20 May 2014

So long second trimester

today is the last day of week 27. bye bye second trimester!

(a big thank you to eva for sending the comfy top and for knitting the fabulous scarf!)

theres still no nickname for this kid (unless you count 'the baby'). i think its already fallen into the 'second child' role, but i dont feel bad about that currently. it partly reminds me that, happily, this kid will already be coming into a usually-functioning kid-oriented family. its parents arent going to be totally clueless and/or worried about everything and they already know what a semi-organized routine looks like. im not saying that routine wont be blown to bits and reassembled, but i am saying that we know what a family with a kid looks like and how it flows. i know there will be lots to learn with adding a second one, lots of new things im sure im totally, blissfully unaware of now, but i guess im already in the 'take things as they come' mode. being pregnant, im a bit more tired and uncomfortable, i cant do certain activities with X already due to the belly or safety, but im not feeling guilty about that (im sure im not immune to it coming though). im just doing the best i can and finding ways to make things enjoyable within our limitations, which i think becomes transferrable to when baby comes...just taking stock of what you are capable of in the moment, the day, the week, trying to be okay with it and then making the best of it. eventually you will be more comfortable again, more rested, more balanced, but right now its just not the time for that, life is changing quickly and will be for perhaps the next few years, but at least now i know it can level out to something more manageable. i will try to do my best along the way to remember that because im sure things will move along faster than i know it, and yet never fast enough, in the moment. just like now. this pregnancy feels too long already, on a day-to-day basis, but the lack of full attention and lessened worry is a nice bonus of having done this already once before.

also, our neighbors had a baby back in early march-ish...we can hear the kiddo crying through the walls. its been pretty traumatizing for me. the parents are very nice people and very attentive to their older daughter so im not saying it has anything to do with them. i think their baby was born a bit premature, and so still, even though its perhaps 2 months old, it cries like a new new baby. it also cries inconsolably in these 15-45+ minute stretches all throughout the day and night. they never seem frazzled when they are out on the playground (when baby is sleeping in the stroller) but i wonder how they can be keeping up morale. i dont think X ever cried in the way but then i worry that ive forgotten all the absolutely horrible stuff and that it will all be coming back at me very, very soon.

-definitely feel like my abs have been permanently unzippered. this is more disheartening than i thought, but i guess thats life. i think this also contributes to my pelvic soreness, though thankfully ive found some helpful things to minimize that (for now).

-my constant bloating is likely also due to my abs just opening up in a free for all, by the end of the day i look an extra month pregnant than when i woke up.

-heartburn. so i realize ive had heartburn for most of this pregnancy now, its just different than last time. the acid makes me feel like eating is the only solution to make the sensation go away. and often its accompanied by a constant throat burbling and bubbling. this time there is limited actual burn just more general irritation and discomfort. and unfortunately its so persistent it wears me down some days and affects my mood. and in the last couple weeks the heartburn has increased, and i suspect theres more to come. i now try to avoid things with spice, lemon, tomato, garlic, and some other mystery meals that i havent figured out yet. this could be a bland 3 months. im already mentally planning future freedom meals.

-emotional mood swings. ive found these are really rather minimal, at least compared to last time, and i havent really noticed any pregnancy brain (aka random memory loss).

-i took off my wedding ring already, which is weird because last time my face puffed up right away but my hands didnt until much later. my face seems fine this time, and even most evenings my feet are fine, just my hands.

-im so done with this rash i have on my face. it arrived shortly after i took the pregnancy test and has been holding steady around my lips and chin area EVER since. i hate you, go away.

-ive noticed this spring that my allergies were mild-to-non-existent. normally im sneezing, runny nosed, itchy eyes or something of the like around this tree pollen time but this year, not so much. just a little discomfort in my eyes and nose when i wake up but once i wash my face, all is well. if its the pregnancy hormones, then i heartily thank them (for once)!

week 22/23 appt: my weight gain was ridiculous in these last 12 weeks. this is likely why i was extra sore so early on. my body couldnt handle the sudden, major weight gain. well, i can understand its frustration! however, it does help to have my notes from last time, it was at the 23 week appointment for X that i had a notably depressing weight gain of 8 pounds in one month. so maybe its just the weird time my body prefers to pack it on. also noted at this appointment: my iron was a bit low so i bought a supplement. the babys heartbeat was 145 (about the same as X). everything else was normal. oh, and i was also given my Kela certificate, so now i can apply for finnish maternity leave and (perhaps more importantly, lol) the famous finnish baby box full of stuff, a gift from the government. 

 (week 23/24 this time; week 23 with X)

week 25/26 appt: my weight stayed the same for the past 3 weeks! after the last appointment i changed two things: i chose to drink water when my heartburn was making me uncomfortable since eating didnt really help the situation anyway, except to help gain weight, and i made sure i did a little 20 minute pregnancy exercise video i like each night. the exercise has also helped with the pelvic discomfort, i hope to keep with it as much as i can so i can be more in-shape this pregnancy. also noted at this appointment: my iron was back to normal. the babys heartbeat was about 145. everything else was normal.

second glucose test (week 25). blah, the lady was more militant about the rules this time. she stared at me the whole time while i drank the sugary junk in a container the size of a red bull can. i had 5 minutes to finish it all! it took some concentration not gag while drinking that fast. yuck. glad im done with those tests.

(week 27/28 this time; week 27 with X)

15 May 2014

With socializing and dinner [fe] et al.*

we hosted our first research group dinner party. a success!

it was time to have a gathering...dave recently acquired a german phd student as the first member of his research group and also this week, he has his phd advisor, todd, in town learning some modeling as well as one of todds german phd students (todd leads a large research group at the university in tübingen, germany...we visited there last year). its always great to hang out with todd and it was a good excuse to welcome the other newcomers. we also invited our friend and daves french colleague in his department, francis. dinner party complete!

dave, X, and i worked together to make dinner: a traditional finnish salmon/potato soup (lohikeitto), a strawberry/walnut salad, a finnish blueberry pie (mustikkapiirakka), and we also bought some finnish rye bread (ruisleipä) to finish it off. and the meal went well. everyone arrived on time and they chatted together while i helped X eat dinner. she didnt have to get overwhelmed by all the people sitting at the table with her right away, but they were all hanging out nearby. everyone made X feel welcome in the group but they didnt focus on her so she felt very comfortable and actually really enjoyed being around the table. she even proudly served dessert to everyone (the pie she helped me make) and before she served herself a second piece she asked if anyone else would like another slice (i did not ask her to do any such thing! she did that all on her own).

of course, X then had a hard time falling asleep, but she really enjoyed the dinner. the rest of the group hung out, drinking and chatting until the reasonable hour of 10:30p or so. then they all left en masse which was great because it meant we could clean up and enjoy a bit of peace and quiet before bed without either person having to stay up and entertain that pesky dinner guest who still hasnt left, even though its 1a...

it will be nice to have another dinner party when next the opportunity arises. however, it may prove a bit of a challenge with a new little one. at least for a while. but we shall see. everyone had fun at least.

*blog title explanation: so i was trying to combine some play on the phrases 'dinner fête' and 'with liberty and justice for all' (half of the group were american). the usage of 'et al.' is something that gets used a lot in scientific research papers, so i thought it would be funny to use since everyone at the dinner is in academia (from the interwebs: “et al.” is a scholarly abbreviation of the Latin phrase et alia, which means “and others.” it is commonly used when you dont want to name all the people or things in a list, and works in roughly the same way as “etc.”). the pronunciation of 'et al.' is basically how it looks, thus the reason i thought i could get away with fe - et sounding like fête.

14 May 2014

9th anniversary

just a mellow, mid-week, non-milestone anniversary.

we acknowledged the occasion, but its just #9. perhaps next year we will think up something nice to mark our 10th. we'll see what kind of energy we have. for this year, we had planned to maybe do lunch and pick out some pottery, but im not even sure when that is going to happen, things are just a bit busy right now. plus, dinner usually gives me heartburn and my stomach is smaller than i would like for, say, a 3-course meal, so i figured this was not the year to try a michelin starred place, though i really wanted to. for this year we are just happy to still be having as much fun as we always have, and to love each other with the same enthusiasm. as always, i look forward to many more years to come...as well as that lunch, and that new, as-yet-undecided piece of arabia 'pottery' (the 9th anniversary gift).

11 May 2014

Mothers day medium

my first mothers day that was welcomed calmly and happily. yay.

this year, for the first time, i easily accepted a day of some brief focus and was able to appreciate it. i wasnt feeling a sense of wanting to escape, or guilt, or like i didnt deserve it. i felt suited to the role and the day. and it only took 4 years! lol. now, of course, life will be flipped upside down in the next few months, so this may just be the calm before the storm, but at least i can hope that in another several years i might again feel a sense of evenness in relation to this holiday. i'll aim low with that hope and perhaps i'll surprise myself and enjoy it next year. :)

as it was, this year i got to be the last out of bed and i was greeted with a flowering plant and some wonderful, homemade gluten-free scones. since we just got back from vacation yesterday, we didnt do anything fancy to celebrate but we were together and we had a nice time.

10 May 2014

A short and swede cruise around stockholm

to celebrate the end of another busy teaching and work time for dave, we headed off to sweden for a short family vacation. this time we tried out something new to everyone, an overnight cruise, and we got to re-discover the city of stockholm in a new season with a focus on kid-friendly things. and much like our fall trip to copenhagen, it was a lovely, no-pressure family time experience. this may become a tradition.

this time, having lived in another nordic country, we were able to get a better perspective on stockholm. it is definitely more classically european in its layout and architecture, and the people are much more visual with their wealth and pride. although they are finlands neighbors, and we have swedish as a second official language, and sweden used to 'own' finland, it is pretty striking how different the people and countries are. it also helps clarify the finnish/swedish rivalry a bit more. at the end of our trip, while i enjoyed stockholm, id have to say that i still prefer helsinki, but of course, im biased. :)

additional general notes on the city: we couldnt go one block without seeing a double stroller. it was incredible. there are a lot of strollers and parents around the city in helsinki too but this was really remarkable. and also we saw many more dads on stroller/kid duty than you do in helsinki. it seems sweden has progressed further in parenting equality (socially) than finland.

also of note: bus rides are free for one adult with a stroller in stockholm but not on the trams or metro. of course i appreciate helsinkis policy more. :)

5/6 (tuesday):
from talking to mom friends, we decided on the silja line cruise (as opposed to the viking cruise line, apparently that one is cheaper but flooded with drunk partiers). our boat left from the city centers olympia port terminal at 5p, so we arrived ready to board late in the afternoon. it was a weird feeling getting on the boat...none of us had ever been on a cruise. since it was a tuesday, it was not crowded, so it was a nice way to ease ourselves in. first thing on-board, we stored our stroller and then found our room. it was small, with no window (B-class cabin), but well laid out and in the end didnt feel cramped. after getting things situated in the room, we wandered around the 6th, 7th, and 12th floors checking out the communal spaces.

(ladder climbing up to papas bed; looking at the coast as we pull away from helsinki)

after a snack with some hidden gluten i felt pretty crappy :( so i laid down to rest while X and dave played in the 'playground' area of the ship. then we headed to the italian place on-board (tavolàta ristorante italiano) for dinner. while we waited for our table, we perused the choices in the duty-free shop. perfumes were Xs favorites, and we ended up choosing some candies to purchase (my danish 'opera mints' from anthon berg were OUTSTANDING!). the restaurant turned out to be decent, though it took forever to get our food. the portions were big and our dishes were actually pretty tasty. plus, i didnt even get any heartburn, which has been an evening staple lately, so i would certainly eat here again. after food, we went back to the room to unwind and get to bed. this took forever (X was way too excited about sleeping on a boat), and i ended up actually not sleeping well because we had had to lay with X in dark for so long trying to get her to sleep that once it was finally time for me to go to sleep i was already sore and uncomfortable from being stiffly awake in bed so long. that was a bummer, because actually the bed was nice and the humming of the engine was rather soothing.

(relaxing in the ships ball pit; family photo at dinner)

5/7 (wednesday):
we were up at 7a finland time (6a sweden time) and had an hour to wait for the breakfast buffet to open. the breakfast buffet was well priced i thought (compared to its laughable dinner rate of 38€ per adult, breakfast was 11.50€ per adult). we ate our food by the window while we watched the coast of sweden roll by. then we played in the ships playground again while we waited the 1.5 hours before we docked. at the terminal, we had a short but expensive (25€!) cab ride to our apartment/hotel. since our room wasnt ready yet we stored our luggage and got a map. dave got a transit travel card for himself and we went to wait at the bus stop. after a 10 minute wait the damn thing passed us by because it was full, and the next wouldnt come for 15 minutes, so we decided to start walking toward the djurgården island. ugh. that wore me out too much. but, finally, a long while later we were rolling up in front of the aquaria on the island, a nice, small aquarium in a lovely waterfront location.

(waterfalls at the entrance)
(nice small reef tank; a swedish dammsugare treat. X didnt finish it so dave did...he wasnt a fan and could see why X abandoned it. it was a liquor soaked cookie wrapped in marzipan, dipped in chocolate)

then we jumped on the 7 tram to go deeper into djurgården island. we got off at the end of the line and walked the grounds of the gorgeous rosendals trädgård. this place was a highlight for sure, and it didnt seem frequented by tourists (just locals). it had lovely rolling hills and groomed paths and a nice greenhouse/garden area with a posh cafe and bakery selling wonderful things at a decent price (well, for stockholm and for the luscious surroundings). i had a garlicky polenta dish with shredded crunchy beets and cauliflower while dave had roast beef with potato salad. X sampled our food and offered her opinions, lol. we then chose 4 desserts to share afterward: a cardamom bun, a jam print shortbread, a hazelnut meringue, and a coconut macaroon. yum! we then walked back along the djurgårdens northern edge, across the bridge, to a bus stop that took us back to our place.

(walk along the northern edge of djurgården; gorgeous building, home to helin & voltaire)

back at the apartment, we did dinner from the neighbourhood grocery store and relaxed and went to bed. i had definitely overdone it with all the walking today (lots of contractions and discomfort), so we need to take it easier the next couple days.

5/8 (thursday):
with some hiccups, we all managed to get enough sleep to be well-rested for the day. yay. the hotel also had a very nice breakfast, so that was a plus to help start our grey, gloomy day.

we took a couple of buses to junibacken (the astrid lindgren museum, [she authored pippi longstocking]). what a lovely place for children! its like a giant literary playground, a place to get lost in fantasy. id say the exhibits appeal most to kids ages 7 and under, but the literature used in the exhibits is sometimes from books for 8-12 year olds. it was great for us though because we had read many of the books/stories (mainly nordic authors) that had exhibits so it was extra fun, but its not necessary. the first room you enter has imaginative play spaces based on nordic author book scenes. then you ride the story train through i think 5 of astrid lindgrens lesser known (to english readers) stories. then you are in a huge play space filled with pippis house, villa villekulla, and her horse and other things. i LOVED that pippis kitchen area had the furniture positioned so that kids could actually play the same 'don't touch the floor' game that pippi and her friends did in the stories. genius. then you walked downstairs from pippis house into a carnival of color that was the gorgeous cafeteria. a long buffet of treats as well as a kitchen making hot food was all available. and from there you went into the special exhibit room that was a little city from some book series by martin widmark called 'monsters & mysteries'. that area too was really fun and imaginative and perfectly kid-sized. i would have loved to explore some place like this when i was a kid. from the gift shop, we picked up a pippi shirt, some itty-bitty animal friends, and a book called 'thumbkin explores at night' by swedish authors inger & lasse sandberg.
(villa villekulla; slide in the special exhibit room)

we then did lunch at the nearby djurgårdsbrons sjöcafé. we had mediocre pizzas but they were reasonably priced and despite the cafe being in a very touristy area it seemed to still be mixed with locals. then we took a bus to the city center and went up to the kulturhuset. the 4th floor has a play area and library/art space just for kids. we found a stack of english books and enjoyed some down time. then we went to the buildings 5th floor for a snack...worst food place weve been to in a while, very bland.

(lunch; reading)

then we walked to NK (the big swedish department store). i must say i was very unimpressed. we walked the main floor and the lower level, and i found the displays to be boring and average and the lower basement level with the food was not well lit and not very 'upscale' feeling. stockmann is far superior. we then went to 'system bolaget' the countrys official alcohol store. dave found a wide selection and chose 4 beers to take home. and lastly, we stopped in to polarn o pyret but nothing caught our eye. the shopping area of downtown stockholm was very unappealing to me. it was very crowded with ugly tall buildings and loud roads. i also felt that the wealth bombards you everywhere in the very central downtown area. i suppose thats appealing if you are wealthy and like being among your own kind, but it wasnt very appealing to me. i know though, that there are other more desirable neighbourhoods of stockholm that dont give that vibe.

we stopped at an ICA grocery store on the way home for simple dinner stuff again, and then just did tv and relaxing to finish the day.

5/9 (friday):
we had another good breakfast to start the day and then headed out to humlegården park for play time on a big city playground. there were lots of daycare groups there on this gloomy, grey, damp morning. we then walked from the park onto gamla stan (the 'old city' island) for lunch and had a divine vegetarian lunch at hermitage. it seemed like a place you need to get to early, and thankfully we got there just when they opened and just as it started to rain. we chowed down on tasty lentil soup, bean dishes, rice, and basically just lots of tasty, flavorful, healthy food that we were craving after some more heavy, filling 'vacation' meals. i would love to come back to this place.

(humlegården park)
(father and daughter waiting to cross the street in downtown stockholm)

we then popped into eco-bakery sattva for a GF treat for me. yum. we also went to café muren for ice cream, and thus began our descent on the super touristy street (västerlånggatan) of gamla stan. as the road literally declined so did the weather and our will to attempt souvenir shopping or be amongst other tourists. we turned off the road when we could and found a historic tram and public transit shop (we bought a calendar) and then were in need of a bathroom. we used the facilities at the nobel museum in the heart of gamla stan. this is THE famous, picturesque square of the island.

(the buildings on the square where the noble museum is)

after the pee, we were done with the island, and its weather, and sweden. we headed back to our hotel by bus and gathered up our things to get back on the boat. we were disappointed to have quit earlier than we needed to, but we were all wet and didnt have anymore left in us. instead, we waited with the surly and stupid friday evening cruisers who were to be our overnight shipmates (weekend cruisers are more the boozer/partier crowd).

once on-board we sprawled out in our larger room (promenade class, with a window), had dinner at the italian place again (more good vegetarian food and a super cheap kids dinner buffet), and some play time in the ball pit. we managed a nice end to the day on the boat, but i dont think, in general, we are typical 'cruise people'. we just arent the right personality nor do we have the right mentality i think. however, it may be something we do again in the future, as we ease into vacationing with two kids.

(goodnight baltic sea)

5/10 (saturday):
we had a decent night sleep on-board this time, but found ourselves already bored with the cruises breakfast buffet. after eating, we played in the ball pit and were definitely ready to be home and off the boat. we burst off the boat, onto our buses home and noted how quiet and sleepy the city center was on saturday morning (10:30a). we almost thought it was a holiday or something.

*the complete photo album from our trip can be found here.*

03 May 2014

Dave jets off to vienna

dave was gone for 6 days to vienna, austria for the EGU (european geosciences union) meeting. he stayed with dalhousie friends/colleagues (isabelle and djordje) in a nice little apartment and had lots of meals with friends and colleagues, made some new connections, gave a talk on the last day, and basically had a lovely time and a successful business trip. he also kindly brought back some treats for X, a variety of 'manner' brand vienna wafers.

back in finland, X and i had a decent time without him. we managed our day-to-day business well, which is always great. however, i did have a night that involved panic attacks and X didnt sleep well and ended up in my bed half the time which led to a lack sleep for me. but, a friend had us over on the mid-week holiday of vappu (may day, may 1) and that helped ease the burden of being alone. we were both quite relieved when dave got back though, perhaps more so than other trips he has taken, and certainly X seemed quite affected by his absence this time compared to any other work trip.