Mismatched Mess

of life, love, fashion, & forgetting to update


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Baby Weaver Expected February 2018!

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We have been so excited to find out we are expecting our first child in February 2018! Honestly, the news has been hard to believe, but here we are, week by week watching as this journey continues to become more and more real.

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First Trimester
btyMy pregnancy aversions were few, but insane: I didn’t like the smell of coffee (crazy! Coffee is my life!), the smell of alcohol, fresh flowers, floral scents, and fruit. Walking past the large public garden to get into the city centre didn’t smell fresh and outdoorsy–it smelled like floral rot and decay. I had to completely avoid the coffee shop we are regulars in, because the smell of roasted coffee was too pungent! However, the severe exhaustion was my biggest pregnancy symptom. Even when I wasn’t sleeping I was most likely in bed, trying to stay awake enough to work and eat. And if I didn’t eat? I felt nauseous. My morning sickness wasn’t terrible, thank goodness, but I NEEDED to eat anytime I felt hungry, or I would instantly feel weak and nauseous.

Speaking of eating, food has been a big pregnancy symptom, but my preferences would change almost weekly! Early on, I was ravenous. I easily ate three meals and two large snacks everyday. And a lot of that extra food was as much protein as I could eat! Unfortunately, the craving for meat wasn’t healthy. The first weekend I had these cravings (July 4th) Taylor made a delicious holiday meal of barbecue ribs, potato salad, fries, and corn. Over the course of that same weekend, I also requested hot dogs, chicken strips and mac & cheese.

 

toddler-meal.jpgAfter a weekend of giving in to my cravings Taylor had a food request of his own–to add vegetables back into our meals! At this point, I was okay with that. I no longer felt like an adult; my food cravings started with meat, but I felt like I was regressing into even simpler food cravings. At one meal all I wanted was chicken nuggets (with ketchup), raw carrots, pickles and tomatoes. Turns out my huge appetite was slowing down and would become even simpler than what a toddler would want very quickly.

A few weeks of eating six meals a day quite suddenly took a turn. Suddenly, I wasn’t feeling very hungry at all, although I was still nauseous if I didn’t eat. I felt full almost all the time. I decided to cut back to three meals a day, but that didn’t seem to do much. It wasn’t until I totally simplified my diet that my body started feeling better. My daily meals were simple: for breakfast I would have oatmeal, lunch I would have soup (yes, in July), and dinner I would eat what Taylor made, but usually just a small portion.

I am so grateful to Taylor for being patient and understanding as I figured out my body. The first trimester was hard on both of us. He took care of most (basically ALL) of the chores and cooking. I would usually feel good enough to do a load of dishes or laundry a day, along with making breakfast every morning, and sometimes I felt ok enough to go to the gym for simple exercises, which equated to maybe 1-2 hours a day where I was being active. Otherwise I was in the bed or on the couch.

The First Ultrasound

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We’ve been slowly navigating our way around the UK medical system. Most pregnancies are dealt with by midwives and it’s totally free. We are in awe of this, and so grateful, but the first trimester didn’t have a ton of appointments. I was expecting a lot more confirmation about this pregnancy than we received at first, simply because of what I knew about US healthcare. It was 6 weeks before we met one of my midwives. She walked us through a lot of paperwork and blood draws, and told us to wait for our ultrasound appointment to come in the mail.

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Before our scan, we had calculated the baby was around 12 weeks. The day of our scan, we were excited and nervous–this would be the first major confirmation there was actually something there! (I know, this is crazy, but even with all the pregnancy symptoms it’s hard not to wonder if you’re making it all up) We were both in awe when we saw this small body on the screen! For me and Taylor, it was an amazing experience. We saw the baby jump and wriggle and could make out all the tiny features. However, to the ultrasound technician, this baby was not cooperating! They couldn’t properly measure everything, especially the nuchal fold at the back of the neck. The tech had me bounce, jump, and cough to try to get the baby to move. After a while, the tech told me to eat some chocolate, walk around the hospital for a bit, and come back to try again. We were grateful we got a second chance that day, but no matter how hard we tried (I even did squats) the baby refused to stretch out properly. Although we got some cute pictures out of the deal, the technician told us the scan was inconclusive and we couldn’t get an official due date. One thing we DID learn from the measurements, is that the baby was measuring way bigger than 12 weeks, more like 13 weeks 6 days. Technically the measurements didn’t count, but we had a feeling I was further along than we originally thought.

 

The Second Trimester

davEven though our first ultrasound couldn’t give us an official due date, I decided to mentally skip ahead from being 12 weeks along to 13 weeks 6 days, meaning just one day after we saw the baby I was suddenly in my second trimester! I wasn’t expecting all my first trimester symptoms to go away immediately, but I’ll make this quick and easy—I feel A LOT better. I get tired and winded easily, and have a few slight food cravings. I also get headaches almost daily. Coffee and alcohol smells normal again! Flowers smell normal, too, but I’m still not enjoying any type of floral scent! All in all, every week is different, but my energy levels have risen and my eating has mostly evened out (No more soup-only diet)

We also got to meet my second midwife. This appointment was more paperwork, but we heard the baby’s heartbeat on the doppler! The midwife talked me through a few simple pregnancy questions, but one of the highlights (aside from hearing the heartbeat, of course!) was being told about the Pregnancy Exemption Certificate. She told me to go to my general practitioner to pick one up so that I would be eligible for free dental work and free prescriptions from now until up to a year after the baby is born.

 

 

The Second Ultrasound

mdeAbout three weeks after the inconclusive first scan, we were scheduled a second scan. When all goes well, most pregnant women only get a 12 week scan and a 20 week scan. However, since they couldn’t measure the baby properly at my first scan, I had to go into a second one. Having an ultrasound at this time is considered less accurate, as far measuring the nuchal fold, but it was still important to try again.  Unfortunately because we weren’t expecting this scan and it was scheduled only a few days before the appointment, Taylor couldn’t go. He had already made plans to attend a conference in Ireland that week. He really didn’t want to miss the scan, but was able to text me during the whole process. As far as measuring goes, the technician had a much easier time. I didn’t have to jump or eat chocolate to try to turn the baby. I saw fingers! The baby had grown so much since the last time and I couldn’t wait to show Taylor. However, I was in for one more surprise–our official due date. February 8th! The same day as my birthday! I was in total shock and completely amused at this! This due date also meant that I skipped ahead four more days and was officially 17 weeks pregnant!

Now…

So, here I am at 17 weeks 6 days. I have my third midwife appointment tomorrow where we will learn about the results of the scan and blood work. She will tell us about any potential risks, and we’ll get to hear the heartbeat again.

However, this time, I definitely don’t need confirmation that something is in there, because I’m starting to feel kicks! Almost daily I can feel small nudges and bumps when I’m laying down. It’s amazing how something so small already feels so real to me. I can’t wait until Taylor can start feeling the kicks as well.

Three weeks from now we will also get to find out if we’re having a boy or girl!

Thankfully I’m not craving TOO much, and what I am craving is actually American food. This is interesting, but also frustrating! My unhealthiest cravings are fast food–but only American fast food! Even from the same restaurant, the taste of food differs greatly because of nutrition and ingredient regulations from country to country. This is actually a good thing for me, because other than the breakfast sandwich I had from McDonald’s last Sunday morning, I haven’t eaten any fast food and maintain a fairly healthy diet (once again, ALL thanks to Taylor for cooking most of the meals!).

However, the strongest cravings that I can’t get out of my head have been Hot Cheetos and sour gummy candy. They don’t sell Hot Cheetos in the UK! Seriously, Taylor and I have bought every kind of spicy chip we can find (probably about 6 attempts, so far) and nothing is spicy or satisfying enough to replace Hot Cheetos! Same goes for sour candy–the gummy candy isn’t sour enough, because I’m craving specific things from America.

Our Plans

davSo this is a big year for us (now until end of 2018, that is). Taylor is on the last leg of his PhD, I’m pregnant, and our visa that we use to live in the UK is almost up. We’re staying optimistic, planning ahead for the things we need to plan ahead for, and focusing on the present where that’s more important. Without getting into too many personal details, we realize we could move anywhere fairly soon (again, after 2018, most likely). Because of that, we decided to have as minimal of baby stuff as possible. We aren’t splashing out on a big nursery update, lots of baby gadgets, or even a lot of clothes and toys. In fact, we’re hoping to make a lot of smart hand-me-down purchases.

redroomSo, our dilemma was: If we weren’t going to spend a lot of money, what SHOULD we invest in? We decided to focus on the first few months with baby–lots of sleeping, feeding and learning to be a family. To me, this equated to having a calm, relaxing bedroom, so we are working on repainting our room, adding a small co-sleeper crib, and making it the main ‘hub’ of baby activity.

However, as I was taking a break from painting the bedroom one day, I sat on the small couch we have in our second bedroom. I looked around and saw a hopeless mess. The couch is a faded purple color, which folds out into a bed for guests. The curtains were bright blue, and the walls were a terrible wallpaper of red and cream. It was just too much work to rip down the wallpaper and make all the repairs needed to make this a nursery, or even a prettier guest room.

But, as I took another look, I had a crazy idea–what if I just painted the red stripe in the wallpaper? It wasn’t a perfect plan, but it set the ball rolling to create a small nursery/guest room! I spent £1 on a small paint roller, and 50 cents on the black and white throw blanket over the couch, but other than that (and the baby stuff, like the Moses basket!) it didn’t cost me anything to paint or decorate this little room. It’s probably not the nursery I would set up for myself, if I had more of a permanent home, but it makes me happy, it’s bright, and features a lot of black cats, in honor of our three legged cat, Sabre. We’re still planning on having the baby in our bedroom for at least the first few months, but for naps, storing clothing and supplies, and also as a contingency plan (what IF the baby sleeps better in a separate room? Who knows what could happen, right?), this tiny room will be there!

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Our New Three-Legged Kitten

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Last December we made a big decision to get our first cat. We’ve had hamsters and a gerbil before, but when we made the decision to move to the UK we thought a pet was out of the question. We are only here for a few short years, and while we are open to staying OR going back to America, our life, admittedly, isn’t stable right now.

So, this decision wasn’t an easy one to make. After a lot of discussing we knew that any pet wouldn’t just be a temporary thing. Whatever happens, wherever we go, our new cat will come with us.

davWe looked at several places in Canterbury, only halfway thinking of actually adopting a pet. I was very apprehensive of making a costly decision when we have an uncertain future. And then we were invited to a party. Our neighbors (who are also members of the church we attend) had just adopted two black kittens from Cats Protection. At the party they invited us to, the kittens were the center of attention, and it was hard to ignore our desires for a cat of our own.

davTaylor eventually found a little black cat by the name of Rufus, also from Cats Protection. He and his litter were found living underneath a caravan, which just so happened to fit the description of our neighbor’s new male kitten. They were brothers. Except, Rufus hadn’t stayed with his litter when they were rescued. He was put into a separate foster home because he only had three paws. Unfortunately, they suspect that a rat or other animal chewed his paw off when he was a newborn before his mother could stop them.

davThis kitten was the last of his litter to be adopted because of his paw. Even we were hesitant to choose him, not because we didn’t want him, but because our unknown future and lack of finances made us wonder if we were the right match. To change our mind, we had to change our perceptions. What does having a three legged cat look like? We began researching other cats with the same issue. We found videos of three and even two legged cats jumping, climbing and running.They were completely capable and we realized we wanted him.

davCats Protection put us through an application and a home inspection before we could even meet him. We passed their inspections, and our friend drove us to the foster parent’s home where we met a rambunctious and spoiled kitten who was more lively and friendly than we ever imagined him to be. We took him home that night. Our lives have brightened so much with this little guy.

His given name was Rufus, which was quite cute. In fact, I’m inclined to believe it’s a great name, considering it’s my grandfather’s name! Needless to say, out of respect, we decided to change it.

It actually took almost a month to decide, but we landed on Sabre. It has a special, funny meaning to us, but of course it can also be correlated to saber tooth tiger, lightsaber, and the sword. We like all these references, but its actual meaning is from our favorite tv show, The Office. Dunder Mifflin Paper Company is bought out by a company called Sabre. We love this show, can watch its episodes over and over again, and can quote about 75% of it. This was a perfect choice for us, short of just straight up calling him Dwight Schrute.

Unfortunately, in the coming months, Sabre will have to undergo a full leg amputation. His leg, of course, is continuing to grow. He has to carry the weight of it at all times, and it’s really sensitive. He’s very protective of it because an accidental hit, even if it’s small, hurts him. Cats Protection has offered to pay for any surgery and aftercare, which we are so grateful for. All our hesitations would have been proven correct, and we wouldn’t have been able to give him a home if not for this financial help.

sdrRight now, Sabre loves sleeping on my desk while I work. Between naps, he’ll bird watch from the window and spy on any cats who have wandered into our garden. In the mornings he prefers to wake Taylor up to feed him and then only really wants to ‘bug’ Taylor afterwards in hopes that he’ll wake up. He likes to follow us around and is almost never too far away. When we leave he sits in the bay window in the living room and watches the passersby on the street. He is even known to greet our neighbors when they wave to him.

We’re so happy we decided to get a pet. Life is never as settled as you’d like, and having him helps put that in perspective. Even though we may move after Taylor graduates, we are 100% set on-and thrilled that-we’re taking Sabre with us.


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Texans Abroad | Rye, England

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Rye, England is the cutest, quirkiest town I’ve seen so far. When Taylor wanted to show me this small part of England last summer, I was continually surprised at the charming views and clever homes.

ryemapAn hour’s train ride there from Canterbury, we ended up in another county, East Sussex. Though now two miles from the coastline, Rye was originally at the head of a bay in The English Channel and was an important Medieval trading port.

Walking up the cobbled stone roads looking at all the historical homes felt like walking through a storybook. Picturesque Medieval and Georgian homes crawling with greenery, each carrying a clever sign to describe itself. I was so intrigued by this quirky feature of the town!

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Walking up Mermaid Street, I was completely amused with the funny signs on doors.

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“The House with Two Doors”

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“House with the Seat”

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Our day was quite filled in this small town as we found our way around to 900 year old church, St Mary,  Ypres Tower, and coffee at a lovely cafe. Home to many authors, illustrators and musicians, even Paul McCartney of The Beatles, apparently, I can certainly see where they gain their inspiration.

 

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The Parish of St. Mary Church, Rye

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Viewing the old bells at St. Mary Church that are still tolled

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Climbed to the top of St. Mary Church and walking out the diagonal door to see the views.

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Black cat of St. Mary Church

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Trying on a replica viking helmet at Rye Castle Museum (Ypres Tower)

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Original torture device in Ypres Tower, which was mostly used as a jail.


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Texans Abroad | Broadstairs, England

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I discovered these photos of a day trip to Broadstairs from this summer. Though they aren’t the best of quality, it was a good day with friends.

broadstairs-mapBroadstairs is a coastal town very close to Canterbury. Its beaches are sandy, while many other coastal cities in this region have only pebbles. You can imagine this makes it a popular swimming spot in the summer. We rode the train there and met with a friend (who biked from Canterbury) who was happy to show us around.

One of the most memorable spots was an old church that has been converted into a pub called The Chapel.The best part were the wall-to-ceiling books everywhere you looked. Stacked high and cluttered along every wall and surface were secondhand books. The two or three people there were enjoying a book along with their pint, so we decided to do the same. img_8401-2

Broadstairs is on the Isle of Thanet, and gets its name from a former set of long stairs cut into the chalky cliffs leading from the beach to an 11th century shrine. As we enjoyed coffee and ice cream overlooking the beach below, resort guests milled about and children lined up to jump from the dock into the sea. The overcast sky didn’t deter anyone, and even though only peeks of the sun shone through, Broadstairs has certainly been one of the brightest towns we’ve visited. The colorful blues of the water, mixed with the bright chalky cliffs reminded me of the town’s nickname, ‘The Jewel in Thanet’s Crown.’

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Super Moon of 2016

moon2I’ve fallen in love with nighttime photography. I took these photos in November of last year in our back garden. Photographing these blurry stars was a lesson in patience and being very still. When it warms up I will continue experimenting.3One of my fondest childhood memories is lying in the grassy yard at my grandparent’s house in the countryside. This particular night, the summer sun had just set and the warm Texan air was beginning to cool. All around me was the chirping symphony of a thousand nighttime orchestras. I remember lying there as if it were a dream. It wasn’t often I stayed outside in the dark, alone. But that night was mine. Looking up, the stars struck me as so clear and so vast. No man-made lights marred the view and I could’ve counted the small pinpoints of light all night long.

Long ago was that day, and life changes so rapidly. But when I find myself looking up on a particularly clear night, I am transported back to the humid summer evening of my childhood where my love of star gazing was born.moon14moon3


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TexansAbroad | Weekend Getaway to York, England

December was filled to the brim with lovely get-togethers, plenty of good cheer, and one big weekend trip to York, England. From Canterbury West train station, heading into London Kings Cross Station, we hopped aboard the third Virgin train we could find. Having been scheduled for a much earlier train, we had our tickets changed twice as we realized the extent of the crowds waiting to begin this cramped four hour journey. Waiting an extra hour and half put us on an empty and comfortable train where our journey could finally commence.map

Long train journeys are best planned out: a good book, some downloaded episodes of a fun TV show, and a packed lunch are our recommendations. Lunch is the most important part. After being crammed into the morning train to London–discovering there is only standing room left, with your backpack constantly hitting the arm of the guy wedged beside you and praying for a breath of fresh air–there is nothing more satisfying than knowing once you are finally out of London, tucked away into a seat, the simplest of pleasures-the sandwich-is waiting for you.

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Yorkshire Museum in the distance

Once we were settled into our hotel and enjoyed a short rest, flicking through channels on the television in hopes of finding a fun British show (we don’t have TV and rely on Netflix and Amazon. We don’t miss it, but the familiar comfort of channel surfing is always fun), we began our walk into the city centre

The first evening, other than a quick enjoyable trip to the Yorkshire Museum, was spent among the hoardes of Christmas market goers. We knew exploring a busy new city in the dark wouldn’t be the most fun, so we instead sauntered our way through the Christmas stalls, stopping for dinner and mulled wine at nearby food stands. Christmas markets are a new experience for us, though the concept is clear: to shop. York was our first big Christmas market: dozens of stalls filled with handmade scarves and wooden statues, soap and ornaments. We aren’t too interested in shopping while on trips, so we mostly made our way around a couple times, listened to some Christmas buskers and found our way back to the hotel.

 

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St. Mary’s Abbey ruins

The next day and a half we were able to experience more of York, taking photos along the way. The best part was stumbling upon the historic cat trail. Business owners would erect statues of cats onto their buildings to scare away birds and mice. There are two trails to follow, put on by two cat stores (one sold glass figurines, including cats and the other store sold cat accessories). We chose to follow the trail map made by the glass figurine store, which turned out to be riddles and clues that led us all across the city in search of cats. We photographed about 23 cats and saw parts of the city we wouldn’t have otherwise explored!

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St. Mary’s Abbey ruins, York, England

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Taylor taking a photo of the first views of the city

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Little Shambles, York. Medieval houses dating back from the 14th century

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Taylor standing under a lopsided building in the Little Shambles

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Walking along the York Roman wall. More narrow than Canterbury wall, but over two miles long!

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Facing It

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I make eye contact
With the reflection I know.
I face my imperfections,
The aging.
The scars, scratches and subtle features.
There’s a slight wrinkle along my forehead.
Cheeks riddled with scars.
Indentations on either side of my mouth
Formed from two years of a too-long sentence with braces.
The soft, splotchy brown that divides my face in two;
A birth mark starting at the corner of my tear duct
Snaking its way across my cheek and falling down my neck.

I make eye contact
With the reflection I know.
I face my imperfections.
My eyes tell a story
Of tired days and bright adventures.
My mouth slightly curves upward,
Whether I’m smiling or not, no one could tell.
The features of my face show maturity,
But only the kind of wisdom that comes
To a woman in her mid-twenties
When she finally realizes
She knows even less than she thought she did.

I make eye contact
With the reflection I know.
I face my fears, failures and facts of my life.
The facts that were too long left buried
Which I finally find the courage
To dig out and
Find a way to move forward.


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The River

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There’s a calm in my mind that exists at a time that doesn’t make sense. There’s a warmth that spreads through me like a sleepy river, constant and unwavering. The calm glides through me and into you, and your calm floats downstream into me.

No mask. Nothing fake. Pure and sweet and harsh and bitter. We bite into the fruit that opens up our world, our minds, our hearts. And the acerbic taste brings us pain, the substance brings us closer, the sweet aftertaste brings us calm.

We trust what we cannot know. We connect and reconnect. We hurt, but we hurt together. We bring the calm.