Zachary’s Birth Story

We arrived in Amsterdam when I was just over 35 weeks along. My blood pressure had been high, but well under control during this pregnancy, so I was anticipating getting to experience a “natural” labor – meaning that I would experience the breaking of water, the contractions, etc and whenever he came, he came. When we went in for my checkup with the OBGYN there, however, he informed me that he would still plan to induce 2-3 weeks early because the risks outweighed the benefits of Zach cooking a bit longer. He said my pressure would only go up, and there was really no reason to wait.

This meant we really only had a week or so before his arrival, since when they induce, or at least once they break your water, it is best to deliver within 24 hours, or get a C-section if you’re not progressing naturally. So this changed our mindset a bit, and we spent the next few days making sure we had everything ready to welcome the little guy home – to a home that actually wasn’t ours. We borrowed a few baby things from friends to supplement what we had been able to bring.

This also meant that Grammie, my mom, would not be able to be there for the birth as we had originally planned. We looked into changing her ticket, but it was cost prohibitive, and would have meant even more missed work for her. We decided to leave her ticket as it was, and would welcome her help at 2 weeks old! In the meantime, my Dad(Papaw) decided on the spur-of-the-moment that he would like to come out and be there for the birth. It was comforting to know that Levi could stay home and sleep in peace if we were overnight at the hospital. He planned to arrive the day before I was to go in for the induction.

The Netherlands has a very high percentage of midwife assisted, in-home births. The majority of other births are midwife assisted at a birthing center, and the small minority of “high-risk” births are the only ones permitted to be at a hospital. We do hear that you can choose to rent a room at the hospital – if there is one available – if you prefer that to giving birth at home, but it is not guaranteed you will have a spot so you can’t really count on it. That being said, I was considered high-risk, so we would be planning to induce and deliver at the University hospital. It is a large teaching hospital that happened to be about 10 minutes drive from where we were staying! The induction was scheduled for Tuesday, April 19, just before I was 38 weeks along. I was instructed to call the L&D ward at 6pm to see if there was a place open for me. I was anxiously awaiting for the moment to arrive ALL DAY LONG. I stared at the screen on my phone as it changed from 5:59, and I immediately called the number they gave me. I was surprised and disappointed when the nurse casually replied that they were full, and I should call back at 7:30. We all found this pretty funny, and so we decided to go ahead and have dinner. I called back when they said, and they told me that they did have a bed saved for me, but they were cleaning and getting it set up, so if I could come in around 9pm that would be great.

This actually turned out better than we could have planned. We finished dinner, playtime, and bedtime with Levi just like normal, and then were able to leave while he was asleep.

Like I said, the hospital was a less than 10 minute drive, and we were there in no time. Jonathan dropped me off at the front, and I went straight in and sat down in the lobby to wait for him to park the car. What seemed like at least a half hour later, Jonathan came in a different door and looked very confused. Jonathan is the most directionally adept person I know, so this was pretty surprising. He asked me what door I had come in, and I pointed to the one about 20 feet from where I was sitting, the one he dropped me off in front of. He did not believe me! It was so funny how turned around he got at that hospital. I’ll admit it was very convoluted the way the parking garage and entrance were situated (I didn’t see this until we were leaving of course).

Anyway, we make our way to the L&D area, where is is dark and quiet. We did manage to find a nurse who showed us to the room and hooked me up to all the monitors. At around 11pm, the doctor and his student (this was a teaching hospital, so there was always 2 of everything…oh joy) came in to explain what they were going to do. This was a pleasant change from my previous birth experience with Levi, where I kept getting ushered into places and hooked up to things without much information. For my induction in the US, they started me by hooking me up to the pitocin right away and cranking it up to what felt like full-blast, and the contractions became unbearable after only a few hours. I was pretty traumatized by that experience and so I had some trepidation coming in to this one.

****At this point, if you are not interested in hearing about details of dilation and contractions and pushing….etc….then please feel free to skip this part of the story and scroll down to the pictures and coming home event! ****

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11pm – So anyway, the doc and his student came in and explained that I was only dilated about 2cm, and they would prefer I was around 4cm before we started any pitocin or breaking the water, etc. They said they would like to see the labor progress as naturally as possible, and without pitocin, if possible. I like this idea. The plan now was to insert a balloon that they would inflate with a small amount of water. This would put pressure on the cervix and hopefully cause it to flatten. It was minimally invasive, but they wanted me to stay overnight so they could continue to monitor my blood pressure. Jonathan was sent home, I was moved to “the ward,” as they kept calling it, and we both tried to get some sleep. Jonathan sent me this picture to show me Levi was just fine!

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The doctor and student said they’d be back in the morning to check the success of the balloon. About 1:15, I was settled in and tried to go to sleep. At 3:15, I wake up to use the bathroom and was so loud about it that I woke up a roommate I didn’t realize existed. Oops, sorry about that! We both tossed and turned the rest of the night, and were pretty much awake by 6:30.

7am, someone came in and delivered juice to me. It turns out it was meant for my roommate. This is when the next shift of nurses seemed to discover I was there and just who exactly I was. I guess sneaking in “The Ward” so late at night was a bit unusual. I begin chit chatting with my roommate and discover she has had the balloon in for almost 24 hours and it still hasn’t helped her progress. Slightly discouraging news, since apparently they told her it could take up to 36 hours!

8am, I contemplate taking a shower but I am starving and I don’t want to risk missing breakfast.

9am…breakfast arrives, praise the Lord. I send Jonathan a picture since we’ve been texting back and forth that morning and he is afraid he is going to have to break in and deliver me food (visiting hours in The Ward don’t start until 10am).

9:45am, the doctor and his student come in to check me and the balloon is out! This means I’m at least 3cm, so we are ready to get this baby moving. Literally. The doc says he will notify the L&D area and as soon as a bed opens up they will move me down there.

11:45am, the bread cart arrives and I get lunch. The bread cart lady was the only person I saw at the hospital who couldn’t speak English. She was very frustrated with me for not being Dutch, and she decided just to pick out my lunch for me instead of letting me point to words I recognized on the menu.

12:15pm, I’m done with lunch and still just waiting, so I decide to take a shower. Nothing else to do but wait, and my roommate’s husband is in our room visiting so I also stay out to dry my hair and put on some mascara. Jonathan arrives a bit later with more lunch and to hang out.

1:45pm, the nurse comes in to apologize for how long its taking to get me a bed. I say no problem, and just out of curiosity, I ask how many beds there are. 6! I couldn’t believe it. And this was a large teaching hospital! This really shows how rare the hospital births are here.

2pm, a bed opens up, and they come to move us to the room where Zachary will make his appearance!!! They want to take the bed I’m in, but I decide to walk. We are not sure why the bed had to come too since there is already one in the room. This is still a mystery.

2:45pm, doctor and student come in to break my water and see if we can get labor started. Everyone’s English is phenomenal, but there were a few phrases that I heard people say that contained the same mistakes. It was entertaining for us. One of these was “rupture the membrames.” It kept cracking me up and I never corrected anyone. So when I go to deliver my next baby here they will probably still be saying it.

3:45pm, not much progression, so they start the pitocin iv.

4:55pm, contractions are starting to get a bit stronger and more frequent. Jonathan runs out for food, and literally 2 minutes after he leaves, the motor starts beeping like crazy because Zach’s heart rate has dropped out. Not going to lie, I started to freak out just a little bit that he was gone.

5:05pm, nurse comes in to fix monitor and easily finds him again. She leaves to go ask doc if she should increase pitocin or not. I’m thinking we’re good at this point but they are the experts.

5:15pm, I start freaking out a bit more because they are definitely stronger and looking regular. Jonathan come back!!!

5:45pm, Jonathan gets back right after my dinner arrives. After just google searching whether it was ok to eat during labor, it was funny to see the slab of meat, potato salad and Lima beans I was served. Forget ice chips…Bon Apetit

6:15pm, doc was happy to see I was still here after meeting us last night. He said he really wanted to help me deliver so he was glad I waited on him. He checked and I had progressed to 4cm. They went ahead and increased pitocin.

7:00pm, I had progressed to about 5 cm, soon after this the pain started getting more intense. At this point in labor with Levi, I still had most of the night to go, and would not deliver him until 11 the next morning. I got an epidural and ended up being completely numb through the rest of delivery. So this time around I was concerned with the intensity of contractions the pitocin was bringing, and I didn’t think I could make it hours and hours more. I requested to speak with the doc about pain medication. You may remember I had back surgery last year. Because I still had remnants of nerve damage in part of my left leg, the doctor had told me he didn’t know if the anesthesiologist would approve me to get an epidural. I was hoping at this point he would approve me because I felt like I was going to die. And I told Jonathan so…several times.

8:00pm, the pain was extremely intense, and I told Jonathan I was stupid not to have asked earlier for pain meds and that I just couldn’t do it (as if there was a choice at that point) and that I was for sure going to die.

8:15pm,  I start frantically telling Jonathan that, “MY BODY IS PUSHING HIM OUT!!! CALL THE NURSE!!!” I was so surprised by this sensation since last time I didn’t feel anything at this point of labor. With Levi, I used the heart rate monitor beeping to let me know when a contraction was coming and I needed to push. This time around…I COULD FEEL EVERYTHING. Jonathan is pressing the call button like crazy to get someone to come in. I think they thought I was just in pain and still wanted to talk about an epidural. Nope, I just didn’t want my husband to have to deliver the child that was PUSHING HIMSELF OUT.

8:30pm, the doctor arrives and realizes it’s go time! I push through 3 contractions, and…

8:45pm, Zachary David arrives. The doctor says, “give me your hands.” I am shaking uncontrollably, but at least I’m lucid this time! They place my little boy in my trembling hands, and then he rests on my chest. Wow, what a feeling. I couldn’t believe I did it! I really thought I was going to die before actually delivering this child but there we were, alive…and it was over! I had a couple of minor tears that the doctor stitched up, and then everyone left the room.

For the next hour and half, we didn’t see or hear from anyone. Sometime after 10, they come in and weigh and measure him and check on my bleeding. This was neat to have the time, but I was really uncomfortable since I was still sitting on the same bed where I delivered, and it was really messy. I really wanted to get up and use the bathroom and clean up but I was hooked up to fluids on the iv.

Zachary’s stats:

48 cm / 18.9in
2750 g / 6lbs 1oz

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The midwife came and checked us both out, and then told us we could either stay and they would try to find a bed for Jonathan, or we could head home if we would prefer. So at 2:30am, we headed back home with our new, tiny little person. Papaw and Levi were sleeping, so we went on to bed without them being any the wiser.

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The next morning, we had planned for Levi to get to “discover” Zach, and also see the present Zach had brought him. We hoped this might stave off some of the jealousy from the get-go if it worked. He seemed smitten with him right away.

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We felt so thankful for how the timing of his birth happened so beautifully. I felt so great, like 1000% better than I had after having Levi and staying in the hospital for 3 days!!! Call me crazy, but the day after having Zach I decided I was totally up for another one already! Haha that feeling didn’t last too long before we realized just how full our hands were going to be with both of these crazy sweet boys. Thank you, Lord, for your good good gifts to us.

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Amsterdam Days

We’ve definitely come to love this city. It is both an interesting and beautiful place. Despite some of its famed unsavory-ness, it is clean (or at least well kept), and very easy to get around to see all it has to offer, both in the city and in the surrounding area. Although this stay was geared toward both work and the safe delivery of our child, we did in fact succeed in getting out and about to some of our favorite places as well as many new ones too.

Shortly after arriving, we celebrated our 9 year anniversary. Jonathan arranged childcare and a fantastic surprise date for us! I had absolutely no idea where we were headed, so color me surprised when we ended up at an old building, and were let inside by a strange man taking us to see the “architect” we had an appointment with. I really thought it was some kind of dinner theatre, but I changed my mind and got slightly concerned when the host did not take us to our seats but rather locked us in a strange room. It turned out to be a live game where you had to actually find different clues that eventually (if you were clever enough) would allow you to unlock the door of the room and escape before the time ran out. Our host had told Jonathan beforehand that the room was really meant for at least 4 people, and it would be very difficult with only 2. That didn’t stop us from figuring it out and escaping, though (9-months pregnant and all). Anyway it was super fun and I would definitely recommend it!Amsterdam happenings apr 16 - 1 of 31

Some friends were traveling and graciously allowed us to use their home. This was one of the biggest blessings of the trip. Levi called it “new home,” but it might as well have been heaven with all those toys there were to play with! One of his favs was the hot pink stroller.Amsterdam happenings apr 16 - 2 of 31Amsterdam happenings apr 16 - 3 of 31

This is a train stop. The public transportation system is incredible here! Levi loved every minute of it too.Amsterdam happenings apr 16 - 5 of 31

The fire truck was almost as fun as the trains. This was outside the grocery store that was less than a 10 minute walk from “new home.”Amsterdam happenings apr 16 - 6 of 31

My dad decided at the last minute that he would like to fly over for the  birth. We were happy to show him one of our favorite restaurants in the City, where we indulged in Dutch pancakes! This was the morning of the day I was going in to get induced. I needed the energy!Amsterdam happenings apr 16 - 7 of 31

Zachary’s birth story will be in the next post, but we will go ahead and skip on to after-birth happenings, since we still had about a month to stay while waiting for his passport! Here is Papaw with his 2 grandsons right before he headed back to the US.Amsterdam happenings apr 16 - 8 of 31

Zach was not a fan of the swaddle the way Levi was. He had to have his hands up by his face at all times, and completely rejected the swaddling notion within the first 2 weeks (in contrast, we finally took the swaddle AWAY from Levi around 10 months old when it just got ridiculous).Amsterdam happenings apr 16 - 9 of 31

Survival with a newborn. Naps and more naps!Amsterdam happenings apr 16 - 10 of 31

Tuesday nights became “family movie night” because of the $5 pizzas we could pick up from a local place close to the house we were staying in.Amsterdam happenings apr 16 - 11 of 31

Bright eyes!Amsterdam happenings apr 16 - 12 of 31

Zach’s first bath. We improvised with a plastic mixing bowl.Amsterdam happenings apr 16 - 13 of 31

One week old and beautiful blue-eyed big brother!Amsterdam happenings apr 16 - 14 of 31Amsterdam happenings apr 16 - 15 of 31

First walk as a family of 4. Also known as the day that Levi learned about dandelions and became obsessed.Amsterdam happenings apr 16 - 16 of 31Amsterdam happenings apr 16 - 17 of 31

Out on the town to apply for Zach’s passport at the consulate.Amsterdam happenings apr 16 - 18 of 31

Outing to the park and first family of 4 picnic. Also known as the day Levi learned about cotton candy and became obsessed.Amsterdam happenings apr 16 - 19 of 31Amsterdam happenings apr 16 - 20 of 31Amsterdam happenings apr 16 - 21 of 31Amsterdam happenings apr 16 - 22 of 31Amsterdam happenings apr 16 - 23 of 31Amsterdam happenings apr 16 - 24 of 31

After picking up Grammie at the airport, we drove through the tulip fields again on the way home. It was neat to see how much they’d changed since we saw them the first time.Amsterdam happenings apr 16 - 25 of 31

Saturday morning market in a nearby town called Harlem.Amsterdam happenings apr 16 - 26 of 31Amsterdam happenings apr 16 - 27 of 31

Zach’s first bottleAmsterdam happenings apr 16 - 28 of 31

Zach is way more of a snuggler than Levi. He especially loves his “happy spot.”Amsterdam happenings apr 16 - 29 of 31

And finally, one last trip to the “gum-bo” as Levi calls it. He went at least every other day with either Daddy or Papaw. He loved to much the small cart around and was actually a really good helper. He even had the coin-return system figured out better than any of us!Amsterdam happenings apr 16 - 30 of 31Amsterdam happenings apr 16 - 31 of 31

We finally got to head back home about a month after the birth when we received Zach’s passport. It was an unforgettable couple of months!

Tulip Garden

At the beginning of April, we traveled to The Netherlands to wait for the arrival of our second son. We had been seeing a doctor at home, who had been monitoring my blood pressure, but also saw a doctor in Amsterdam earlier this year, who thought it would be best for us to some about a month before my supposed due date to deliver there.

 

Zach had impeccable timing when he chose his birthday month. We are in Amsterdam during the very few weeks that the world-famous tulip fields would be blooming! It’s been a dream of mine to see these fields in person, but honestly when we were planning to travel here it didn’t even cross my mind. What a wonderful surprise to realize we would have a chance to visit the famed Keukenhof Gardens outside of the city one afternoon.

My ninth month brought excruciating sciatic pain, rendering me daily useless in helping Levi with anything, and making it very slow and hard for me to walk. Remember when I had back surgery last year? Yeah…it felt like it did before my surgery and scared me silly that my pain had come back!

Anyway, I decided that this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance, and I wasn’t going to miss it, so we spent a beautiful dream-like day at the gardens. Jonathan was so patient with us both, and we saw as much as we could, considering the 2 year old toddler could actually walk a good bit faster than his mom. I only cried a few times and I don’t think either one of them noticed. The pain was worth it! Thank you, Lord, for this awesome day. We are ready for you now, baby Zach!

 

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Easter Picnic

We had fun on Sunday with an Easter Celebration picnic with some friends and coworkers here. Although for days its been sunny and in the high 60’s, we got cloud cover, drizzle, and wind on Easter morning. It didn’t stop us form having a great time though. We only got a few pictures because the phone died, but Levi had a blast with the egg events. He only got 3 “points,” but I am awesome and got action shots of 2 of them going in the baskets!!! As Levi would say, “Great job, Mommy!”

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He loved the Easter egg hunt as well. After we explained the basic concept, he got really excited to find the eggs.

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Yes, thats yet another bump on the noggin for our little man. This one happened at the park about a week ago but already looks better today than it does in this picture. Poor guy will get his balance eventually. Also, he looks kind of miserable in this picture but he was really having fun. Stopping for an obligatory picture with the parents was not, however, part of this fun I guess.

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Hangin’ out!

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Before all the fun egg festivities, we did have a celebration service to rejoice in the sacrifice and resurrection of our Savior. This is, of course, the foundation of our faith and the most important celebration in history! We hope, you too, were able to spend time reflecting on the love and plan of the one true God who loved us enough to make a Way. He is Risen indeed!

Snapshot in Time

Levi is 2.5. Our days are often filled with tantrums and time-outs, whining about watching movies, or randomly refusing a usually loved food option. Sometimes it seems like the questions and the crying will never stop, and we can see that clever little mind at work to try and put off naptime, bedtime, bathtime, or whatever “time” he doesn’t want it to be.

Despite all the challenges, these days are containing some of the most fun and favorite times we’ve had so far with the little guy. He is smart, funny, kind, curious and very encouraging (“Way to go, Mommy!” “Bravo, Daddy!”). He is still obsessed with cars, trucks, trains, and really anything with wheels. He loves to play games, wrestle with Daddy, make things, and do activities with Mommy. He is always keeping us on our toes with his observations and comments, and he will do anything if you say that he can watch a movie after.

He loves music and has a long repertoire of songs he can sing in entirety. This constantly surprises us, especially when it is a song he hasn’t heard in a while and maybe only a few times before but somehow can sing along. He also loves the toddler music class songs that we do together at home and now also the class at his school.

He sometimes resists going to school, but once there he loves it and it starting to really understand and respond in both French and Arabic. He has clearly chosen one of the teachers (Ta-Ta Imane) to be his favorite, and some days he is stuck to her like glue. We’ve had to talk about this that he has to obey ALL the teachers, not just her! Even outside of school, he seems to know upon meeting someone whether he should speak to them in English or Arabic. It’s really fun to see him interacting with so many different people of all ages out at the park, on the street, and in stores.

1/12/16 – As we are walking out door of his school, unprompted he announces: “Yay! I’m going to the red park!” (a park close to our house that has a red slide)

On the way to said park the same day: “Look a red car!”

“I’m walking on the bumpy road!”

“The red park will be so much fun!”

After Mom accidentally stepped on heel of his shoe and it came off: “Oh no, my tire blew out!!!”

1/25/16 – While waiting for mommy to come out to the car.

Levi: there’s an ice cream truck!

Daddy: hmm I don’t think there’s an ice cream truck here buddy

L: IS ice cream truck!!

D: where do you see one?

L: RIGHT HERE!!! (Points to a trailer that has an advertisement for ice cream parked in the empty lot next to our house)

Mixing Languages – 1/29/16

Daddy goes and sits in living room while Levi is playing.

L: hi daddy!

D: hi Levi!

L: I’m playing with heda! (Arabic for ‘this’)

 

After leaving the hanut (convenience store) where there was no Lightning McQueen toy like he had seen the previous time.

L: We will have to shuf (Arabic for see) Lightning later!

Wants something I am holding: “Atainee (give me) that!”

 

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On a windy day: “Byebye clouds see ya later!”

Looking out the window before a storm: “Clouds come from the rain”

Talking about the camera at a café playground: “See me on that tv”

Explaining the parts of a toy car he was riding: “This is the blue car with yellow steering wheel and yellow push it and yellow wheels”

“More zi eff, Mommy” (local breakfast bread pronounced ghay-iff)

After peeling a boiled egg at breakfast: “Great job mommy you did it!!”

 

At bedtime: He chooses one of us each night to “rock Levi” meaning we sway back and forth as we hum a couple rounds of “Jesus Loves Me” before we lay him, on his side, at the very corner of the pack and play with his head on his pillow (which he also has to have just right). Before this, he has started to encourage himself about the next day’s happenings: “Tomorrow we play with cars, go to the park, ride the car, eat a cookie, play with Didi, sing songs, have so much fun!” Of course it’s a different combination of ‘events’ that he chooses to list each time.

Potty Training: We have not “officially” started this, but since he has showed interest, we are giving him a small cookie if he uses the toilet (yes we do call it the toilet not the potty so that he is easily understood by his teachers at school). We have started to convince him a good time for this is right before nap and right before bed. This has cut down on soak-throughs! We figured with so much transition about to happen with baby, we would wait until later this summer when we are back and home and settled in before making it a priority. He usually brings at least 1-2 cars in with him to set on the counter beside him and encourages himself often: “Bravo, I did it! Now get a cookie.” Are we lucky enough for it to be this easy the whole time? I doubt it but will enjoy it for now.

As I finish typing this, I think of so much more I want to say to take a snapshot of this phase. I just love it…and it is exhausting at the very same time. And as I feel his baby brother doing somersaults right now, I know that our lives as a family of 3 are running very short, and we will welcome a whole new set of joys and challenges in a few short weeks. Until then, Levi…live it up and get as spoiled as you can by Mommy and Daddy. Wait….you definitely already do that. We love you, little (big) boy!

P.S. Pleeeeeeease stay asleep all night tonight, Mommy and Daddy are tired!!!

 

‘Tis the Season

We had a great holiday season this year! It was full as always but we did find time to rest also and enjoy some family time. Here is a random compilation of photos from Christmastime.

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Well this one isn’t Christmasy but it is cute.

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Levi goofing around as I try to get some red sweater pictures of him. Unsuccessful.

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Family Christmas pic at a Christmas party

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On the road down south to watch the new Star Wars movie

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Made it!

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Having fun at a store in casa.

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Levi going to “goofball island” (Inside Out, anyone?) at our friend’s house

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Visiting our friend on Christmas Eve. We went for a walk and Levi was copying everything he did!

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Christmas afternoon!

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I can’t believe how much he loves this present Daddy found! Screw and unscrew, screw and unscrew!

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Trying to include the grandmas so we waited until after nap time and did a simultaneous FaceTime call on 2 different devices!

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It took a lot of convincing for him to open the next present!

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And the third one…a “hoo hoo crain”

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I realized it was frustrating for him that everything kept coming apart, so during nap time the next day I glued as much as I could together and its much more fun now!

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Party favors I was making for the English activity time I did at Levi’s school the week after Christmas

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treats inside!

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All wrapped up!

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Having fun with instruments

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Marching with instruments

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Learning shapes in English

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The only problem Levi had was he thought it was a puzzle so he kept peeling up the shapes after they were glued…multiple times.

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We had some New Year’s fun with friends at an indoor playground! Thanks for the Christmas money, Nana and Grammie!

Thanksgiving Visitors

We loved having my Dad and Deb visit us for Thanksgiving this year! We spent a couple of days in Marseille (only $22 one way from our city during the low season…enticing, anyone???), and then headed down to our city for the last few days. It was short, but full week! Pictures are worth 1000 words, and so this post is reeeeeeeeally long. Not as long as the list I sent them ahead of time of goodies to bring us though. And they obliged! Thanks, Dad and Deb for all of our treats, and for a fun time!

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Some carousel fun with Papaw at the Christmas market the first night. When you only have 2.5 days in Southern France…you gotta pack in everything you can!

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Enjoying churros and roasted chestnuts at the market

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Levi loved playing with all of the old wooden wheeled toys at the home we stayed in.

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Levi and Papaw reading about the Provence

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Showing puppy the view

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Saign0n. What a beautiful and quaint little town we stayed in. So little and quaint that nothing was ever open while we were there! They take “off-season” very seriously. Come on….the BAKERY??? We already want to return in the Spring or Summer!

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Family hike

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Beautiful view of Mt. Ventoux

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Driving through the Southern France countryside

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Sunset and view of Mt. Ventoux

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Levi doesn’t discriminate because of language

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Exploring the Papal Palace in Avignon. Yes, for a few years the Papcy rebelled and did not want to live in Rome. Look it up. Very interesting. So interesting that Levi went on and took his nap while we were walking around.

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Back home! Taking the grandparents to “red park” right around the corner from our apartment

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Stopping for tea to warm up while walking around the city one evening

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Beautiful view from the rooftop cafe.

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Levi is helping crumble the cornbread for Thanksgiving Dressing!

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The Thanksgiving spread. I don’t think our friends here are from the south, because instead of the “veggies” that we are used to…you know, mac and cheese, bacon-soaked beans, buttery mashed potatoes, dinner rolls…there was a surprising amount of actual veggies on the table including more broccoli and cauliflower than starches. It was all delicious, though and the desserts were plentiful! My mom’s cornbread dressing recipe was a huge hit! Great job crumbling, Levi!

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Sunset drive to one of our favorite cafe/playground combos. Yes, those are camels. Welcome to Morocco.

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Family lighthouse photo at the “edge of Africa”

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Papaw and Levi having fun at the playground

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Levi learns about Superman!

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At the American Ligati0n Museum. M0rocco was the first country to recognize the US as an independent nation, and this is the oldest piece of US property owned overseas.

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Showing off our bargaining skills in the old Mediina

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Super Levi!

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Levi’s new obsession…packing a suitcase and going on a trip (to the airport, the train station, via taxi, to a friend’s house, you name it he pretends it). Does this say something about our lifestyle!?

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See ya later!