Friday, July 11, 2014

baby Bangoura: 7-19 weeks

telling Mom & John the news.
When we found out we were expecting a baby back in March, I knew I wanted to take pictures every week with the corresponding fruit size of the baby (for all those who don't/didn't know - you can sign up for emails and each week they email you and let you know your baby has graduated from the size of a blueberry to a raspberry to a mango and so on).  There are examples all over Pinterest but one of the photographers I follow put this post up and I loved what she had done.

Not much happens in the beginning (in terms of the belly growing) and then all of a sudden you're showing so we skipped from week 7 to week 19 (OK, might have been some, oops, we forgot happening there, too) but just imagine me getting incrementally bigger from week 7 to 19 and you'll know what I looked like.

7 weeks and the size of a blueberry to 19 weeks an the size of a mango.  

For posterity's sake, I want to remember here some of my favorite parts of the pregnancy so far:

Finding out!  I took the test and it immediately made that little plus sign (much to my surprise though Abdoulaye said he already knew I was pregnant).  Abdoulaye was making coffee and getting ready to leave for work when I peeked out of the bathroom with a big ol' grin on my face.  I called the doctor that morning to set up a pre-natal appointment and I said, "I think I'm pregnant..."  "Did you take a pregnancy test?" the nurse asked.  "Yes!" "Was it positive?"  "Yes!" "Did you miss a cycle?" "Yes!"  "Then you're pregnant!"

Telling family and friends.  Marija offered me a glass of wine and I said no and she said "You're pregnant!"  This was quite early on so let it be known that if you want to conceal your pregnancy, don't hang around Marija.  Cassie and I were at this movie when I told her and we squealed over the news while sharing candy.  Kate was in the baby section of Target when I called and was so, so happy.  When we told Sheri, Lindsay & Dan, Abdoulaye said "We have some news."  They nodded.  "We're moving to Virginia!"  They looked puzzled.  "Just joking.  Jennifer's pregnant."  Heads cocked to the side.  Mrs. Shellnutt was picking me up at the Tampa airport and said I was taking too long and costing her money on parking as I walked through the gate.  Then she saw my belly!

Going to pre-natal appointments with some of my favorite treasures.  Mom & Memaw came to my 9 week check-up and we saw the baby for the first time (sort of, it was still pretty murky); Marija came to my 12-week appointment and bawled/sobbed at little baby Bangoura when I had another sonogram and Cassie came to my 14-week and we got to hear the heartbeat (now the nurses/doctor wonder where my posse is when I come to appointments alone).  Abdoulaye has come with me to my specialist ultrasound appointments where they take pictures of all the baby's parts.  We found out we're having a girl on Wednesday (at my 20-week appointment) and were totally surprised.  Lots of folks thought it was a boy!

Enjoying the now and getting ready for what comes next.  Thankfully, so far I've felt great.  No morning sickness.  My back feels fine.  I can get around OK.  But I know it's just the beginning and summer isn't over yet and I'm getting bigger by the day.  It's been such a blessing to be surrounded by loving family & friends for the beginning of this new chapter of our lives and to experience the support of colleagues and neighbors.  Thank you!!

And since Abdoulaye finds the expression "We're pregnant" puzzling/humorous, and I take practice shots on him to get the lighting/position right for my photo shoot, here are some outtakes from my fruit shots with my handsome husband. 

7 weeks and the size of a blueberry to 19 weeks an the size of a mango.  Everyone tells him he looks fantastic.

Any and all baby/pregnancy suggestions are welcome - goodness knows folks let the advice pour in when that belly starts sticking out!  :) :)  

Monday, July 7, 2014

Happy 4th of July!

Our little sparkler.
 Last year, Cassie and I spent the morning of the 4th of July making American & Guinean flag cakes (that American/Guinean children begrudgingly ate) for a Guinean 4th of July party.

This year, we spent the morning picking blueberries & beets at Larriland Farms, the afternoon watching the Brazil vs Colombia World Cup match and the evening watching the fireworks from the Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH).  I wouldn't have had it any other way.

I forgot my camera's memory card at home for our trip to the farm so I don't have any pictures but imagine lots of blueberries, raspberries & beets.   And sunshine.  And smiles.  And then we got BBQ from the Town Grill - a must visit if you're headed out to Larriland Farms or Howard County.

The World Cup game was actually the first one I watched all the way through and it wasn't a disappointment (sorry, Colombia!).  I always enjoy Africa is a Country's reviews and their summaries of the World Cup do not disappoint - especially this post about racism in Brazil (sorry to read this post about the AP stealing their content).

The AFRH was such a treasure! Beautiful views of the DC skyline, food trucks, parking and views of fireworks on the Mall and in the neighborhood.  It was also an appropriate location to remind me of the reason we celebrate the 4th of July and the men and women who serve our country.

Who knows what our next 4th of July will bring?  There'll be one more of us along for the ride to celebrate - hopefully we can go berry picking and see the fireworks again from the AFRH.

Cassie promised us she would spend every 4th of July with us so we could take the same couch picture (see 2013).
Come on, those smiles.

Peeks of the fireworks on the Mall
Street fireworks going off nearby.
Fourth of July 2013
Fourth of July 2012
Fourth of July 2011
Fourth of July 2010 
Fourth of July 2009


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Family, Frolics & Foundry

Memaw and Tyson spending some quality time together. 
A couple of weeks ago Mom and Memaw took the Amtrak up to DC to spend a weekend with Abdoulaye and me.  Well, mostly me since Abdoulaye was hard at work fixing up our basement (hence the limited amount of photos, ahem, none, with my handsome husband).  We visited a nearby lake, tidied house (Mom re-alphabatized our spice rack, among other handy putzing contributions), had dinner with friends and visited the church where Memaw grew up, was married and where my Mom was baptized.  Whew.
Buddy Attick Lake Park (Greenbelt, Maryland)
My little babies (Marija, I think this is my new favorite picture of us, thank you!!)
One of my favorite parts about Memaw coming to visit is seeing Washington, DC through her eyes.  When she inevitably shares with a friend, new or old, that she grew up in DC, they always ask thoughtful questions about her time here and tease out stories I've heard over and over again but that truly never get old.

Having Mom and Memaw around is like having home come visit you.  I don't have to work to entertain them and they are perfectly happy sitting on the loveseat in the sunroom reading their books with a glass of wine.  They're also lovely mini-adventure companions - with Memaw interjecting stories of her time as a little girl, and then student at George Washington University, on the streets of our nation's capital.  It's lovely, too, to be with two ladies who are as enamored with our little bungalow as I am and who gush just as much about Abdoulaye as I do :)
Three generations of matching little nubby noses
Visiting Foundry United Methodist Church where Memaw was raised (and where she was married)
Visiting Foundry UMC was a real treat -and not just because of the 200 years of history (this year!) that fill the sanctuary.  Robtel Pailey, a PhD candidate at the University of London, delivered the sermon, which you can listen to here.  Ms. Pailey attended Foundry with her family while growing up after she and her family came to the US from Liberia.  After graduating from college in DC, she went on to "serve as special assistant for communications to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf." (see more of her writing here and here).  How neat!  I loved learning about her path in life and her roots at Foundry and imagining her growing up as a little girl in the same church as my grandmother and how their lives, though incredibly different, had a similar base in a church that welcomes so many people from so many backgrounds. 
Abdoulaye is disappointed I asked them to take the bus.  DC public transport adventure!
I did get a little teary-eyed putting these two little nuggets on the train on Monday - it gets harder and harder to say goodbye!  We had a lovely lunch together at Union Station and then I left them at the waiting area in the Amtrak station, paper-back novels in one hand and the other waving goodbye to me, cupped and flapping up and down.   

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lucky in love: Virginia Beach Shamrock 8k

While we're packed in close to 4 inches of snow here in DC, I'm warmed thinking of our weekend in Virginia Beach.  Cassie, Abdoulaye and I loaded into our car on Friday evening to head down to VB for the Shamrock 8k (and to cheer on my sister-in-law, Courtney, who ran the 1/2 marathon).
Abdoulaye wearing a medal before the race to get into the spirit!
When we arrived at the starting corrals on Saturday morning, we scanned the crowd for familiar faces and where we could slip in with our starting group.  As we looked around, I saw a man who looked like an elite, African runner (tiny frame, seemed freezing in the 70 degree temps).  At the same time, his eyes landed on Abdoulaye and he bee-lined his way over to us.  I wouldn't say he gave Abdoulaye elevator eyes to check him out but it was close.  We all greeted one another and then Edward, as we later learned was his name, asked Abdoulaye "what is your time?" to which Abdoulaye replied, "not so fast."  We all laughed as we realized Edward thought Abdoulaye was a fellow elite runner and wanted to know his mile time.  He told us he was living in New Mexico (to train in high altitude) and here with three other Kenyans for the marathon the following day.
On a pontoon ride after the race with my treasures :)
While Abdoulaye didn't win the race - he did beat everyone in the family except Dan, my soon to be brother-in-law who is a serious athlete.  I ran my best and was encouraged by Cassie who is a steady runner and didn't let me slow down :)  Thankfully the wind wasn't too harsh and the day was as close to perfect for running as you can get.
Cap'n Morgan and his trusty crew
After the race we loaded into Dad & Sheri's new pontoon boat for a spin on Linkhorn Bay.  Lisa and Louise joined us as well (they're running with us next year! - right, Lisa??) and loved soaking up the rays and checking out First Landing State Park (though I'll never stop calling it Seashore State Park).
On our trip to Virginia Beach last year, Jarrett was just three weeks old  - now he's 12 months and 3 weeks and looking at him feels like seeing the past year on fast forward.   I'm already looking forward to next year's race!
Lindsay and me with our nephew, Jarrett, in 2013 - less than a month old!
2014 :)
See more pictures from this year's Shamrock race here and last year's here

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Days of love

Abdoulaye is with his family in Guinea until next week.  Until then, I'm celebrating my favorite Valentine from afar and giving thanks for all the loves in my life.  Every day is a day to celebrate love!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Trifles to Treasures

Yesterday I completed the requirements for my Master of Arts in International Education from the SIT Graduate Institute.  Two years really did fly by and while I'm thankful to be done, I will miss the interactions with my cohort on our assignments.  Of course, most of the folks in my cohort have gone from being acquaintances to friends so I look forward to keeping in touch!

You know what else I look forward to?  More crafting and treasure-making (and blogging!).  See below for my latest  creations!  I've been on the hunt for matching nightstands with drawers (not too big, not too small, not expensive) and finally found two nightstands (one red, one blue) in moderate condition at Community Forklift.  Now is a great time to go there since it's the middle of winter and folks don't want to leave their cozy homes to buy home improvement supplies in a cold warehouse.  Lucky for me these solid wood babies were 1/2 off and just needed a little sanding, priming and painting (I made that sound way faster than it was...these took me awhile to refinish :)



Sunday, December 8, 2013

one year here!

Dear Abdoulaye,

We (or is it I?) stopped counting the days you have been in the US a long time ago.  For awhile there, time was marked in the passing days, then weeks, then months and now, it's been a year that you've been here.  You said today that when you stop counting time, it moves faster.  I don't think the passing of time is different but this year has certainly been one on the move.

Early in the morning on December 8th, 2012 we got on a plane in Dakar, Senegal - your freshly minted fiancé visa in hand - and prepared for touch down in Washington, DC.  I, of course, slept the whole way while you watched movies and tried to get some sleep here and there.  That morning was a blur of family and snacks and moving into our apartment with Cassie and taking lots of pictures.  I couldn't wait to share this part of me with you.  I was nervous and excited and curious to see - what would our relationship be like 3,000 miles from where we first started?  How do you prepare for something that you don't need to prepare for?

I love looking through the pictures on my blog - our outfits haven't changed much throughout the year but we sure do have some big ol' smiles.  I know that if all of our moments were captured on camera, they wouldn't all be smiles.   The harder times are just as important to remember as the good but they don't always photograph as well :)

When we have friends and family over for dinner or meet someone at a restaurant, I love watching you talk and tell stories and laugh - you have adapted to life here so well though it doesn't seem like you have to try; you just are.  I sometimes try to think back and remember what your conversations with others were like before you spoke English so well but I'm drawing a blank; I can't remember.

It's late at night, or early in the morning, and the rain outside is washing away the first snow from our front yard of our first home together as I write.  I remember when you first got here, from my memory and my blog, and how I would ask you so frequently "What do you think??" and how eager I was to hear your impressions of America - like when you saw your first snow.  I can't remember the last time I asked you that, do you?  Now when you share your experiences, they come as stories from work or the grocery store or the metro.  They're just stories of your life - of our life - and I love hearing them.

Last night we shared the love seat in the tv room - you were watching videos of babies laughing hysterically at dogs and old Jimmy Kimmel episodes while I put the finishing touches on the final draft of my capstone thesis.  I'm so looking forward to when I can snuggle up with you and watch goofy videos without feeling guilty that I should be working on school assignments.

This whole weekend I felt like your first year in the US needed to be marked with toasts at dinner or frequent mention of the date - but it's hard to celebrate an obscure date like this and I felt a little like I was grasping at straws.

I can hear the space heater going in our bedroom from where I'm sitting and I can picture you snuggled in bed, likely wearing one of your winter coats to add another protective layer from our sometimes drafty room.  You'll wake up earlier than me to get to work - my words aren't enough to express how proud I am of you for working so hard for our family.  You tackle situations on a daily basis that I wouldn't want to handle and I'm so thankful you do it all with such grace and a positive attitude.

When I remind friends, co-workers and family that it's been a year since you've been here, they tilt their head back, mentally counting the months or thinking about the passing time and then, inevitably, shake their heads and say - the time really flies, huh?  8,766 hours, 365 days, 12 months.  I'm no longer counting all of those - but I will count the years.  And with you, sweet Abdoulaye, the years really count.

All my love,

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