Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy New Year!

2012 has been an incredible year for Dan and me. We've seen a lot of the world; celebrated huge birthdays, the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee; achieved personal fitness and blog milestones; and...oh yeah, found out we were expecting. If 2013 is half as good as 2012 was, we're in for a treat. Happy New Year to my friends, old and new; near and far. I hope this year brings you everything you want and more!

Some of My Top Moments in 2012 (in no particular order):

Trip to Egypt

Dan's 30th Birthday Party

My 30th Birthday

Our Baltic Cruise

Making a Denim Pouf

Running my First 5K

Hosting Thanksgiving

Announcing Our Pregnancy

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

How to Enjoy Winter

This post is brought to you by Nori, who clearly knows how to make the most of a chilly day.

14 Weeks!

Not much changed for me this week. I do think my belly is getting a little bigger, but outsiders probably still can't see it. No real cravings this week, but something weird did happen. I went to Northern France for a couple of days and was surrounded by the most amazing French foods. In addition to all the croissants, pain au chocolates, macarons, and other pasteries, we also saw tons of Belgian desserts since we were so close to the border. What was weird though is that the baby didn't seem to want as many sweets as I did. I still ate more than my fair share of course, but sometimes I abstained. It just didn't sound appealing. How unlike me is that?!

How far along? 14 weeks
Maternity clothes? Not yet
Stretch marks? No
Sleep? Better now than Dan got me a Snoogle for Chanukah!
Best moment of the week: When Dan saw a dad and his son snuggled up together and he said that would be him someday soon
Miss anything? Soft cheese, wine and beer
Movement: No
Food cravings: None, but weirdly I am NOT craving sweets. It's so unlike me! 
Anything making you queasy or sick: No, thankfully!
Have you started to show yet? Just a wee bit
Gender: We don't know yet
Belly Button in or out? Still in!
Wedding rings on or off? On
Happy or Moody most of the time? Happy 
Looking forward to: Hearing the heartbeat for the first time at our 16 week appointment

Monday, December 24, 2012

Hola, Alicante!

A couple of weeks ago my S.O.S. friends (minus Nick) went on a girls' holiday to Alicante, Spain. I had never heard of this city before, but Ryan Air had cheap flights there, so we figured we'd check it out. After all, it is in the South of bad could it be?

Alicante, Spain

This was one of the most relaxed vacations I've ever taken. I was shocked that even with six girls, there was no drama at all. It was so easy and fun. We realized later that it was because we made almost no decisions our entire trip. Ha! We ate our way through the town, frolicked in the Mediterranean, and watched the sun set from a castle. Life is good.

The weather was absolutely fantastic while we were there. Can you believe it was December and the girls were in the water?! Awesome.

We stopped at a little cafe by the water for some refreshments. That's when we first had Cola Cao--a super delicious chocolate powder. We later found a supermarket so we could buy packets to bring home.

On our first day in Alicante we stumbled upon a cute street market. Booths were mostly filled with tacky European clothes, but there were some gems like the vendors selling tapas, beer, and candy. I'm only slightly embarrassed to admit that we visited the candy booth a second time after eating all the candy from our first visit.

Photo courtesy of Sarah

Most of our trip was spent eating, as usual. We had some delicious patatas bravas--fried potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce--and some mediocre paella. Rachel and I were really disappointed with our vegetarian version, but the other girls seemed amused by theirs.

Patatas Bravas

Katie may not be as amused

Of course after such a big meal it was time for a little siesta.

We adapted easily to Spanish time. That means that we didn't eat dinner until after 9pm and didn't leave the house until after 10am. It was glorious.

The next day we did more of the same: eating, lounging and eating some more. We found another great market with lots of local meat, produce and sweets.

We did at least one touristy thing though. We went to the top of the Castle of Santa Barbara. It offered spectacular views of the city. Don't you love the combination of mountains and sea?

Our last night in Alicante was one I hope I'll always remember. We spent the night jumping from tapas bar to tapas bar. We ate churros dipped in chocolate, more patatas bravas, fried fish cakes, and more. Everything was delicious and so cheap! I hear the sangria wasn't so bad either.

Photo courtesy Sarah

Laughing so hard we're crying; Photo courtesy Sarah

We managed to sneak in a little bit more beach time before we had to catch our flight.

It was such a fantastic trip! Good food, good friends and good times!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Sweet Tooth Traveler

You didn't think I went to Poland without trying out their local desserts, did you? Of course not. Check out my blog post on TripWolf. It's a really cool travel website and blog that has tons of information on practically every vacation spot you can imagine.

The Sweet Tooth Traveler: Krakow
One of my favorite things to do when visiting a new city is to check out the local desserts. I have a huge sweet tooth and love trying new things. When I went to Krakow, Poland a couple of weeks ago, I was thrilled with my findings.

Click here to read the full post.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Running Milestone!

Today was a big day. It is 39 degrees (with a wind chill of 30 degrees), and is pouring rain. Yet, I still went running! This is what I look like after 2.6 miles in the rain. Thanks for getting me out there, Rachel!

Soaking wet but still smiling

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

13 Weeks!

Thanks to Pinterest--and the fact that I'm not currently working--this will be the most well-documented pregnancy ever. Ha! Just kidding. But it is dangerous seeing all the adorable things people do to mark their pregnancy. And since I'm feeling so great--knock on everything possible--I want to remember these days. As I said in the beginning though, I don't want this to turn into a pregnancy blog. I'm going to try to limit my pregnancy posts to once a week. That's reasonable, right? No promises on what will happen once the baby's actually here though :)

We're due June 20th, which means I'm 13 weeks and 6 days.  It's been strange being pregnant here in England. Since I've never been pregnant I didn't know what to expect. My only sources of information were my best friends who have babies in the States, my mom, and popular culture. It turns out that these sources are all heavily slanted toward an American perspective...big surprise, right? Well, England does things a little differently. I'm coming to terms with all the differences, but at first it was really scary.

The major difference for me at first was that I'm using the National Health Service, which is free. NHS does not do any confirmation testing until the 12 week ultrasound. I had two appointments with a midwife prior to my ultrasound, but they didn't examine me or have me take a pregnancy test or anything. They just told me that they trust me. Although I knew I was pregnant, I wanted someone else to confirm it. It didn't seem real otherwise.

The ultrasound went great though and put my mind at ease. We got fantastically clear pictures of the baby and got to see him/her moving all around. He/she was pumping fists and kicking up a storm. It's too early for me to feel any of it, but it was such a moving experience to see a live being inside of me.

One funny quirk in the NHS is that while all the health care is free, you have to pay to get a copy of your ultrasound picture. They have a little machine where you insert coins and then you get a token to collect the picture. So weird!

Buying tokens for the ultrasound picture

How far along? 13 weeks
Maternity clothes? Only because they're comfortable. My skinny jeans don't fit anymore, but everything else does.
Stretch marks? Nope
Sleep? Ok, but I'm having even weirder dreams than normal. If you know me, this is significant.
Best moment of the week: Running 5k and feeling good!
Miss anything? Runny eggs :(
Movement: I think I may have felt something, but everyone says it's too early.
Food cravings: Oranges!
Anything making you queasy or sick: Not drinking enough water gives me headaches.
Have you started to show yet? I think so, but no one else does :)
Gender: We don't know yet
Belly Button in or out? In, but I'm worried its days are numbered.
Wedding rings on or off? On
Happy or Moody most of the time? Happy, but you'll have to ask Dan what he thinks.
Looking forward to: Starting to show for real

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Auschwitz and Salt Mines: What a Day

When we booked our trip to Krakow, we also booked a day trip to Auschwitz and the Salt Mines. I did some research and it seemed like most people recommended doing these two activities on the same day. Auschwitz, the largest Nazi German concentration camp, is obviously a heavy morning. The salt mines are fun and light and can help ease you back in to your vacation. We hired a driver for the day, and he was fantastic! I highly recommend Krakow-Auschwitz.

Entrance to Camp: "Work Will Set You Free"

Auschwitz is as disturbing as you'd think it would be. The buildings are all pretty much exactly the way they were at the end of the war when the Soviet army liberated the camp. Between 1940-1945, 1.3 million people (90% of whom were Jewish) were brought to Auschwitz. 1.1 million were killed.

Victims' suitcases

Victims' shoes

Sleeping quarters: 4-6 people per bunk

Gas chamber

Auschwitz II-Birkenau, built in 1941, is larger than Auschwitz and was designed exclusively as a death camp. Scenes from Schindler's List were filmed on these train tracks.

You can tour the camps on your own, but I was really impressed with our tour guide. He was very knowledgeable and respectful. He really put things into perspective for us.

After a heavy morning at the camps, we made our way to the Wieliczka Salt Mine. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it wasn't this. Chapels, salt carvings, chandeliers,! Pictures do not do it justice at all. It was so impressive.

Huge chapel. Chandeliers are made of salt!

Last Supper

To get to the mines, we walked down around 400 steps! Luckily, a small miner's elevator took us back up at the end. Our tour covered more than two miles of the mine, but that's only 9 percent of the total!

We ended our day with a fantastic meal at Miod Malina. We ate like kings and queens in Poland. And everything was so cheap! Especially compared to England.

Traditional tea with jam

My favorites were definitely the sweet cheese and cherry pierogi. Yum!

It was a day that I was somewhat dreading, but it turned out to be lovely. Auschwitz isn't somewhere that people want to see, but it's so important. I'm really glad we went.