Saturday, December 31, 2011

My favorite 11 photos in 2011

This year, though, I learned a lot about photography. A little over a year ago, my wonderful husband bought me my camera and I have slowly been learning about it and putting it to good use. So, without further adieu, these are my favorite pictures that I took this year!
This was taken in January in London (obviously!). This was the from the first batch of pictures that I edited using Lightroom.


This is from the first set of pictures I took with my Lightscoop - it changed my photography world! Such a cheap piece of equipment could help me take better pictures in my dark house.
This was in March in Colorado, bathing Georgia. I cropped and edited and edited and edited. I thought it looked wonderful! Looking back now, she looks a little fake ;-)


We probably see Grandpa Wallace the most of out all the grandparents (thus I have the most pictures of him), but I think Georgia with any of her grandparents is special!


A friend lent me his camera lens and I fell in love with it!

This picture was taken by my father-in-law (although I arranged us and set the settings and edited it)
As the weather got warmer in June, I was able to plan "photoshoots" where I could take pictures of my stationary child. Ah... those were the days!


Some of my favorite pictures are spur-of-the-moment ones! This one just happened to work out perfectly! This was in July when we were packing to go back to the US and Georgia was sitting in my suitcase. I just love that it turned out so well - in focus, great lighting, and her eyes really pop in this one!



In October, some friends of ours had their baby dedicated at church and asked me to take some pictures. I had a blast and did a fairly good job with them (I think!) and now the church is even using one of my pictures in their latest marketing campaign. Pretty cool!

In November, I did two "photoshoots" with Georgia, one in this bath tub and one doing a cake smash. I was shocked at how many pictures turned out good. I learned a lot from these, and enjoyed them immensely!


I'm amazed this picture turned out so well! Georgia was cranky and this was taken right before her nap. I was laying down sideways because our room isn't large, and Georgia had to be as far away from the lights as possible for this picture to work. Also the lights are way too bright because they're from America (120 volts) and I plugged them in here (240 volts!) and they definitely had a "wow" factor!


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

13 months

Chasing birds in the Common on Boxing Day

This has been a rough month for us. We flew back from Colorado the day before Georgia's birthday and it took a good week to get back into the correct time zone. We had a birthday party for Georgia and a couple days after that, she woke up in the middle of the night with the croup. The croup turned into some sort of virus, and she was sick for about 10 days. She lost about 2 pounds over the course of two days, and was a sad sight to see! She is finally better again, yippie! And just as happy as could be. We had a wonderful Christmas as a family, and have enjoyed having Dave on vacation with us.

Doing the Advent Calendar together


Weight: 22.2 lbs, 55th percentile (but she was down to 20.5 when she was sick!)
Height: about 32 inches, 95 percentile
Diaper size: 4
Teeth: 8 still, but lumps where the molars are starting to come through
Words: 12: hi, bye, mama, dada, grandma (possibly? ma-ma-ma), bird, book, dog, diaper, birthday, where is it? and there it is!
Signs: eat, please, all done, milk (and she has signed please, followed by eat!)



This month, Georgia gave up her pacifier (yay!). I had been slowly weaning her off of it, as she had been using it less and less. When she got sick, she was unable to breathe through her nose, so I just stopped giving her the paci and she hasn't missed it yet!

We love having Aunt Kate live near us!

She is more and more fun each day, and also more and more work. When she's in a good mood, she is playful, giggly and a whirlwind. She moves from room to room carrying toys, keys and Christmas cards around. She loves reading her books and turning on all the toys that have sound. She will run away from me when I ask to change her diaper or put her coat on.

I just love this picture! 

Mealtimes have become a difficulty. I've been in the process of night weaning, so I want to make sure she eats enough during the day. That being said, she doesn't like to eat. I'm not guaranteed that she'll like the same things twice. She has been throwing any and everything off her high chair tray. I'll tell her she needs to eat what is on her tray before she can get eat anything else, and she will toss if off as if she understands what I am telling her. The two things that she will always eat are meat (most of the time, although this week its been iffy) and tangerines, her newest favorite food.

playing in the park

We are still nursing strong and Georgia shows no sign of stopping. Because Dave has been home, we are trying to do night weaning. She has never once slept through the night (yawn!) but we will get there soon! She now wakes up around 1 or 2am and around 4 or 5 am. I give her minimal milk and am cutting down on the amount she gets every time. If she wakes up too soon after a feeding, Dave goes in there and calms her down and puts her back in bed. She is probably drinking 1/2 the milk at night she did a month ago, so there is great improvement!
my sick girl

Talking about sleep, other than her night wakings, she has been sleeping great! She sleeps 12-13 hours a night and still takes two naps a day, usually around 3 hours. The good thing is that she is flexible, so we are able to get out of the house for longer periods of time as long as she has one good nap that day.
a muddy day in the park

The other thing that is very fun is watching Georgia develop relationships. There are several kids close in age to her that we see on a weekly basis. It is very obvious that Georgia is an extravert like her daddy and loves playing with her friends (as much as they can do when they're this little!).
playing on the piano she got on Christmas

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy Boxing Day!

Thanks for all your well-wishes and prayers! Georgia is feeling much better and is back to her old ways. She has spent this last week giggling, being a handful and running around the house like normal. Tomorrow she turns 13 months, so I'll have a blog post about her ;) Hope everyone had a great Christmas!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Why the NHS sucks, reason #183.

If you are British or live in the UK and are a fan of the NHS, please don't get offended by this post. There are some good things about the NHS. Its simplicity and relative ease of use. I do enjoy going to the doctors office and not worrying about filling out forms or calling the insurance to see if I am covered or not having to hand out my credit card at the end of treatment. But,
That's about where my praise of it ends.

This has been on my mind since Georgia is sick. She work up last Thursday (8 days ago) with a croup cough at 10pm. She had been completely fine all day. It was a rough night, with her sleeping in our bed, me sleeping on the floor in her room, and then for the majority of the night, I held her in the rocking chair so that she could sleep.

I called when the doctors office opened and made an appointment for Georgia. The doctor we saw basically said that Georgia was "fine". She didn't have any symptoms at the time, but she prescribed a low dose steroid for her to take based on my description. Dave went and picked it up (not paying anything, presumably because Georgia is a child and they have free prescriptions) and we gave it to her. Friday night was a bit better than Saturday night. Her cough wasn't quite as bad, and Dave was able to help hold her since he didn't have to work on Saturday.

When we woke up on Saturday morning, we soon realized that Georgia wasn't herself. She was having trouble getting enough air to breathe. Her heart was racing and she was breathing heavily an quickly. She had a fever and was pale with bright red cheeks. We went to the A&E (ER) where they gave her another steroid and ibuprofen and paracetamol (tylenol) to help lower her fever.

Sunday she seemed sick, but her cough was better and her breathing was normal. Monday she slept 18-19 hours. Even when she was "awake", she was still very much out of it and not herself. I'd lay her down in her crib, and she wouldn't make a peep. If I sat down while holding her, she would fall asleep within 30 seconds. Meanwhile, she wasn't eating or drinking much. She'd have a few bites here and there, and thankfully she was still nursing.

Tuesday came and she began vomiting. She refused any liquids (including breastmilk) and didn't want any food. I took her to the doctor. The doctor I saw gave me a lot of attitude. Basically I was over-reacting and she was just sick. She was still alert and looking around (yes, my child is an extravert!), so obviously she was fine and not dehydrated. After interrupting me several times, he basically said that she had croup and of course she's not going to get better overnight!

Tuesday night I thought that Georgia was starting to be dehydrated. I googled it. She had basically every symptom for moderate dehydration. She had lost 8-9% of her body weight, she hadn't been drinking anything, very little pee, dry lips, irritable, etc. I went to the drug store to look for pedialyte (or some sort of rehydration solution for kids). I explained to the chemist what I needed and she said they couldn't give it to me. I'd have to have a prescription or a child over the age of two. On the box it says for ages 2 and up, therefore they can't give it to me. (Stupid government regulations!)

Wednesday brought another doctors appointment. I saw another doctor (3rd one in a week) and he was a bit more sympathetic. He agreed that she was ill and not doing well, but didn't really offer any help. He just suggested that we watch for urine every 8 hours.

Now it is Friday. Georgia is still not eating (much). She had a couple bites of my toast. She still has diarrhea and because she's lost so much weight, her diapers aren't fitting well. Every-time she pees or poops it leaks out (her skinny legs and non-existent tummy) Yesterday she had 2 wet diapers. One was at 8am and one at 4pm. She had another at midnight and one at 11am this morning. Definitely dehydrated. She is unbelievably cranky and irritable. She is weak (not eating for 8 days) and has trouble pushing buttons on some of her toys and will just fuss and whine until I come help her.

And this is where the NHS sucks. Money speaks. I don't pay anything to see the doctor here. They have no motivation to treat me kindly or to give helpful suggestions or to even spend more than 5 minutes with me. They get paid the same amount whether I am happy or not. I can chose to go to another doctor, but it won't do me any good. This is one of the big failures of the NHS. In the US, of course it is expensive to go to a good doctor! That is because they are GOOD! You pay for their services. You want the best doctor (you can afford) so you will find them. If they don't treat you well or you are not happy you will take your money and go elsewhere. Here, there is no incentive (at least none that I know of) for a doctor to be the best that they can be.

I am really tired of going to the doctors office to have my concerns ignored. I am not someone who overly worries about things, and I really do think that having a daughter pee only twice in one day is a major concern. But, I'll wait another day or two because she's not "lethargic" enough and her extrovert personality will convince the doctor that she really is "ok". Until then, I'll continue on, doing laundry and trying to force liquids into Georgia, hoping that she will get better without another trip in to see the doctor.



Sunday, November 27, 2011

One Year Old!

Georgia with her great-grandma, Georgia, whom she is named after
So, today, my little baby is one. I am continually amazed at how she is growing and the changes I see in her every day. We spent most of this last month in the US. We had two weeks with Dave's family, one of those weeks being spent celebrating the wedding of Matt (Dave's brother) and Kyan. Georgia also had her first ear infection and was very miserable (as was I, getting up 5-8 times/night with her) for a couple of days! We then went to Colorado to see my family and spent that week celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Georgia's birthday. Needless to say, although this trip has been our longest back to the US since we've moved, it felt very much like a whirlwind. We are so thankful though, that Georgia is able to get to know her family!

Excited for a bath at Grandma & Grandpa's house

Weight: I'm guessing 23 pounds
Height: 31 inches (measured today)
Diapers: Size 4 (both in the US and in UK)
Clothes: I just put away all her 9 month stuff. She is mostly in 12 or 12-18 month, although I have pulled out some of the 18 month outfits
Teeth: Still 8!
Words: dada, mama, diaper (bah-buh), bye-bye, dog (bah), bird (bi), book, ball. My mom believes she said "pretty" when looking at the Christmas tree, and when we were in California, it sounded like she said "grandpa" a couple of times. Who knows!
Dave and Georgia in front of Notre Dame in Paris

Sleeping/Eating/Nursing: In all honesty, since we have been traveling across time zones (and got her first ear infection), her body clock has been off. We're going to start working on sleeping through the night now, getting on a good schedule and night weaning. I'll let you know how all this goes in a month ;-)

Some things that Georgia loves:
- reading books
- listening to music and dancing
- dogs (and any other animals)
- doing everything herself - brushing her teeth, brushing her hair
- pointing to things and having us tell her what they are
- playing with other kids. She is always interested in the toy they are playing with
- clapping for herself


Georgia has just started trying to do things herself. I have been giving her a fork (kid-friendly, of course) at meal times and she loves trying to use it. She has a lot of trouble getting anything to stay on the fork, but can easily get it into her mouth.


When we were in Colorado, my siblings were trying to teach her body parts - nose, eyes, mouth. It seems like she's picked them up because most of the time if you ask her where her nose is, she can point to the right thing!
We had a "cake smash" in honor of Georgia's first birthday. 


We are so thankful for this girl that is a part of our family. She has such a big personality and it is so fun to see her light up a room. It is exciting thinking about what her future brings. Happy Birthday, darling!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Paris

About a month ago two months ago, we did a two-day trip to Paris. Dave had had meetings with his work, his friends from the office in Monrovia. We did the trip with them - another couple and a baby the same age as Georgia and two single girls. Doing a trip this short with Georgia was a very crazy idea. We left early on Saturday morning, taking the train from our place, a switch to the tube, and finally the Eurostar (a fast train ride from London to Paris), and arrived in Paris around 10am.
After checking into our hotel, I put Georgia down for a nap while Dave sat with her and the rest of our group went to get some lunch. One thing we learned about eating in Paris (well, Europe, really!) is that everything moves at a snails pace. So, before we were done eating, Georgia had woken up and Dave joined us. We then decided to head towards the Louvre.
We spent a few hours in the museum, and although it was a neat museum, I was not very impressed. There were way too many people and the museum was not very stroller-friendly, with lots of stairs that Dave and I ended up carrying the stroller up and down.
Everyone looking at the Mona Lisa
We saw the big things: the Mona Lisa and the Egyptian section (Dave wanted to see the mummies). One of the wings was also closed, and it made navigating a little more difficult.
Dave & Georgia walking around the museum
Georgia was just starting to walk more and more. Before this trip, she mostly walked in the evenings if we encouraged her to. During the trip, she decided she wanted to walk all the time. The second day there, she wasn't okay with sitting in her stroller. She only wanted to walk. Thankfully she was okay with us holding her hand as being in an unknown place with many people around.
Anyways, after we spent a couple hours at the Lourve, we thought that we would go to the Eiffel Tower. Not knowing the city, we thought we would walk. We walked and walked and walked. It was a beautiful walk along the river, but it went on and on and on.
It started drizzling.
We kept walking.
It took maybe an hour.

We finally got there! We got there right around 7pm (I think!) when they do the light show. And of course right as we got there and the light show started, the rain came down! And it poured and poured. We had the rain cover for the stroller but of course we couldn't find the umbrellas. And, if you've been to Paris you know that the underground stations are few and far between. So, we walked about 10 minutes to the nearest station with the rain pouring and a baby fussing (having been awake for 14+ hours already) and all of us hungry and tired (remember walking for 3 hours at the Lourve plus the hour long hike to the Eiffel tower). Needless to say, I was pretty unhappy.
The view as we were walking away from the Eiffel Tower in the rain
That night, we had reservations at a little place by our hotel for dinner. We didn't expect much, but we were all blown away. It was a fun non-touristy, authentic French restaurant. I think the meal took us 2 hours to eat, but the food was wonderful and the atmosphere was great!


Day 2: We (Dave & I) explored the city with Cole & Sharon. Cole works with Dave and they have a little girl that is 2 weeks older than Georgia. We kept a bit slower pace because it was easier to do with the girls.
We walked to Notre Dame, let Georgia chase all the pigeons she wanted. We walked down the Champs-Elysees, and Georgia just wanted to be out of the stroller. Thankfully she was a good hand-holder, otherwise it wouldn't have been possible to let her do this.
We made sure to see the Arc de Triumph, but this is the closest that we got to it. By this point, we didn't need to touch it!
After this, we headed back to the hotel to grab our bags and have some dinner. We rushed to the train station, and got back into London around 11pm. It was an absolutely crazy trip and we were exhausted! We only scratched the surface of everything there is to see and do in Paris, but will wait until we can take a trip without our kids (or in many years when Georgia is older!).

Another note: Paris is not very child-friendly at all! It is very difficult to take the stroller on the underground as there are lots of stairs and the strollers don't fit through the turnstiles. Also, not a single place we ate had a highchair. The people themselves were fairly friendly but didn't speak much English. It seemed that they knew what we were saying, but either didn't know enough English to respond or didn't want to try responding in English.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

11 months

We officially have a toddler in the house! Although we still have one month until Georgia is a year old, she has begun toddling around.  This month has been very busy for us. Dave's mom was here at the beginning of the month and his sister, Kate, is now living in London for the school year, so we see her a couple times a week. We had a church retreat, Dave went to Costa Rica and had another work conference an hour away from here. My brother came to visit and this weekend we're going to Paris! (okay, okay, I wrote this paragraph a week ago... we went to Paris and are back home again.... more on that to come!)
Georgia was watching the light on my camera that flashes when the subject is in focus. Normally she doesn't notice it because I take pictures during the day. She kept blinking and making silly faces!

Weight: Almost 21 pounds
Teeth count: 8 (still!)
Word Count: 5, maybe 6: dada, mama, do (dog), bi (bird), bo (book), ah! (hi)


Georgia has been walking more and more. Just a couple days ago, she began taking off on her own, and now walks from room to room. She walks probably 80% of the time.
I have said it a lot lately... Georgia reminds me of a little boy. I guess I don't know many other kids her age, and she just seems so active and rebumctious, she reminds me of what I think a boy should act like. In my mind, girls are supposed to be dainty and clean, and Georgia is just about the opposite of this.

She loves doing anything that she can do to get dirty - eating sand, chewing sticks, putting food in her hair, etc. She is rough and tumble, climbing over anything that she thinks that she can. At the park, she loves climbing on the little play structure, and going down the slide.

She also takes after her daddy in her personality and voice. She definitely has her daddy's loud voice and loves to use it, talking loudly throughout the day, especially in places where it is most inappropriate: libraries, church, sightseeing at very quiet places (Cathedrals, museums, etc). She has the gift of WOO and loves waving at strangers, smiling broadly. She also loves kids, especially those a bit older than her. She follows them around and tries to mimic their activities.

Sleep: Georgia is becoming a lot more flexible with her naps (yay!). She still needs two naps a day, but can survive on one nap a day. This has made trips like Paris much easier because she is unable to sleep in the stroller. She takes 1.5 hour nap in the morning and 1.5-2 hour nap in the afternoon. She still sleeps 12 hours a night, and is close to sleeping through the night. She did a 10 hour stretch this last week. Unfortunately with our upcoming trip to the States, her sleep schedule is going to be upset.

Eating: Georgia is nursing 4 times a day basically (plus if she wakes up at night): when she wakes up, before her naps, and before bed. She eats regular meals with us that are always hit and miss. She always will eat meat, but everything else depends on the day. She has taken a liking to Grape Nuts (the cereal) and will often have that in the morning. For lunch, she usually eats lunch meat and frozen peas. Dinner she eats what we're having.
Georgia's favorite thing has to be animals (still!). She often sees birds before I do, and will exclaim, "Ba" followed by panting (the noise she makes for dog.... although now it has become the noise made for any animal that she sees).
Georgia got into a bottle of olive oil, and I stripped her down and had to wash the floor. She loved the sponge and ended up eating just as much soap as she used on the floor.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A year ago...


last minute goodbyes at the airport before we leave
In one of his sermons, Francis Chan says something to the effect of, "There is nothing like moving to remind you that this world is our temporary home."  How true that is!

A year ago we were saying goodbye to all our friends. We packed up our life into 10 boxes and suitcases and got on a plane to move to a new country. And what a year it has been.
Finding Mexican food after living in London for about a month. Dave was excited! (and cost us a fortune! one of the most expensive meals we've ever eaten)

An absolute whirlwind. Living in a hotel. Finding a house. Work trips for Dave. Buying furniture for our house. Registering at the hospital. Ultrasounds. Having a baby. Trying to figure out how to get around without a car. More work trips. Finding a church. Figuring out how to set up utilities. Waiting a month for internet. Meeting people. Feeling settled.

For those of you who have never moved internationally or even just across the country, it can be difficult, to say the least. Culture shock hit us quite unexpectedly. The first month or two we were here, it was a challenge just reading a menu, let alone figuring out where to buy a vacuum cleaner. Things that we thought should be simple like opening a bank account proved to be a challenge when you needed an address to open an account. But to rent a house, you needed a bank account.

Right around the time that Georgia was born, things got easier, only to get difficult again a couple months later. I now knew where to buy my groceries, which buses to take to go shopping, how to use a credit card, etc. But, things were so frustrating and made me mad. It is part of the culture shock. I looked it up. On Google. And Google knows everything. Anyways, everything just made me mad. Grocery checkers that sit down (and are SO slow).  People who ignore you when you walk past them on the street. Our stupid carpeting all throughout the house. White carpeting. With a baby. Not being able to watch the TV shows I like. Not having an outlet in the bathroom to plug in a hair dryer. Having to blow dry my hair without a mirror.
I just found this one and it has nothing to do with this post.  Isn't it so cute??!! Georgia is taking a nap on Christmas day.

There were many days I trudged to the grocery store, upset at our tiny fridge that makes grocery shopping a daily affair, muttering about the stupid people drinking beer at 11am sitting outside at the pub in the cold, rainy weather (even though it was May), or the stupid youths that walk slowly across the entire width of the sidewalk completely oblivious that you - the lady with the baby - are trying to walk around them, the stupid cars that don't stop for people crossing the street and the stupid groceries that were so dang expensive.

I tried not to complain a lot. I knew the things I was upset about were unreasonable and it was part of moving to a new place. Things are different here. Much more than I would have ever guessed. And then one day, it was gone. It was right after our trip to the US in July. Before we left we were homesick. Very much so. Missing the food, and the people, the nice weather.
Georgia with some church friends over the weekend.

And something changed. I'm not sure what it was. I think it was time. We arrived back in the UK in the beginning of August.  It felt like home.
Hannah and Dot, some friends from church

There are still days which are rough. Certain situations you encounter that are unfamiliar. Days when you want some Taco Bell. Haha. I don't think I will ever say that I like the weather. And I will probably complain about the food here a little more. Sorry - just being honest. But overall, this is our home. Friendships have grown. We have gotten involved in our church and community. We are trying to serve and love. We are home.