's hand I could feel the crazy energy running through my body, down my legs. It was going in the right direction, we wanted the energy moving downwards. When Dr. Zhou told me that over 80% of his patients who get accupuncture to induce labor go into labor that night I was skeptical, but by the time I left his office I knew that I would go into labor that night.

By 6pm I was having regular contractions that were growing stronger by the hour. At 11:oopm, Kevin and I went on a walk. It was a cold night, but perfectly clear. The energy was still moving through my legs, and I can't describe the feeling exactly, but it was like a hot, tingly feeling. I went to bed hoping and praying that these contractions wouldn't go away as they had in the past when I went to bed.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Exile Part Zwei

Wow, time has gone much too quickly, and I realized I had yet to post the conclusion of our exile trip to Zagreb, Croatia. Unfortunately, it feels like a long time ago, and my attention is focused on our next trip to Istanbul, Turkey with the students, so I will make this post quick.
After walking around touring the inner city for the afternoon, we found a very cute coffee shop with some amazing home-baked goodness, including doughnuts.

A little aside on the doughnuts, this time of year before Lent is called faschingzeit (fasching "carnival" time). In Vienna, there is a ball somewhere nearly every night, but another exciting part of fasching is "Krapfenzeit" or "doughnut time." Kevin and I love these homemade goodies filled with a yummy vanilla cream or an apricot marmelade. We do our best to out-eat each other in regards to the krapfen, eating two or three on a good day with fresh brewed coffee. My favorite thing to do is get one fresh out of the fryer down at the EisTraüm (outdoor ice arena) and choose my filling and whether I want it powdered....mmmmm. The whole purpose of this yummy krapfen, is so the good Catholics have a sweet, easy thing to give up for Lent because after Ash Wednesday the krapfen nearly disappear until next year. (Kind of defeats the purpose, no?) I could dedicate a whole post to the Krapfen. Jameson now loves krapfen, and I will have a fun time explaining to folks back home if one of his first words is "krapfen!"

Taking a water break before naptime

And my new favorite shirt of his: Dad & Mum=ME (No denying that).

After our afternoon coffee and krapfen we walked back to the hotel and decided to incorporate an afternoon nap into our schedule. (The beauty of exile). After scouring the internet for a good restaurant on travel websites (not much info on Zagreb)we finally decided on one.
It got great write-ups and was relatively near the inner city, in an area that we were now familiar. The restaurant was called Ivica i Marica, and supposedly it was moderately priced, not too fancy, but great food. We walked in and it was MUCH nicer than we anticipated, and we looked at each other and our incredibly active 11-month-old son, and shrugged our shoulders. We were hungry, so we made peace with the idea that we might be "those people." When we arrived there were three other tables filled in our area, but no one very close to us. The waiter was great he brought us a cool high chair, that Jameson sat in for a bit while I tried to entertain him with his cup or spoon. We perused the menu and ultimately ordered on recommendation of the waiter for the regional specialties. Sometimes that can be a little dangerous, but the description of the food sounded amazing, so I wasn't worried. By the time our drinks arrived Jameson was getting antsy, and when he gets antsy, he is wiggly and talkative. I was doing everything I knew how to do to keep him from disrupting everyone's dinner, pulling out all the tricks. Right before our food arrived, the band that had been having drinks while they waited for other musicians to arrive began to play. The timing was amazing and my son sat open-mouth entranced by the beautiful stringed instruments. All through dinner he sat and watched and clapped and bopped his head. We went from being the scorn of the restaurant to all the other diners laughing and smiling at our boy. Phew! Disaster averted, this time. Oh and, in case you are wondering dinner was fantastic, I wish I had a pic, but I was too busy trying to keep Jameson entertained. The video below shows just a bit of Jameson dancing to the music. I look so frazzled, because I was frazzled!

The next day was more of the same, walking around, enjoying the weather, sun, food, oh, and how much nicer this city was than Prague.
We had requested a late check-out, so we went back to the hotel to put Jameson down for a nap before our 5.5 hour train ride home then headed to the train station. We find our train, and are surprised to find see that it goes through Hungary, instead of Slovenia, and there is no dining car and only "Big room seats" (sorry I literally translated that from german, not sure how one would describe it in English, open car?) rather than our little room we had on our ride there. The seats were not very comfortable, and my nearly year-old broken tailbone was definitely pretty sore. Jameson was exhausted but wouldn't sleep, and the arms between our chairs couldn't move so Jameson had no where to be except on my lap or in the carrier. Finally, at around 8pm he fell asleep exhausted. The train seemed to have some sort of mechanical issue because we were stopped in the middle of no where for an hour and a half. We made the best of it, and were all very excited to arrive home in Vienna before the U-bahn closed for the night.
The Longest, Slowest train ride home

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Talking on the Phone

When I see this photo I see a baby Kevin

I am still writing the 2nd half of our Croatia post, sorry I lost steam, but in the meantime here is a fun video. For whatever reason Jameson was in an incredibly talkative mood while on the phone last night with my mom, his Oma last night. I dont think she knows I got a video, so surprise Mom! She was on speaker, and you can just ignore my obnoxious voice at the end. I think he is learning how the phone "works." In any case I got a short video, and it makes me laugh when I see it. I see a recurring theme with my son, he makes me laugh, a lot.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Our Time in Exile

OK, so exile might sound a little extreme, but we were told to leave Austria, the EU and the Schengen states for at least two days in order for our residency application to be processed. As a tourist from America one can enter Austria and other countries in the EU for 90 days without an extended tourist visa required.

Kevin and I normally have extended visas, but this year we decided to apply for residency because we will be here for so much longer. We intended to file this application in November when we re-entered the EU, however, after requesting, birth certificates, marriage certificates and even criminal records (there are none, just to let you know) we began bumping up to against our 90 days. We finally made it down to the Vienna office to apply, and we wrongly assumed that they would give us some piece of paper to let others know that we were in the process of applying for residency. Ha ha, nope, they told us to leave the country for two days so that our 90 days begin again. (This is actually not the official stance, but one that is apparently a common practice).

Eight years ago when I first came to Vienna, this was a very easy thing to accomplish, a quick trip to Budapest to enjoy the sights and the Turkish baths, and voilà tourist visa renewed (kinda). Since our application will not be processed until our original 90 days were up, the office told us to leave the EU for two days. This is much easier said than done. Our visa is considered a "Schengen States" Visa which includes many countries, most of which are in the EU, but a few that are not and have travel agreements with the EU. So our options were: Albania, Croatia and Turkey. We chose Croatia. Then we had to figure out if we wanted to drive, fly or go by train, and we chose the latter, but this was after a few days planning.

First, we decided to go to a coastal town called Opatija. We had heard many good things about Opatija and it looked pretty interesting. We reserved a room online, only to come back the next morning to hear they were all booked. After much deliberation we decided to head to Zagreb, it was closer and it is the capital of Croatia. Kevin had briefly been there, and the area which he had been left a sour taste in his mouth, so he wasn't too excited, but we had to leave, so it seemed the easiest option. The funny thing, is that our many guide books on the Balkans, and Croatia said very little about Zagreb, and this is funny because as I just mentioned Zagreb is the capital. We had no idea what to expect, and sometimes those are the best surprises.

My expectations of what Zagreb may be like all came from our multiple visits to Prague (and by multiple I mean twice a year for the past eight years). If you want to read my thoughts on Prague read this blog entry. If you don't feel like reading it, then here are my thoughts on Prague, the condensed version: It is probably one of my least favorite cities EVER. Prague's City Scape

From the moment I step off the train, I am constantly watching my back, if someone comes too close to me, I jump away. There are people everywhere, the streets are crowded with a million tourists, and every corner someone is trying to hawk their overpriced souvenirs to gullible tourists. It is a beautiful city, but one that can be done relatively well in a couple of days. For the life of me I don't understand why students go there to "study," except I know why, because they have told me they want to drink, party and do drugs aka "party abroad." See, I knew there was a reason I didn't like Prague, since that is not my thing.

Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised when Kevin and I stepped off the train at 11:00pm in Zagreb and weren't the least bit nervous. Zagreb is home to one of the least sketchy train stations I have ever encountered. We waited in the taxi line, and even though there were six taxi cabs waiting, none of the drivers were anywhere to be found. We called the hotel and they sent a cab. Our hotel was in a nice area about a 15 minute walk from the center of town.

Since we were in exile we took our sweet time getting ready the next day tour the city, but once we left the comfort of our room we were so happy. It was a beautiful mild day, and we had a yummy lunch of Burek and Cevapcici (essentially a meat pastry and spicy sausage in pita-like bread.) With Jameson strapped to my front, we walked all over the inner city.

Zagreb still has much of its old wall standing, and there were still many buildings built up against the wall. This wall was a form of defense as you can see from the slits (where the archers hung out) built into it. I was really surprised at how old some of the buildings appeared. I tried to capture the beauty of the city on camera, but it doesn't do it justice.Jameson was quite happy hanging out, and people watching and as usual flirting with all the girls who passed him. This is my view of him on a daily basis, and while he may not look entirely comfortable, I assure you he is most comfortable, he even sleeps in it if need be. Sometimes he wraps his little arms around me, and sometimes he has them out and is playing with my hair or poking me in the mouth or occasionally attempting to pick my nose, and sometimes he has them pinned down by the straps. However, he can get them unpinned by himself. The Ergo is by far the most comfortable carrier I have ever used and its a good thing, because I use it all the time!

There was a beautiful cathedral that was, unfortunately being restored, so we didn't go inside. My favorite memory of the church though was the group of pre-teen boys play a game where one boy stood against the wall and the other boys would try and peg him with a tennis ball. Are boys everywhere the same? It was a very entertaining game, I must admit, especially the group of giggling girls waiting on the sidelines for the oblivious boys to notice them.

In another square of the inner city was a great open market that had a ton of different fruits and veggies. I got a few pictures of the flower market, but for some reason my camera ate the pictures, truly I have no idea what happened to them. Most likely a little boy named Jameson is what happened.

It is late, and I am getting tired, so part two of our exile adventure will be written tomorrow.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I did something today I have never done before

In my nearly 8 years spent in Vienna, I have never gotten a haircut, ever. Today that changed. Out of sheer necessity both to my physical and mental self I walked into a salon and got a cut, for fear that I was going to pick up the kitchen shears and attempt to cut my own. It wasn't nearly as traumatic as I expected it to be. Ya know what else? I like it. Of course, I never really know if it is a good cut until I wash and style it myself, but I watched her cut it, and I think she might have fixed some past few hair cut damages. Everyone always underestimates how long it will take, even when I tell them them that I have REALLY thick, curly and kinda unruly hair. They just have to see for themselves. She kept saying "Wow, you have incredibly thick hair. It's crazy." She started with an awesome wash including a great scalp massage which many hairdressers are nervous to do for fear of tangling the mass of hair. We then spent a few minutes talking about what I wanted, and what didn't work on my hair i.e. texturing (try explaining that in German!) Once she felt clear she went to work. She was really thorough and I think the cut alone took more than an hour. Thank goodness I didn't request highlights. I am enjoying my natural hair color after years of adding a little blonde here and a little blonde there. After that, she asked if I wanted her to blow it out? Umm, heck ya, do you think I can do this on my own?? That took her another hour, and I always feel bad at the end when I have watched them work really hard, but man I love the results! And I tip well for their hard work.

I think I was really nervous to put my hair in someone's hands with whom I didn't communicate well. While I do speak passable German, details such as trim, layers, blending, curly/straight, thinning and all other sort of "hairdresser speak" is beyond me. I learned that they call layers: steps "stufe" and curly is "lockerl" (which I kind of knew). It felt SO good to get my hair cut and blown out after almost a year without a cut. Yes, the last cut I got was March 18th, 2008. Yes, I was that disappointed in it. I had to let it grow out because I was worried that it would just keep getting shorter and shorter, and my hair just becomes more mushroom-like the shorter it goes. What is it about a haircut that can make someone feel so good? I love it! If I had the money I would pay to get a wash/blowout once a week, just like ladies did in days gone by. It can last me almost all week long. Whether or not the haircut is a good one, I felt great walking out of the salon, like myself again, but hopefully its a nice cut. For that superb feeling alone I think regular salon trips are important!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Kids Café

I have been wanting to go to the Kids Café since I heard about it a few months ago, but Jameson just wasn't moving around a ton. When we visited friend's houses he would sit there and observe. Lately, though, he has been moving around a lot more (climbing) and much more social with babies his age. I decided today was the day to drag my boys to the Kids Café. Jameson's nap schedule worked out well because he slept early.

When we arrived I had to take a moment to adjust to the multitudes of squealing children. We found a table and the high chairs were located within easy reach. The menu left a little to be desired, but we found two entrees for us (a proscuitto panini for Kevin and ceasar salad for me) and got Jameson one too: Orzo, Carrots, Peas, and Zuchinni. After a few uncertain bites he started enjoying it more. Kevin signed him up for the little play area and walked around while we waited for our entrees. The café had a nursing and baby area filled with beanbags and baby gyms.

After a little (literally) lunch, Kevin headed back home and Jame-O and I headed to the play area again. He wasn't shy at all, and was crawling all over. We went over to the ball pit and I slid him down the slide and he loved it. He was enjoying "splashing" in the balls. He would throw them and then chase them. A few other babies joined us and they were throwing the balls at each other. It was making the mums laugh. It was fun until we had some wild 4-year-olds diving into the ball pit and we took our cue to go to another area. We stuck around for a little bit, but nothing was as exciting for him as the ball pit. It became obvious as the the cafe grew more and more crowded that school was now out of session, I decided it was time to pack up. Overall, it was a fun successful outing one that we will most likely be repeating in the future, but I will only get a coffee instead of lunch. I have to admit though the sheer number of snot-noses around the play area was a little intimidating. Jameson hasn't had a cold yet, so if he gets one next week I will know why.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Some fun facts about Jameson

*He is an incredibly strong little boy.

*He understands English and German

*I have many nicknames for him that derive from the German word for boy which is Bübchen, including: Büb, Bübby, Boog, Booger, Boogie and Booger bear, but his official nickname is Jame-o pronounced Jay-mo.

*He loves water, he is constantly drinking water out of his sippy cup.

*He won't drink apple juice, but loves chamomile tea.

*His hair isn't nearly as red as it looks in pictures and everyone comments on this when they see him in person.

*He is really tall 31 inches but only weighs about 22 lbs.

*He loves to eat.

*He tends to do things on the three month mark. i.e. Rolled over on his 3-month, Crawled, Sat and stood up within a day or two of his 6-month, On his 9-month his first tooth popped through. I am thinking his 12-month will be walking. Although he has shown no interest in that whatsoever.

*His favorite food are peas (frozen or cooked) and spaghetti, pretty much in equal parts.

*He will eat anything on his tray, even if he doesn't like it. For example, because he can feed himself banana bits he will eat them and make faces the whole time. I am a mean mother and continue to put banana bits on his tray a) it makes me laugh b) bananas are good for him and c) he eats them, I don't force him.

*He has the ability to concentrate on a task for an absurdly long time if he wants.

*He loves "tools." Anything counts as a tool, including his utensils, a marker, a toy. He will hold said tool and try to move other things around or fit the items together.

*He has exactly two pacifiers which we call nookies since the brand is Nuk. One is red, one is blue. They almost always stay in his bed. He only uses it between the time I stop nursing him to read the story and bed. He almost always spits it out when I lay him down.

*When he is asleep, he still looks exactly like the newborn baby I brought home and it amazes me because when he is awake he doesn't look like that little guy at all.

*He is a jokester and he will do anything to make me and his daddy laugh or clap for him.

*He is a snuggler and always has been. He gives the best hugs. When he hugs, he wraps his arms completely around my neck.

*He has ridiculously large feet, and long toes. (size 5) He can blame this on me and my family.

*He has very sensitive skin and will break out in a rash if something irritates it.

*He rarely cries, but he tends to be a whiner. If he cries I know he is exhausted beyond belief, REALLY hurt or REALLY hungry.

*Teething has not been fun for him, but each tooth seems to be getting a bit easier.

*The only time he has been sick (so far) was an awful stomach flu that included puke.

*He is a persistent little boy

*Him and Kevin have a matching crease in their right earlobe.

*When he decides to do or get something he goes for it with everything he has, including throwing his body into it.

*His favorite TV show is Jack's Big Music Show. When he hears the "Noggin on Demand" song he starts bopping his head and smiles so big, I sometimes rewind it just so I can see it again.

*He is really expressive, he moves his eyebrows up and down and when he smiles its with his whole face.

*He has two cowlicks so his hair is always funny. I wonder on a regular basis, if I cut it short would the mohawk make a comeback?

*People always think he is older than he is and are surprised when I tell them his actual age.

*He loves spices and spicy food, including garlic, onions and cayenne pepper.

*His breakfast consists of a scrambled egg, some yogurt and cheerios or oatmeal with cinnamon and raisins.

*He wakes up around 7:15 and we watch the Backyardigans in German until breakfast time. He eats, plays a bit depending on how long it took him to eat and then he goes down for his first nap around 9:00.

*He is a major flirt.

*Downward Dog is his favorite yoga position, but I have a feeling this is less about yoga and more about looking at the world upside-down.

*He loves to see pictures or videos of himself on the camera so sometimes we take lots of random photo shoots just so he can look at the pics and laugh.

*His laughter is the best medicine.

*He likes to hide things under the pillows on our bed, because its where I hide my cell phone when we do our bedtime routine.

*Kevin and I narrate what he is thinking, just like we do for the dogs, and it provides us hours of entertainment.

*He is really sensitive

*I catch him clapping in his sleep, that's how much he likes clapping.

I cannot believe my baby is almost a full year old. Where did the time go? He is 11-months old today, and I know at this time last year I thought I wasn't going to be pregnant for more than another week or so. Those last few weeks of pregnancy went on forever, but it was well worth the wait. Happy February!