Christmas

I don't know how it happened or when it happened, but somewhere along the line Christmas has become more about giving for me and less about receiving. To pick up gifts for this little man is a joy.


Just look at that face...and excitement over a fireman hat from the dollar store. If only he would always be this excited over things from the dollar store! Connor got more toys than he knows what to do with. We will need a ginormous house just to house all the toys Connor got for Christmas. Here he is helping set up and then taking a ride on the roller coaster Uncle Jeremy got him for Christmas:



And it seemed like this year people's presents found me, rather than me having to find them. It was great and felt so much more genuine. I love buying things that are perfect for that person.

Speaking of genuine, Ian and I both felt Christmas has become a little too overkill and materialistic. We are going to have to find a way to keep it toned down and more about the reason at our house. I don't want to do away with Christmas trees and not give my kid any gifts, but I do want him to understand you don't get everything you ask for and that Christmas isn't actually about gifts, it is about the birth of our savior. Any ideas on how to do this?

And last, but not least, some action shots of Connor opening his presents...just to prove we bought him more than a fireman hat from the dollar store! And I say this while trying to not be materialistic. Looks like I still have a ways to go.


Connor's Christmas Eve

How adorable does Connor look all dressed up for Christmas Eve? Seriously. I can't resist his adorableness!




We went to church on Christmas Eve. Connor managed to both fart and belch during quiet times causing giggles from those around us. Then he decided he could no longer handle being quiet and had to leave the service.

Connor also managed to wake up before midnight, but after santa came (how could he come before midnight, I just don't get it?!?) so had a little late night play session with one of his new toys.



Then back to bed so he would be all ready for Christmas.

Merry Christmas!


I lagged a little getting my Christmas cards out. I got them printed this week and managed to get a few in the mail, but that was it. So for those of you that I didn't manage to get to, Merry Christmas and enjoy the virtual card.

A Challenge in the City

So in New York City everyone wears fur. No joke. I would say about one out of every five people were wearing fur. The real stuff. Even men were wearing it. I made a comment about how I wanted to pet someone's coat. My aunt felt the same way. So, she extended a challenge. The challenge was to see who could pet someone's fur coat first.

It went down in an elevator. The lady standing right next to my aunt had a fur coat on. A lady standing two people away from me had one on too. My aunt was able to pet the lady's coat standing next to her. I burst out in uncontrollable laughter. The whole elevator was staring at me like I was crazy. I was unable to pet the lady's coat in the elevator, but did get someone a few minutes later.

But, the challenge didn't stop there. We became obsessed with touching fur coats. And I became overcome with laughter every time and got the weirdest looks for it. Sometimes I would cry, I was laughing so hard.

In the subway on Thursday, I reached out to pet someone's coat, my cousin grabbed my arm and said this had to stop. About that time, my other cousin decided she wanted to join in on the fun. She went and pet this lady's coat from top to bottom. The lady turned around. I went in to my uncontrollable laughter. My cousin was raging at all three of us. It was freaking funny.

Don't worry though, my cousin's annoyance didn't stop us. We continued petting fur coats until we left. And I would recommend if you make it to NYC in the winter that you do the same. It is so stinking funny and entertaining.

New York City, Part 1

I have been having a blast in New York City. I keep checking the weather and comparing it with Aberdeen and it has been slightly warmer here. Only difference is, we have been spending so much time outside! Here are some pics from my phone of what we have been up to...I forgot my camera cord, so you will have to wait until I am home to see those!

The other night we went and picked up a Christmas tree for my cousin. It was fun to just buy it on the side of the road and then have them wrap it in netting for you (which I saw for the first time in Scotland). After 2 days, we finally got the tree decorated.

My cousin Stephen with his tree

We have been taking the subway everywhere. My aunt and cousin were trying to take a picture of the subway coming into the station. They were hanging their heads out too far. My other cousin Stephen warned them, but they didn't listen. The subway honked its super loud horn at them as it screamed into the station. It scared them. I tried to take a picture of myself as the subway was coming in. It blew my hair everywhere and my smile ended up looking a little paranoid, making the picture all the better!


We went down to the World Trade Center site yesterday. There isn't much to see there anymore. They started work on the buildings at the site (Freedom Towers, I think they are called) and one of the buildings has the structure built for about 20+ stories. They also removed the memorial/information site that was there when I was here 2.5 years ago. My cousin said you can still go see it, but they moved it underground because they want people to focus on the redevelopment, rather than what happened. I am thinking none of us will ever forget what happened.

We went and looked at the firehouse right across the street from the World Trade Center. This firehouse lost its captain and 4 others in 9-11. They have built a beautiful memorial to all the firefighters that died. The saddest/hardest part are the handwritten notes people have left for their loved ones. I read some of them and they are gut wrenching. As we were walking away from the firehouse, we noticed at the small memorial inside the station (where we couldn't go) they have a door from a firetruck that was ruined on 9-11. It really is an emotional and somber place to visit. Eerily quiet when you are down there.



Then last night we headed to the Empire State Building. As soon as we walked in, the lobby reminded me of Elf! I love that movie. I was so glad it was decorated so I could literally see in front of me Buddy the Elf going to visit his dad at work!


We then went up top. It was beautiful up there (and it was perfect weather given that it wasn't windy at all). I had forgotten how much you can see from up there. It is such a beautiful view.


That's all I got. We are getting ready to head out again for more great adventures.

Missing My Baby

So I am currently in New York City. My aunt and I flew out here to visit my cousin who lives here and his sister flew up from Georgia as well. Connor has been left in the safe hands of Ian.

My aunt and I on the plane to NYC

When I originally talked about going on this trip, I was very excited. Then, when it came time to buy the tickets, I got really apprehensive and nervous. Could I really handle being away from my baby for 7 days? Ian convinced me it would be ok. He is off work, so could take care of Connor. Plus, there was the reality that this is probably the only time in my life (well, for a while anyway) that I could leave my family behind and take a trip. And I am glad I stepped out and did so.

I am having a great time. Sure, every baby I see makes me think of my little tyke. Same for when I catch a glimpse of the baby isle at the grocery store and baby clothes when we are out shopping.

And on Monday night, I woke up freaking out because I couldn't find Connor. I actually woke up my aunt while I was looking for him. SO embarrassing. Once I figured out where I was and what was going on, I was embarrassed that I did that. Oh well.

Ian has been great at sending me pictures of Connor multiple times a day. That has helped. But I have quickly discovered that the bond a mama has with her baby is not easily forgotten. I miss that little guy and will be so excited to see his smiling face on Sunday...and I am only slightly worried he will have forgotten me by then. Slightly.

And here is a little video Ian's friend sent me of Connor eating a napkin yesterday. There are some things I think only a mother could find entertaining!

video

Connor's Second First Birthday

Seriously, my kid is spoiled. Two birthday parties. A little over the top, I know. But it was fun. Connor got to hang out with all his California friends and family.


And the kid got more presents than he knows what to do with.




Connor didn't fully get the concept of his quad. He kept pushing it around. However, he has since figured out what that magical red button does. Unfortunately, he seems to rather stand than sit on the quad.

And, because he was a good kid, he got some more cake. I just gave him some bites of mine, but he was definitely angry when I stopped feeding it to him.



Such a cute little birthday boy!

London

We ended up getting to London much later on Monday than we planned. And Connor was quite the handful on the flight down. Thankfully, the underground put him right to sleep. And about traveling the underground with babies, talk about a pain in the butt. All those stairs and all those people make it hard to get around. Although, due to sensory overload, Connor always seemed like he was in a trance when we were down there!

On Tuesday, we headed over to the Winter Wonderland, London’s Christmas village. I was so excited for this. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a letdown. I don’t know if it was because we were freezing our butts off or because Connor was screaming his head off, it just wasn’t that great.


Notice how Connor didn’t even bother to smile in the photo!

Connor met Santa for the first time at the Winter Wonderland. He didn’t seem to impressed or interested. It was probably due to his mood.



That night we met some friends for dinner who now live in London. They got to see first hand what it is like to dine out with a one year old! And Connor was in rare form on that night. The kid couldn’t sit still for a second and wanted to run all around the restaurant. He was a bit of a handful. Oh well.

After that, we headed over to the Tower of London for the Ceremony of the Keys. It is a ritual that takes place every night. The tickets were free, we just had to apply for them in advance. Photos weren’t allowed, but it was a cool ceremony. Making it even better, Connor slept through the whole thing!

Here are some pictures of the Tower Bridge from Tuesday night:




Wednesday we took it easy. We shopped for a couple hours at Selfridges…think Harrods, but younger and hip. It was lots of fun strolling around and looking at things that are way overpriced. They had some Christmas characters running around the store and one stopped and played with Connor for a solid 5 minutes. It was cute. Then we walked over to Downing Street for me to meet with David Cameron. For some reason, I was denied entrance. Oh well. Then we saw Big Ben and the London Eye on our trek back to the hotel.



It was a good couple of days in London. And, as always when traveling with a little person, there were lots of stops and we took a slower pace than normal…and made sure to only go places that were noisy! I hate having people look at me when my kid is squawking and he definitely hasn’t learned how to use an inside voice yet.

Goodbye & Welcome Home - Part 3

Moving sucks. There is really no other way to put it. And saying goodbye, well that totally sucks. I would rather stub my toe really hard than have to say goodbye to people. Basically, I have gotten through the past week by denying anything was happening. It worked. Kind of. Well, not really.

Slowly but surly, we had to say goodbye to the friends that we have gotten to know, the people who have become like family over these past few years. And that type of thing is gut wrenching. And I HATE crying in front of people, well really crying at all. Unfortunately, I was way more emotional moving this time, so some tears happened.

At church on Sunday, our friends came around us and prayed. Having your friends praying for you and hearing them cry, just made me cry all the more. Then saying bye to our Scottish besties on Sunday evening was so freaking hard. It felt like my heart was ripped out and stomped on a little. I only hope they know how much they mean to us and how great a time we have had with them over the past few years. All those slumber parties, all the eating, all the talking; it was great and will be sorely missed.

Monday was such a stressful day. We had to finish packing and clean our flat. All our stuff didn't fit into our bags, so we ended up mailing one more box (we had already mailed 2). Once I was sitting in the taxi in front of my house, a wave of emotion flooded over me. I just wanted to take it all in. It was my last time to see my house as my house. I will never live there again. It holds some great memories for us.

When we got to the airport, we discovered our flight to London had been canceled. We got a new flight, which ended up being delayed for an hour and a half. Needless to say, we ended up spending way more time in the Aberdeen airport than we anticipated. When we finally got on the plane and were taking off, once again a wave of emotion swept over me. I even turned to Ian and asked if we were making a mistake by moving.

I know this move isn't a mistake. But just because something is right, doesn't mean it is easy. It is never easy to leave your comfort zone, even if you are returning to something you once knew. But it is HARD. We have changed. Living so far away from our family has caused Ian and I to be close. We need each other. We rely on each other in a way that I don't think would have happened had we never moved. It is a good thing. And I don't want it to change. I don't want our lives to get so busy that we no longer have time to cuddle up on the couch with some wine and talk. I don't want our lives to get so busy that we don't have time to walk to Starbucks and get some coffee. I don't want our lives to get so busy that we lose each other and lose precious time with our little boy.

Scotland gave us a gift. Well, it gave us several gifts. It taught us to slow down. It taught us to be less materialistic. It gave us the gift of knowing what it was like to go to a warm, friendly church; to be at a church where we didn't feel out of place. It gave us friends we could totally be ourselves around. It changed us.

I don't want to lose all that change.

*********************************

And in case you are interested, feel free to read my original thoughts about moving to Scotland over 3 years ago:

Goodbye & Welcome Home - Part 1
Goodbye & Welcome Home - Part 2

More Snow

I know what you are thinking, "My god, not ANOTHER snow post!", but it is true...another snow post. On the bright side, it looks like it isn't going to snow today! Yet, I still have about 2 feet of snow in my front yard.

Ever wonder how to get a really good workout? Grab your toddler and umbrella stroller, find some snow and start to push. Once you can push no more, put the stroller behind you and start to pull.


Seriously, I think that was the biggest workout EVER. I had to do it though. Had to go to the post office to forward our mail. It is about a mile away. And I did this while it was snowing rather heavily. I was getting so hot and sweaty from my workout that I didn't care. When I got to the post office, there were 13 people in line in front of me (yeah, I counted) and only 2 windows open...come on! After waiting what seemed like forever, with a little boy who did not want to be in his stroller, it was finally my turn. I get to the window only to discover that the mail forwarding form I printed off their website is no longer accepted. I was given a new form, but Ian had to sign it as well as myself, so I couldn't just deal with it right then. I was pissed. Wanted to cry. But I am Jessica, so I did not cry.

On a positive note, Connor will now stand in the snow. He still won't touch it and won't eat it, but he will stand in it and that is progress. And if I may say so myself, he looks dang cute in the snow!



I have to admit, even though snow looks pretty, it is so hard to take a baby out in...especially when you don't have a car. Because of this, I am kind of glad I won't be spending the winter here.

Neighborly Animosity, Part 2

Yeah, I wasn't expecting a part 2 either.

There was a knock on my door the other day. Had I realized it was my neighbor, I wouldn't have answered. Alas, I did answer. And my neighbor had another problem. And of course, none of the other people in my building were home. Let me take a minute to tell you that we actually have a front door that opens to the outside and has glass in it, so you can see inside. The other 3 flats in my building share a front door. Thus if someone comes to their front door, they don't have to answer. They also don't have the privilege of having windows on the ground floor. Windows that pesky neighbors walk up to. GRR. I am convinced my fellow building-sharers are just not answering the door for this pesky neighbor. So, once again, I was the next best thing.

Her problem? Now that we don't have a pipe hooked up to our rain gutters, water from the snow covered gutters is dripping down the front of the building. And let me emphasize DRIPPING for you...we are not talking about a waterfall here. And as this water is dripping, some of it is coming over to the front of her house. The problem? Well, if this continues to happen, the water will seep though her walls. WHAT? This is Aberdeen. It rains 3/4 of the year. If water doesn't seep through your walls then, I think you are fine. Whatever though.

About this time, Ian walks out and has the privilege of meeting our neighbor. We are now both trying to explain to her than (1) we don't own our flat (2) we are moving (3) we don't really care. She then explains to us that she likes getting things done by threatening people. No joke. She really said this. As you may recall, last time she threatened to sue.

Anyway, we finally got her to leave. And she has now erected something to keep the water off the front of her house. A sled.


I actually think this is making things worse. Before the water just fell to the ground. Now it bounces off the sled and on to the building. Given that it is still is just dripping, I don't think it really matters. Something about this whole situation makes me happy that I am moving.

Still Snowing & Still Moving

We are in the throws of moving. Like seriously in the middle. The movers come tomorrow. Our house looks like it has been turned upside down and shaken a little. Everything is in piles for the movers to pack. And all the stuff we are keeping with us is shoved in suitcases in one corner.

Regardless of the chaos of the move, there is still time to play in the snow! It is still dumping. It really does make it hard for me to leave the house and go anywhere, but it looks pretty and is really great for making snow angels!




Regardless of the snow, the movers will be here tomorrow. Ian promised to shovel a path to our front door for them. I am glad they are coming. Now lets see if the weather lets up by next week so the airport can reopen and we can actually fly out!

Let it Snow

The last few days its been snowing. Like really snowing. I was excited to introduce Connor to the snow. Little did I know, he would turn out to NOT be a fan of snow. He won't touch it, stand in it or play in it. The only way I could get him to walk in it is if I set him down then walked away...and he came running after me crying. I have tried two different days and he didn't like it either time. Oh well.




On a positive note, Connor seems to like watching it snow out the window. And if I may say so myself, he looks pretty darn cute doing so!




And after being cooped up in the house for 2 days, I decided to take Connor out for a walk today. My adventure was nothing short of a disaster. The sidewalks were slippery and covered in snow. I got a workout pushing Connor's stroller on the back two wheels. My wellies got a hole in them last week, so I had to venture out in my UGGs, which kept the water off my feet for all of 5 minutes. Seriously, within minutes, my feet were swimming in cold water. On a plus note, I ended up buying myself some new snazzy wellies...to keep my feet dry in the California sun!

The moral of the story? Snow is pretty, when you are looking at it through a window!

Neighborly Animosity

I remember the days, back when I thought neighbors were nice people. The people who loaned you an egg, kept a spare key to your house and watched out for you.

Not anymore.

In fact, I don't know if it has ever been this way in my adult life. I have never had good relationships with my neighbors...maybe its me?!? There was the incident last year with the lady above us yelling at me when I was 9 months pregnant. But she has since become quite chummy with us...it helped that we shoveled a path thru the snow to her front door all the time last winter...and that we have an adorable little child that she likes to play with.

Today a delivery man came to my door and asked to drop of a package for my next door neighbor. The neighbor who I had the privilege of meeting last week. Anyway, because of what went down last week, I flat out refused to accept her package. I am pretty sure the delivery man thought I was crazy, but I just don't want to see that woman again.

Let me tell you what happened. It was all over a drain pipe that came loose on the front of our building.


We noticed it when we got home late last Tuesday night. Our neighbor above us (an owner) was out of town. But the girl who lives in the top flat (also an owner) was home, so we texted her.

By the next morning, I had forgot all about the pipe. Connor and I were enjoying our morning when I hear a banging on the front door...like serious banging. Before I could get to the door, the person had moved to the living room window and was now banging on the window. I open the door that there was a very angry woman at the door. She pushed me out of the way and said, "Let me in before that pipe falls on me and kills me!" At this point, I should let you know that even though the pipe was high in the air, it is just plastic, not metal or anything. She then proceeded to let me know she is a lawyer and is going to sue me if the pipe fell on her property. I kept trying to tell her that an owner was taking care of the issue and I wasn't an owner, but she wasn't listening. She was being rude, yelling at me and threatening me. Anyway, to make a long story a little less long, both her and I called my landlord. She threatened them, I did not threaten them. Within 30 minutes, someone was out to take down the pipe. While it was being removed, she was standing outside saying rude things. ARGH!

And that is the story of why I REFUSE to accept any package for my neighbor. Seriously. She is not very neighborly at all...so neither am I! Way to turn the other cheek, I know.

Weekend Update

We saw Harry Potter on Friday.
The people who babysat Connor while we went to the movies, then fed us dinner.

We went to Edinburgh on Saturday.
Seeing our friends is always great.
We celebrated Thanksgiving with them.
Ian & Richi did most of the cooking.
Our friends loved my green bean casserole...Ian did not.

Sunday
was a bit stressful.
We had family pictures taken outside.
It rained.
It poured.
I saw a sneak peek of the pictures and they look great.
Enjoyed a nice linner (lunch-dinner) with our friends.
They paid...thanks again you two!
We drove back to Aberdeen.
I cried about leaving Edinburgh for the last time.
Connor cried because he wanted out of the car.

Christmas is Coming!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Everywhere you go

It started with Starbucks launching Christmas at their stores. The iconic red cups. The eggnog lattes that warm my belly on an almost daily basis.


But then today it happened.

We
got
a
Christmas
card
in
the
mail


So freaking excited. And props to the person who is so on top of things they already sent out their Christmas cards. Mine should be sent out by December 24th!

So excited that the countdown to Christmas has begun!

1 Year

Weight: 20lbs, 14oz

Height: 30 inches

Accomplishments:
Exclusively walks everywhere
Started running...dangerous!
Can climb on to the couch & our bed
8 teeth

A friend asked me last night if I missed the little baby Connor that I brought home from the hospital. I don't. Having Connor grow up and interact with me all the time is great. I still smile watching him walk around. I love having him crawl on top of me. And hearing him laugh is just about the best thing ever. I know every stage brings joy for different reasons, but I much prefer being able to play and interact with him. And that smile...so great!

Connor got his 12 month immunization yesterday. Being the man that he is, he cried/sniffled for all of 5 seconds and was back to normal. Go little man!

Connor is doing better and better and playing with other little kids. He isn't as gentle as he needs to be, but he will learn. Whenever he sees another little kid, he is very interested in them and what they are doing. Especially older kids, he seems to look at them with awe. It is sweet.

Connor talking with his friend Luca

Connor loves playing with toys. The ones that are interactive seem to be his favorite. Last night, he spent a good 15 minutes pushing a soccer ball around the room. It was so cute. We got him an igglepiggle (from BBC's In the Night Garden...a popular kids show in the UK) doll for his birthday that talks. He loves his blue doll (it really isn't a doll...more a stuffed animal...but for lack of words, I am calling it a doll). He carries it around, puts it in his walker, pulls it out and carries it some more. So cute.

The one thing I hate is Connor falling so much. Now that he is walking everywhere, and running as well, he has taken some nasty falls. And it is awful to hear him cry and try to comfort him. The worst part is, most of his injuries are on his face, and I know that can't feel good. Plus, I am always afraid people are going to think I am the reason for the injuries! Ekk!


Finger Painting...which didn't go down as well as I thought it would

A naked escapee

Helping mommy with the laundry

You are never too young for a blackberry!
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