Sunday, May 23, 2010

How much traveling is too much?

There are some distinct benefits to being a stay-at-home mommy. Schedule flexibility is one that really comes to mind right now. It's an especially attractive benefit when it means you get to come into town early for wedding celebrations, enjoy a couple days at the beach that isn't interrupted by a last minute business trip, and accompany your husband when he has to work in Brasil for two weeks.

I am currently typing from my third floor hotel room overlooking the beach. After a fabulous weekend celebrating Justin and Casie's wedding, Eric, Gabriela, and I had plans to spend a couple days of vacation at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for a little R&R. However, sometime around 1:00 am Friday morning (moments after he arrived in SC for the wedding), plans changed. Eric is needed in Brasil Monday morning. So Gabriela and I dropped him off at the airport before checking into our beachfront resort. Luckily it will be a quick trip for him and he'll be back in the US on Saturday, but still . . . we'd never spent more than 2 nights apart since we were married. So the 10 days we were apart when I came down early and now another week in separate time zones is leaving me missing my other half in a major way!

Life apart has just been a huge whirlwind as there has been a whole lot going on with Eric work-wise. A week after I arrived in Georgia, he booked a two-week trip to Brasil in June. Since he didn't want to spend two more weeks away from his two favorite girls, we went ahead and bought a ticket for me and the Gabster too! But then we realized that besides needing to get a visa for me, Gabriela's Brasilian passport was about to expire, so we had to get that renewed as well. Trying to get that done while I was in Georgia/South Carolina trying to get ready for a wedding and Eric in Iowa working was a little complicated, but I think we got everything rounded up and submitted just in time so that we'll have it all back by next weekend in time for our trip.

Our much-modified calendar is looking a little something like this now:

May 25: Emily and Gabriela leave Myrtle Beach and fly to Iowa (leaving my car in Georgia)

May 28: Go to Urbana, IA for Kelly's Graduation (on Sunday) and to visit with Brian, Tanya, and our nieces visiting from Florida

May 29: Eric returns from Brasil for graduation

June 1: Eric, Emily, and Gabriela fly to Brasil

June 17: Return to IA from Brasil

June 18: Fly to Georgia for a family reunion, my high school class reunion, and a little vacation

June 27: Drive back to Iowa

So if things play out as intended, between May 10 and June 28 Gabriela will have spent just 4 nights in her crib! And I will have spent 18 days in the role of single mama. We're going to really test this kid's traveling resiliency. And, already, I don't know how people manage long term without a present, involved Daddy. Single mamas must possess super human powers!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Bebe Dois - 20 Weeks

Profile of Bebe Dois at 20 weeks

It's hard to believe I am past the halfway mark with this pregnancy! September is going to be here before we know it!

I went in last week for my 20-week appointment. I made the appointment with the midwife who works in the practice with my doctors. She was fabulous! So much more what Eric and I want in a care provider! The doctors there are great, but at the end of the day they are still surgeons and treat pregnancy very medically. The midwife really seems to share our philosophy on pregnancy and childbirth and is 100% on-board with us wanting a completely natural delivery again. We officially moved over under her care now instead of the OBs'.

Everything continues to go great with this pregnancy, just as with Gabriela's. Bebe Dois is growing and doing well - HR was 148 at this visit. I haven't been feeling much movement at all though. Since it is my 2nd pregnancy and I was feeling movement with Gabs by this point, my midwife ordered an ultrasound to verify all was well.

Eric and I were excited to have the ultrasound. The practice we go to doesn't do any routine ultrasounds at all. Unless there is an issue, you never get that sneak peak at the kiddo. (Much different from Brasil where we were getting ultrasounds pretty much every month!) Along with obviously wanting to confirm everything was fine, we also really wanted to know the sex of the baby!

The ultrasound went well. The baby is moving normally; just not nearly as much as squirmy-wormy Gabriela did. The ultrasound techs used to literally chase Gabs all over my uterus. This kid waved an arm, sucked on a hand, and kicked a leg, but was pretty much content just chilling. As she watched Little Missy wriggling around in her Papai's lap, my midwife smiled and said everyone deserves a calm baby - this just might be ours!

The trouble, though, is that our ever so calm and chilled out kid was positioned butt-down and back with legs crossed and tucked underneath. It was impossible to see anything! Probably our sole chance to learn the sex and he/she refused to cooperate! Go figure!

So Bebe Dois remains an "it".

Obviously, it doesn't really matter to us whether it's a girl or boy, but if it is indeed a boy I've got a lot of shopping to do! Everything we own is pink or purple or has ruffles on it. If it is a boy, I've half a mind to make him wear it anyway. You know, as punishment for not cooperating.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Pit Stop Challenge

I had full confidence in my ability to drive 14 hours straight through from Iowa to Georgia by myself while 20 weeks pregnant and with a one-year-old.

I had this great idea several months ago. My brother, Justin, gets married May 22. I figured Gabriela and I would drive down early, spend a few days in Georgia with my parents, and then head over to South Carolina to help with wedding preparations. Eric could then fly down just before the wedding and then drive back with me afterward.

Originally, I was going to leave at Gabriela's bedtime and drive through the night so she could sleep the whole way. That plan was looking less appealing though as I really need my sleep these days, and I know from past experience that those early morning hours just before sunrise are really hard for me when I pull an all-nighter on the road (and that's with company in the car!)

I decided instead to leave after she woke up from her first nap and ate lunch. That way she would start the trip in a good mood, take her afternoon nap on the road, we could stop for a quick supper break, and then she could go to sleep and sleep the remainder of the way. And lucky for me, I have a real trooper of a kid. She did just as I expected and never once cried, whined, or got fussy. She just sat there in the backseat entertaining herself when she was awake and sleeping when it was time to sleep. She is such an awesome traveler!!! (Especially when there is no one in the backseat with her. For some reason she gets really whiny and wants to be entertained if there is an adult back there with her!)

We managed to make the entire 900 mile drive with just two stops - which I can't even do when Eric's with me (I swear Gabs has a larger bladder than he does!) Pit stop number one was a little more than I bargained for though.

We stopped at 5:30 in Effingham, Illinois. Fuel, bathroom, supper, and we'd be back on the road.

Fueling up was no problem.
Supper at the attached McDonalds was fine.
It was the potty-break in between that proved challenging.

My prego bladder was full, but I decided to change Gabriela's diaper first. I got her on the changing table and got her diaper off. It was wet, but not dirty, so I thought I'd go hold her over the potty to give her a chance to take care of business where she wouldn't have to sit in it for several hours.

Leaving the diaper bag on the changing table, I carried her bare-bottomed across to a stall. We were 1 step away when I heard a splat. I looked down to see a turd on the floor. Fabulous! But I was fairly certain there was more to come, so I rushed her over the toilet and prayed no one walked into the restroom.

After she finished up, I took her back to the changing table, quickly re-diapered her hiney, and then used the wet diaper to clean up her mess on the floor.

By this point I was doing my own little potty dance. So I threw the giant diaper bag over one shoulder, held Gabs on my other hip and made my way into a stall and immediately noticed there was no hook or shelf for the diaper bag. Gabriela was excited to be out of her carseat and was squirming to get down. But she was barefoot for the car ride, so I didn't dare let her stand in the public bathroom. As she squirmed and the bag swung around me, I struggled to unbutton my jeans and pull down my pants - I cussed myself for not wearing something elastic-waisted.

Then I attempted the all-famous female hover technique as to not obtain any of the many diseases accredited to public toilet seats. At 20-weeks pregnant, I might not be that big, but my balance is off. Throw in a giant diaper bag and 19 pounds of squirmy little girl who is now trying to get into the bag and dig stuff out of it, and I found it to be most challenging to keep my bottom safely in the air. But I managed.

Then came the real test: how to pull up my underwear and jeans over my ever-growing rear-end and get them buttoned and zipped. I bounced and wiggled while my diaper bag banged loudly into the stall wall and Gabriela squealed like a baby pig since by this point she had wiggled around and I was holding her tucked underneath my upper arm like a newspaper and squeezing her around the midsection as to free my hand. Lord only knows what people thought was going on in there!

I got myself put back together, only to find the lock on the stall was jammed. So a little more banging around and I finally made it out of there to go wash my hands. Where I discovered the soap dispenser required two hands to function. And Gabriela managed to get into the water and soak the front of her outfit.

I've never in my entire life been more thankful that Gabriela was a singleton. How on earth would I have managed that with twins?!? (I'm also seeing the beauty of these little hang-your-kid-on-the-wall contraptions that I've always thought were really strange.)

(Eric pointed out that I am about to have a second kid - seemingly concerned about my future abilities to visit public restrooms solo. I maintain that is going to be much different than a twin. By the time the baby is old enough to be out of his/her infant carrier and require to me to hold during bathroom visits, Gabriela will be big enough to stand on her own inside the stall with us. MUCH different than if I had to hold two 1-year-olds at the same time while I try to go potty.)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Gabriela's First Birthday Party

In Brasil, kids' birthday parties are really big deals. Parents will often rent special party places or else have a bash at their home. Either way, it's usually complete with elaborate decor (more decorated than some wedding receptions I've been to), a hired entertainer for the kids, lots of beer for the adults, and enough candy and sweets to cause dentist everywhere to cringe. The birthday parties we went to were a lot of fun, but we couldn't help but wonder how much money parents were dropping on a party that the kid will never remember (in the case of a one year old.) An expat friend in BH had a really interesting take on the birthday parties in Brasil, it's worth a read!

Eric and I wanted to do something fun for Gabriela's first birthday, but nothing too over-the-top. We decided to take host a churrasco, a Brasilian-Style Cookout. The menu included:

On the grill: pork loin, beef, chicken breast wrapped in bacon, and sausage.

From the kitchen: feijoada (black beans cooked with meat), rice, vinegrette, couve (collard greens lightly cooked in a cast iron skillet), along with some fresh strawberries and carrots for munching.

For the celebration: Homemade ice cream (a churn of strawberry and one of Oreo), a giant caterpillar cake with two chocolate cake sections, two strawberry cake sections, and a special apple cake with apple juice-sweetened cream cheese icing section for the birthday girl. (I wanted to be able to turn her loose with the cake, let her eat as much as she wanted, and not have to worry about her getting a bellyache from consuming too much butter and sugar!)

The things we forgot to put out included farofa, potato chips, and a pineapple we were going to grill. Oops. (The day was a little busy, and there was a lot of food, so I don't think our forgetfulness was too noticed!)

The weather cooperated beautifully and we had an awesome sunny, still, and not-too-hot day to spend out on the deck with family and friends. There were 25 of us all together, and we had a great time!

The morning of the party: decorating the cake. I would say I procrastinated on that one, but actually it was just the first chance I had to get it done. (Note to hubby and self: next time we're having weekend house guests and a cookout for 25 people, let's not try to complete a dozen home-improvement projects the week of.)

Eric's assigned station for the day: the grill. He didn't complain about spending his time in front of fire surrounded by dead animal parts on long spears while wielding a large knife. It made him feel all caveman-ish. (If cavemen had fancy stainless steel propane grills.)

Where I spent the first half of the party: in my favorite place, the kitchen! I love cooking for a crowd! (It makes me feel all grandma/Paula Deen-ish. I like that.) I love it even more when my mother-in-law is there and she cleans up behind me the whole time! I don't think I washed a single dish the entire day! (Thanks Nena!)

Both sets of grandparents with Mamae, Papai, and the birthday girl

The cake! Let's overlook the fact that I forgot to put the mouth on the caterpillar. Instead, let's pretend I did that on purpose. (Have you read The Very Hungry Caterpillar? I couldn't risk him eating all the food. Without a mouth, he can't do that. See? I'm not forgetful. I'm just a forward -thinker.)

Digging in to her cake, icing first! (Well, actually she spent the first 5 minutes eating the green-dyed coconut "grass". Then, she moved on to the icing.)

We hated for Gabriela to be the only Brasilian at her Churrasco, so we invited the other two Brasilians that live in Burlington. They play basketball for SEC, the local community college. They're both seriously like 12 feet tall or something. They made me nervous (and it had nothing to do with their giant stature.) I never make Italian food for Italians, and I never make Brasilian food for Brasilians; it's just a rule I have. I also very rarely make anything Eric talks about his Grandma making. I just can't handle that kind of pressure. The boys were most complimentary of my food though. And since they came back for more about three times each, I suppose they weren't just being polite!

Taking her first tricycle out for a test drive. (Thanks Grandpa and Momo!)

I used to think gift bags were boring for little kids and that wrapping paper was the way to go. Now that I have a kid myself, I must say gift bags rock. Gabriela LOVED digging gifts out of the bags!

Gabriela's friend, K, showing her how to ride a tricycle. (and licking some left-over frosting off her face?)

Friends A and E giving Gabs a hand with opening gifts.

We had Gabriela's birthday party on Sunday. April 18. Which just so happens to be someone else's birthday. I couldn't let the day pass without at least a little recognition! I baked a Truffle Cake with cherry topping for the big birthday boy and made him blow out candles too!