Saturday, February 27, 2010

Clint Clifton Saves the Day...

The last time I purchased soda was October 1994.  It was at an Oktoberfest carnival in LaCrosse, WI where I  purchased a Mountain Dew and a bag of Cheetos.  Shortly thereafter I rode the tilt-a-whirl and got so sick that I vowed never to drink "pop" again (Yes, I'm a Yankee).  My cross-country coach also convinced me that drinking soda would slow me down, so I have not consumed much of anything carbonated for over a decade....that is, until recently.

When Clint came December 4th, he bought a  2 Liter of Coke Zero for himself.  I tolerated it's presence in the home, but soon after becoming pregnant, have become addicted to it.  Here is the sequence of events that has occurred nearly every evening over the last few months:

1.  Sometime near the end of the day, the regurgitation starts in my stomach and climbs up my throat.
2.  My whole body gets hot and I start shedding layers of clothes to try to stop the nausea.
3.  I begin deep breathing techniques to distract myself from the tight feeling at the top of my throat.
4.  The next step:  Quickly stumble to the kitchen (dodging our curtain-less windows), grab Clint's 2 Liter, and chug.
5.  Fight the overwhelming feeling of nausea by pounding on the nearest inanimate object (Colby in the background: "Can you keep it down over there?  You're going to wake the kids!")
6.  Pray in the name of Jesus that I can KEEP the precious calories I worked so hard to get in my body.
7.  Then, it would happen every time....the soda does it's magic and soon I am burping louder and fiercer than a teenager at a Pizza Blast Lock-In (Colby in the background again (disgusted):  " Oh, Come On...Utterly.Ridiculous").
8.  Collapse on the couch from the whole, exhausting battle thanking God for Clint Clifton's addiction to Coke Zero.

When my first trimester ended, I poured the 2 liter down the sink in a moment of pre-mature celebration (it had also become flat).  However, on Saturday night, I started to feel Step 1 starting and proceeded through to step 4.  It was a moment of horror to open the fridge door and not find a single carbonated item with which to assist me in the battle against regurgitation.  There was simply nothing I could do...I lost every ounce of my dinner in the toilet (with BOTH kids behind me crying, "I have to go POTTY...mommy, I need to GO.....right NOW!!"  How does that happen?).  I have thrown up more in my 2nd trimester than I did in my 1st.  Clint, can you please come over and buy me some more pop?  I can't bring myself to end my streak (Okay, that's not true, but it was a good clincher).

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Confessions of a Pregnant American Living in Iceland

I wrote this blog around Christmastime before we made the announcement:
When I was in my first trimester with Darcy's pregnancy, Colby took me out to the German restaurant on Route 1 in Stafford.  The moment the food was served, I knew I was in trouble.  The new smells, the different flavors...after just ONE bite, I was done with my meal.  The rest of the evening was spent with one hand covering my mouth and one hand covering my nose.   The last 2 months have been like LIVING in the German restaurant.

In the past year I haven't really missed American food.  It wasn't until I got pregnant that I really began to despise the food that is here.  All the food suddenly feels very foreign and unfamiliar.  When something sounds good, I'm desperate to get it so I can get something in my upset, yet hungry stomach.  Take the other day for instance.  I'm reading a book and it in they describe a breakfast of eggs and hashbrowns.  HASHBROWNS....YES!  I think I could do that.  Poor Colby.  Step One:  Buy potatoes.  Step Two:  Buy a grater.  Step Three:  shred potatoes into frying pan. After Colby has been sent to the store and has slaved away in the kitchen, he presents me with white, finely grated, mushy potato patties.  After one bite, I realize that our grater is much too fine and--well, NEVER MIND--it is really applesauce that I want.   Now there is a mess to clean up, a frustrated husband, another errand to be run, and a cranky, HUNGRY, pregnant wife.  Welcome to our world.

I've concluded that the worst possible time to be in your first trimester pregnant in Iceland is December.  You have to understand, to Icelanders tradition trumps everything else.  For example, every 23rd of December they celebrate the fact that their ancestors ate the last of the old food before the holidays. On this day they eat skate, which is an incredibly stinky fish.  I didn't even leave the house on this day.

For the past few months all we've been hearing about is Hangikjot.  Hangikjot is smoked lamb that is always prepared during the Christmas season.  Because of how much it was talked about, I had pretty high expectations.  When we finally attended a Christmas party here, we were served the COLD meat
that had a STRONG smoked flavor and I was a little thrown off.   Upon finishing my virgin hangikjot experience, Icelanders hovered over me at the table with eager eyes and the inevitable question,

"So...what did you think?"

What do you do?


When we were invited over to a friend's house on Christmas Day, and I prayed on the ride over, "Oh, Lord...PLEASE...ANYTHING but hangikjot!"  When the door opened and the strong, smoked flavor flooded into the hallway where I was standing, I literally could not help it.  Tears just started streaming down my face.  Our poor hosts didn't know what to do.  I sat outside on the patio while they tried to air out the apartment, but their attempts were futile.  I spent the rest of the Christmas meal with a peppermint-scented towel covering my face.

I have recently begun to calculate the cost of flying over the ocean to eat a Five Guys burger.  I have never missed American food so much.  Luckily, a woman found our blog and contacted us because she was taking a trip to Iceland and wondered if we needed anything.  She came with Saltines and Mac-and-cheese and it has helped with my appetite since.  Everyone keeps saying and I keep remembering, "THIS TOO SHALL PASS!"

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Here is a blog post that I wrote 3 years ago when we were living in Iceland in February:
Right now in Iceland the country is celebrating something called þorri (pronounced 'Thorri'). Every Icelander that attempts to explain it to me has described it as "Old Food Month." For a whole month Icelanders reflect on the way their ancestors used to survive by eating foods such as dried fish, sheep head, rotten shark, ram testicles, lamb jam, kidneys, liver and fat. This is not a joke. Colby and I went to the flea market and witnessed this first hand. After eating some dried fish and simply smelling the putrid shark, Colby nearly vomited. All I had to do was look at the pickled ram testicles and I was out of there. I don't know what is worse: the fact that the early settlers resorted to such measures in the face of pending death or that people still do it willingly today. I mean, c'mon...testicles? Colby is uncomfortable with how many times I'm saying that word. So, enough about Thorri.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Immersion Time!

This week a spot finally opened up at Grænaborg Leikskoli (pre-school) and Haley began her journey into cultural assimilation.  She has been on a waiting list since September (they move quick around here).  On Tuesday I got to spend some time at the school getting a tour and meeting her teachers.  When we arrived, the kids all hovered around her, touching her face, showing off the few English phrases they knew ("Merry Christmas!!  one! two! three! four.....). The kids eventually all went outside on the playground and I was inside listening to her teacher as she explained the daily schedule to me.  As she was talking to me, my gaze shifted out the window where I could see Haley playing happily.  I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing as I watched Haley skipping along....with ELEVEN little Icelandic children skipping right behind her, following her every move.  I'm sure she won't be a novelty forever, but for now she is livin' the life of a rock star for sure.  All recess long, she sat in a wagon while the girls in her class each took turns giving her a ride.  She is the only American in her class and they are all fascinated with her.  I'm really proud of how brave Haley has been this week; she admits that it´s hard to not know what everyone is saying to her and she has been so wiped out by the end of the day.   She should be speaking Icelandic so soon now (Darcy should be off the waiting list March 1st).

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Not the First Day of School

Haley Jane loves to learn and I love to teach.  We make quite the nerdy team.  When she was 20 months, Colby read her "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" and shortly thereafter she memorized the alphabet.  I jumped on board buying Leap Pad learning toys and spent time with her every day "playing school."  Since birth, the world has been our classroom and everything from cereal boxes to street signs have been our curriculum.  I decided this year to start kindergarten with her even though she turned 5 in October and would have missed the cut-off to start school in VA.  I feel the pressure to teach her to read and write in English since the school system here will only teach her to do that in Icelandic.

In August, school started.  I was doing a mixture of FIAR (a literature based curriculum) and old lesson plans I used when I was a teacher (mostly Four Block).  I found a lot of resources online and did a lot of hands-on stuff, so we got away with a cheap school year!   It was a lot of fun and Haley never ceases to amaze me with her brilliance.  I am seriously intimidated by her sometimes.  In January Haley "graduated" from kindergarten and is now starting a new phase of the school year:  Learning Icelandic!  Stay tuned as Haley starts full-time Icelandic-immersion-Pre-school...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Germany or Bust!

We just got back from a really refreshing and encouraging conference in Germany.  We took a few days after the conference to see Frankfurt and couldn't get over how little English people knew, especially compared to our beloved Icelanders.  I did charades all week trying to communicate what I needed and still was not successful.  Colby and I both felt like we were in Middle Pennsylvania the whole week because the food was all white and brown.  We had baked macaroni and many other dishes that his grandmother makes.  It was a winter wonderland there with all the hoar frost...a photographer's paradise.  See More pictures HERE .