HOT NOW!

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Krispy Kreme donuts!  I chose today to post about a few random things having nothing to do with the election because they were things I forgot to include in the epic “marathon” series and because today was just an ordinary day for me since I am an absentee (non)voter and don’t have any tv in the house.  I don’t think we would have been able to get our absentee ballots very easily, having left England in August and not having a permanent address til October 12 (not even knowing that address much more than a week before that.)  We both are registered to vote  in Texas and felt that our votes would not “count” anyway, since we were going to vote the way the state will most likely go.  People say that military absentee votes are unlikely to count anyway, but I don’t know what’s up with that.  All I know is that it will be at least another 6 years before we are in one place and permanently change our address and register to vote in another state.  Until then, I’m pretty sure Texas will be red.

Either way, I forgot to tell you about my FIRST “HOT NOW” KRISPY KREME DONUTS.  I have never had them hot before from a Krispy Kreme store, and we were passing by one the night after the marathon on our way down to Charleston – I sort of begged John to stop but was, in actuality, the driver, so it was more just an affirmation of the acceptability of donuts right then that I needed from him.  Seriously, I at two donuts immediately, back to back, within about three minutes. I’ve never done that before, but they were so amazing.  And, hey, if the day after a marathon isn’t the time you can eat  two donuts, then I guess that time doesn’t exist.  I could not believe how unbelievable delicious they were.  I will have to do that again some time!!

No other pictures for the blog today – but I posted this to facebook this week — it’s my two sons both at 3 months old. Is it just me, or do they look alike!?! I played the “who’s that baby” game with all 6 of my childrens’ 3 month pictures, and it was comical to hear that the kids thought all the babies look just like Daniel 🙂 I’ll have to post a picture of all six of their pictures together…

The other thing I wanted to mention with regards to marathon has to do with perspective.  I used to think running a marathon seemed impossible, an insurmountable task which I would never want to attempt anyway.  Once I became a runner, the marathon distance started to seem more achievable, but still huge.  After reading Born to Run, where distances over 50 and even 100 miles were discussed, a simple 26.2 miles seemed more than within my reach.  Right around that time I also started reading the blogs of other runners.  Most of the blogs I found came from clicking on the links I found on one or two bloggers – sort of like a chain reaction of blogs to read.  I started out my search using “pregnant” and “running” in the google task bar because I was curious about how long into their pregnancies other “normal” runners had taken it.  Sure, I’d heard of that lady delivering a baby a few hours after finishing the Chicago Marathon, but I was looking to see how long regular “mother runners” as they like to call themselves commonly ran into their pregnancies.  I was ecstatic to find ladies running all the way through the due date – lots of them!

 

Well, after reading blogs for a few months, I tired of the ones (no offense if this is you) written by people who were so different from me – who were pregnant with their first child and running, or pregnant with their second and juggling that one baby with running through a pregnancy, or having several kids who are all in school so you get to run after they’re on the bus each day.  I mean, come on, there was a big difference between the lifestyle of those women and my lifestyle as a homeschooling, pregnant mom of 5 (at the time), so I wanted to find practical advice from runners a bit more like me.  I found one lady very similar who hadn’t started running til she already had 6 or so kids and then ran through pregnancies and just had her 9th child, Catey, over at Random Thoughts from the Zoo.  I think her kids go off to school each day – but only half of them, since she still has so many small ones.  So hers was a blog from which I gleaned a lot.  Or Racing with Babes lady who ran up until she was due with baby number 3.  Regardless of finding things in common with some great ladies in the blogoshpere, I consistently find myself drawn to the blogs of those who really drastically overachieve in the world of running.  I am so inspired by their accomplishments!  What this led to, though, is an UNDERESTIMATION of the marathon distance.  From reading blogs like Mile-Posts, and Run Far Girl, and NYC Running Mama, I started to feel like a marathon was not a huge deal.  These women have run so many marathons (over 20 for Dorothy of Mile-Posts) and are younger than me (so by the time they’re 36  they’ll be up to – what – 50 marathons!?!) and have such fast times that I started to expect running 26.2 miles to go pretty smoothly for me.  I didn’t read on their blogs that they did any marathons this soon post-partum, and if that was on purpose, I can see why.  There is something to be said for doing the training – all the training – recommended for a marathon if you’ve never done one before.  Trust the experts and take the months to slowly build up your distance.  If you don’t have those months for some reason, like I didn’t, well, then, don’t expect to have your body thank you for doing something that crazy.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m glad I did it.  As the days pass since October 28, I’m even more thankful that I was able to go up there with my whole family to make the Marine Corps Marathon my first marathon.  Why not next year, you might ask?  Well, I don’t exactly have a good track record for staying un-pregnant for more than a year at a time, so I could quite possibly be “with child” next year in October, and I can pretty confidently say I’ll never run a marathon while pregnant.  And the year after that? Well, I’d most likely be pretty newly post-partum again.  So if I wanted to make the MCM my first marathon – and then move on to more and better things – I felt like the time was now.

 

Since I do live in America, and an election happened today, I suppose I should at least mention it, although everyone has already filled the world with blogs and tweets to overflowing by this point.  Here’s my facebook status from tonight once the race had been “called” – and I think it pretty much sums it up for me:

 

“can i just say ONE little thing about this election to any and all of my fb friends – especially those of you who are overseas and don’t quite understand the political climate over here, and to those who are still going to go on spewing vitriolic words against anyone remotely conservative – HALF OF AMERICA – NAY, MORE THAN HALF – DID NOT VOTE FOR OBAMA.  He may win the electoral college, just like Bush did long ago with the whole popular vote thing, but THIS IS A COUNTRY DIVIDED. I just don’t like it how the rest of the world – because of the way the news outlets portray conservatives – and seemingly 7/8 of the people I know on fb MARGINALIZE conservatives like we’re some fringe impotent group trying to heft our beliefs on the vast majority.  No, this is an open conversation where LITERALLY (look at the numbers people) LITERALLY half of our country thinks one way and half thinks another, and it’s been this way for 16 years.  So please, please, stop treating me like a loony because I disagree with your liberal views.  I think that is officially the ONLY thing I’ve said about this election; thank you for listening.”

 

So yes, I gave it away, I’m a conservative.  I think the fact that I have 6 kids probably already clued you in, but if not, now you know. 🙂  I didn’t have high hopes for the election, but I am SO READY to stop seeing all the political opinions on facebook.  People say the rudest things – stuff they would never say to you face to face but which they feel comfortable saying to the “general public” of facebook.  So let’s all move on and keep living as friends and neighbors, trying to work together for better communities.  Hope you have a great Wednesday! Hoping for my first run in a few days tomorrow when John comes home for lunch.  Hopefully some day soon I’ll have a really great feeling run!

Finally finished – the stuff is all gone!!

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Yesterday morning the movers finished up, and now we just have some extra things that are going out on Monday in the express move and then our clothes for packing.  Plans have changed with my parents, and now my mom is flying home as I write.  We will certainly miss her, but we were so thankful she could be here through the toughest time!! It’s all downhill from here – packing up our suitcases, traveling to Scotland for a week, and then hopefully leaving for America.  We still don’t have our tickets from the military yet, so our hopes remain that we will fly out on the 14th, but who knows what will really happen?

I was just perusing the new Runner’s World (it’s a British edition since I bought it over here) and there were a few really inspiring stories that are getting me super excited about returning to my running.  One was about a lady who ran 23 marathons, despite having been diagnosed with and battling breast cancer in that time.  Her name was Kirste Snellgrove, and she passed away at age 42 in February.  She raised thousands of pounds for charities through her racing and continued to smile while running through her cancer treatment.  Reading about her made me realize how much I complained about running while pregnant, and how easy and simple it was compared to what this lady was doing.  How much a healthy body (and a healthy pregnancy, delivery, baby) is a blessing that we take for granted every day.  By all means, if you are a person blessed with a healthy body, get moving – because you CAN.  You may not have a passion for fitness as some people do — it doesn’t have to be your favorite hobby or anything — but our bodies are amazing machines, creations, with a need to be maintained, and we literally throw away the health that so many wish they could have by sitting around all the time and doing nothing.

Another lady, Alexa Hartwell, ran a 243K race through the Moroccan desert while pregnant, raising thousands of pounds for charity, completing the race, and then 8 months later delivering a healthy baby.  This may sound crazy to you, but to those of us for whom running truly is a joy, having the ability to still race when pregnant is liberating and fulfilling.  I hope by the next time I’m pregnant (if there is that time) that I will still  be injury-free and running longer distances so I am able to run, and run, and run…

Then there’s this guy with a prosthetic leg who ran 630 miles around the South West Coast Path in Cornwall for a charity.  Really people, in the words of Nike – “Just do it.”  Now on to our recap of the last few days…with some cute pictures 🙂

I started this blog post yesterday, but then events overtook us, and, one thing leading to another, I was unable to post before midnight.  My first day not posting since I started 😦  I am trying to post a bit every day so that I don’t find myself posting once every few weeks as I think might happen if I started taking breaks from it.  Plus, I enjoy writing each day because it makes me feel like I’m talking to a friend 🙂  What ended up happening is that it was suddenly time to leave for our 6pm dinner reservation.  It crept up on me while I was nursing the baby and taking care of online business (closing accounts, paying bills, etc), and then we weren’t home until 10:30pm.  And when we got home, John and I discovered neither of us had brought a house key (our doors all lock automatically when you close them, so you don’t need a key to lock them.)  A 15 minute challenge ensued in which John and Patience were able to finally get a window open, and one of the children went through it to open the door.  It wasn’t really a pleasant time after that as John vacuumed our now-empty bedroom and switched laundry, I nursed the baby, and the children finished their movie from earlier and went to bed.  And before you know it, it was midnight!!

Actually now it is only 12:57am, but I am working on this tonight so that tomorrow when the day gets away from me I’ll be way ahead of the power curve and can just hit “publish.” 😉  I was supposed to be sleeping right now but needed to try on some clothes I had left out to see if I should just pack them to send to Texas with my mom.  She’s taking a suitcase of our things back with her, so anything we don’t need until Texas (which we should hit around Sept. 5) is going in that suitcase.  A few other things as well — I’m just trying to thing of what we won’t need til Charleston, and it’s a bit mind mending at 1am.  I’ll tell you a bit about yesterday, though, since I took a few pictures, and it was a full day 🙂

After we got up around 9, I nursed the baby and put him back down, and I drove my mom and the five other kids over to the “Butterfly World and Craft Center” (mentioned frequently of late in this blog!) to play at the playplace.  I dropped them off and headed over to the Costa Coffee drivethru for an imitation frappucino, decaf of course.  I never drank these things til the last month of my pregnancy and will probably stop craving them in a few more days 🙂 I’ve already lost the ice-eating addiction and even threw away a whole cup of awesome Starbucks ice yesterday after finishing my iced coffee!! That is unheard of for me lately.  For some reason my ice at home has been tasting like soap, so I haven’t really wanted to eat it anyway.

Here are a few pictures of the kiddos I took while they were playing at the playplace, after I returned with my coffee drink:

Greer and Claire on the see-saw

Greer and Claire on the see-saw

 

 

 

Liesl

Liesl

 

 

 

 

 

The first of a few shots of my children making odd faces - Greer

The first of a few shots of my children making odd faces – Greer

 

 

Gabriel

Gabriel

 

 

 

Patience had just lost a ring (but we found it) when we took this

Patience had just lost a ring (but we found it) when we took this

Then, I drove back over to where they were and popped into the hat store where a lady makes handmade fascinators and embellishes hats she buys.  (It’s one of the “crafts” in the craft center part of the place.)  I bought one fascinator just because it’s awesome, and another to match a dress for a wedding this month.  The one for the wedding she is making by special order and will have it finished by next week 🙂 Perfect!  Here’s the other one…

one of the new fascinators, Greer snapping the iphone photo (John's iphone)

one of the new fascinators, Greer snapping the iphone photo (John’s iphone)

By the time we got back from there the movers were finished and we thought about lunch.  Instead, we had ice cream 🙂  I didn’t have anything since that fake frappucino was really filling.  Around this time we received a call from my dad saying that he had been unwell and wouldn’t be able to come out here on Monday as planned, and that’s when we started arranging for my mom to return Saturday morning as well.  I tried to take a nap once my two babies were napping, but I was too wired from being worked up about my dad, so eventually I got up to get some things done.  For dinner we ate at the restaurant with the best food we have tasted in England.  The chefs and management previously (until three weeks ago) ran another restaurant we’d been to three times, so we knew the food was great already.  It certainly didn’t disappoint, and my chicken, chorizo, and tarragon pie was the best meat pie I’ve ever had!!

After dinner we headed over to the kids’ piano teacher’s house because he and his family wanted to meet baby Daniel and “wet his head,” which is what you call having a drink to toast the little guy’s arrival.  John and he had a Scotch while we ladies had some Port which they bought in Portugal last week on their holiday (so British of them….) We ended up being there a little over two hours, as the men enjoyed chatting and the children loved playing in their yard and with their hamster 🙂  He was a great teacher who really had Patience and Gabriel learning at a good pace without pushing them in a way that would turn them off.  He enjoyed teaching them as well because they were so different from the British children – possibly because they’re American, possibly because they’re homeschooled and tend to be more conversational with adults than a lot of other children I know, or possibly because they’re our kids and that makes them spectacular 😉 hahahaha.  It was a very nice end to the evening.

Today has a few things scheduled, hopefully enabling me to get a bit more sleep after I take my mom to the 5:30am bus to Heathrow.  The owner needs to come do a walkthrough to inventory things in the house, and we need to find a laundry place to wash things that were in the basement and had mouse droppings on them (ie bedding, curtains, towels.)  Since I’ll finish this later in the day probably I will go for now (1:24am…) and feed that cute little baby one more time before I hit the hay…

Can you find the reason for the funny face Greer is making climbing in to that chair? (It’s in the picture)

What’s the most inspirational running story you’ve come across lately?

Have a bad delightful treat you’ve been having lately (like my frappucino craze?)

 

Daniel’s Details :) Our British Baby…

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All the exciting news!  I know, I know, birth stories aren’t really that interesting unless you recently had or are having a baby.  So I’m going to mostly make this about all the odd differences we experienced here in the UK from deliveries in the US.  In America we’ve delivered in one military hospital and 3 civilian hospitals, all in different states and such, so we have had a wide variety of experiences.  Here, we delivered in an NHS hospital (National Health Service), but private hospitals are available if you pay for separate insurance or perhaps out-of-pocket.  Not exactly sure how that works, so I can’t speak to that, but I think a lot of the medically-concerned differences would still be there either way.

A sprinkling of baby pictures along the way…

Our mother’s helper Stephanie bought him this little British sleeper with red buses and black taxis on it 🙂  Anyway, a few thoughts from during the pregnancy that I may have mentioned in the past:

They never weigh you at your regular appointments.  You only see midwives unless you are higher risk, at which point they schedule a few appointments for you along the way with the OB at the hospital (not your local clinic.)  They don’t do the routine gestational diabetes test but only give that test if you have certain risk factors.  They still only see you every two weeks at the end unless you’re high risk.  There’s only a midwife clinic once a week at our local “surgery” as it’s called, and, even at the hospital, only certain days of the week for certain things – so the ante-natal clinic in the OB ward is only on Wednesdays – as is the midwife clinic at my surgery.  So if they discover something and want to send you up for another test or something you have to wait til the next Wednesday to get into the next ante-natal clinic.  Not very efficient.  When you need to go up to the hospital for something, the hospital staff makes appointments for you and then they notify you by phone or mail of your appointment time – I got a letter last Wednesday in the mail saying I had an appointment for bloodwork at the antenatal clinic – -that day, Wednesday, at 9:45am, which is before our mail is delivered.  Oh well!

Here I am finally catching up with some email a few hours after the delivery and after getting a nice long shower in finally 🙂  Good thing we brought our own towels (on Karen’s advice – the lady who was coming to watch the children and help out a bit.)  They had sort of threadbare, rough, prison-type towels (never been to prison, but I imagine the towels there are like the ones at this hospital.)  She also recommended bringing our own baby nappies and pads and such – good thing because every time we needed something, unless a nurse was in the room to bring it to us, there were no extra things like that around like in every place we’ve delivered in the US.  Also, she told us to bring snacks (which you might do in America as well,) which was great because the sandwich options weren’t really to John’s liking (egg salad, cheese and butter, or ham and butter – all very British), and of course it was only me being offered any food (usually in the US you can buy extra meals for your spouse, or they give them to you.)  The tea and toast was complimentary for both of us and offered right after the delivery, as well as again in the evening (here in the background.)

That’s another difference – we were specifically offered hot drinks or tea and toast a few times, while in the US it would have been iced drinks for sure, and usually juice or soda.  Just so funny we were drinking hot tea on July 17 after delivering a baby!! 🙂  I’ll save a quick “birth story synopsis” for the very end so you squeamish types can skip that part more easily, but now for more differences…

Walking in to the hospital to deliver is a bit more complicated here.  John could have dropped me off and then parked but I would have had to wait on a bench or stand around, so I opted to walk up from the car with him (the walking also is easier for me during contractions than sitting would be.)  We had to pay to park – as you do everywhere around here – then walked up to the front.  If he had wanted to wheel me in in a wheelchair, we would have had to put a one pound coin into the slot on the wheelchair release – just like grocery carts are at most stores here.  You get your pound coin back when you return the wheelchair.  Needless to say, I walked in, even using the stairs because I was afraid of being stuck in the middle of a contraction on the elevator when I could more easily manage on walking up stairs.  When we got to the delivery ward, we saw this:

It’s for buying a card to pay for your tv, computer, or phone usage in your hospital room.  For real.  That’s one of the things I always look forward to about going to the hospital since we don’t have tv in our home normally – flipping through the million cable tv channels in the hours or day after delivery when you’re bored.  Here’s what the tv looked like – super tiny with horrible sound.

I was deemed “higher risk” but not “high risk” because of this being my 6th delivery.  Another reason is because my blood platelet levels have been low, and they checked them again on admission, and they were still low.  This meant my hopes of being in the “birthing center” down the hall with 4 birthing pools were dashed, and I was relegated to the “Delivery Suite” of the OB Ward instead – and their one birthing pool was out of commission.  Because of the low platelets, and the supposed limited ability of a uterus to produce strong enough contractions to sufficiently stop the bleeding after birth, they were concerned about a higher risk of losing too much blood afterwards (the uterine contractions are supposed to help close the capillaries inside, and they say research shows after more births, your uterus is less able to do its job.  Odd, since other muscles in the body get stronger with use….)  This meant I wouldn’t have been allowed in the birthing pools anyway.  Oh well.

Because it is said to reduce blood loss by up to 1 Liter in all deliveries (and, or course, in people delivering babies after number 5 they said) they recommend “active third stage management,” meaning a shot in your leg muscle of pitocin right after the baby is delivered – to help make the uterine contractions stronger to help stem blood loss.  This is something I’ve never heard recommended in the US.  We turned it down, and my blood loss was low, just like with all my births.  This was great to them because they had been concerned about my low platelets (and therefore my clotting ability.)  BUT THEN they recommended another medical intervention, a drug, also injected into a leg muscle, to thin your blood to help prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis, also something for which I was at a higher risk because it was baby number 6.  So they were worried I wouldn’t clot but wanted to thin my blood.  I am not sure that they recommend this in the US, but they  did not recommend it with deliveries 1-5, so I think the answer is that they do not.

midnight – getting ready to leave the hospital

As in several of my US deliveries, they wanted to put a “port” for an IV in my hand (they called it something else) in case I experienced rapid blood loss after delivery and collapsed veins.  We have turned this down at the 3 deliveries in the US at which it was pushed as well.  Here, they said it was again because it was baby number 6 so I was higher risk.  In the US it was common hospital procedure.  We say no to it because it is just an added discomfort, and when I’m trying to natural progress through labor, anything making me more uncomfortable is something we reject.  My comfort is paramount especially since I am in excellent health.  We can totally understand these precautions are based on past emergency situations they have experience, but I think it can safely be said, that, as with other pregnancy-related recommendations, a lot of it is based on worse-case scenarios and on people who are in much poorer health than me – ie, women who did not run two miles the day before delivering haha – but no, seriously, there are lots of people whose uterine muscles probably are a lot weaker with baby number 6 than they were with baby number 1, but I personally am in better shape now than I have been at any time in my life so I think a lot of the extra precautions are unnecessary for me.  Plus, we are at a hospital.  They are equipped to deal with emergencies, and that’s why we continue to go to them for our deliveries, when home births would certainly be simpler.

the kids meeting Daniel

There were a lot of things that were different that we liked a lot.  When they “checked me” upon admittance to see if I was ready to stay and labor, I was dilated only to 1-2cm.  How disappointing after hours of terribly painful contractions that had been 3 minutes apart for the last hour.  This part routinely disappoints me – I’m never as far along as I think, and I hate being told that on a regular basis as the labor progresses.  They decided to admit me anyway because it was my sixth child, and they thought it would progress quickly based on the strength and length of my contractions.  We asked when they would need to be checking me again, and the midwife said it’s “every four-hourly.”  We thought maybe we had misheard and asked, “Every hour?”  And she said no – it was every four hours! Yippee!  “But we probably won’t need to do it again since you’ll have a baby before that,” the midwife said, which was very encouraging despite the “number.”  So that’s a huge difference – in American hospitals they are checking you pretty often, especially when you tell them you want to push.  I know the reasoning behind it and won’t go into it here, but I think when you’ve labored a few times, you probably know when to push without having to be told you’re “ready” because they “checked” you.  I even said to a friend the night before going in that I would love it if I could be checked only once and not again in the labor – and that’s exactly what happened!! 🙂

Another difference is that with each procedure they “offered” and “recommended,” they were very gracious when we turned it down and didn’t try to ask superior to us because they were midwives and doctors.  They recognized that this was my body, my delivery, and my baby, that we had done our research, and that we knew how this worked from having had five babies before.  At every previous birth it has been a fight to have the labor go our way.  They also did not try to put an external monitor on me at any time, even when I was first admitted.  In the US every time we go in they strap a two heart rate monitors to your tummy – one for you and one for baby – and monitor you about 10 minutes to hear the heartrates during a contraction.  They print out a little monitor strip.  Here, even in this “higher risk” OB Ward, they just brought up a little portable monitor and listened to baby’s heartbeat for about a minute.  Every so often during labor they did the same thing – while I was in the tub, too.  I think in the states the nurses like it that the external monitor keeps going and doesn’t have to be something that they have to come do.  It will beep if there’s a problem, so they don’t have to remember to come in and keep checking your baby’s heartrate.

Why do I care about all these seemingly small interventions that I’ve mentioned? It’s just another issue of comfort vs necessity – is it necessary to constantly check for dilation? Probably not in my case.  Is it uncomfortable? You bet!!! And it “throws off my groove” – to quote the emperor in “The Emperor’s New Groove.”  Making it through labor without drugs is hard, and you need to be free to focus in your own way if it’s medically possible.  Same reason I don’t want the external monitor strapped on (it hurts a lot to have something squeezing around your tummy while your uterus is contracting and is an uncomfortable nuisance when it’s not contracting.)  We were literally chewed out by the nurse in delivery number five for removing it.  Either way, we liked it that they just rolled with things here and didn’t try to argue every point.  They also didn’t force me out of the tub saying, “You can’t deliver in the tub,” but said instead – “I guess if you insist on staying in there we can’t make you get out.”

I didn’t want to deliver in a small tub, though, so I got out eventually, and my water broke with the next contraction, meaning baby was coming soon!  We walked over to the bed for me to lean over it while I continued to labor standing up, and John beeped the midwife to update her.  She came right away and said she’d better put her gloves on!  She asked if I was happy to deliver standing up, to which we of course answered that that would be our plan.  We delivered number 4 standing up, leaning against the bed, accidentally because there was no one in the room and John ended up catching her.  We told them with number five I wanted to stand through the labor, and the nurses were very hesitant, insisting that we make sure the doctor get there in time for such a crazy thing.  Even when the OB was there, though, standing up to deliver still seemed very strange to everyone (she told me she had had women deliver standing up before), and when baby number five was born that way, the OB whisked her up and away from me so quickly that the cord ruptured where there had been a knot in it.  Big mess.  So my point here is that the midwife didn’t care how or where I delivered – so long as I was happy with the set up.  I remember clearly with baby number three feeling ready to push while standing up laboring, and they made me get into the bed, insisting they could get it set up in some way for me to be comfortable (hands and knees, using the squat bar, etc), but I was uncomfortable the rest of that labor and vowed never to get in the bed for a labor again (Aside from having to be in bed while being checked for dilation or during the external monitoring period, I have never had to be back in a bed.  That’s another reason I don’t like those things – because getting on and off the bed during labor is hard in the midst of contractions and with a 40 week pregnant belly!

Another funny thing.  They were cleaning things up and casually asked – Do you want us to package up the placenta for you to take home? I will not comment on this here – I know why people do it, and that it is becoming more common in the states – suffice it to say, having the question posed to us was just really funny at the time 🙂 I think John was pretty appalled 🙂  Now we’re to the best “difference” we saw.  Since I had a “normal” delivery, I could have a 6-hour checkout.  The baby needed to be okay’d at 6 hours postpartum, and they needed to observe me off and on in that time, but after that we were free to go!  No uncomfortable hospital bed for 24-48 hours.  No additional babysitting to pay for!  Didn’t have to pay for parking longer!  No more gross hospital food!  At one point they suggested I might need to stay because of a minor thing, and the choices were – a bay with three other mothers and their newborns – or a private room, to the tune of 120 pounds per night.  Wow.  I speak from the experience of a military wife, whose insurance covers deliveries completely, so the thought of paying about $200 to spend the night in that hospital was pretty crazy to us.  We ended up being discharged at 12:30am (just after midnight), after he was born at 5:30pm.  Nice!!

This was by far my fastest labor and takes away my commonly used phrase that all my labors are “long and difficult.”  I totally credit this to my continued running up to the end.  I mean, nothing else comes close to explaining it, since the labors were never much shorter as I went up from 3 to 4 to 5 kids.  When they told me I was 1-2cm dilated but they expected I would deliver within 4 hours, I was pretty happy with that estimate, because I still expected another 6-8 hours of labor, as did John.  He and I were SO COMPLETELY THRILLED that less than 2 hours after being checked and admitted, we were holding Daniel in our arms.  Once I got out of the bath, the midwife put on her gloves with the next contraction and was delivering the baby on the one after that.  It wasn’t “easy” by any stretch of the imagination, but, thank the Lord and my Newton running shoes, it was quick!!

Running to the Starting Line…

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So I did it again. Went running.  At least this time I’m pretty sure it will be the last run until after the pregnancy, since I’m due in two days.  I know I said that with the last run, but that one had uncertainty about it while I was running, and with this one – knowing that labor is imminent – it was a definite motivating factor!  The picture is after the run – 39 weeks, 6 days pregnant 🙂

Why go running today?  As I look out the window writing this, it’s POURING rain.  Patience just said it – “Whoa! It’s pouring rain!”  But earlier, it wasn’t.  So here’s why I went…

1)  I have two legs that I can still operate independently of this big belly, and baby’s still happy and safe inside.

2)  It was not raining, something which has been a rarity around here since April.

3)  It was 10am — I didn’t have to get up early to do it.

4)  John didn’t have to leave for work until 11:30am, so I didn’t need to get a babysitter!

5)  Even though it’s July 11, it was overcast, cool, and breezy.  Can’t ask for better running weather than that.  There was blue sky peeking out with grey clouds threatening a shower.  Perfect.

6)  I want to go into labor and have this baby!!! 🙂

So I’m running….to the starting line of my next big race — labor.  For me, every labor has been long and painful, and I have dreaded going into labor more and more each time.  I’ve been working towards this day for so long now, training to be in the best shape of my life so that when this “marathon” event starts I will be ready, and hopefully it won’t be as painful as the last five.

I started out my run very slowly, with a lot of pressure on my bladder, but being encouraged by these words to the song “Ready to Go” by Republica (an old 80s song):

“It’s a crack, I’m back yeah standing
On the rooftops shouting out,
Baby I’m ready to go
I’m back and ready to go
From the rooftops shout it out”

Wow, it is really coming down outside!! It was absolutely beautiful when I finished up my run – so glad I got out there and enjoyed the nice weather for the hour that we had it!!

I was going to run only two miles but after about half a mile I was feeling great and was determined to do three.  It’s an out-and-back route, so it’s 1 1/2 miles out – meaning  I made the decision at a mile to “go the extra mile”, after which I was locked into it.  Around 1 3/4 miles I started having discomfort in the pelvic region like I had last Thursday on my two mile run the whole way, but by then I would have had the feeling whether I walked or ran, so I finished the run home, stopping right at 3 miles and walking up the big hill to the house.  It ended up being 3 miles at 11:50 pace, respectable for me at this stage in things 🙂  I may never push a triple stroller at 8 minute pace as Dorothy of Mile Posts does, but I just ran 3 miles at a good pace two days before I’m due. Sweet!!  Getting me through that last mile was Mumford and Sons:

“It’s empty in the valley of your heart
The sun, it rises slowly as you walk
Away from all the fears
And all the faults you’ve left behind…

Cause I need freedom now
And I need to know how
To live my life as it’s meant to be

And I will hold on hope
And I won’t let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I’ll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I’ll know my name as it’s called again”

I wouldn’t call what I was feeling “pain” exactly, but that line – finding strength in pain – really keeps me going every time I hear it because I know the pain I am soon to face, and I know that I am going to find strength in it this time – more strength than even in the other four deliveries that I did without pain medications – and I am going to (with the help of my wonderful labor coach, my husband John) finish this race strong, even stronger than how I start it.  If you needed the extra nudge to get out the door today – then I hope that this does it for you.  You’re strong, and you’re not 40 weeks pregnant, and you probably also have two legs — get out there and workout for your own good (Unfortunately, your weather is probably not as pleasant as mine – but maybe it will be better late at night?) 🙂  Please pray with me if that’s your thing, that I will go into labor soon, that we will stay strong, that, Lord willing, it will be shorter and easier than in the past, and that most of all, it will be a safe and healthy delivery for me and the baby.

I just had a delicious protein shake to take care of my nutritional needs, since for some reason I have no desire to eat anything – decaf instant coffee, raw cacao powder, a banana, ice, rice milk, and agave – and am going to go take a nice long bath before moving on to a few more “pre-baby” tasks – like sorting out all the pump bottles and making sure my pump is in good shape, putting the liner and bedding back onto the Moses basket since I washed it all yesterday, getting the baskets of nursing supplies, diapers, burp cloths, etc, together for the various rooms in the house, packing my bag for the hospital (apparently because it is an NHS hospital I’ve been told there will be no food – or it will be scant and gross – no real drinks offered except hot tea, no extra nappies/wipes/pads like they always have when you deliver and you take home with you, and we should even bring pillows and a towel for showering!), and continuing to make sure the kids are fed and clothed 🙂  Karen, our “maternity nurse” scheduled to be with the family during the labor and the day or two after (it’s a special qualification for nannies who help immediately after and the months following a birth) could only be here through Friday morning because of another job starting up for her after that.  Thankfully, though, Stephanie messaged me yesterday that she’s available Friday, so that’s another day covered!!  Saturday and Sunday if we have the baby then we should have help from some church friends, and then my mom plans on flying in.  So I think we’re all covered — “On the rooftops shouting out – baby I’m ready to go!!”

What’s your most motivating song right now (lyrics would be nice, too) – whether for just getting dressed for the day or for working out?

What do you like/need to pack in your hospital bag for having a baby – or what would you recommend even if you haven’t had kids?

(By the way it’s sunny and gorgeous again right now as I’m adding these questions) What is your favorite stuff to add to protein powder in a blender for a shake?

Saturday’s Trip to the Mall (instead of a run!), Tummy Shots, and Weekly Recap!

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So…no run for me today since it was 1)pouring rain and 2)a perfect day to take my dying MacBook Air in to the Apple store for help.  I made the command decision yesterday not to run in the rain anymore this pregnancy since yesterday I was 39 weeks, and it was pouring.  I think I officially now can use the excuse that it’s raining to no longer go for runs 🙂  If it’s nice any time between now and when I deliver, then I’ll probably try a run/walk just to help labor to start, but I don’t know that there will be a day between now and that magic date when it doesn’t rain!  I think I will, therefore, post the “tummy shots” for the pregnancy – since they’re all in running clothes after coming back from a run (the only consistent thing about them) – and end with the 39 week picture we took on Thursday.  Get to that in a minute, though.

We left right after a delicious breakfast of burritos made with eggs, pepper jack cheese, and kielbasa for a mall about an hour away to get to our “Genius Bar” appointment for my 2-yr old 13 inch MacBook Air.  Just one day without that thing (yesterday), and I am distraught! Hahaha. No really, though, the worst thing about if it is truly dead would be the cost of replacing it.  The next bad thing would be the wasted 130 pages of a photobook I was working on, and the -final bad thing would be about a week or two of un-backed-up pictures.  So really, it isn’t that bad – like when we lost about a year’s worth of pictures when our home computer’s hard drive failed about five years ago.  And of course it’s not bad compared to lots of awful things that happen to people every day, so it’s really no big deal.  Anyway, they ran some diagnostics and think the harddrive is fine but that there might be a malfunctioning cord inside causing it to still not start up.  They have to order and install the part, so we left it with them and went to the Pizza Hut in the mall for a fun lunch 🙂  Then on to a bookstore, and home, ending up here around 4pm.  So it was another day in which we were out with all the children for the whole day and then need to spend the whole evening resting 🙂

On to the running report and the tummy tales…

This week I had a good run and then a not-very-fun run.  Not going to lie; my next run may be after the delivery!

Tuesday: 3.01 miles at 11:49 min pace

Thursday: 2.04 miles at 12:02 min pace

And…here are the tummy shots – weeks 22-39! 🙂 (and, for the record, I didn’t take these kind of pictures for any of my previous 5 pregnancies, so it’s neat for me to see the changes this time!!)

22 Weeks

22 Weeks

22 1/2 Weeks

24 Weeks

27 Weeks

28 Weeks

29 1/2 Weeks

31 Weeks

33 Weeks

Almost 34 Weeks
Almost 34 Weeks
34 Weeks
34 Weeks
35 Weeks
35 Weeks
35 1/2 Weeks
35 1/2 Weeks
36 Weeks
36 Weeks
37 Weeks
37 Weeks
37 1/2 Weeks
37 1/2 Weeks
38 Weeks
38 Weeks
38 1/2 Weeks
38 1/2 Weeks
39 Weeks
39 Weeks
39 weeks, 6 days!

39 weeks, 6 days!

40 weeks, 3 days

Maybe my last run for a while…?

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Still not in labor (not due for 8 more days) but my run this morning was only 2 miles, and most of it I felt pretty uncomfortable, with just a few minutes strung together at a time of normalcy.  I read blogs of several pregnant runners, and they are just reaching the third trimester or are late in the second – and it is just amazing how different it was running back at 30 weeks! I mean, I’m not surprised that it’s this difficult to run at 39, just that running back then at 30 weeks and such was still so comfortable!

Today’s run was a 12:01 pace, and only two miles because after about a half mile I made the command decision to turn around when I reached a mile.  If I’m not in labor Saturday, rather than a run we may do a family hike – as strenuous as possible to still help labor come sooner – because something is better than nothing, and I may just not be able to run anymore with the baby having dropped like this.

Here’s a picture after today’s run:

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Of course, some of the way I felt may have been due to my shortened sleep due to Greer getting me up again shortly after 7.  I have to say – not liking the earlier wake up, but VERY happy with her pottie training now that she can get out of bed by herself from nighttime and naptime.  We have had one soiled diaper since we started it (about a month ago) and she is now hopping on the little potties around the house on her own all day long.  We seem to have made it through the tough phase I mentioned a while back of doing her BM’s in her diaper during sleeptimes – and it was all because we were leaving her in bed too long apparently.  I knew this, but was feeling too tired to do anything about it – often resting myself during her naps and wanting to sleep in in the morning from all my nighttime pottie trips.  So thankful that all those months of pottie training up til now (22 of them!) haven’t been wasted by having her start going in in her diaper at this stage!! If you are at all interested in infant pottie training (also known as Elimination Communication – EC – please send me any questions because, although not an expert, we have successfully done it with 3/5 of the children 🙂  The two for which we passed it up we still did it for 9 months and 6 months (numbers 2 and 3) because, as anyone will tell you, 2 and 3 kids are 1)more difficult than just having one and 2)more difficult that continuing to have more.  It’s really the second and third that push the envelope, and although continuing to have children is not “easy,” it definitely gets easier since by that time the first one is a bit older.

After John was home early from work at 11, he went out for ice cream for me to make us all milkshakes — the FIRST pregnancy craving I’ve had when I’ve actually asked him to go get me anything. We all played outside on the kids’ scooters while drinking/eating said milkshakes, and now it’s quiet time in the house.  Ahhh….yummy day with milkshakes and rest time!!

I am stealing this idea from another blog I read today – coming up with a habit I want to start, beginning with August, and going for the next year.  Sort of like listing goals, but more operating on the principle that it takes 30 days to establish a new habit.  I am too tired right now (and need to get off the computer to take advantage of a sleeping baby for the next hour) to come up with goals for all 12 months, but I am going to start right now by posting the next quarter’s habits 🙂  I can come up with three really quickly, right??!!

August:  Put on clothes and makeup every day before breakfast (unless I’m running and then I need to do it by lunch time.)

September:  Declutter as I am unpacking in the new house, wherever we end up moving to — make it a habit to keep a box/bag in a few different strategic locations in the house to put things to give away that will be used during unpacking and will continue to be used throughout the year.

October:  Spend time in God’s Word daily, at some point before getting dressed.  Must establish my first habit of consistently getting dressed by a certain time, and then I can piggy-back this one off of it 🙂

Okay, going to lie down now and rest.  Not the best for inducing labor, but I’m tired, and I have the excuse of being 39 weeks pregnant to do whatever I want hahaha 🙂

Tuesday Trip Report – leaving the UK soon!

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So today I was thinking I’d post about the top ten things I will appreciate when we move away from the UK.  That may sound like it will be a “bash Britain” post, but, not at all – we love it here! It’s just that after four years away from the Mainland US (we were in Hawaii the three years previous to this, and this certainly isn’t an “I hate Hawaii” post), we are ready to return.  Call it a “God bless the USA” post, especially since tomorrow is July 4th, and everyone over there is all patriotic right now 🙂  Now that I think about it, though, I think I’ll make this a “top ten things I’ll miss about England” post instead, and will do my patriotic post tomorrow, especially since I’m about to wax eloquent about something I really value about the UK.

I did make it out to run today, thanks to Stephanie, who must bathe in awesome sauce on the mornings before she comes over here.  That’s something that I will miss about England – the well-estalished principle that having really good, qualified childcare in your home is something worth pursuing.  In the US it seems like if you get a nanny in the home to help you along (mother’s helper) or to watch the children while you are at work (an actual nanny) or to be with you in the weeks after childbirth (what’s called a “maternity nurse” here in England and means extra certification and such), the process is rather hit and miss.  You get referrals from friends and neighbors, you find young ladies from churches you’ve been at in the past who possibly have finished school and are not in a permanent careers right now (or who are home schooled and can take off some weeks to help you), or maybe college students looking for summer jobs or jobs outside of their school hours.  “Nannying,” though, in general, is not looked upon as an actual “career choice” in America, and after living here in England for a year, I must say that I think it should be.  They have schools over here for training and certifying people to nanny for a living, which makes the binders of references and such that they bring to interviews much more consistent.  Not everyone goes through these schools, but most have some training, and most have criminal background checks if they are advertising through the official nanny websites.  As far as I can tell, it seems to be a respected profession (I am not sure how others talk about it amongst themselves), which is as it should be.  After all, they are raising, or helping to raise, our very important children for many hours a day.  I know a lot of people in America use home daycare centers which have training and certification processes, and that is done here as well (they are called “child minders” and often they even drive a van around to different homes in the morning to pick up their charges), but this particular person called a “nanny” or “mother’s helper” seems to be very specific to England.  I’m not sure about the rest of Europe, though.  In the US we have heard of au pairs, which are live-in nannies that people bring from other countries, or they have housekeepers and nannies who are also brought in from elsewhere, but this is different than the people here who have their own homes and cars and then go to their different nanny jobs during the day.  Like Stephanie, they often have more than one family for which they work, filling in extra hours with additional families or babysitting. It’s really awesome.

In the past we have had different people we’ve met or heard of through our church circles come to live with us to help out.  One time (Lydia and Sarah you are awesome!) was for the birth of a child specifically (baby number 4, when John lived 3 hours away all week and only came home on weekends) and was because we had had the joy of having another young Christian friend stay 6 weeks with us (hi Emily! you rock!) when baby number 3 was only a few months old, and I had really appreciated all the help!  When John left on a six month deployment in Hawaii, and I was pregnant with our fifth, we figured another live-in helper (you are amazing Olivia!) would be great, so we flew another young lady out. After that 6 months I was rather spoiled, and John was coming home for a year between deployments but would be “underway” on the submarine for about 70% of that year – so we hired someone else (Christine you are the bomb!!!) who ended up being with us for a total of 18 months (with another baby coming in that time and another six month deployment.)  Recently we were blessed to have the wonderful Meriwether stay with us for a bit as well, bringing bunches of energy with her for these last few months of my pregnancy!!  So in the past, we had been well taken care of by people we found through friends and church.  What to do in England now when I found myself a bit overwhelmed last fall and pregnant again??

I resorted to the internet, starting first with the nanny agency recommended by the Defence Academy (and finding a great lady, Karen, to come once a week for a while and then stay with the children while we went to Venice — she was in between jobs for her real  deal which for her is as a live-in maternity nurse, and she’s going to be our helper for a few days when this baby comes.)  After Karen had to report to her 3 month stint in London with newborn twins, we were again swamped by laundry and dishes, and I found Stephanie on the internet through a childcare website.  So now we’re caught up to today, and my run!  I haven’t been sleeping much lately because of having trouble falling asleep – especially if I’ve had a nap that resulted from not much sleep the night before, which keeps perpetuating the cycle.  Greer has been getting up earlier now that she can get out of bed herself, so that adds to the sleep deprivation.  So with John in France, I told Stephanie to let herself in with a key so that hopefully she could take care of Greer while I slept in.  It worked beautifully, and I was able to sleep til 9am, all while Stephanie was here taking care of Greer and such.  I came down dressed to run at 9:15 to find Greer asleep on Stephanie on the couch, and the spot next to them recently vacated by Gabriel who had also come down early and fallen asleep all snuggled in blankets.  Too cute.

 

 

 

Greer snoozing on the couch – a first!

 

As I was heading out the door to run she woke Greer up, and while I was gone did some kitchen cleanup and fed the kids breakfast.  This was all before her job from 11:30am-7pm where she nannies for another family Tuesday-Friday.  I came in from the run just in time for her to be leaving for her other job, to the smell of eggs and sausage she had made me (some leftovers from our mac and cheese with kielbasa last night, and scrambled eggs) and which was sitting there on a plate ready for me to crash on the couch with it.  I MEAN REALLY, HOW AWESOME IS THAT??  There was laundry going in the washing machine, and all the five kids were happily playing here and there, and I was able to relax on the couch with breakfast and the huge cup of iced tea she had also made me.  Alas, then she had to leave, but I think I will make it through the day now that my basic needs have been met 🙂

The run went better than I had anticipated – since each time I run I fear it may be the last, and I keep thinking I’ll get started on the run and will just not be able to complete it.  Still didn’t have to walk any of it this time, though, and the pace was 11:49/mile, for 3 miles.  I cut off the last .2 miles in favor of walking because it’s all uphill (not that super steep hill after the 3.2 miles, but still considerably uphill), and I knew it would slow down my average pace a lot, and I had already run 3 miles.  I had considered turning around at a mile to make it a 2 mile run, but I felt well enough to keep going and did 3 miles instead 🙂  Stephanie snapped this when I got back – I know I should just have pictures every week, but I just don’t know when it will be “the last run” of the pregnancy, so I try to get them every time 🙂 So here it is…38 weeks and 4 days:

I still continue to be blown away by the fact that I have a rough time even rolling over in bed, I practically crawl up and down the stairs, and I hobble around for the first few minutes after getting up from a seat each time, but I can still run! I just don’t get it! Definitely my legs are getting a great workout (and one with lots of variation, since their position relative to my pelvis and the rest of my body keeps changing), and so is my mind!! I am having to use a lot of mind over matter to get out there and to keep going at this point.  Especially in the rain, like today (although just about anywhere in the US at this point it would probably be too hot for me to be running anyway, so the gray drizzle is quite welcome.)  Maybe it’s the shoes that keep me going? (I love my Newtons!!) Maybe it’s the cute running clothes.  Definitely it is the music to which I sing along under my breath the whole time.  Also I think it is envisioning the future – goals I have for running, labor and delivery, our upcoming move, those sorts of things.  Whatever it is, my mind is working hard with each step to make me keep putting one foot in front of the other.

So on to “the list” in no particular order:

Top Ten Things I Will Miss About the UK

1. All the cute Union Jack stuff you can buy everywhere – for every room in the house, outdoors, or apparel. (Probably more around than usual due to the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics, but I’m taking advantage of it!!)

Last week with Claire in my British maternity shirt.

 

These containers are for the bathroom but I use them in the kitchen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A drink frother and cook’s measure, and that’s a baby toy (the bus.)

 

 

Magnetic memo board

 

 

 

 

 

fun shoulder bag

 

 

 

 

 

bowls and a placemat, and plates below with a tray

piggy bank

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

doorstop

 

 

A napkin holder and ashtray (not that we smoke) and salt and pepper as a phone booth and mailbox (yes, I decorated my kitchen with British decor!)

2. The home grocery delivery – shopping online (I know there are some places in the US where you can shop online and then drive up to the store to pick it up, but I have researched a few areas and found very few – okay none really – stores that deliver there.) available from all major grocery stores and even the awesome organic Abel & Cole which doesn’t even have a real store.  (The coolers that they send stuff in are boxes insulated with sheep’s wool!)

3. The old buildings everywhere – that are hundreds of years old but are still used for businesses and homes, like they’re no big deal.

4. Driving around the area where we live – where there are farms everywhere and livestock (sheep, cows) but the “big” city of Swindon ten minutes away and the cute old village of Marlborough 15 minutes away and the stones of Avebury 20 minutes away.  Everything is so rural, yet close to the cities and ancient sites.

5. The feeling of being “closer to the land” seems to permeate everything here — people eat a lot more “seasonal” vegetables rather than always picking up the worldwide produce at the local Super Walmart (not that there’s a Walmart here anyway – but their version of it, Asda, is definitely not the grocery store of choice).  Many people also have small “holdings” – either vegetable patches all in a central area of town or even land out in the country – where they go to raise their own animals and vegetables.

6. The cooler weather that is allowing me to continue running through the pregnancy!  It does occasionally get hotter, and when there is direct sun it feels great, but the persistent cloud cover definitely helps keep it cool.  Not my ideal “summer” place for sure, but ideal for this summer!

7. As mentioned yesterday, the way British people openly sing – from silly things to patriotic things – as if it’s not super embarrassing to them 🙂

8. My pipe band! I will miss their professionalism combined with their humor and ease.  I will miss how they were so welcoming to me and ready to let me jump in on everything as long as I was willing to put in the effort. I will also miss all the European travel they did (other than the trip I took to Nice with them, since I’ve been here they’ve been several other places – Germany, Spain, France, to name a few .)  I will miss wearing No. 1’s, even though they’re a pain in the neck, and all the good tunes we played 🙂

9. Oh, I guess I forgot to mention this one in the list! The existence of the nanny underground as described above! 🙂

10. Scones with clotted cream.  Nothing like the scones in America, and clotted cream is something that completely doesn’t exist there. So yummy with jam!!

Okay, that’s all for today! Just finished my bowl of mussels for lunch and am going to lie down on the couch while I work on inserting a few photos into this post 🙂  Greer is napping so I need to take advantage of the down time!  I already went through and did a bunch of grading on the kids’ schoolwork (some of their computer lessons have teacher-graded responses, and I’d been getting behind on those), and made their lunch and cleaned up, so I’m feeling pretty accomplished and deserving of a rest 🙂

Wednesday’s Run and Honey Baked Chicken

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I’ve had a lot of frustration with my computer today, having sat down several times to write this post but instead having ended up waiting on my photo program to upload photos.  Then for it to stop freezing up my computer.  Apparently my MacBook Air really doesn’t like Aperture, the super-awesome photo program we bought for it a while back.  So now it’s 9pm, and I’m just starting to write this and will hopefully finish before it’s time for me to go to bed 🙂  I started out with a pretty good run this morning, and Meriwether was able to sneak out (since John has been working late this week he has been able to go in a little later as well) to take a few pictures of me running in my 38th week so people could see what it looks like for a tummy to totally overtake a runner’s body.

Well, not my entire body has been taken over by my tummy.  I still have control over my legs – and my feet – and my choice and ability to lace up my Newtons and continue to put one of those feet in front of the other.  Today it was some lyrics from “Fighter” urging me on (I listen to the Glee Cast version): “I am a fighter and I ain’t gonna stop.  There is no turning back. I’ve had enough….makes me that much stronger, makes me work a little bit harder, it makes me that much wiser, so thanks for making me a fighter, made me learn a little bit faster, made my skin a little bit thicker, makes me that much smarter, so thanks for making me a fighter.”

Not sure if you can really tell how big my tummy is here, but I am just about 38 weeks along, so trust me, it’s big, and it feels big, too!!  It turned out to be a pretty good run, though – 3.36 miles at 11:42 min. pace.  A lot faster than my last two runs!  If you would have

told me back in December that I’d still be running the last week of June, I would have laughed and wondered why I would even want to be running this close to the end!  But now that I am here I am so thankful to have had the ability to keep going, and the support from everyone!

Why, yes, I do run through some amazing scenery!  These are the views down my “normal” roughly 3.2 mile round trip on the road behind our house.  I can add a little distance on better days by doubling back here and there, but it’s just about a perfect 5K 🙂  Since this was the only time I’ve had a camera down there, after the run I took a few more pictures to show you how nice the trail is – and Meriwether took a few before she spotted me 🙂

A very patriotic house I pass – more patriotic than usual because of the recent “Euros” Football Tournament.

This is the view I have as I start each run – I walk to a certain point because of a big downhill.

The big hill that starts – and ends – the run.  Running down it this pregnant is harder than running up, so I walk the few tenths of a mile til I am to a flatter spot 🙂

Approaching the gate to continue off the church path down through the fields.

After the run, I finished the other half of my chocolate-covered rice cake with peanut butter and bananas, then ate some leftover lasagna (baby was hungry!!)  Then Meriwether put our dinner into the crockpot (recipe to follow) and we all went out!  It’s her last day here, so we had to take advantage of the opportunity of having help on an outing 🙂  I had an appointment at the midwife’s at 12:15 about the low platelets – and apparently they’re still pretty low from yesterday’s blood test.  They’re concerned I may have trouble clotting after the delivery, so I’m going in for more bloodwork next Wednesday now (the only day they have the clinic for all this blood stuff – seems kind of too late to do anything about it since I’ll be due in one week at that point, but whatever!)  After the appointment we spent some time at the nearby park and then went for lunch at the Costa Coffee so I could get an iced slushie coffee drink (imitation frappucino.)

It was wonderful to smell our dinner cooking when we walked back in the door this afternoon, and even better that we only had to steam the broccoli, heat the leftover rice, and serve it up when dinnertime came (and Meriwether did all that for us! We sure are going to miss her!!)  So here’s the easy crockpot meal:

I always melt the butter in the microwave and then mix it together with the honey really well all in a glass measuring cup.  One cup of each butter and honey.

Here’s Meriwether pouring in the honey.

The honey and the butter before it’s mixed.

Then you stir in the curry powder, the salt, and the mustard, and that’s it!!  Put it all in the crockpot along with your chicken, turn the chicken to coat, and then cook on low 6-8 hours or high about 4 hours.  We use chicken thighs with the skin and bones still on/in so that the end product is more juicy.  Here it is, ready to start cooking:

During dinner, my five year old Liesl said this was the best dinner ever – the rice (which had sauce from the crockpot), the chicken, and the broccoli (she listed them all separately) were all great, she said 🙂  Every child ate every bite, and everyone who’s ever tried this at our house has asked for the recipe!  It is another winner from the More With Less Cookbook, but in the cookbook it uses much less of the sauce and then puts the chicken in the oven to be basted every 15 minutes.  Talk about the opposite of convenience.  So I triple the recipe (these tripled amounts are the ones I will give) and pop it all in the crockpot.

I have used a small crockpot as well and then halved the tripled amount — which will work well if you are just a family of a few.  Hope you enjoy it if you try it!  Here’s the full recipe:

Honey Baked Chicken

(to be served over hot rice)

Use whatever type of chicken – breast, thigh, etc – you prefer, but note that cooking time is reduced significantly if it is cut up (like breast filets) and if it is boneless and skinless, so you need to be sure to check it after a few hours.  I used 8 thighs for this recipe tonight but could have used twelve in this much sauce.

Combine well:

1 cup butter

1 cup honey

6 Tbsp mustard

3 tsp curry powder

3 tsp salt

Pour over chicken in crockpot.  Cook for 6-8 hours on Low or 4 hours on high.

Monday’s Run and Musical Musings…

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Just recovered enough from the run to sit up and “relax” a little while longer on the couch before getting to work on the homemade pizzas that are for the freezer (and for dinner tonight! Yum!)  Recovery included collapsing onto my bed for about 45 minutes while in the process of changing out of my running clothes, so sitting up is a big improvement 🙂  I just read a great blog post about monitoring your exertion during pregnancy over at nycrunningmama.  A lot of people (doctors included) are going off very far (30 years almost) outdated information (and where they got that from in the first place, I have no idea) recommending that pregnant women not allow their heart rates to exceed 140bpm during exercise, and not to exercise over 15 minutes at a time.  Someone my husband works with even had the random number of 26 weeks in mind and asked John, “Aren’t pregnant ladies not supposed to run past 26 weeks?”  Anyway, in case any of you reading my blog have been at all concerned about my continued running, please check out this post, as it is extremely informative, and all her sources are referenced.  [Monitoring Exertion During Pregnancy]

This morning I drove down to a recently found trail that I ran about 10 days ago and was looking forward to running again for increased motivation (ie escaping the boredom of my normal 3 mile route) – but when I got down there and started running, I never really felt that good.  It was tough to keep going the whole time, and my overall pace was 12:20 per mile.  I didn’t have any times during which I really picked up my pace, and I generally felt uncomfortable the whole time.  Perhaps I could have sped up, but my level of exertion seemed high enough at that pace, meaning that I was a bit winded and hot the whole time, and it was a pretty shady trail.  When I finished up, though, since I had driven out to the run I now was in my van ready for a special treat!  Meriwether was home watching the children, so I went to the drive-thru Costa Coffee nearby (first time to give up on my Starbucks and willingly choose a Costa because I wanted a fruity iced drink and had researched it online last night 🙂 )  Anyway, I got a Mango and Passionfruit slushy drink with lots of yummy ice for me to crunch on (I asked them to only blend it halfway so I could have some ice chunks!), a latte for Meriwether, and a sort of Moroccan chicken salad sandwich with raisins and curry.  By the time I made it back and upstairs to change, I was wiped out from the run and full from the yummy food and drink which is what led to my crashing on the bed for a wee bit 🙂  Now the baby is down for her nap, we just ate leftover lasagna, and I’m about to get started on the pizza-making party.  But first, I’ll see how much of this post I can finish in my last 10 minutes of couch time!

Today I wanted to share a few pictures and words about my time here with the Reading Scottish Pipe Band.  I have really enjoyed this group of people, even though they are often hard to understand, because most of them really are Scottish! I’d say it’s about 60/40 of Scots to Brits, and when the Scots all get to talking together, I truly struggle to make out what they are saying.  Our Pipe Major is a Scot as well, and when you add the strange musical terms we don’t use in America (anyone for a hemi-demi-semi quaver?) to the British slang and his Scottish accent, I am just lost 🙂  They were very welcoming to me, even knowing that I would only be able to march with them for a short time since I’d probably be pregnant while here, and knowing that I wouldn’t be taking part in events on Sundays.  I learned most of the tunes really quickly, they issued me a uniform worth about $2000-$2500 US, and they even started including me in little ensembles if I was able to learn the tunes for those special things.  This may be my only chance to wear “Full Regimentals” – ie the “Number 1s” I mentioned in last week’s post about going with the band to Nice, and I got to travel around with them quite a bit and experience lots of people and places that I think other Americans out here with the US military would not usually see.  Here I am in my No. 1s playing with a small ensemble for a Christmas concert:

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I’m the second piper from the left (the shortest one I think :)) It’s now 10pm at our house, and we just finished up with the pizza making/eating/wrapping/stuffing into the freezer excitement.  Man am I tired.  I’m going to put up just a few more pictures from my time with the band and then call it a night 🙂

The reason there’s a brass band behind us is because it was their Christmas concert, so we did a few numbers on our own and then played a few with them (most notably “Highland Cathedral” which moved most of the audience to tears and a standing ovation 🙂  We had to play an encore of it!

Here’s a video my dad made that is just about a minute and a half of what our band practice looked like.  It’s us marching back and forth playing “Cock O’ the North.”  I don’t know how to embed a video from youtube yet, so I’m adding the link and attempting to post the video.

Band Practice “Cock O’ the North”

Why would my dad be over here from America making videos on his iPad of something like band practice?? Well, he also used to play the pipes (back in college) and is a lover of all things related to the bagpipes.  Here’s a picture of him back in the day:

Isn’t that cool?  We staged the one of me on the right so I could send it to him for Christmas this year 🙂  Speaking of Christmas, here are a few last shots from me playing with a few different ensembles at the band Christmas party.

That’s me in the boots playing “Steam Train to Mallaig” with a few others.  We got to see the train track that the steam train to Mallaig actually travels on when we were up in Scotland in April, and you may recognize this picture of a bridge it crosses from the Harry Potter movies, since they use a steam train on this route for Hogwart’s Express.

Here’s another playing a few tunes from The Nutcracker with a fellow piper (who is playing bassoon obviously in this picture, while I am playing the flute.)  And one last one, of a few of us playing “Hellbound Train.”  There’s a video floating around somewhere, but I have yet to get my hands on it 🙂  If you like piping music, check out this tune (“Hellbound Train”) on youtube played by any number of famous bands 🙂

The thing I like about band practice here is that we have a break for tea in the middle of it (only in England!!) We have our chanter practice first and then have tea and biscuits (ie cookies) for 30 minutes then play our pipes for 45 minutes, finishing up at 10pm.  If this were America, we’d skip tea and all just leave 30 minutes sooner – instead, the Pipe Major makes sure that the guy responsible for making the tea leaves the table a little early so he can have it ready on time 🙂  Like I said, a very fun bunch of people, but also a dedicated group always interested in improvement 🙂  All for now – probably Wednesday I will post photos from the pizza party tonight, along with my pizza crust recipe, but for now I will go crawl into my bed to recover from it!! 🙂

Saturday’s Run and Weekly PREGNANCY Recap :)

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It’s been a busy Saturday around here for us, especially since it started out with a run which of course wipes me out for the rest of the day!  Yesterday evening we picked up our friend Meriwether from the train station who is back with us for 6 days before continuing the rest of her European adventures.  We went out with all the children to Buca di Beppo – an Italian restaurant from America of which there are about 8 in the whole United Kingdom, and which I just discovered last week is about five miles from our house!!  We had a great dinner which was proclaimed “the best dinner ever” by my seven year old son (who also said that when we ate at the TGI Fridays an hour from our house about a month ago – do you think they miss American food??)  I was SO FULL all night and uncomfortable until I managed to fall asleep at some point.  After about 8 hours of sleep, punctuated by three trips to the pottie because we all know pregnant ladies have to go pottie all night long – probably to get us ready for the upcoming sleepless nights with baby – I woke up refreshed enough for a run, with my tummy feeling a bit smaller than it had after all that Italian food 🙂

I have been having some Braxton-Hicks contractions, even in the morning sometimes, so I wasn’t sure if perhaps my last run on Tuesday had been my last.  Figured I might as well give it a shot!  After feeling a bit rough for the first half mile I was able to pick it up (even to go as fast as 10:30 pace – fast for me at this point in the pregnancy) and enjoyed the run for the most part.  As the baby continues to drop, each day and during each run I can feel how different my body is, so every run feels like it’s working my muscles/tendons/joints/ligaments in a new way, leading to new soreness (less mobility) later on in the day.  But, I’m going to attempt to keep at it – just taking it one run at a time!

I calculate at this point that if I still run three times a week until I deliver, then that’s 6, at the most 7, more runs to go.  I’m getting there!  This is the point in every pregnancy at which, after moaning and complaining about being pregnant for so long and wanting it to be over, I start to dread the end.  So many “hard” things to anticipate since I’ve done it five times before, where maybe if it’s your first pregnancy, or your first delivery that you’re planning to do a certain way, or your first time to feed your baby in a certain way you may be anticipating the unknown with some excitement.  For me, the future coming up in the next three weeks is a pretty well known event, and the only things that might really alter it in some way are things that would only make it harder.  So at its BEST, I know I’ve got a lot of pain and hard work in front of me pretty soon, followed by a lot of nights with little sleep and lots of new demands on my body.  Sounds like I’m complaining about the miracle of birth and blessing of a new, healthy child you are able to nurse, but I’m not.  I’m not complaining saying, “I don’t like this” – I’m just saying that I know there is a tough time coming up, combined with road trips to get the circumcision (since it’s not done here except for health reasons so we need to go to the closest US base with a clinic) and to get the passport/SSN stuff done, all happening in the midst of packing out for an international move (for which we don’t even have orders yet, and he finishes his course here July 15), etc, etc, etc.  I’m just wanting time to slow down a bit now….never can make me happy, right!?!?

Now the picture from today’s run – serving as the 37 week tummy shot, since I was 37 weeks yesterday:

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Tummy’s looking pretty big!!

I’m very happy to report that, unlike a lot of pregnant ladies whose blogs I read, I have not been struggling with having to make frequent pottie stops in these last several weeks.  I had that “urge” from about weeks 26-34 maybe, but then I think the baby probably shifted to a position where he, oddly, does not affect my bladder much. I also think there’s not much room left in there for moving about very much, so he tends to not make a lot of huge movements anymore.  I am still able to push myself for small spurts of greater effort (i.e. increased speed, even if it’s still not very fast), but it’s such a weird feeling to have just my legs putting out this effort.  It’s almost like they are detached from my body and that I control them separately, and that my core is doing almost nothing to contribute.  It’s a different feeling for me – perhaps one that other runners feel regularly when they feel like they’re really pushing, but I have no idea.  Anyway, it’s a nice feeling when I’m out there to know that my body is still partially my own, and that it will respond to my commands occasionally 🙂

After the run I had another protein shake because I didn’t feel like eating really but knew I needed the carbs and protein.  Then we got everyone dressed and went out to a BBQ at my husband’s school put on by the North Americans (ie the Canadians and Americans) for the other students.  Meriwether commented at one point that she can see why BBQs are considered American – because the weather here is so crazy that you can’t really plan on big cookouts very easily.  Yes, it rained.  It was cold and windy, and it was sort of sunny.  So British.  And, as at every North American BBQ, there was a cricket game going on in the adjacent field (yes, you sense sarcasm.)  They did have an electric bull for the children to have bullrides, surrounded by a bouncy thing in case they fell off.  The food came from the American commissary as well – all the brands from home of hot dogs, buns, chips (crisps as they call them here), and condiments, and then, of course, watermelon 🙂  Once it was clear that we were no longer enjoying ourselves because of the rain, our family packed up and left.  We had come in two cars because John needed to be there early to help, so Meriwether and I travelled to nearby Marlborough for High Tea and a little grocery shopping while John took the children home (via a pitstop at Toys R Us).  Just finishing up a few hours on the couch with my feet up now, and then John and I are going out on a date for a movie.  This is the most I’ve done all in the same day (with the exception of just being out the whole day like at the Races) in probably a month, and I am feeling it!! At least the last leg of the day is just sitting in a seat at the movies 🙂

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That’s a guy properly attired for cricket – complete with sweater vest for if [when] it gets chilly and wet.

Here’s a summary of my two runs this week – hoping to get three in again next week while Meriwether is here 🙂

Tuesday – 3.21 miles at 12:02/mile pace

Saturday – 3.27 miles at 11:56/mile pace

Hope you have a nice Saturday!