Monday, January 12, 2015

Salvador, Brazil - Copa 2014

John and I had the enormous privilege of heading to Brazil this past summer to see a world cup game and visit a few cities. It was our "babymoon" of sorts before Bennett arrived. It was a fantastic trip. We were gone for two straight weeks and had so much fun. Brazil is not for the faint of heart - it was an adventure for both of us. We walked, bussed, flew and hiked all over!

We trekked to four different cities in Northern Brazil, including Salvador, Foraleza, Sao Luis and Belem. John served his mission in the last two cities we visited, so it was fun to see areas where he served as a missionary. I was so grateful that John spoke Portuguese. I could understand the language a little bit since I have a pretty good Spanish vocabulary - but having someone who spoke Portuguese was invaluable. I think Brazil would be pretty hard to travel to if you didn't have any familiarity with Portuguese - especially if you ventured out of tourist zones (which was what we did for much of our trip).

We each only took one backpack with us on the trip, which seems crazy for two weeks on the go but made all of our frequent travel super simple. We each had a few pairs of clothes, small toiletries. I only brought one pair of shoes that I wore the whole time (Tevas are the bomb...)

The energy in Brazil while we were there was unreal. There were people from all over the Globe in the country for the World Cup and the festivities in each city did not disappoint. We met and talked with people from all over at dinner, on the bus, at our hotels. Brazil takes their futbol pretty seriously - so even though I was not previously a big fan I found myself sucked in.

Below are some pictures from our first stop - Salvador. Salvador is commonly known as the Afro-Brazilian Cultural Center of Brazil. It was an amazing city to visit and probably my favorite of our trip. We saw a Folk Dance Group perform, enjoyed many street drum performances, saw many beautiful churches and walked up and down the many cobblestone hills every night. We also ate some fantastic food while we were there.

John about to board the plane - we were stoked! About to land in Brazil below.
This part of town is called the Pelhourino. All of the buildings are bold bright colors and those cobblestones were gorgeous but a lot for my 26 week pregnant body to hike up and down each day.

A beautiful Church we toured.
One of my favorite things in Brazil were the colorful streamers hung in each main square and along the streets. Why don't we do this more in the U.S? It is so pretty. All of these decorations were for the Festa de Junia which takes place in the month of June. It felt so vibrant and added to the pulse and beat of each city.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Phantom Crying and the curse of Mommy Guilt

I just stepped out of the shower. Showers used to be relaxing.  Lately I have been plagued by a phantom baby that haunts my shower and cries constantly.

A phantom baby you say? Do you mean Bennett cries while you are showering??

Nope. It is a phantom baby that haunts my shower.  Bennett is typically sound asleep napping when I take showers. But not the phantom baby. When I think I hear its cries,  I open my bathroom door and stick my ear out as far as I can without falling out of the shower. Lo and behold.... no crying coming from Bennett, or anywhere. Frequently I get all the way out of the shower and tip toe to Bennett's room to check on him and there he is, sleeping like a baby. And I look like an idiot sopping up the floor with water, half (or fully!) naked in the middle of my upstairs hallway.

As soon as the bathroom door is closed once more, the phantom baby strikes again! Needless to say I I spend a lot of my shower stressing out over if Bennett is really crying or if I am delusional.. Once I convinced myself it wasn't real and took an extra long shower (and shaved my legs... how luxurious!). When I got out poor Bennett was wailing and then came the Mom Guilt.

One thing I wasn't quite prepared for as a new Mom is the onslaught of guilt that comes with the job. I sometimes feel guilty for taking showers. Moms feel guilty if they work outside the home, they feel guilty if they don't. They feel guilty for eating a food they suspect upset their baby's tummy. They feel guilty for getting angry and frustrated when their baby woke up and they haven't slept in days. They feel guilty for not feeding their kids enough vegetables, or not reading them enough books. It doesn't matter what the choice, Mommy Guilt will come a lurking.

Surely we should not abandon our children... and surely there are some things we should feel guilty about. But as a general rule I need to challenge the mommy guilt in my life and tell it to go away.  So I will continue to shower and try to ignore the phantom baby crying.  It's not like I have much time to shower anyway...

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Thoughts on Motherhood and Staying Home for a While

People ask me so often about going back to work. It is probably the most common question I get about having a baby along with "How is he sleeping?" (a post for another day...)

I feel like deciding to stay home is a decision I have been deferring for a while. When I got pregnant I said I would decide when the baby arrived. Now that the baby has arrived... I am not ready to go back but I am also not ready to call off returning to work.  Fortunately, my company allows a 1 year unpaid leave of absence after maternity leave which I have decided to take advantage of.  I feel grateful my company offers this... it almost feels like I am given more time to procrastinate the decision.

I really enjoy my work.  I love solving complex problems. I love crunching numbers on an analysis and building complex spreadsheets. I love managing and working on a team. I most especially love building client relationships. I have done well at my job and work for a great company.

But then... there is this sweet little man at home with me. Who would care for him if I did not? What scenario is there that I would not miss him desperately and not worry for him all day? How could I balance it all?

We have  friends with babies 1 month, 3 months and 6 months older than Bennett. I am in constant wonder how much babies develop in their first year. I feel like Bennett changes day to day and week to week now. For us as adults, one year passes and not much may change. But for a baby... they are completely different people in a year with completely different abilities and needs.

So for now, I am excited to stay home and watch as Bennett grows this first year. I will continue to re-assess and if I feel time has come to go back to work, I will go. Sometimes I feel like decisions like this are one and done... but life is seldom that black and white. I often forget we can try something out, change our minds, tweak our approach.... the beauty of life is how it changes and evolves and how we are given the opportunity to adapt to it.

I feel grateful to have the opportunity to stay home. I know this is an enormous blessing and that we are fortunate to be in the position where I can take off work for a while.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Joy, Relief, Terror, Awe

Over 2 months ago now I gave birth to a miracle - my sweet Bennett Joseph. His birth story is too much describe here and too tender - but it was absolutely the most incredible day of my life and a completely surreal experience.

Here is a photo of me and Bennett seconds after he was born. I feel like this captured the moment perfectly.

Joy. Relief. Terror. Awe. All in one moment.

I love being a mother. I am feel so grateful and privileged to be Bennett's mother. I feel overwhelmed that Heavenly Father trusts me to care for one of his sweet children.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Day in the Life of Kristin - August 2014

A few years ago a friend challenged me to do a Day in the Life series where I spoke in all too great detail what an average day looked like for me. I thought I would tackle again with just one day - as we are in a unique phase right now being in our new home, commuting via train, waiting for this baby to arrive...

Life is busy but blissful. We have mostly settled into a new home and a new routine. August was definitely a "survival" mode for me as we had just moved in, had lots of company, and I was working an obscene number of hours trying to make a big due date at the end of the month. Things have slowed considerably now fortunately, and I am just in the waiting mode...

5:30 - Alarm goes off. Try to hit snooze.
6:00 - Drag yourself out of bed. Shower and get ready quickly. Throw together a packed lunch. Probably hummus, carrots, frozen dinner... maybe a piece of fruit, granola bar or some veggie straws.
6:40 - Out the door with John to head to the train. Train leaves at 6:56, and it waits for no one. Enjoy reading a chapter of scripture or two with John. We are in the New Testament right now and loving the time we get together on the train.
7:30 - Train arrives in Downtown Boston - walk 10 min to work through beautiful brown stone buildings in the South End neighborhood of Boston towards the Office.

7:45 - 6:15 pm: Work! Work right now consists of creating and reviewing training materials for a new system we are implementing. We have created the materials, and spend time working with our client to review them. We also have a few status meetings in there, some mock demos of the system, system testing, lots of email and following up on issues...

6:15 pm - Rush downstairs to hit the shuttle for the 6:30 train! Unfortunately in August I was taking even later trains far too often because I was a) working too late or b) not getting to the train fast enough...again it waits for no one! But the 6:30 was always my goal.

7:20 pm - If all goes well I arrive back in my town and walk back home. John and I try to take the train together home, if we don't he picks me up from the Train Station.

7:20 - 8:15 - Change into some comfy clothes and eat some dinner. John makes me dinner many many weeknights, especially lately. I am usually wiped from work and being pregnant. Dinners are simple during the week. Our favorites are quesadillas, pita pizzas, open face sandwiches, salads with the goods from our farm share, and occasionally something a little more involved...

8:15 - 9:30 - Hang with John, usually watch a tv show together or just talk.

9:30 - I usually head upstairs and read /go to bed. Sometimes it is even earlier! Being pregnant wears me out!!

And a few photos from life lately...

Us in front of our new home in August...

Farm Share is amazing... John picks it up at work every other week

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Trip to Texas and Gratitude for Family

In July I went down to Dallas for the weekend - it was fantastic. I helped host a bridal shower for my sister Heather and my mom and sister threw a baby shower for me.

I wish I would have gotten more photos with all of the wonderful friends and family who joined us - it was truly a fantastic weekend. A lot of the McElderry clan came in town as well... so it was this blissful weekend with family from all over and from both the Bates and McElderry side. I am so grateful for my parents and sisters, as well as the new family I have gained in becoming a McElderry. Baby Boy was spoiled rotten and I was overwhelmed with love and generosity. 

Family is really the greatest - I am learning this more and more over the years. They are the ones who stick by you through each part of your life. Some friends stick with you and stay in touch... but many pass by as the seasons and circumstances of life change. But your family is always with you.

I can't wait for what this fall has in store for us. Our little guy is going to arrive any day now, and in November my sister gets married and we add one more to our numbers. I have another nephew on the way in December... and we will get to see much extended family this fall at the wedding and over the holidays. 

We did a 3d ultrasound with my parents and sisters. It was so cool! I think baby boy has my nose...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

In case you were wondering....

I am married to a certified stud muffin. Reminds me of the time he tried to use a cuddle kit on me...

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