Jan 23, 2015

The Bare Necessities

We live in a small, small flat. It's a one-bedroom, and we moved our bed to the living room so Eleanor could sleep without interruption (there wasn't room for both the bed and crib), and it's been an okay setup.  When we found out we were having another baby, we started to talk about looking for a two-bedroom flat.  Maybe a little further away from city center, where the rent isn't so expensive, and perhaps on a floor that doesn't require a climb of four flights of stairs. I struggle hauling up the stroller + E + groceries as it is, and the thought of doing it 9 months pregnant makes me cringe.  Our six month lease is up next month, so we've been viewing two-bedroom flats all week and are pretty much set on moving.

Even if we end up with more space, the reality is, it won't be much more space.  I try as hard as I can not to buy new stuff here in Scotland because we'll have to somehow get it home when we return to America, or sell/donate it before we leave.  When we were packing for the move here, we knew there was a possibility we could have a baby abroad.  We wondered if we should bring some of our newborn gear so we wouldn't have to buy items we already own, but ultimately didn't have the luggage space for something that was a 'maybe'.

The truth is, you don't need that much stuff for babies the first six months. Below are a few items I'd like to share that I feel are the must-haves, at least for me. Let it be known: I am only writing this post for myself. To review in a few months, during that psychotic nesting phase, when I am tempted to purchase X, Y and Z on Etsy for my newborn which will immediately be outgrown or never even used. I'm not claiming to be a baby expert, just a newly seasoned mom who's trying to determine how to save money/space/time for her second-born.

Happiest Baby on the Block:
Dr. Karp is as cheesy in this DVD it's title, but let me tell you: I have a testimony of the 5 S's, and I love my family, amen. Works every time.

SwaddleMe wrap:
I never was able to achieve a good swaddle using a blanket (Neal is a swaddling boss though, and very proud of it), so these SwaddleMe wraps were a lifesaver, and by far our most used baby item. Basically a newborn-sized straight jacket, they have velcro tabs that help you get that baby wrapped as tight as a Chipotle burrito. Newborn Eleanor was happiest when properly swaddled. That's why it's the first S of the 5 S's, duh. Our newborn SwaddleMe wraps were the two things I insisted on bringing with us 'just in case' to Scotland, and I'm so glad I did.

One day old!

White noise app:
Still on the 5 S's here. I don't have the patience or breath for long-winded "shhh"-ing, so we tried downloading a free white noise app on our phones when E was just a few days old, and she immediately stopped crying when she heard it.  Newborns get freaked out at the eerie absence of the loud, constant swishing sounds they hear in the womb for 9+ months.  That's why you hear about parents using hair dryers or vacuum cleaners to calm their fussy babes.  We used it anytime she was crying uncontrollably, especially in the car when we couldn't bounce her around, and usually the louder the better.  This was a simple, easy solution and we still use it for naps and bedtime for Eleanor. It drowns out sounds in the house and helps her stay asleep. She has this Pavlovian response to the sound of white noise and immediately starts rubbing her eyes and yawning when she hears it. We use an old, unused iPhone to download the app so we aren't occupying our own devices to play it. 

Eleanor loved, loved, loved her swing. We were very sad to say goodbye when we moved to Scotland, but she was definitely too big for it anyway.  Her swing made it possible for me to take a shower during my maternity leave, not a joke. We'll probably just find one on Gumtree (UK's version of Craigslist) here and sell it when we leave, because I insist on having one.

Eleanor never took a pacifier, but honestly we never really pressed her to do so.  Since she was nursing, we were told to wait to use a pacifier for the first few weeks to avoid nipple confusion. She never caught on how to use a pacifier, and I often envied parents who could just give their kid a binky and he'd be happy as a clam. So we think with this next baby, we'll be a little more aggressive with the pacifier.

Fels-Naptha, AKA best laundry soap on the PLANET:
I have yet to meet a white onesie that wasn't freed from the wrath of a diaper blowout after being pre-treated with the glorious Fels-Naptha.  I received this as a gift at a baby shower and it's my number two favorite baby product of all time.

Reusable bib:
When E started taking solids, we had several cloth bibs that would get so incredibly messy, tedious to clean and wash, and it was a just huge pain.  I found a Tommee Tippee plastic bib on Amazon and LOVE it. We just wipe it off after every use. There's even a pocket to catch wayward food (Eleanor often digs in there for scraps when her tray is cleared). It's so much cleaner and more convenient.

Again, will probably look for one on Gumtree. We'll have the baby in our room the first few months, but we don't co-sleep, so a bassinet it is.

A bunch of onesies and nice, cozy, feet pajamas:
We had about 15 newborn onesies and it seemed like a good amount, depending on how often you want to do laundry.  E was born in February, so our house was always a little chilly. She spent most of her first few weeks in pajamas.  Bonus if they have feet (socks don't stay on baby feet), and double bonus if they are zip-ups.  Bear suits are cozy and warm, and obviously, adorable. Our July baby may not need PJ's as thick as a bear suit, but I'll still pick up a good number feet pajamas anyway.

Stroller bundle bag:
This has been a definite necessity since living in Edinburgh...I don't think it would be if we weren't living in a city.  But as often as we are out walking in the cold, windy Scottish weather, it's nice to have this zip-up bag to keep E warm.  It's a little haphazard in this picture, but she's sporting her Veteran's Day poppy!

Baby carrier:
We want to avoid purchasing a double-stroller until we get back to the States, so I'll definitely put our Baby Bjorn to use when out and about with the babes. It's also great to wear while getting housework done as the little one stays snuggled close.

 And of course, the most essential of all: Vaccines.  I don't care if people chose to breastfeed or formula feed, work or stay at home, but I do care if they vaccinate their kids. Vaccines work.  Here are the facts: https://medium.com/the-nib/vaccines-work-here-are-the-facts-5de3d0f9ffd0

And that's really it!  Blankets and burp cloths are essential as well, and thankfully we already have tons of those in our flat. I was reading my journal from around the time when I was ten weeks pregnant with Eleanor, and I was positively panicked about getting all the baby stuff we needed in time for her arrival.  It's so nice to know that babies really just need some TLC from their parents.  A cute outfit never hurts though ;) 

Round Two

Yep, we're having another baby.  I know, I know...we already have a baby! But she's getting so tall and losing some of her delicious chub and is this close to walking, she's practically a toddler.  We were so excited when we found out in November that we are going to be blessed with another little person to raise and love.  Eleanor and her younger sib will be seventeen months apart--baby's due July 12--and anytime I start to feel overwhelmed at the narrow age gap, I remind myself how lucky we are to be capable of having these kiddos. So many families struggle with infertility or loss or are waiting to adopt.  I'm so incredibly thankful to have a healthy girl and, so far, a healthy pregnancy.

The baby will be born here in Scotland.  Neal's dissertation is due in August, but graduation isn't until October.  Our visas are valid until next January.  So we have some wiggle-room on when we'll head back to the States.  I think it will mainly depend on Neal landing a job back home.  He can work here full-time once he submits his dissertation, so that's reassuring.  When we moved here, we registered with the NHS.  So far, our experience with the health system has been great.  Eleanor was able to stay on her US vaccination schedule (it's just slightly different than the UK's) and I have been seeing a midwife.  I loved my OB back in Kansas, but the midwives here have been so thorough and informative and their bedside manner has really impressed me.  I have the option of having a home birth, going to a birthing center, or having the baby in hospital.  I'm 110% sure home birthing isn't my cup of tea, and I want to make sure that I'll have access to an epidural (I had an amazing experience with Eleanor...I know every labor + delivery is different, but after my epidural, I took a nap, relaxed, and voila! my baby was here!), so I'll be going to the hospital. It's called the 'Royal Infirmary', which just sounds so fancy.  I pictured the headboards of the hospital beds to be dipped in gold and majestic tapestries hanging in the doorways...but my friends who work there tell me otherwise.

Several people have asked me if the baby will have dual citizenship, and I'm almost positive the answer is 'no', as neither Neal or I are British.  But of course I'll ask about it when I get in touch with the US Embassy, because that would be awesome.  I have a friend who's American and has had two children in Edinburgh (her husband is English, so both of their kids have dual citizenship, as do she and her husband. SO JEALOUS. they can move back and forth whenever they please), and she said the process to get babies a social security number/American birth certificate/passport through the Embassy is quick and easy.

I am 16 weeks along, and this pregnancy has already been sooo much easier than my first.  I've had some occasional morning sickness, but it was so mild compared to round one. Now that I'm in the second trimester, I'm enjoying the wonderful feeling of increased energy and excitement that this really is happening. I've even felt a 'nudge nudge' from the little guy or gal every now and then.  The hardest thing about being pregnant here is that I have unsatiable cravings...Cafe Rio, Chick Fil A, and frosted animal crackers to name a very few, but it's probably a good thing I don't have access to those dangerous foods.

One craving I've been feeding aplenty--probably an unhealthy amount--is vinegar.  I make this salad (minus chickpeas, add feta) every day for lunch.  I start chopping the veggies and make the dressing around 10AM so it can soak for about an hour before I eat it (I've deemed 11AM as the earliest socially acceptable lunchtime), and the more vinegar, the better. I switch between cider/red wine vinegar for that recipe, and prefer dill over oregano.  We've also made salad for dinner two-three times a week so I can get some more vinaigrette-y goodness, but I haven't found a recipe for dressing that I absolutely love.  It's so hard to weed through the beautiful Pinterest photography and find recipes that actually taste as good as they look.  So if you have a to-die-for recipe for a vinegar-based dressing, send it my way, please and thank you! Also, salt and vinegar Pringles have been my go-to snack, but I think I caused permanent damage to my lips the other day when I ate one too many in a very short time span. 

Been hanging out in this aisle a lot lately...there's one of each in our cabinet right now.  #truth
 We are so stoked to have another baby to squeeze. A big thanks to all our friends and family who have been so supportive and excited for us...we couldn't do it without you! (PS--if you are a Lutz and didn't catch the encrypted announcement in Neal's last family letter, I told him it was way too subtle, so don't feel bad. He thinks he's so clever. ;))

Jan 22, 2015

Visitors in Edinburgh: The Lehi Lutzes

Two days after Christmas, we enjoyed a much- anticipated visit from Neal's brother Kent, his wife Stephanie, and their 8-month-old son Clark.  Neal and Kent are the youngest boys in the Lutz fam. After many agonizing years for their poor mother, they each finally settled into marriage (as she was on a mission in the Philippines.  She and her husband had put off serving a second mission forever because they didn't want to miss the surely impending weddings of their youngest sons.  After over a decade of waiting, they gave up and left for the 'Pines.  A month after their departure, Neal and I were engaged, and a year later Kent and Stephanie were getting married.  That's two trips home to the States during their 18-month missionary service. I digress.)  During their pre-marital glory days, the boys did a bit of travelling, climbing mountains in Peru, Russia, and Costa Rica in addition to numerous states throughout the US. One could say they're a pair of 'peak-baggers'. So when Kent and Steph told us they were making their way to Scotland over Christmas break, Neal was stoked that he would get to climb Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the UK, with his big brother. And I was stoked to have another visit from family.

They arrived after a loooong day/night of travel bearing gifts from the homeland, including marshmallows, Twizzlers, Mini Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, taco/fajita/salsa seasoning, tortillas, deodorant for both of us (they only have roll-on here. nasty!), and an ice-cold can of Diet Dr.Pepper for yours truly. Basically took up a good chunk of their luggage space to help out some deprived Americans.  After a nap for charming little Clark and his jet-lagged father, we took them on a little tour of the city and climbed Arthur's Seat (our foolproof solution for jet lag).  We had a rental car the entire time they were here...it was glorious.  The bus system in Edinburgh really is awesome, but there is something to be said about the freedom of just getting in your car and going where you need to go.

That night, they were obviously exhausted, and went to bed around 7:00.  We still needed to go pick up the travel crib we were borrowing from a friend for Clark to use, and Eleanor was sleeping soundly in our room.  Not only did we have the opportunity to leave our child at home, but we had a car. I don't know, that short drive to pick up the crib had the two of us downright giddy.  After we loaded it up, Neal asked excitedly, "where else should we go??" The possibilities seemed endless, yet I couldn't think of a single place to go. We pulled into the parking lot of a clothing store we've always been curious about, but have never had a convenient time to just hop off the bus and check it out.  It was closed for the night but we were just excited that we had so easily stopped by. Anyway, we succumbed to the reality that we are lame and were in bed by 9:30, but if you live a car-less life, you just might understand the thrill we felt that night.

On day three we loaded up the babes and took a trip to northern Scotland so the guys could summit ol' Ben.  Stephanie and I drove along the country roads of Fort William, and by she and I, I mean Stephanie drove along the country roads of Fort William (you could not pay me to drive a manual ever again, especially in a foreign land) and she did amazing.  The guys finished their climb, one of the coldest Neal has ever done, and we made our way to Inverness for the night.  Even in the winter, Scotland remains so scenic and beautiful.  The drive was just gorgeous.  We passed the infamous Loch Ness, numerous old castles, and arrived in the quaint city of Inverness.

My sad iPhone pictures:
Cousins (2 months apart!) reunited

Don't look too excited, girl.

From the summit of Ben Nevis:

And now for some of Stephanie's nice-camera-real-photography-pictures:

Look at Mr.Clark totally conked out!

Ben Nevis hiding behind the cloud

A view of Loch Ness...such an insanely long lake.

The Lutzes surprised us with matching BYU pajamas for the kiddos. Go Cougars!
(all these baby pictures are for you, Grandma Lutz)

In Plockton, a beautiful little fishing village

We made it back from our little road trip on New Years Eve, which is a huge event in Edinburgh.  Aside from festival season, it's the most popular time of year for tourists to visit.  We had been looking forward to Hogmany since we moved here, but after all that time in the car, I was majorly wiped out.  I was still battling that first trimester fatigue along with what I think was a pesky virus, and the thought of going out so late was realllly unappealing.  I offered to stay home with the babies, and Neal stayed behind with me (which was really sweet, because I know he wanted to go). Kent and Stephanie went to see the fireworks and made some fun European friends, while Neal and I watched the London NYE show on our computer (womp womp).

The next day we headed South to England to attend the temple...another long day in the car. t Thankfully we had Serial to keep things interesting.  Neal and I did a session while Kent and Steph watched the babies.  After our session, they went in to do sealings, only to find they didn't start for another couple hours.  So sad.  They did spend some time in the temple though, and we made our way back to Edinburgh.

We had so much fun hanging out with this family.  They're fun, and smart, and all-around great people.  They taught me how to play Pinochle with great patience, were extremely gracious about our tight living quarters, and were just a lot of fun to hang out with.  After they left, we moped around our suddenly too-quiet flat and tried not to think about how long it will be until we see them next.  We miss our people! We love it here, but we really miss our people.

Miss you guys already!

Jan 19, 2015

Christmas in Scotland

Edinburgh is a breathtaking city year-round, and did not disappoint with its festive December trimmings.  The European Christmas market, a slew of carnival rides, and two ice rinks in City Center were full of people for the entire month (an unsettling, claustrophobia-inducing amount of people, in my opinion) but it was a beautiful and fun atmosphere when we were brave enough to face the crowds.


Poor photo quality, but can you see the piper?

Santa ignored my requests for this gorgeous reindeer hide...rude

Trying to peek at the choir
Cheesin' at the Ward Christmas Party
...which went way past E's bedtime. 

Eleanor woke with a fever of 101 degrees F on Christmas morning.  It was the first time she'd ever been sick.  She was sad, rosy-cheeked, and refused all solids (very abnormal from our chubster).  With a bit of tylenol and a lot of cuddling, she made it through the day just fine.  It really made me appreciate how lucky we are that she's a healthy, happy kid.  A former co-worker of mine has a two-year-old daughter who was recently diagnosed with neuroblastoma, and watching her/her family go through such a scary experience has helped me realize we should never take our children's health for granted.   You can read more about/donate to Abriana here.

Sock stash. 

No smiles from this solemn sickly lady.
We spent Christmas day at the church, enjoying a traditional British dinner with several other families in our ward.  It was so much fun, and the food was divine.  We learned about and observed some interesting British traditions:

We had a humble but beautiful holiday season.  I daresay it was our best yet (our fourth Christmas together--woah). Thank you to all of our friends and family who sent lovely cards/gifts...international postage isn't cheap, and it meant a lot to us.  Happy Belated Christmas! (do I sound British in this paragraph, because that's what I'm going for..?)