39 weeks

•March 11, 2012 • 1 Comment

Yesterday I reached 39 weeks, one week until go time, but it still feels so surreal.

We have been keeping a journal to the baby since I found out I was pregnant. The first entry from me starts like this…

“Dear Baby, I found out I am pregnant with you today. Today is just one month after my 27th birthday. You are a huge surprise. It looks like you might come around your Daddy’s birthday!”

It ends like this…

“Oh yeah and Uncle Tim just told Daddy he wants to propose to Aunt McKendree, you might be here for their wedding! Well for now all my love. You are very quiet in there now. Mama.”

Brian’s first post is pretty fun too…

“Hey little one, Wow, welcome to life! I have known about you now for six days and I have been so excited thinking about you. How big are you? When will you come? Will you be a boy or a girl? I hope you come on my birthday because then we would have one huge party!”

He ended his first post with this…

“For now we will keep dreaming about you. Don’t dream about us though, you just need to concentrate on growing. 🙂 Take it easy and sleep little one. Love, Daddy.”

On August 24, 2011 we had our first ultra sound…

“Hi little love, Oh my gosh we got to see you yesterday! I’ve seen ultrasounds form other people before, but wow, it was so amazing seeing you! Your Daddy couldn’t even sit down. you have everything, two hands, arms, feet, legs. We saw your heart beating, it’s really fast right now 168 BPM! We got to see your stomach and your bladder and you even danced for us a little we couldn’t believe it! We love you so much little one. Oh yeah and they changed your due date to the 16th of March the day after Daddy’s birthday. Mama”

“Hey our little one, Holy cow today was one the most amazing days in my entire life! I got to see you through ultrasound and you absolutely floored me. I always wondered how it would feel to see my child through an ultrasound for the first time. It is indescribable. I couldn’t take my eyes off you. Your mom and I just stared in awe. I think you have a lot of your mom in you because it appears you will only do things when you are ready. The nurse tried to get you to move by rubbing the ultrasound stick, but you wouldn’t budge until she left you alone, then you started moving. I love that about your mom. Love Babba.”

From October 22, 2011 I wrote…

“Good morning little baby, So much has happened in the last couple weeks. First, but most special you said hello to your poppa for the very first time. This means Daddy got to feel you move inside my tummy! You reached 19 weeks yesterday. I think you may be around the size of a bell pepper.”

From around that same time Brian wrote…

“What a good job you are doing growing in mommy’s tummy. She is getting big now which is good for you because that means you are healthy and growing. The greatest thing happened yesterday, I got to feel you move for the first time! I felt a couple little bumps and then a few seconds later I felt more. You must have been doing some kind of workout in there.”

One of my more recent writings had this to say…

“Good morning my love, You and I have now made it past 37 weeks meaning you can now be born at home! I can’t believe you will be here so soon. Your Daddy and I are praying for your safety and health, both now during these final days in the womb and during delivery. We are so excited to meet you and to hold you and to love you. We love you very much! Mama.”

And one of Brian’s more recent entries…

“Hello our little love, It feels like you are going to come any minute now. Mama has been getting small cramps and pains recently so we think you are ready to say hello to the world. I know you are very happy in Mommy’s tummy, but you should come say hello to us. I love you with everything I know there is to love and I will never stop loving you my little one. Stay warm in there and we will see you soon. Your Poppa.”

So as we close in on the end of pregnancy we anxiously await the newest little Hickory. Son or daughter we will soon know!

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27 weeks and counting…

•December 15, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Friday marks the beginning of our 27th week into this pregnancy. I keep using the term “early” to describe where I am at, but it seems I’m not super early any more.  In fact, in just one week I enter my third trimester. The weeks feel like they are flying by, so I have a feeling March will arrive before we know it.

As my midsection expands to a never before reached diameter I find it hard to believe there is actually a little baby in there. I feel this little one move throughout the entire day, yet the thought of actually being a parent feels so foreign.

Just one year ago we were about to hit the beach for Christmas where we merrily drank pina-coladas and relaxed in the warm East African sun. This year we find ourselves pasty from lack of sun and getting ready to bundle up even more as we head home to Colorado. I’m lucky my winter coat still, although just barely, zips up. And next year we are looking at having a nine month old mtoto (child in Swahili). Seriously, what a whirl wind of change, you just never know what life has in store for you next.

We find ourselves talking about this little baby all the time. It’s like our brains are stuck on repeat… baby this, baby that, baby, baby, baby. As we have decided to wait until our mtoto is born to find out gender, this is inevitably our most discussed conversation. Most days I feel certain it’s a boy and Brian seems to stick to his guns that it’s a girl, but as this is the first for either of us, I guess it’s fair to say we don’t really know what we are talking about. Honestly though, we wouldn’t change knowing gender for anything.

The last few months have been interesting for us as we continue to digest and define within ourselves what it means to be a couple bringing a new life into this world. As we look to the future I’m sure this will continue to be an ongoing process. Who will we be as parents on an infant, a toddler, a child, and so on? Do we, or will we, want more children? If so when and how? Will we choose to adopt or produce more of our own, or possibly both? Some days the list of decision making feels endless and other days we both can’t wait to meet this little person. There is actually a little person in there… what a crazy thought.  Image

A New Kind of Journey

•October 18, 2011 • 1 Comment

Coming home to Colorado and then to Seattle has been amazing, uplifting, and inspiring. Now taking time to reflect on our travels we feel so blessed to have had so much time with brothers and sisters who live across the world. We continue to learn from our experience in Tanzania and continue to be grateful for the opportunity to have shared life together, even for a short time.

An unexpected but very exciting surprise turned our paths in a different direction this past July. As we were both gearing up for the coming year with graduate school headed my way and Brian headed back to his old stomping grounds at work, we were taken for somewhat of a loop when we found out that we will be expecting our first child this coming March! Our hearts and thoughts took somewhat of a spin and now we find ourselves headed on a very new kind of journey, parenthood!

One of our greatest joys so far has been calling our good friend back in Chamwino to share the news that we are now expecting a baby! With the purchase of a five dollar calling card we were in touch talking and laughing almost like we hadn’t made the thousand plus mile journey around the world. In our best Swhaili we told this friend that we have a young child growing in my stomach. His response was, “do you have a child or a pregnant?” We all laughed and said yes, we indeed don’t yet have a child, we have a pregnant!

The end of this week will mark 19 weeks for us! We have heard people talk about how quickly pregnancy goes, but seriously, to be almost half way done is crazy! We had an ultrasound back in August just to make sure everything was going well and we couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw a little person moving around on the screen. At that point our little baby had arms and elbows and feet and knees. It was so cute! I’m not sure either of us had thought of an ultrasound as cute before, but this one was just cute!

We have been so blessed by our community here in Seattle. The other day we had a friends share with us their infant car seat. It’s currently hanging out in our living room and I keep looking at it and thinking, wow that is for real!

As we continue to progress I wonder what kind of parents will we be like? Which one will be stricter, who might be apt to play the role of the good cop? Or another big question, or shall I say debate, has been how young is too young to try and get the baby on ski’s? We get more excited every day as we continue to fall in love with this little being inside of me.

We have decided to wait until the little baby is born to find out what gender it will be. We will be so excited to have either a girl or a boy!

So here is the first of hopefully many postings to come on our new journey.

More Questions

•June 17, 2011 • 1 Comment

We have been back in the US for six weeks. Can time really pass that quickly? Some days it feels so strange to be here, not necessarily because we are here, but more because we were actually gone. So often it feels as though we were never gone. But we were and while we find ourselves relishing in reuniting friendships and spending what feels like gifted time with family there is this desire to not forget where it is we have been.

A question we get a lot is how, or if, we are experiencing culture shock. The answer would be yes but it looks different than we had once thought it would. We have heard how people returning from developing countries often struggle with the high cost of items such as food, clothing, books. For us it is more the vast amounts of these items with endless choices.

The first visit to the grocery store ended with us buying almost nothing, mostly just walking around in what felt like a dazed haze wondering why in the world are some of these things were even there? In Tanzania we ate seasonally which meant when it was orange season we ate a ton of oranges and the same was with watermelon, guava, mango, pineapple, and zambalow (similar to grapes). When we first arrived in the grocery store we saw some of these items and just found ourselves questioning where it was they came from. It seems to us that the idea of privilege comes in many forms and one of those the ability to buy almost any type of food this world has to offer.

I snapped this picture at JFK International Airport when we first landed back in the Unites States. It felt like a welcome back to the world of unlimited choices and highly packaged foods.

Unlimiited choices of candy.

Another thought that keeps coming up is the pace of life. When we first landed in Paris and were making our way through the subway system with large bags in tow I had to laugh out loud at the fact that everybody was running. Or maybe it was just that it felt like everyone was running to us. Whichever way we turned we bumped into someone and for split second threw them off their bee lined course to where ever it was they were going. Comical actually, because how in the world did everyone all have to be somewhere else at exactly the same time? By the end of our two weeks in Europe our walking pace has picked up and it doesn’t necessarily feel so chaotic to be walking in the western world anymore.

Next week Brian returns to work. An incredible blessing that will relieve us of great financial burden as I return to school and we actually start paying rent again. The phrase ‘cold feet’ seems suiting here. While I am not alone in saying we are whole heartedly grateful for his return to work; I do feel as though we are alone in feeling scared of how the return will change our lives.

I was inspired by a friend’s blog the other day. This man is currently in Chamwino with his family and in his blog he described the pace of life there as slow, but his wording was perfect. He said he did not believe the pace of life was slower due to everyone being laid back, but rather because of a difference in priorities. Here in the states it feels as though we have a very task orientated set of priorities which makes this country move and progress and is in no way a negative thing. In Chamwino it feels as though they have a very people orientated set of priorities which slows the pace of life and moves tasks back a notch. If the task is to go to the market to buy food it may take hours because greeting people along the way to find out their state of being is more important than actually going to the market in the first place.

We have been mulling this over with each other for the last couple days and wondering how is it that we can hold onto some of the ‘people first’ priority while living within a culture that requires at least somewhat of a task orientated mindset to survive. For now we don’t have answers. Maybe that is sometimes the point to come to a place where you just don’t have answers but more questions.

Footprints at the Great Salt Lake

 

Europe Part 2

•June 13, 2011 • 1 Comment

Last week we arrived back in Seattle after just shy of one year. While so much has happened since we have been back we still need to finish up our Europe trip.  Honestly, we are not sure if we will be blogging much more after this because keeping a blog up about our daily life isn’t very interesting to most people. So, we are not sure what will happen from here on out on this blog, but for now we still want to share the rest of our time in Europe through pictures.

Our last post left off with Switzerland. After our time delighting in the spectacular scenery and Swiss chocolate, we headed up the west boarder of Germany. We hit up places like Triberg in the black forest and then made our up the Reign river to the town of Heidelberg and then Cologne. Our favorite food was the wienerschnitzel. All the beer was good and smooth, their specialty was serving 1 liter beers which was surprisingly very smooth and easy to drink without feeling sickly full.

a waterfall in the black forest

taking battle like the barbarians used to

inside the first worlds biggest cuckoo clock

Outside of the worlds first largest cuckoo clock (photo from Jess and Lance)

in heidelberg looking at one of the many castles we saw in Germany

we had to pee a lot after drinking these 1 liter beers

mmmm...german sausages!

Built 1368, it's only 643 years old located in a small town called Bacharach, Germany

school kids looking over the castle walls in St. George Germany

When in Cologne , you gotta visit the Cologne Cathedral

Cologne was our last stop before we hit Belgium. We spent the evening touring the city and drinking kolsch beers which came from Cologne. The evening was capped off with a hanging out with a huge yellow lab at the restaurant we went to for the kolsch beers and food. It was sad to say goodbye to Germany. It had so much variety and each location had a very different feel. The German’s were extremely fun and very friendly. We said Danke Schon to Germany and say Hallo to Belgium!

I thought I knew the taste of a belgian waffle until we actually went to Belgium. Big Difference

key hole view into a church at an Abbey. Visiting an actual Abbey in Belgium! We were all in heaven.

This wooden bench extending on both sides of the church in the Abbey took a guy 16 years to carve! Our guide (in pic) looked like a monk, and smelled of alcohol and cigarettes.

Enjoying the beer of Abbey De Floreffe. It was amazing.

Overlooking Brugge

Biking along a canal to the ocean. Along the way we made a mistake and ended up biking to the Netherlands. At least we can say we biked to another country.

We were on tandems. As you can tell, the person in the back had a way better time

Belgium was a happy place. It was full of green pastures, long canals, lots of chocolate, a huge variety of beers and lots of frites which equals happy farm animals and happy people. We stopped in Brussels and had mussels at the Grand Palace, and enjoyed some beligian beer while laughing at the manneken pis, we biked around the snow-globe like town of Bruges and ended up in another country while trying to bike to the coast. Belgium is a place we would like to return to some day, however Paris was our last stop and we were all anxious to see what one of the greatest cities in the world had to show us.

Enjoying the scene outside the Louvre

Eiffel

ice cream and the eiffle tower in one makes a great day

arc de triomphe at sunset

Girls in front of Moulin Rouge

Overlooking the city at Sacré-Coeur Basilica on our last day in Paris before returning home.

Paris was impressive to say the least. All this buildings, statues, monuments, museums and famous attractions where really impressive, but what I found even more impressive was how well planned the city was. I could not believe a city as big and old as Paris had been planned out so exceptionally well. It is something that would not be appreciated until you are there marveling at how big the city is and how efficient everything runs. And of course, it was full of amazing architecture, humungous buildings and museums. The arc de triomphe made me want to get a road bike and ride around it like they do in the Tour de France. Our favorite moment had to be when we walked into a small pizza restaurant near the eiffel tower where we ate this amazing pizza and had a great house wine paired with it all while laughing with our host who spoke only french with us and we had no idea what he was saying yet we understood him the entire time. Then we grabbed some ice cream and laid in the park under the eiffel tower. Later that night we came back with Jess and Lance to the same park with a bottle of wine and watched the sparkling lights on the tower. We sat there reminiscing and laughing at our stories created from our Europe trip with them. It was a great way to spend our last night in Paris, our last day of the europe trip and our last day of our 9 month trip living outside the US.

It was quite a ride and we could not have had a better time.

Europe

•May 20, 2011 • 2 Comments

It has been almost a month now since we last updated this blog just days before we left Chamwino. We knew our blogging would go down hill after Chamwino and we most likely will not be posting much after this. However, we still had some adventures and stories since we have left the great country of Tanzania. To help us adjust back to the western culture a bit, we made a pit stop in western europe and visited five different countries with our friends Jessica and Lance. Here is how it went through pics.

Our plane landed in Paris where we had a short stay for a night and two days to get familiar with the city before we would come back at the end of our trip.

First look at the Seine River

Holy Moly it's Notre Dame

Nutella Crepe! Nicole's second love after me (i think)

We headed right out to eastern France to visit Nicole’s uncle, aunt and cousins who live just outside of Geneva on the French boarder. We could step into Switzerland with a ten minute walk down a countryside road from their home. It couldn’t get much better with the scenery until you added the cows in the background with bells on them.

Looking over the french country side, into Switzerland at Lake Geneva and back into France at the start of the French Alps.

With Nicole's aunt Deborah and cousin Luke

Aunt Deborah and cousin Lily

Trying out stilts for the first time, you can see how it went

Her cousin showed us both up on the stilts skills

After visiting family for the week we embarked on our next journey to meet our friends Jessica and Lance in Switzerland. We went to the town of Interlaken to marvel at the marvelous Alps. It was a place that I have never experienced before. Everywhere we went, it felt like we were in a place that was made up. It was almost to surreal and difficult to take it in all at once. We spent the next two days enjoying the scenery, eating swiss cheese and chocolate, riding gondolas and bikes around one of the most beautiful places we have ever been to.

Taking in the view on the train as we leave France to meet our friends Jess and Lance in Switzerland! Riding trains is a new favorite hobby of ours, I think we will just try and ride trains all over the US from now on. Who cares how long it will take to get there.

Hello Switzerland, the most beautiful place on earth.

Hello Jess and Lance, two of our best friends on earth!

Again riding trains is great and Switzerland is stunning.

in a few minutes we will be riding on a gondola to the top of that huge wall of rock behind us where the town of Gimmelwald lies

Gimmelwald in the French Alps

Nik on the worlds most scenic swing set

look closely and you will see a paraglider up there

people found a way to make life up in the mountains before america was a country

cow bells

we visited a cheese shop

we decided this will be our retirement home

in switzerland, you just drink water out of the tap on the street

these are used to keep avalanches from starting

park bench view

on the way down on the gondola

bike ride around a lake

refueling with espresso and bakery goods

and no meal is complete with out swiss chocolate

That pretty much shows our time in eastern France and Switzerland. There are too many pictures to try and do all of our trip at once so next blog will be pictures of Germany, Belgium and hopefully Paris again.

The last of our days in pictures…

•April 20, 2011 • 1 Comment

We arrived this morning in Paris. Wow, where is everyone going so fast?! It’s like crazy little bees running all over the place. At one point we both had to laugh out loud because people really have places to be here and then there was us just walking pole pole- slowly slowly!

The place we are staying for the night has excellent internet access so we wanted to give you a glimpse of our last days in Chamwino via pictures. So here goes…

Brian teaching the kids to throw the frisbee.

Us with our dear friend currently studying in form three.

Brian and our neighbor boys.

Our neighbor helping me wear my khanga on my head.

Us and the neighbors.

Brian with more nieghbors. The bibi 'grandmother' has a special place in our hearts.

Us with another neighbor! Getting married this month, congrats!

First experience with njugu. Mmm... so good, I will miss them a lot!

The fundi or specialist we had make some cloth gifts for us. Also a very wonderful woman who helped us out many times during our stay.

The mama who fed us many many times!

Our dear friends in Dodoma.

My good friend who is about to finish her certificate program in business.

Kiddos at the children's center playing during free play.

One of the smallest children at the center. He smiles all day!

Mwalimu 'teacher' and I with some of the children at the children's center.

Brian and the Mama who cooks for the children's center. A good friend to us.

Oh, the little guy on the left has the most fun personality. He made us laugh every day!

Dear dear friends of ours.

A good friend who taught us lots of Swahili and was so much fun to spend time with.

Bibi, the girls, and Brian.

Again with me.

A couple very close to us. These people helped us so many times we could never say thank you enough.

Their whole beautiful family! Many good times with these people, we will miss having dance parties with them!

Mama with baby Brian, the little one named after Brian. It was his baptism.

Baby Brian being baptized.

Brian with another good friend. A man we have now known since 2008 and grew to know more during our time in Chamwino.

The village chair man and his wife on our last day in Chamwino.

Watching music with the kids.