Saturday, March 30, 2013

Week 29

How far along: 29 weeks, 5 days

Size of Baby S: 15 in, 2.5 lbs

Fruit/vegetable comparison (according to Baby Center): butternut squash

Sleep: Great!

Movement: Yes. And this week we felt hiccups for the first time! :-)

Unglamorous body changes: I think I noticed slight and very faint stretch marks. Dang. :-/

Also, still a little restless leg syndrome, especially after the long days we've been having running around. However, Jason found a solution for it. We will administer the cure when we return to Norway on Tuesday...

Maternity Clothes? Yep.

Showing: Yep. :-) And I got to take advantage of being an expectant mom this week when shopping.

Food cravings: None. I finally got my Ooh La La cupcake which was nice. But I also discovered my sweets-eating powers are gone. :-( We split one and I could barely eat my half of the icing. However, it was still delicious!!

What I miss: Lunch meat still. Although Jason did let me have a little bit while we were here after making sure the person taking our order was well aware that they needed to heat the meat up a lot before giving it to me. Then he stuck his finger in my sandwich to check it. Mmmm, delicious.

Anything making you queasy: Nope.

Strange experiences: The hiccups for sure! Steph, my sister-in-law, also asked me if I had been feeling any braxton-hicks contractions. I don't think I have, but last night I might have felt something that could have been them now that she described to me what they feel like.

Milestones: Her muscles and lungs are developing and her head is getting bigger to make more room for her developing brain. (I hope this doesn't mean I get more airhead moments while she steals my brain cells...) The skeleton and bones are forming and I need to make sure and get my calcium intake from milk or other sources to keep up with her growth.

Best moment this week: Again there were multiple! :-) Taking bluebonnet maternity pictures were definitely one. Our friend Marianne with Charade Photography did an amazing job and I can't wait to see the rest! Here's a sneak peek at one that I know is going to be a favorite.

Last night we babysat our three-year old niece Sydney and six-month old nephew Jaiden. I absolutely love and adore seeing Jason with both of them. It makes me smile this goofy amazing smile and realize just how blessed I am to have a husband and father-to-be who is so good with kids. I cannot wait to see him with our little daughter!! Except when he tickles her nonstop. ;-)

Looking forward to: Unpacking our air shipment after it arrives in a few weeks! I am so excited to setup our little girls room and start making crafting for her and nesting.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Week 28

Tomorrow I hit week 29 so this Week 28 post is sliding in just under the deadline. ;-) This has been one of the most incredible weeks ever and there will be many more posts to come celebrating all the wonderful things we've done (babymoon in Mexico, baby showers in Houston, and revealing Baby Girl's name to our family just to name a few). But for now, here's the rough and quick Week 28 update.

How far along: 28 weeks, 6 days

Size of Baby S: 2 lbs, 4 oz

Fruit/vegetable comparison (according to Baby Center): Chinese cabbage (yes, I know my drawing looks nothing like this, but bear in mind I am an engineer with minimal no artistic talents)

Sleep: Good.

Movement: Yes, but mostly when I am laying down. She's very inconsistent with movement throughout the day which made it hard for any family to feel her kick this last week.

Unglamorous body changes: Starting to go to the bathroom even more often. For those of you that know me this means I am spending a significant amount of time each day either needing to pee or peeing, haha.

I also am having a lot of restless leg syndrom. I was experiencing some before we left, but I think the plane rides exaggerated it. Fortunately it's slowed down a lot and not too bad.

Maternity Clothes? Yep. :-)

Showing: Yes! Although the airlines still didn't seem to care on any of the three flights we've had the past week and a half how far along I am. I brought a doctor's note authorizing me to fly just in case so we will see if I use it next week on the return trip to Stavanger...

Food cravings: Nope. We are getting our fill of Mexican food, Texas bbq, and sweets (hello delicious shower cakes and cookies!)

What I miss: Still lunch meat. I *almost* ordered a club sandwich yesterday, but then maintained my self-control after the thought of listeria crept into my mind.

Anything making you queasy: Nope. Maybe I should remove this question since the answer is always no. :-/

Strange experiences: Not strange, but having more people touch my stomach since that hasn't happened in Norway. I don't mind, but a couple times I was taken aback when a touch came unexpectedly.

Milestones: Baby Girl can blink and is now sporting eye lashes. She may be able to see light through the womb and is continuing to develop billions of neurons in her brain and adding fat to her little body in preparation for being outside the womb.

Best moment this week: Really?! After that list above of things we did this week there is no way I can pick a best moment! There are just too many. :-)

Looking forward to: Slowing down a bit now that the majority of activities have taken place and we've gotten almost everything done that we need to in preparation for our air shipment of baby stuff.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Week 27

I'm sitting on my friend Leah's couch writing this post in HOUSTON, TEXAS!!! :-) Jason and I flew in yesterday and I am glad to say that the flight itself went without issue although I can't say the same for the airport before we left... but we don't have to get into how I left Jason's wallet on the bus in Stavanger and we thankfully got it back in tact 30 min before our flight departed... Man this pregnesia is killing me!

Anyway, we made it safe and sound and with minimal jet lag today (I figure waking up at 6:30 am isn't too bad for minor jet lag.) We have a full day ahead of us starting with me getting my hair and nails done followed by Jason's birthday celebration at the race track and dinner with family tonight.

How far along: 27 weeks, 4 days

Size of Baby S: 14.5 in, 2 lbs

Fruit/vegetable comparison (according to Baby Center): Head of cauliflower

Total weight gain: 12 lbs

Sleep: Good. There have been a couple times I've woken up and haven't been able to fall back asleep (highly unusual for me) but fortunately they've all been close to when it was time to get up anyway.

Movement: Yes!

Unglamorous body changes: Nothing really comes to mind. Maybe I should ask Jason, haha.

Maternity Clothes? . Yes. Finally got out the shirts this week too. :-)

Showing: Yes, but the airlines still didn't seem to care or want to see the doctors note that I made sure to get just in case they ask (its recommended over 28 weeks to have the note so maybe I will get asked on the way back after I've ballooned in size from all the Houston foods, hehe)

Food cravings: Nothing really, but I am excited for chick fil a this morning and fogo de chao tonight!!

What I miss: Mojito. Going to Mexico tomorrow and seeing all those tropical drinks will make me a little sad as I sip my virgin piña colada.

Anything making you queasy: Nope.

Strange experiences: Someone touched my belly for the first time this week. It was just slightly and I didn't care but it did make me realize "hey, I'm actually showing and this is probably going to happen a lot more at my showers and church these next two weeks."

Milestones: Baby Girl is sleeping and waking at regular intervals. She's also opening/closing her eyes and sucking her fingers (or feet, weirdo). Her brain is very active now and it's possible to start feeling tiny rhythmic movements from her getting hiccups.

Best moment this week: Grounding Baby Girl. I kid, I kid. Sort of. We tried to get pictures again this week but unfortunately she decided sticking her foot in her face was comfortable and the best she would give us. Thank you Baby Girl for giving is amazing pictures if your appendages!!! Grrrr.

Looking forward to: Mexico! We leave tomorrow and have maternity pictures confirmed for Monday. Then we come back to Houston and get to see our family and friends!


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Too Early to Ground?!

Today was my Week 26/27 appointment. We made the appointment with the doctor rather than the midwife for a couple reasons - 1. I need to have a doctor's note clearing me to fly in case the airline asks because I will be past 28 weeks on the return trip home and 2. We wanted to try for better pictures since Weeks 26-28 are a good time and all we got from Baby Girl at her 18 Week ultrasound was this.

The appt. itself went well and there's not much to report. My sugar levels and proteins levels are all normal and nothing of concern. I asked how Baby Girl was measuring since I am so self-conscious now about my size and worried that it's affecting her. The doctor said she was measuring slightly under average, but that she was not concerned. She commented that she probably won't be a 3.7 kilo ( ~ 8 lbs) baby and that's fine. I didn't tell the doctor that I plan to work very hard on increasing her size over the next two weeks when Jason and I gorge ourselves on all the foods we've been missing since we moved to Norway... ;-)

Now to the pictures and the blog post title... Jason and I talked to Baby Girl for a long time leading up to this appointment how important it was to get pictures for our family and that she needed to be still, but not too still and give us a good show. As a last resort I threatened (very intimidatingly I might add) that she would be grounded if she didn't cooperate. Message not received and I am now debating how long I can ground her for after she's born. Right now I am thinking until at least age 5.

It was amazing to see her again though! We saw her little legs and arm and spine. We got to see her heart beating and her liver. We saw her open and close her mouth. It's incredible. It was also laughable as you will see in the pictures below. Apparently it's very comfortable in utero (at least for our daughter) to stick her foot in her face!! Who does that?! She kept it there basically the entire time as well giving us these as our only Week 26/27 pictures...

The upper left is her heartbeat and the umbilical cord.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Second Trimester Recap

The second trimester is considered to be the best trimester of them all. Typically in the first your homornes are all whacky and you're tired and potentially sick, etc. By the second, things stabilize and you have more energy, don't feel too heavy yet, encourage traveling during this time, and you have a lot of milestones (finding out the gender, starting to feel movement, etc.) They say the third trimester things start to go downhill again. You get incredibly large and uncomfortable, anxious to meet your baby, and ready to be done being pregnant.

I cannot complain a bit about my pregnancy one bit, especially when I hear other people's stories. The first trimester, while it had some ups and down, was still an A- in my book. Comparatively, the second trimester was definitely an A+. I was able to do a lot of traveling still (London, Ireland, Aberdeen, Bergen, Tromsø), have been able to continue working out and going to spin class, and not really feeling like much has changed (when do you start feeling pregnant again?!). We also got to find out that we are blessed with a Baby Girl and we were able to start feeling her move and squirm, which is an amazing feeling. Slightly awkward, but amazing. :-)

Here's the second trimester weekly photos. I've definitely grown a lot even though it's hard to tell from the last couple of weekly photos in the second tri.

I'm praying for a third trimester as fabulous as my first two trimesters! Tomorrow we have our 26/27 week appointment with the doctor. We will have another ultrasound and *hopefully* get better pictures than we did at our 18 week ultrasound... otherwise Baby Girl is grounded!

We leave this Friday for Houston and then jet off to Mexico for a "babymoon", maternity pictures, and an attempt at relaxing. We get to see our friends and family and be honored with two amazing baby showers that I am so excited to attend!

Then later in April/May our shipment will arrive in Norway I will get to start nesting and setting up the "nursery" to prepare for Baby Girl. I also have a long list of crafts and random things that I want to do before she arrives!

Here's to another 13-14ish weeks until we get to meet you Baby Girl! I hope you are as petrified excited to be our daughter as we are petrified excited to be your parents!!


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Tromsø and Chasing the Northern Lights

One of the first things that Jason started asking about after we arrived in Norway was the best place to see the Northern Lights. I had no idea that this was something on my hubby's bucket list, but he was incredibly excited and passionate about making a trip to see them and obviously I was on board too!

Tromsø, Norway was the number one spot from the people we asked around our offices. It's located inside the Arctic Circle at a latitude of 69 degrees. The ideal for seeing the Northern Lights is between 68-72 making Tromsø one of the best places in the world to observe the Aurora Borealis phenomenon!

We arrived Friday and took advantage of the free afternoon to explore the town. We visited the Polar Museum, which provided a great background of city's sealing and polar exhibitions. It was a fantastic museum and we loved hearing the stories about the explorers.

Afterwards we walked through the Perspektivet Museum and enjoyed the special exhibit from American photojournalist Lynsey Addario about her travels to Afghanistan. It was a heart-breaking exhibit and we solemnly walked through appreciating the blessing we have being American citizens.

Our next stop was a late lunch/early dinner at the top-rated Trip Advisor restaurant Emma's Drommekjokken. Their main restaurant doesn't open for dinner until 5:30 and our excursion to see the Northern Lights left at the same time. However, we enjoyed the quiet atmosphere and the delicious food all the same!

We headed back to our hotel to start layering on wool undergarments and packing up the camera with all of our accessories. Jason purchased a special wide-angle lens in order to capture great pictures of the lights. I think you'll agree we got some amazing shots! :-)

We booked to go and watch the Northern Lights all three evenings we were in Tromsø. The lights are incredibly unpredictable and we wanted to increase our chances of seeing them while we were in town. We booked with Arctic Explorers because of their great reviews and more personal tours (9 people as opposed to a tour bus of 20+ people).

Our first stop was their warehouse to get our snowsuits and any additional warm gear (clothes, hats, etc.) that people wanted. We also got our delicious dinner - dehydrated camping food and headed out. The guides have a system of people they talk to throughout the evening to find out the weather forecast and where the best places to go to see the lights are. They talk throughout the evening and will go to multiple places if needed to catch a glimpse of them.

Our first night we were warned that it was very cloudy, but a high activity level. We needed to stay near the coast and not head to Finland because the clouds were moving from the southeast and the northwest so there was a small window of where we could go to try and get clear skies.

We hadn't even gotten 20 min on the road before someone in our group said, "Hey, I think I see something on the left side!". Sure enough we were already seeing some vague Northern Lights in the sky just outside Tromsø. We thought it was a good sign for the rest of the evening!

Our final destination was Skibotn. We setup camp and the tripods and got ready to see more Northern Lights. Then comes the waiting game. You wait. And wait. And then you see them! It was still very cloudy, but we were able to see the lights a few different times throughout the evening because of the high activity level. It was such an incredible thing to see!

The lights vary in color depending on which gases are being released - oxygen is green or brownish-red and nitrogen is blue, red, or purplish. Green is the most common color, but we were able to see purple!! Also, the lights that you are seeing in the sky look nothing like the pictures that come out with a long exposure time. The lights look more like fast-moving (or dancing as it's typically described) clouds or puffs of air.

You probably already skipped everything I wrote above in order to get down to this point and see the pictures. ;-) So without further adieu, here are Jason's fantastic pictures from the first evening of chasing the Northern Lights!

Friday, March 1 Northern Lights -

And here's the picture we took and used for my Week 25 post! I informed Jason that he better appreciate how fortunate he was to have a wife who was willing to drag her 6-month pregnant behind out into the cold for hours and hours multiple nights in a row. He didn't even skip a beat and just looked at me and said "Why do you think I married you?" Darcy - 0, Jason - 1.

After dropping our stuff back at the warehouse we headed to our hotel and crawled into a warm bed around 2:00 am that first night. The temperatures that evening had been around -8 C (18 F). It was a great first night and we were excited to see more!

Saturday we were incredibly lazy. The only thing that got us out of bed was that breakfast was ending and we were starving. :-) Afterwards we took a warm shower and then ventured out on the town again. We walked across the main bridge in Tromsø to see the Arctic Cathedral and get a view of the town.

We also played around on the ice in an empty parking lot. Impromptu ice skating! :-)

By the time we wandered back into the city it was too late for us to make any other museums/sites. We consoled ourselves that it's okay to not plan to see everything and visit every tourist attraction there is! (Baby steps people, baby steps.)

Our dinner that evening was at the second top-rated restaurant on Trip Advisor, Fiskekompaniet. We enjoyed a delicious meal with a great view of the harbor!

Once again we headed back to layer on the clothes and get ready for night two. We had the same guide all three nights which was great because we really liked Thomas. He is originally from Germany and used to be a photographer and helped anyone who had questions and also helped us take the photos where Jason and I are pictured together.

However, Thomas greeted the group with bad news. It was very cloudy all over and the activity was low. The forecast did not look good for the evening, but we would hope to get lucky. We headed out toVasstrand on the island of Kvaløya, a bit closer than our previous night's destination.

We got out warm gear on (see Jason in his furry hat) and I had ice cream. Who doesn't love ice cream in below freezing temps?!

As we were headed out to the lighthouse where we would make camp we saw a few small glimpses of the Northern Lights. We snapped some pictures and waited until they were over before continuing. When we arrived there were a few more small sightings. Jason was able to get some great shots still with the lighthouse in the background, but that activity was about it for the evening. The rest of the night was spent trying to stay warm by the fire and hiding inside a "carrot" for extra warmth. We finally called it quits at an early 11:00 pm and headed back to Tromsø arriving at our hotel around 12:30 am.

Saturday, March 2 Northern Lights -

From Thomas Hunger, our guide

Sunday we had plans to go dog sledding and met our tour bus at 9:00 am to drive to Oteren where Lyngsfjord Adventures is based. We suited up in the same suits we were quite familiar with by this point and headed out to meet our dogs.

Each group of two people had their own sled and five husky dogs to help pull it. We got instructions on steering, braking, and helping the dogs up hills or other flat terrain so that they are not pulling your entire weight alone. Jason took the reigns first and we headed out!

The trail we followed meandered through the trees and mountains in an uninhabited area. It was beautiful and we loved it!! Halfway through Jason and I switched and I got to take a turn at steering the pups! It was a lot of fun, but actually pretty difficult at a couple parts to run up the hill with the dogs. Good thing I'm still in decent shape and was able to do it with no problem. :-)

Goofing off after a tough ride!
What are you doing?! This is a serious job!
The gentleman in front of us, however, was apparently not in shape or did not understand the instructions to help his dogs. You aren't allowed to pass and we kept falling behind the group because he was being cruel and lazy and making his dogs do almost all the work. We finally hollered at him on one hill to help his dogs and he got the idea. My dogs however, gave me quite the look every time I has to slow them down or stop them to wait on him. Sorry guys! :-/

Afterwards we headed back to Camp Tamok and enjoyed a fire and hot chocolate inside their tee pee-like cabins. They served us a delicious lunch of soup and bread before getting back on the bus to drive to Tromsø.

While we waited for everyone to load the bus we got to meet the reindeer that are used for the reindeer sledding!

Gazing into the bright sun
We took a short nap before laying up again and heading out to meet Thomas for our third night of Northern Lights watching. We welcomed his news that it was still partly cloudy, but better than the previous two days. The activity level however was lower than we had Friday so that might make it difficult to see much. We  headed back out to Skibotn that evening and setup camp once again and got ready to wait.

Fortunately we did not have to wait long before we started seeing some amazing lights!! Across the sky it looked like a line of cloud was rising over an invisible mountain. There wasn't a lot of "dancing", but it the sheer volume of lights in the sky was greater than anything we'd seen the previous two nights.

A short while later someone shouted for us to turn around and Thomas, knowing what was about to happen, instructed everyone to get up and get ready for a big show. And WOW was he right!! I can picture in my mind how the lights look and it's so hard for me to describe. They danced like I have never seen before. In and out they rotated and swirled and glided across the sky. I wish that you could capture video of the lights in that format, but it's not possible (at least with our amateur equipment!).

We all stood in awe and running through my head was a song I haven't heard in years since I attended camp, "What A Mighty God We Serve". The chorus kept running through my head the entire evening as we stood in amazement at the divine creation God has allowed us to enjoy.

What a Mighty God We Serve
What a Mighty God We Serve
Angels Bow Before Him
Heaven and Earth Adore Him
What a Might God We Serve

That was just the first show! A while later we saw another incredible finale similar to the first one overhead. Thomas told us that this was by far the best show he had seen during his time as a guide (which granted was only six months), but emphasized how lucky we were to see them at all, but especially to see two shows of this magnitude. After it was over the owner of the company, who was camping a few hundred yards nearby with his group, came over and told us that this was one of the top three he'd seen ever. We were all shocked at how fortunate we had gotten with finding a patch a clear sky! 

And still the evening wasn't over! We didn't see another huge show like the first two, but we continued to see the Northern Lights throughout the evening. When we finally decided to head back into town after a long break without the lights, Thomas told us to let him know if we saw more and he'd pull over. Twice we had to pull over again and stand in awe at the lights around us. It was great seeing them in a few different places as we headed back into town. 

That third night we got an unbelievable and spectacular show of the Northern Lights! We feel so incredibly blessed and are amazed at God's creation around us. We saw vibrant greens shining through in the clear sky and lots more purple too dancing above us and moving around the starry sky above. 

I hope you enjoy this last set of pictures and consider taking your own trip to see the Northern Lights at some point! 

Sunday, March 3 Northern Lights -

From Thomas Hunger, our guide

And here's what you can do if you want to enhance them in Photoshop (which Jason obviously didn't do on ours above although he said he did minimal processing on them :-) )

... After

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