aya pearl

“A miracle is just a shift in perception from fear to love. “

When I look back on the conception of Aya, it was a moment of purity and perfection in my life. We were in Kaua’i, across the road from the ocean. We had Indra with us, and we were saying goodbye one more time to Laurie with our family present. Everything about that moment felt magical. It was like we were on a higher vibration. I look back at the moment and think of sunshine and peace.

When I discovered I was pregnant, I felt complete joy. I’d felt her magic with me – I was not surprised. Somehow I knew and was happy in a way I’d experienced few times in my life.

What I learned in this pregnancy and in the birth were maybe some of the the most poignant lessons I’ve ever learned. Let go. I had such an incredible birth and pregnancy with Indra that I started holding on tightly to replicating that with Aya. With Indra, I didn’t know anything and had no expectations. With Aya, I wanted the best for her so dearly that I added anxiety to my already depleted state. I’d wanted a home and to be settled and feel peace. But she taught me, more than any other time in my life, when to fight and when to let go. I was so tired I didn’t feel like I had any more fight in me, but I found it for her. When it was time to let go of my expectations, I did it for her too.

The night before I went into labor, I knew something was happening. I had a feeling. There were the physical symptoms of the body releasing and relaxing, but so was my psyche. My emotions were heightened. I was open and raw. I don’t know that I felt ready, this time I had more fear. I had more self-doubt. I didn’t feel as supported.

I went to bed knowing that things were shifting. Some time after 4:00 I started having regular but mild contractions. I didn’t wake Ezra, but when he woke after 6:00 with Indra, I let him know things were starting. I let Amy (my doula), mom and Jen (my birth photographer) know what was happening, but thought I had some time. Not really thinking about it, I nursed Indra. I knew that nursing released oxytocin but I wasn’t thinking about that. Quickly I had strong contractions but they soon subsided. So I let Indra nurse on the other side. In hindsight, why? I knew things were changing but she was still my main priority, and I wanted this moment with her. I still wanted to take care of her. This brought on a whole new flood of contractions and Ezra suggested I not wait and to have my mom come for Indra now.

My mom came around 7:30 and was worried about me. I brushed the concern off, I was consumed by what I was feeling. I said goodbye to sweet Indra and tried not to make a big deal of it. But my mom called and expressed her concerns… I was so hot and sweaty. I was in labor of course, but there’s something about having your own mama around that makes you feel vulnerable. Ezra shared this call with me and it made me more honest with myself about what I was feeling. Until this point I’d figured I was in early labor, that I just needed to get in my groove. The first couple hours was nothing, so how could this last hour be much different?

I talked with Amy and said I was thinking about heading to the hospital. She reaffirmed she was there to support me when I needed her. Because we were having this conversation did I want to try a bath or something different first? It was up to me. I got in the bath but all of a sudden I felt pushy. I was so hot and my body wanted to push. Ezra thought maybe we should try timing contractions. I remember being on my hands and knees in the bedroom and I couldn’t figure out where they started and ended. I was in one long contraction.

I decided to go to the hospital. It didn’t cross my mind that I’d have a baby soon, I just didn’t know what else to do. There would be no beautiful laboring pictures at our home. There was no time to adjust to what was happening, it was time to go. Ready or not.

By 8:30 we were in the car and I texted Jen, that I was feeling pushy. She said she was on her way!! We pulled up at the hospital and valet was not a service on Saturdays. So Ezra ran inside and got a wheelchair. A woman at the front desk wheeled me quickly to the elevator as Ezra ran to park the car. I was trying not to push in the elevator. Then I tried not to push while I was checking in to the maternity unity. I was wheeled to Triage and in the room alone, swaying my hips and groaning and feeling a bit out of control, my water broke. It was a comical sound, and I wish someone else had been there to tell me if it had been audible to their ears or just something I’d felt internally.

After that everything happened so fast, it’s hard to remember the sequence. Ezra arrived and they checked how dilated I was. I was complete. I was stunned. As they wheeled me to a birthing room I asked if I could get in the tub and they laughed saying there was no time. These next minutes were a blur. I was on the table pushing and Aya’s heartbeat must have dipped because they gave me oxygen and had me change positions. They gave me a bar to push my feet against and a strap to pull on but it wasn’t productive. I needed to squat. I remember Gerry, the midwife, saying two more pushes and when that passed I was disappointed. I wanted to accuse “you said two more pushes! I should be done.” I tried to keep calm and just focus. When things became so intense so quickly at home, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do this, at least unmedicated. But now in the hospital it was never a thought. I knew I had to just focus on the next push. Then the next. I had sensations this time that I’d not felt with Indra. The ring of fire was a real thing. Aya seemed to get a little stuck and then she made her way out.

At 9:27 Aya Pearl came into this world sunnyside and eyes wide open. My sister called it auspicious and I can’t think of a better way to describe it. She came into my arms in a hurry. A labour of just four-and-a-half hours. My whole body was shaking. I forgot to wonder if she was a girl before they announced it. I was so flooded with emotion, a bit overwhelmed, and in shock of what’d just happened. I kept saying, I can’t believe its over. It felt like one minute I was pregnant and sleeping and the next I had a baby.

Something about Aya just feels like magic to me. I feel she will continue to surprise me and show me my strengths and weaknesses. She came into the world awake. She was quiet, eyes open and looked around. I cannot wait to see what she does with this life and learn who she is.

maternity photos

“The secret to having it all, is knowing you already do.”

My friend Cait took these beautiful photos. I wanted a few images to remember this time and how special it was. I had everything I could possibly want, and I was so grateful for it.

back to minneapolis

“It’s ok if you fall down and lose your spark. Just make sure that when you get back up, you rise as the whole damn fire.”

I was so happy to be moving back to Minneapolis. It felt like we were moving forward. The past year had been rough. A lot of moving around. A lot of sadness. A lot of loneliness. We got an apartment for the beginning of May. We went back up for an appointment and refresher birth class and started to get settled in.

But first a week at Nana and Papa’s getting spoiled.

Our new digs. It was not my dream home, but it was a home, and I was grateful for it. All of our family helped us move and then it was just the task of unpacking and taking nice walks around the small lake in our backyard.

33 weeks big!

Everything about this time was bittersweet. I found myself very anxious about the future. I was so worried about my sweet Indra. She is such a sensitive being. She had still been sleeping with us, and nursing and hadn’t spent a night away. The day of our birth class, Bethany watched her for 6 hours – that was the most I’d been away from her! Shortly after, I asked my mom to take her one day a week. Partly for me, but mostly so that Indra would be used to being away longer when I went into labour.

My sweet little strawberry eating girl

Celebrating Mother’s Day. It was a little anti-climactic but we did get out for a short walk.

We’ve discovered popsicles!

I loved going through pictures and seeing tons of these selfies from Ezra’s runs. He bought a new stroller so he could take Indra out. I’m pretty sure she loved the special wind-blown time! I’m pretty sure Ez was buying her treats too.

She looks like she’s not enjoying this, but I’m betting she asked to be carried. We took walks frequently to the nearby brewery, where Ez could drink beer and Indra could run around outside.

Things were changing fast. Indra no longer slept next to me in bed. Then even that changed and Ezra took her out of the room and I slept alone. This was a very hard time for me. I wanted a baby and I wanted Indra to have a sister. But it was a challenging time. It was difficult sleeping, and eating and managing my stress. Maybe it was too much moving around, or gaining more weight than I wanted, or just worrying so damn much about Indra. But these last couple months of pregnancy were not joyful ones.

This sweet sweet girl!

The day after we got back from our travels I had a midwife appt. Perhaps it was because I was dehydrated, or exhausted from jetlag or just stressed with all the moving. But I had a slightly higher blood pressure reading. The midwife decided to tell me everything that could go wrong if it went higher. This stressed me WAY out. From that time on, I had higher readings. Never at home, only in the office. Words like preeclampsia and induction started getting thrown around casually. Then we found out baby was breech. I couldn’t believe it! They said we’d have to do a hospital birth. I knew I was fine, but now the breech. I went into a tailspin. I had what I think was a panic attack. This was not how I had been envisioning these last months to go. I felt heartbroken and responsible. I started spending my weeks doing spinning babies exercises, inverting myself, doing moxibustion. I had acupuncture appointments and chiropractic appointments on top of two weekly midwife appointments. It was like a part-time job. I had never felt so defeated.

But still there was this silly one to help me keep perspective.

And Ezra was so amazing to me in this time. He took off work most days for me to go to appointments. We found out I wouldn’t be covered at the hospital with my same midwives, so we had to switch midwives. I was four weeks away from my due date and I was starting over. I cannot explain the level of despair I felt during this time. I was worried about my health and the baby’s health. I was worried someone was going to want to induce me. I just needed something to start going right.

My gardening helper. First plant the tomatoes, then water the banana tree, next put babies on the pansies.

And then things did start to shift. I switched care and had the good fortune of meeting Carrie, a really incredible midwife. She listened like no one else had been listening. She still made me do blood work, but let me stop the stress tests, and I could start coming in only once a week. She helped me make an appointment with a doctor who was really great at ECVs. All I wanted was a vaginal birth at this point. Not just for my sake, but for the baby’s. I had read way too much on why this was beneficial. I was frustrated when people told me to stop worrying about it. Carrie agreed I shouldn’t just throw up my hands without a good fight.

My doula Amy came with for the procedure. She has this presence that just encourages (maybe even demands) you open and release. I sobbed as she played calming music, and sprayed palo santo, rubbed my feet and put a flower in my hair. At the time it made me uncomfortable. I just wanted to disappear. But this was just the healing and support I needed. I was so used to feeling like everything was out of my control. The tears of self-judgement washed over me and I left with that exhausted cathartic feeling, that only a good cry can give. Oh, and I left with a baby head down!

We got together with my birth mom friends from Indra’s birth class. I felt so lucky to still have that support system. The kids were all so cute together.

Found more cute selfies on the camera!

What’s summer without playing outside in the water!

There were many walks to the park and along the path.

There were also many early mornings where Ezra let me sleep in and he took Indra to Starbucks for yogurt and granola. Notice the pjs and kitty shoes that were her latest obsession.

I was starting to look at each weekend as possibly the last as a family of three. I wanted to soak in that time as much as possible. I never did get preeclampsia and my blood pressure readings went down. They had me stop doing blood tests and confirmed, that yes – I was just getting nervous at my appointments. This left me feeling validated and stronger and more confident again. Just what I needed after one of the worst months of my life and heading in to labor.

Oh my heart.

After Indra was born the birth center made homemade bread with honey. I was sad that I wouldn’t get that this time and Amy suggested I make some. She’s so brilliant! And so here is Indra helping to make bread for after labor. Stirring and kneading… maybe with a little help from her feet. Ok, now I was ready.

spring with family

“The way to know life is to love many things.” – Van Gogh

For me, one of the best things about travel is coming home to the ones you love. Watching the joy on Indra’s face as she saw her family was priceless. After her first glimpse of Levi, she was backing up into his lap for some cuddles and reading. There is so much comfort in being in the familiar and with those who know and love you best.

Taking some afternoon walks with Nana and playing in the snow, riding Hunter, and going to the zoo were just some of Indra’s fun activities. However, even after months with her few toys, she still hadn’t totally tired of them. The Little Blue Truck will always be a favorite.

We were leaving for New Mexico on Easter so we thought it would be nice to celebrate with Indra. I was so proud of this eco egg dye. haha. I wanted to make it from scratch but just didn’t have the energy for it. It was a chilly egg hunt but we did it. Last year we were in Iowa for Laurie’s celebration of life, so this was Indra’s first try at egg dyeing.

We flew to Colorado and then drove to New Mexico. We were off to visit Ezra’s grandpa Harry and then to all be together on the one-year passing of Laurie. Our days were not as free as everyone else’s. Ezra had to work and Indra needed naps so we usually joined up in the afternoons.

Four generations of Littles. We took a little venture out to a spot where Harry did one of his races. It was a beautiful day.

Back at the hotel pool. Indra is not feeling it. That’s ok, I’d rather she be a little scared.

Just some beautiful landscapes whilst driving back to Colorado.

I’m not sure there was ever a girl who loved her cousins more. Yoga at the brewery, why not?

Once back in the Midwest, this greeted us. Some of the novelty of being back home was quickly knocked out of me!

Indra seemed to remember all her toys and the activities she did with Bop. She got right to work.

All of Laurie’s sisters gathered at the house to help go through her clothes. It was an an emotional exercise but one that needed to happen. At least all being together made the weekend feel more lighthearted.

We had yet to see the Lindgrens so Indra and I took off for a few days in Champaign. We finally got a little hint of spring in the air. We enjoyed being outside and seeing flowers and really just hanging out.

When cousins match – it’s the cutest!

Back to Dave’s house it was nice to see Ez. This is a grainy picture but I love seeing Ezra read to Indra. These are some of the sweet memories I’ll remember most.

I know a murder is for crows, but I feel like this should be called a murder of kittens.

Feeling awfully big and outgrowing my clothes! Need to get a few more shirts I think!

Enjoying some alone time now that we’re home. I took myself on a date to the coffee shop to start my Permaculture course. Unfortunately with all the moving that will happen, I never got around to finishing it.

And that’s a wrap! A good first month back in the (mostly) Midwest!

london

“Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.” – Charles Dickens

Last stop before heading back to the good ‘ol US of A. We’ve been to London many time before but never with this little munchkin. She’s all fancy rocking a teeny tiny pony.

I love walking around all these old buildings. I’m sure every single one of them has meaningful history. I don’t know it but I’m sure if I asked Ezra he would know. He’s a little bit of an anglophile.

Walking around Covent Garden. Looking for tea, listening to music and Indra basking in the attention of a group of school kids. #livingherbestlife

Just walking to the palace. Buckingham to be specific.

Selfies!

Lounging in St. James Park. We were probably scaring birds and eating crackers. I can’t quite remember but its more likely true than not. Also, the pregnant lady probably wanted to rest.

Loving spring!

Next on to Hyde Park to feed the birds whilst scaring them.

Taking a toddler and a stroller into a crowded pub. What could possibly be wrong with that?

No one wanted this picture but me apparently.

Westminster. Luckily it was closed. Somehow, Ezra has never been inside. Since having kids I’ve realized how little I like sightseeing with Ezra. He likes to read every last word on every last sign. I don’t. Which means I try to occupy Indra and keep her from yelling while he is absorbed in his reading. To be fair, he has started just taking pictures of the signs so he can read it later. I feel this is also time-consuming. Dividing and conquering seems like a much better strategy.

Every good city has a Chinatown.

We divided and conquered. Indra and I napped, while Ezra went to the British Museum.’

Indra has been obsessed with buses. We tried to take one, but the route we were going was closed. So Ezra picked up this toy instead. It was a hit. It makes lots of noises and has flashing lights. Perfect.

The Tube was also a hit. Luckily Indra is using safe riding practices. She’s a natural.

One more ride heading to the airport. This hug from my little love says it all. What a wonderful past few months together – I already miss it!

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

cyprus

“Go forward in life with a twinkle in your eye and a smile on your face, but with a great and strong purpose in your heart.” – Hinckley

 

We made it to Cyprus just in time for me to be 23 weeks!

Once we arrived I was so glad we hadn’t decided to go home early. I had just been worn down and all I really wanted was to spend some time together and relax. So while the town was fairly dead we enjoyed the great balcony. We drank coffee every morning, Indra ran around naked and danced to some Cypriot music that Ezra downloaded. Or was is Greek?

I felt like my baby was growing up. I was preparing for everything to change. I never gave much thought to breastfeeding before I became a mom, but it has been one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. I am also preparing for this relationship to change as well. But for now, I cherish these moments. I couldn’t figure out how to edit this, so if a nipple offends, so be it! We’ve all got them, we’ve all seen them.

Indra started becoming aware and fascinated with bugs. Trying to pass on some Buddhist teachings we encouraged her to just watch instead of touch. What you can’t hear is the million “hi’s” this poor bug heard. Hey, better that than being smooshed. It was actually pretty sweet.

Local beach down a not very scenic stretch of road. But hey, it led to this.

Oh dear, glad we’re not out in public. Haha.

Making delicious food on our Mediterranean balcony. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Being so far east, Ezra had to start work pretty late, so our days just shifted. We tried to get out in the mornings and explore or go for a walk. If a beach was involved, all the better.  Kind of a magical afternoon playing on the beach.

So around this time frame Indra is obsessed with bubbles. Obviously.

Other things to be newly obsessed with… strawberries. Poor kid looks like a ghost with the amount of sunscreen on. I thought this was supposed to be the “clear” formula. Not so impressed.

There are a lot of beautiful beaches in Cyprus. However a lot of them are the umbrella-to-umbrella sort with lines of tourists. Maybe this happens here as well, but Konnos beach was tucked away next to a nature preserve, it was quiet, unassuming and an absolute gem!

All tuckered out from the beach.

After about a week on the eastern side of the island we decided to stop in Nicosia on our way west. I’ve read that Nicosia is the last divided city. Up until recently you couldn’t even cross the Green line to get into North Cyprus. We were going to take a few days here, but hiring a car and logistics were just getting too complicated with all the red tape. So we just spent an afternoon on the other side wandering around for a bit.

Beautiful architecture on both sides of the divide.

Old Venetian walls.

I want to live in this garden.

After our venture to the capital we decided to stay near Pahpos to see some of the historical/archeological sites. But of course during the day Indra and I needed something to do.

We spent many a hour at the beach tossing in every stone and pebble in sight.

On the days when we didn’t get out, things could get a little crazy.

If this picture has a slight purple hue, its because the apartment we were staying in wasn’t in a great location – so we moved. We had a hard time finding a good fit on such short notice, so we stayed in a hotel. This hotel was full of wild patterns and lighting that changed to match whatever mood you were in. I was always in the “just normal lighting please” mood, but somehow it always looked slightly purple.

Please, oh please, eat something else on that plate other than peanut butter toast.

Soaking up these last beach days with my best girl.

Playing on the patio. What’s so unusual? Haha.

After a seriously wild rugged ride in our tiny car, we made it to Lara Beach. And it was beautiful!

The family that travels together…

throws copious amounts of rocks in the water together.

Hitting up some Unesco World Heritage sites.

Still in her oatmeal phase, but its starting to wind down thankfully.

We needed one last time at Coral Bay.

25 weeks already!

It was our last day and we needed to quick go see some of the historical sites. First up the Archaealogical Park.

What’s so great about those old rocks? These ones look pretty good to me.

These guys look like they knew how to party.

We did not plan our time wisely. With an hour or so left, the Tomb of Kings and Indra’s nap were conflicting. So being the tired, achy pregnant lady, I took one for the team. I sat in the cool car while the toddler napped. Ezra saw this. Cyprus you were alright.

malta

“Two things to remember in life. Take care of your thoughts when you’re alone and your words when you’re with people.”

 

As I was going through pictures for this post I was reminded of all the fun we had in Malta. Unfortunately, I had not been remembering our few weeks here very favorably. The weather had been cold and windy and we had a couple unpleasant interactions that were clouding my memory. It’s interesting how the mind can gravitate towards the negative so easily. At least it’s something I need to be vigilante against.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YMaker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YMaker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YWe stayed the first few days in Sliema but easily took a ferry to Valleta. There were some fun festivities happening and we had a good time dancing with Indra. People were out and about in costumes and music was blaring. The city was incredibly beautiful and had recently been named Capital of Culture for 2018.Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

Really beautiful architecture everywhere you look.IMG_20180217_144909-COLLAGEIMG_20180217_160805-COLLAGEI was starting to indulge my pregnancy sweet tooth a little too much. Indra didn’t seem to mind. Somehow sharing made me feel a little less guilty.00100dPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20180217182008641_COVER-COLLAGETraditional Maltese sweets. They looked amazing. In reality… they were so-so.Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YIMG_5578Marsaxlokk Fish market. We did not buy fish but I bought a bag full of pastries and some cheap sunglasses. Indra got to run around so it was win-win.IMG_5583IMG_20180218_141536_1-PANOMaker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YBeautiful bays and countryside. In better weather it would be a great place to swim!PANO_20180218_152827IMG_5594IMG_5587-COLLAGEFamily selfies!IMG_5605-COLLAGENext we went to the coastal town Mellieha. I read it was a great place to vacation with families. We had wanted out of the Valleta area, it was really congested and we weren’t really interested in staying in a big city the entire time. I think Malta must really come to life in the summer. You can tell the beaches and water are beautiful, but it was still the off-season and everything just seemed a little dirty, empty and rundown. Oh well.Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YIndra had no problem entertaining herself with all the new cultural experiences. I mean, she got to dig in a suitcase with views of the Mediterranean!IMG_5650-COLLAGEMust be about 21 weeks!IMG_5660Still digging.IMG_5674So even if the weather was a little cool, the landscape was incredible once the sun came out.IMG_20180220_104615-COLLAGENot so ugly. I think we took a wrong turn and just ended up seeing this view.PANO_20180221_140439PANO_20180221_140820PANO_20180221_144625The best part of this trip was just getting to spend time together as a threesome. Ezra would take off time in the mornings, when he could, and we’d go for a drive or a walk. It made everything all worthwhile – to have this time together.IMG_5691Stopping to smell the flowers. No, really. I mean like every. single. flower.IMG_5696Spending some time at this golden beach.Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YThese two just make my heart swell.IMG_5713IMG_5717IMG_5720-COLLAGEKnowing we were coming to Malta, I scheduled my 20 week ultrasound, even though I was closer to 22 weeks. We went to this little hospital and got lost along the way. Ezra let me out of the car and I ran the last couple blocks trying to find it. It was such a strange experience – all the nurses wore old-school uniforms, and I was told to wait in random lines, and the ultrasound machine seemed ancient. Indra freaked out when she saw me lying on the table and Ezra had to take her out of the room because she wouldn’t calm down. But as soon as I saw the baby on the monitor for the first time, I was just overcome with feelings of love. I felt protective and the baby seemed so real.Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YIMG_5729Post ultrasound celebration in the car.IMG_5732Stopping to smell flowers again.Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YChecking out Mdina, the former walled-capital. IMG_20180224_110913-COLLAGEOverlooking the countryside while trying some traditional foods. Like Pastizzi and maybe some pizza and warm milk. Those last two are local right? Hey, I’m sure they’ve got cows somewhere.Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YMaker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YAfter our time in Mdina we took a ferry over to Gozo. We walked down to the water and met some farmers that gifted Indra with oranges. IMG_20180224_152417Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YSalt pans near our apartment.MVIMG_20180225_142651-COLLAGESo Gozo was great! It also happened to be cold. Our apartment was so cold that we had to sleep with about seven blankets and wore winter hats to bed. There was a gas heater, but it came with instructions not to sleep with because of the fumes. So that sort of put a damper on our experience and were feeling a little rundown from the chill all day.IMG_5734I’ve only seen a few episodes of Game of Thrones but there were scenes shot in Gozo. So we headed over to check out the Azure window, which actually collapsed, but it was stunning coastline nonetheless. Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YMaker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YBut first, here’s Indra heading toward the flowers.00000IMG_00000_BURST20180225154730426_COVER-COLLAGEIMG_20180225_154223-COLLAGEMaker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YIndra trying to figure out the fetoscope. She did not have much luck.IMG_5753Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YIMG_20180227_155501-COLLAGEWe were having a pretty good time in Gozo but we had some decisions to make. Did we want to stay in Malta longer? We didn’t really want to. So what was next?MVIMG_20180228_111017-COLLAGEMaker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YWe headed back to the Valleta area for a few more days. We were really trying to figure out what was next. We played with the idea of going home, but we didn’t really want that. I was tired of all the moving around and was feeling bad for Indra so we headed out and bought some toys. Something I should have done much sooner. Here she is blissed out.IMG_5797Her new teddy that she picked out. She saw it and just grabbed for it. I’ve never seen her more excited.IMG_5800Helping me cook.Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

At this point in the trip I was struggling a bit. I really was wanting to nest and find a home. But we had return flights and the cost to bump them up just didn’t seem worth it. We played around with crazy ideas of just hanging out in Florida for a few weeks or going to Bermuda. None of which made any sense. So instead we booked tickets to Cyprus and hoped for warmer weather. I wasn’t wanting sightseeing, I was wanting some relaxed time as a family.

Our last night before we head out.

 I am really glad we came. I’m not sure if I’d ever feel the need to go back, but it was an experience. I think I’ve just learned that traveling while pregnant and with a toddler has its challenges. But still worthy ones.More beautiful architecture.

My little bear cub.

 

 

 

lisbon

“Those who have a strong sense of love and belonging have the courage to be imperfect.” -Brené Brown

We were on our way to Malta, but because there were no direct flights, we decided to turn a layover into a few days. Neither of us had been to Lisbon before and were pretty excited. It was a bit chilly and drizzly, but that didn’t stop us from getting out and exploring the old part of town, Alfama, which was where we were staying. IMG_5403IMG_5408IMG_5424Unfortunately, after viewing this pretty church we decided to get groceries. On our way home it was dark and we were hurrying and the sidewalks were mangled and well, I stumbled, crashed on my hands and knees, groceries flew everywhere and I sat on the middle of the sidewalk and ugly cried. I had a pretty bad gash in my palm and pain in my knee. I was actually a little nervous that I tore something. Luckily, this part of town is made up primarily of staircase after staircase. I hobbled along trying not to cry, while listening to Indra wail because she was so concerned. After some ice and rest that night, I thought I could venture out the next day. I was grateful I hadn’t landed on my belly.IMG_5430Walking around the Comércio Plaza. Doing cool stuff like chasing birds and picking up rocks… when in Lisbon! Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veMVIMG_20180212_103823-COLLAGEMaker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veBeautiful tiles everywhere.MVIMG_20180212_101732-COLLAGEAfter limping around all morning, my knee had had enough. So besides a few smaller outings I decided to put my leg up and just rest. Luckily, I had this sweet babe to cuddle with. We didn’t do much on Valentine’s day but I was with the ones I love. And Ezra had been taking such good care of me.IMG_5448Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-verI struggle with feelings of guilt when Ezra goes out to explore and I, either don’t want to, or in this instance, can’t. Thankfully, he went to visit a castle that I wasn’t all that interested in. This is my blog so really I shouldn’t even post any of his pictures. It’s sort of like the age-old-question of “If a tree falls in the woods… did it really happen?” A similar pondering “If I didn’t visit the castle, does it really exist/matter?” Hmmm…Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veIMG_20180214_101925PANO_20180214_103129PANO_20180214_104335It looks horribly ugly anyway!Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veMaker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veLisbon was a tiny bit of a bust, but that’s ok. You can’t win them all. We’d actually really like to come back to Portugal when it’s warmer and drive around taking our time. So c’est la vie.

Indra training for the subway olympics.

IMG_5459

azores

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Proust”

For the most part I agree with this quote, but with all due respect to Mr. Proust, sometimes, you go someplace so beautiful, and it kind of is all about the landscape. Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veAfter a month in the Canary Islands, we decided to go explore. Ezra came up with seeing the Azores. I knew very little about these islands, but was excited to see them – and what a gem they were! This post has way too many pictures, but really, like I said, it really was all about the landscape.Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veWe landed on the island of São Miguel and decided to stay in the capital of Ponte Delgada for about a week. With the time difference Ezra often started work in the early afternoon. So the mornings were spent exploring. During the rest of the day Indra and I did our usual. Which means we looked for playgrounds and parks and shopped for groceries. Only the setting was significantly more beautiful than what we were used to.MVIMG_20180128_161304-COLLAGEOur first outing was to Vila Franca do Campo. I don’t really remember why we picked here, but it was a quaint little town. I’m not sure how many people visit the Azores, but it can’t be many. We had a difficult time finding a good guidebook, so we piecemealed this trip together through little snippets online and blogs. Anyway, the most important find in this town was a bakery that was known for their queijadas – which are basically little custard cakes. And they’re damn delicious.IMG_4910Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-ve

Besides the landscape, the people here are also quite incredible. They were so welcoming and kind. When was the last time you walked into a bakery, had your child stolen away, passed around and given a private tour? Indra was a little unsure of all the attention.IMG_4911-COLLAGEGorgeous countryside and rows of tea.PANO_20180129_115734-COLLAGEPANO_20180131_123156View from our rental. Not too shabby.Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-ve

Almost no one else was around at Lagoa do Fogo. We took a little walk down to the caldera before huffing it back up. At least I was huffing with all the new weight.PANO_20180201_110257PANO_20180201_110954IMG_20180201_113210MVIMG_20180201_113642-COLLAGEThere was the most amazing park by our apartment, but the pictures I took turned out really poorly. Here Indra is harassing a cat. This was after she harassed a duck for quite some time.IMG_4982Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veOn to the town of Furnas which was known for its hotsprings and thermal baths. IMG_5018It was also known for another incredible park called Parque Terra Nostra, where we whiled away quite a few hours.IMG_5057And where we took way too many pictures….IMG_20180203_134122-COLLAGEIMG_5069Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-vePANO_20180203_145205IMG_20180203_164926-COLLAGEHot springs at Furnas lake.IMG_5107IMG_20180203_165016-COLLAGEJust some more landscape porn.PANO_20180204_123806IMG_20180204_124207IMG_5170IMG_5174After a week we headed to the island of Pico. Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veWe had gorgeous sunsets every night looking at the island of Faial.Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veView from our apartment. I also think its worth mentioning how every host in the Azores left you local treats. Special breads, cheese, jam and a bottle of wine. The hospitality was really quite extraordinary.Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veMaker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veAbout 19 weeks.IMG_5178PANO_20180205_103716Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-vePico is known for a few things. But probably the most memorable are Mt. Pico which is the highest peak in Portugal. And also these incredibly strange vineyards. These are walls made of lava to protect the vines from the wind and salt. They’re actually a Unesco world heritage sight. I’ve never seen anything like it.PANO_20180205_105551MVIMG_20180205_102908-COLLAGEEz must have been on a call, so we’d be up top kicking a ball, drying laundry or watching the ferry go back-and-forth between the islands.Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veWhen we were inside, Indra could usually be found near this bag which housed her toys.IMG_5203None other than Mt. Pico making an appearance.IMG_5207-COLLAGEPANO_20180208_110931MVIMG_20180208_114748-COLLAGEMVIMG_20180208_115350-PANOCall me strange, but I found this little house charming. It’s sort of what I want some day – maybe a little more modern, but someplace small, in a beautiful setting and quiet.Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-vePANO_20180208_122837Practicing her midwifery skills. I just recently heard the heartbeat for the first time! At about 19.5 weeks, so exciting!!IMG_5232Now off to Faial for one full day before our flight. Finally getting to ride the ferry we’d been watching all week.Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veBut hoping we don’t end up like that boat in the background!IMG_20180210_081146_1Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veArriving in to Horta and excited to explore!Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veMt. Pico from the other side.Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veNeeding a little caffeine and sustenance after a super early morning.Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veMaker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veMore calderas and tunnels that look like hobbit holes.PANO_20180210_112059IMG_5241Trying to get a sweet picture. These turned out pretty good I’d say!IMG_5254-COLLAGEMaker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veSee, gorgeous landscapes everywhere!Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-vePANO_20180210_130848It just keeps getting better.IMG_5265MVIMG_20180210_135638-COLLAGEEven though we were only on Faial one day, it really stood out. We made the most of it and I was feeling sad we would be leaving the following morning. I will always treasure our time here. We were so inspired, it had been awhile since we had that zest for exploring again. We were talking a lot about our future and excited for what it held. And I will treasure our mornings together as a family.IMG_5273-COLLAGEThese two bring me such feelings of bittersweet joy. I will always remember this moment. I was already missing it as I watched them together. IMG_5290-COLLAGEIMG_530400000IMG_00000_BURST20180210171422551_COVERMaker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veEnjoying the harbor and reminiscing about our sailing days… and how we were so over it! But it was still fun to look out over the water with my beautiful daughter. Until next time Azores, I dearly hope there’s a next time.MVIMG_20180210_172240-COLLAGE

tenerife

“If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning.” – Dweck

IMG_4529After the rough start to our trip we cruised on over to the island of Tenerife and things started to seem brighter. We had decided to stay in San Andrés which was on the north side of the island. It was a quaint little fishing village and while the weather was cooler here, it was away from the package tourists and had a beautiful beach. This was the view from our apartment. Not so bad, eh?MVIMG_20180114_111837During the week we stayed around our home base but on the weekends we explored. We thought about moving over to Puerto de la Cruz, but it didn’t really feel like our speed. We enjoyed wandering around nonetheless and hit up a little playground. Indra was just starting to get interested and confident in her play yard abilities.IMG_20180114_160930IMG_4564-COLLAGEIMG_20180114_183145During the week we had our routine, sort of like at home. We started with listening to music and dancing, followed by copious amounts of oatmeal. The only difference really was getting to run around this beautiful beach.IMG_4603I just can’t handle the cuteness!IMG_4608-COLLAGEIMG_4653IMG_4595-COLLAGEAfter the beach sometimes we wandered around town to get groceries, but because the town was pretty small, this errand was usually a short activity.MVIMG_20180118_113213MVIMG_20180118_113253IMG_4707Otherwise we did really interesting things like peeking in mirrors, jumping inside suitcases and running up and down the hall. There was also a teeny tiny park that we would go swing at and while away the hours, especially when we were frequently kicked out for Ezra’s conference calls. Sometimes this meant just going and hanging out in the car if it was late or windy.IMG_4675-COLLAGE

Another weekend exploring the Anaga mountains – we went for a super strenuous hike. Kidding – it was on a boardwalk, we have a toddler and I’m pregnant.IMG_20180120_17550900100dPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20180120180137218_COVERIMG_4838

I must be about 17 weeks here.IMG_4733We went to El Teide and had fun driving through the pretty impressive landscape. It was super windy so we let Indra sit in the car while we would take turns getting out to snap pictures or climb to vantage points.IMG_4741IMG_4741-COLLAGEWe had lots of memorable drives that afforded incredible views. As we worked our way further south and the weather warmed, I was kind of wanting to move locations. And actually, I sort of felt like being around other tourists and maybe just kick back a little. Traveling with a toddler was making me want to do things that were just fun and easy. Like being around more kids, speaking English with all the Brits, and actually having a supermarket.IMG_4812IMG_20180121_173853Because it was busy season and we were on a budget it was hard to find someplace to stay. We ended up in this little town called El Médano that was super great for windsurfers because of (you guessed it) all the wind. But this wind did not make for a very enjoyable experience if you wanted to do something like just walk around town. There was one day we had to get out of the apartment for Ezra’s calls and it was waaay too windy to walk around or go to the beach. So we went to the car. The gusts were so strong it felt like a hurricane was rolling in. Indra was crying because sand was whipping in her eyes, I could hardly see, people were walking sideways and being pushed into things. Once safely inside our little sand-covered auto, it started rocking. So, maybe not ideal. Plus it had the feel of a soviet bloc town – sort of a bummer. Ezra drove us to the super touristy part one day and Indra and I happily walked from beach to beach and ate ice cream.

IMG_4867

El Médano, an awesome place if you’re into windsurfing, flying kites or concrete buildings.

IMG_4846-COLLAGE

It wasn’t all bad though, the apartment was spacious and cute. Indra had a great time taking baths, lounging and eating. We found a great little shop with lots of stickers.IMG_4855-COLLAGE

If we ever come back, this is the town I’d like to stay in, Los Gigantes. So basically this was just a scouting trip. Haha.MVIMG_20180127_124857-COLLAGEIMG_4885PANO_20180127_13311900100dPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20180127143233317_COVER

We ended our exploring in a beautiful town called La Laguna. After a month in the Canary Islands we decided to move on. Originally we had hoped to find a place we loved and to stay put. We had been hoping for something a bit warmer and more relaxing. With the restraints for Ezra’s job, we couldn’t go to the smaller islands that might give us more of what we wanted. So we decided to just leave and go explore. All-in-all, a successful first month traveling with a toddler. Sure we made some mistakes, but I would definitely come back to the Canary Islands. MVIMG_20180127_164909IMG_20180127_165721IMG_20180127_171711MVIMG_20180127_182053