7 Months of Updates...

I've realized that it's been a long time since I wrote an update about our lives here in The Netherlands, and it's probably about time to do that. The past 7 months have been full. Full of everything. The mundane of each day, the excitement of travels, the drudgery of studies, the ending of winter, the arrival of spring continuing into the heat of summer, my expanding belly and our growing boy, projects and deadlines, and new friends and old. Our life has changed and moved faster in the last 7 months than it ever has before. I'd like to recap as much as possible in as little time as possible (you're welcome!), and then share a few blurry iPhone photos with you to sum up our last few months. 

In January we announced to the Facebook community that we were expecting a little one. 

We had discovered this exciting news in November and told our parents and families over the Christmas holiday. I wrote a blog post in January detailing more about the emotional roller coaster I went through with all of that surprising news (you can read that here if you're interested).

In February Kevin had a long weekend holiday, so we went to Scotland to visit our friends the Meekins. We love this family. We love their kids as if they were our nieces and nephew. We love Jesse and Catherine as if they were our siblings. Being able to spend time with them for a few days was a refreshing boost during mid-winter dullness. Scotland is a beautiful country and we never want to take our ability to travel {so cheaply} for granted, yet the highlights of our trip were definitely the late night hysterical laughter, the long car rides, the crazy-flavored McFlurries, the horrible fried fish, the long in-depth conversations about life and marriage, and the solid relationship-ground that we continued forming with the Meekins. 

When we returned we decided to have our own little Valentines Day party (since we were away for Valentines Day), so we spent an evening eating a homemade meal and painting pictures for each other (when all financial moves are meticulously calculated, you become very creative on a Seminary student's budget ;) ).

Sometime in the months of February and March I began helping around Tyndale by taking photos for the website, brochures, and various printed resources, and by putting together the Annual Report. This year's report was almost 30 pages long. I enjoyed the challenge of putting it together and building a skill for myself in the process, as well as the fulfillment of being productive and benefiting a group of people. I was also able to audit two classes, Marriage and Family and Global Christianity, with Kevin during the Winter and Spring semesters and am truly thankful for the school's allowance of spouses to audit classes for free. During the month of March we were able to spend time with my friend Rachel as she returned from the US to visit her family and boyfriend here at Tyndale for a week, and our friend Molly who came the last weekend in March and stayed with me and Kevin. With Rachel and her boyfriend Julian we took the train into Brussels for a day trip and enjoyed the cobblestone streets, the fresh baked waffles (only from Mason Dandoy, of course!), the beautiful glass-domed shopping gallery, and the huge and completely packed Delirium Cafe in Delirium Village. We were able to introduce Molly to our favorite shops and pubs in Amsterdam, as well as enjoy old and new favorites throughout Haarlem. 

March was a fun month pregnancy wise as we began to feel our little one move around! It was also the month that we discovered that 'it' was a 'he'! I really started bonding emotionally with him as I could feel him respond to outside influences. Even in his tininess he still seemed to have opinions about how I moved, what I allowed to press on my stomach, and what I ate. From the time I could first distinguish his movements, he made it very clear that leaning on the counter while putting on make-up was a no-go (the moment I leaned against anything he would press back against it firmly until I moved). He also was very distressed by my consumption of Sriracha (as he so clearly stated through insane acrobatics and rolling). As he's grown he's maintained his opinionatedness and just become stronger and more able to show them off to us.  

In April our friend Gia came to visit for 10 days during Kevin's spring break. After a few hilarities and adjustments, Gia learned to fit into our little corner of the world very nicely. We showed him around our city and Kevin took him to some favorite pubs. We also took a train down to Paris for a few days. Learning how to travel frugally is a necessity when living on a tiny budget in Europe, but once we learned a few tricks we have been able to enjoy amazing places at fractions of the normal cost. Paris has become a favorite of ours and, now that we know more about how to get around the city cheaply, we have been able to enjoy finding local hangouts and favorite must-do experiences.

During the month of April we had a quick fly-through visit from our friend Kaylin and her friend and colleague Ginny (both work for the Starfish Project in China). Even though they were only able to be here for one short day, we enjoyed catching up with our old friend and getting to know our new one. We also had the opportunity visit my cousins the Davis's in Bicester, UK (about an hour outside of London). This was the last trip Kevin and I could take together before the baby, so we tried to spend our time slowing down and enjoying the beauty of the areas we saw and the conversations we were able to have. We spent a couple of days exploring London and Oxford before coming back to the Netherlands for Kevin's last month of school.

May was crazy. Mostly crazy because Kevin was finishing school which meant completing projects and studying for exams. He took eight classes this semester in order to give him more free time in Fall semester when the baby is here. The workload was tremendous, however he finished the semester out with an outstanding GPA and even received an unprecedented grade from one professor (as far as I know this high of a grade has not been given to any other student). Needless to say I am very proud of his hard work and dedication. 

 June brought the heat. On so many levels. Kevin took (and completely beasted) his exams, deadlines rolled in and out for projects and volunteer work, and Graduation Day came and went. I was able to be the photographer for the Graduation and realized that that would be the last event I would photograph before our little man arrives (mostly due to the amount of Braxton Hicks, the soreness, and the swelling the event produced). Once school was over we immediately got to work on organizing our tiny apartment for our newest member. This included Kevin's ingenuity in closet de-and-re-construction and hours and days (and YEARS) of baby laundry (which I just finished. Today.). Kevin's sister Karey came to visit us for the last two weeks in June. Although I've gotten much bigger and it's become harder to move around, I was able to do a couple of things (namely sit in the shade of a tree by the lake) with them both while she was here. She and Kevin were able to do some sightseeing in Amsterdam and Paris, and one of the days they rented a paddle boat and we (well they...I just sat back and laughed at them) peddled through the canals of Amsterdam. We went on walks around our neighborhood, played at the park, and had family dinners with long conversations. During her stay the Meekins arrived for Jesse to begin teaching 6 weeks of the summer Greek class, so we were able to spend some days with them as well.

July began with heat. So. Much. Heat. Almost unbearable heat. In the Netherlands it's rare to reach temperatures upwards of 90 degrees, so no one has air conditioning. Coupled with pregnancy and high humidity, every moment of that heat wave was a nightmare. Thankfully it only last 5 (or so) days before settling back down to a more bearable 65-80 (depending on the day). We did purchase on overpriced (but TOTALLY WORTH IT) fan with a power cool setting (???) which helped a little in the sleep and air-movement department. I spent the majority of those days either sitting by/standing in the lake or sitting on the couch in front of the fan with a cool washcloth on my belly. The 4th of July was spent with several American families eating burgers and hot dogs and delicious patriotically-decorated cakes. The last couple of weeks Kevin and I have continued our apartment preparations and spent a lot of time talking and being together. This weekend we went to the Van Gogh museum, our favorite pub, and a small gelato festival. We discovered that museums are very wheelchair friendly and, as I can't walk three floors of galleries at this point in my pregnancy, we grabbed a wheel chair and perused to our hearts content. These last few weeks to be alone have been so good for us. We've been able to connect each day and really gear up mentally for the changes that are coming any day now. We have thoroughly enjoyed our last few weeks as 'singles' and spent a lot of time reminiscing, talking about the future, preparing our home, and enjoying life's slow pace together.

Yesterday we took a bus into Amsterdam to sit in a cafe and read together. This month has been such a huge blessing for us to have been able to have. The absence of school, work-related responsibilities, and even the distance from family (as sad and hard as that has been) has allowed us to really focus on our relationship and be able to reconnect before our son arrives.

Today I'm 39 weeks pregnant and having many many Braxton Hicks each day. My mom will be arriving in 5 days and (as long as he doesn't arrive before then) we will be doing our best to evict little man from his current residence from the moment her plane touches down.

This month has propelled us into a state of peaceful readiness for our newest member, and we couldn't be happier or more content with the idea of him entering our lives. 

Leslie LoweComment