Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Pregnancy--Week 14

Well, everything is continuing to go well. I am a little tired, but I think that has more to do with the 6 hour swing for the brain and being busy doing less exciting things!

We had a doctor's appointment on Monday. The baby's heartbeat measured at a good strong 163. It was easy to find, which I think impressed the doctor. I go in for my multiple marker screening in two weeks.

Here is the latest in developmental level from

"Head to bottom, your baby's 3 1/2 inches long — about the length of a lemon — and weighs about 1 1/2 ounces. Her body's growing faster than her head, which now sits upon a more well-defined neck. By the end of this week, her arms will have lengthened and will be in proportion to the rest of her body. (Her legs still have some growing to do, though.) She's starting to develop an ultra-fine, downy covering of hair all over her body (called lanugo). Her liver starts secreting bile this week, a sign that it's already functioning properly, and her spleen starts contributing to the production of red blood cells. She's also producing and discharging urine into the amniotic fluid, a normal process that she'll keep up until birth. You still can't feel your baby's movements, but her hands and feet (which are now half an inch long) are more flexible and active. Thanks to brain impulses, her little facial muscles are getting a workout as she squints, frowns, and grimaces. She can grasp now, too, and she may be able to suck her thumb."

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

What makes up art?

One day, Andrea and I headed down to the Thames river for a trip on the London Eye and then a walk to the Tate Modern Museum.

The view from London Eye was worth ride, but nothing nearly as breath-taking as what we saw in Rome. I suppose the lack of a bright blue sky will do that! Andrea still took a couple neat pictures that I have figure out how to get posted. Now that I am back home, I don't have the luxury of having her post them for me anymore!

Next, we stopped into an Oriental Buffet. We both thought that sounded good and like a change from what we'd been dining on. Well, it was different alright. We each found a couple things that we liked, but the most interesting to me was that they were serving french fries. Good thing though, as that was one of the things I liked!

We strolled on down the river (which was a much better experience than in Rome!) until we reached the Tate Modern. It was an interesting experience to see what others considered art. Both Andrea and I enjoyed only about 25% of the pieces. The rest were more likes pieces of crap. One pieces was two rectangular canvas, one painted blue and the other black, attached slightly to each other. Another was a urinal where the artist simply signed his name to it. Others looked like scribbles that my students could have painted. I was glad we went because it was a free museum and I did get to see some master painters and their works. My favorite was one of Monet's huge painting of Water Lilies.

We then walked across the very neatly designed Millennium Bridge, which is a foot bridge that was designed for the celebration of the year 2000. We then headed home on the tube (which is, of course, the proper way to end a London day) :)

Rubbing Elbows with the Stars in London

Rubbing Elbows with the Stars

After taking Monday off to do laundry, clean, and stay off our feet, Andrea and I headed out to Madame Tusaudes, the famous wax museum in London. We arrived there a little before noon on a Tuesday. Neither of us thought that it would be as crazy as it was! We had to wait 15 minutes, just to get into the building. Upon entering the building, it was another hour wait just to get tickets. Luckily, we did stand in front of some very friendly teenagers that were from the area. The guy of the group was turning 17 and absolutely was refusing to enter the Chamber of Horrors LIVE. The two girls that were with him giving such a hard time. Finally they asked us if we were from America. We replied that we were and they were in such awe that it was a little weird. Then the boy said "I want to live in the OC" We both laughed and assured him that no many people really wanted to live there. And he replied "But I love the show" Oh what TV portrays of America.

Once inside it was an absolute zoo! There were so many people I can't even really describe it. However, seeing all the celebs was awesome. Most of them looked so real. You will notice in the Brangalina picture, I am laughing quite hard. This is because Brad's butt was squeezeable. I hope that you enjoy seeing the pictures.

After we got out of there, we headed for King's Cross. All you Harry Potter fans know that we were heading for Platform 9 3/4. They have did a great job actually creating a trolley to look as if it is going into the wall. We grabbed a bite to eat at the local sandwich shop and then headed for home on the tube. It was unbelievably crowded and we had plenty of people. It was nice to be home and get away from it all.

London--A Historical Day

We went to the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace, which began at 11:30. Even though we arrived at 10:45, there was already a sea of people. We crossed the road right before the Horse Guard crossed as they were heading down to begin their own parade. While waiting, we took some pictures of the guard, buildings, and flags. We were informed that the flag only flies over the palace when the Queen is in residence. Although I didn't notice them then, there were snipers sitting up on the roof, watching the crowd through binoculars. As the actually change happened, I couldn't see much, but I was doing my best. There is no concept of personal space here. This one gentleman in particular kept elbowing me in the breast until I had to ask him to please stop. I got my lucky break when the Marching band came in front of the palace. People, who were standing close to the gate, moved to the street trying to get a better view. I wriggled up into their spot and didn't let it go. Most of the actual ceremony was quite dull, but then the band broke it out. First the played Hurray for the Red, White, and Blue. Then they did this tribute to American music. It started off with Thriller, included some Bon Jovi, Madonna, etc. It was hilarious. After the craziness was over, we headed through yet another London park, St James.

In St James, we stopped and had lunch. This time, we forced to feed the pigeons are crust from our sandwiches, so that we could keep them distracted while we ate the main part of our food.

Next, we headed over to Westminster Abby. I was excited to be seeing the inside of the church where the Royals marry. However, when we got there we realize you had to pay quite the fee and couldn't take any pictures. I didn't see a whole lot of point in that. So, we enjoyed the view from the outside and then went and sat in St Margaret's. The church which is still used for services in the area.

After that stop, we headed over to see Big Ben. It is quite amazing. I had seen so many pictures of it as a child, that it amazed me that I was actually viewing it in person. We then went into Parliament building. There are no tours allowed, but they did allow us to sit on a debate session between their parties. It was the most entertaining political debate I had ever witnessed. Not only did I learn some interesting facts about British child support laws, but I got to see people talking to each other about issues in a way that seemed very real to me.

We were thinking about doing the London Eye that day, but I was just too exhausted to add one more thing into our list!

London--My first couple of days

London has been absolutely beautiful. Monday, my first full day here, we spent in the house just catching up. It is pretty difficult to adjust to a six hour time difference! Andrea did take me up to the tube spot to purchase my oyster card, which makes the riding the tube much fasther and chaper, and then we finished walking up Earls Court Rd. This is a fairly residentail area and there were tons of dogs out and about. This is a dog friendly place to be! It started to sprinkle a little and Andrea didn't have anything to cover up with, so we headed back.

The next day we made a trip out to see the Wimbledon. We got off at the wrong tube stop and had to take the long way around the park. However, it was beautiful and almost smelled like you were walking through a garden because of all the flowers blooming along side the road. We were hoping to get in and take a look at the museum which is generally open to the public. However, since they were running their main event, it was closed :( Kinda a bummer after the long tube ride and walk we had. Luckily, they were selling souvieners outside and I was able to purchase a neat tennis shirt for Denise.

We hoped back on the tube and went to the Marble Arch. This is inspired by the great arches in other cities, such as Rome and Paris. When you look through the pictures, this is where the pigeon proofing one was taken. Speaking of pigeons, London has more than you could ever need/want in one location. When Mary Poppins sang about feeding the birds, she had no idea what a horrid idea that would be. Next, we headed into Hyde Park. We stopped and had lunch from one of the booth vendors that have control of the park.

Next we headed up to Piccadilly Circus. This area is in the center of their theather district. It is done up very similarly to Time Square. I wonder which was completed first?

We ended up our day seeing Trafalgar Square. This area was created for Lord Nelson after the Battle of Trafalgar. It has tons of fountains and sculptures, which is always neat for me to see.

Rome--Day 4

Our final day in Rome, we just took it pretty easy. We met for breakfast at 9:30 and then checked out. We left our bags with the hotel and we went out exploring. I had spotted a "Every thing's a Euro" store and we went down to see what type of things that they would have in their dollar store. Unfortunately they didn't open until 16:00. By the way, everything in Europe is noted with military time.

We then walked up to Villa Borghese. On the way up the steps, I noticed an exhibition to see Da Vinci's inventions in motion. Villa Borghese is a huge park area. From the top of the steps, there was another breath taking view of the city. There were several kiddy rides and places to have fun with the entire family. We decide we would walk to the Borguesse home. We had some good debates on the way there. But of course, that happens when you put three intelligent, opinionated people together :) When we finally arrived at the home, we saw you had to pay an admission fee. We decided we would much rather see the Da Vinci expo instead.

On my way back down the steps, which was soft and worn with age, I learned the valuable lesson that one should not talk and have heated discussion. To into my point, I missed the step and fell down three or four of them. Luckily, not much was hurt besides a few scrapes and my pride. I checked for signs of distress to my little one and have did not notice anything.

Inside the expo was wonderful. He was such a great thinker. It was amazing to see how many of his ideas are still put into use today. It was obvious that Leonardo was passionate about flying.

We spent our remain time, eating some yummy gelato (I got pineapple this time. I think there were even fresh chunks in it), taking pictures of the side streets, and just hanging out. Our ride back was speedy, but not as nearly dangerous as the first. We were waiting for our plane to board and it ended up boarding about 30 minutes late. Then our plane turned its engines off because "Brussels" was giving British Airways a hard time about air space restrictions. Finally, an hour after boarding the plane, we took off. We took the Gatwick Express home. That isn't going to be a fun trip, but it will be worth the cost savings. Luckily, Andrea will get me half way there.

Well that's it from Rome. Look for more on my exciting London trip!

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

View Web Albums

When you see a picture above a blog I've written, it means that you can click on it and see a wide variety of photos that Andrea has posted for your viewing enjoyment. I did add some above Rome--Day 1. I will be posting more pics tomorrow as well, above Rome--Day 2.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Rome--Day 3--Epic

After we had another delicious breakfast, we took the short walk to the subway station and headed for the Colosseum. It was especially nice that the tube took us right to entrance of the Colosseum. Andrea did a good job muscling her way up in the line and was able to help us avoid the queue (that means line to you). The inside was beautiful. It was a little saddening to see that the church has put its mark on everything. Right as you enter, a large cross blocks the view. Somehow, I am guessing that isn't authentic. Anyway, as we were standing there taking it all in, we over heard two teenage American girls trying to describe the sites in their best valley girl voices. They were using words like epic, tight, and dope. It was hilarious. Michael pointed out that they should have called it colossal. We got a good laugh for the rest of the trip out of it. Now you can see why the title of my blog is the way it is.

After the Colosseum, we head out for the ruins of ancient Rome. It was a heck of walk with cobblestones, dirt, and tons of hills. Apparently, grading wasn't popular! There was the neat palace that I wanted to go into. You had to walk several stairs to even walk the line. We had some communications issues about waiting in the queue, but the queue never moved anyway. We gave up on seeing the inside. We ended up looking at all the things that there were to see. It was mind boggling to know that you were walking in the same steps that Julius Caesar took. Andrea ended up getting pretty low blood sugar and we found the quickest little shop to eat at. None of us were particularly thrilled with the food and the coke cost us 4 euro, that is $6. After the much needed carbs and sugar, we were able to go again.

On our way home, we stopped by the tomb of the unknown solider. It was my own little slice of heaven. Of all the many fountains of Rome, this was the first one that I was able to put my feet in. It was ice cold. I think that you could have dropped in an ice cube and let it float a while. It numbed my feet and was such a relief after walking all those miles. We continued on, taking the scenic route, to the tube. It put us out just steps from the Spanish Steps. I hurried down to a McDonalds, one of the only places you can be sure will have a free public bathroom. Pregnant ladies learn these quite quickly! Back at the Spanish Steps, I put my feet into another fountain. The first spot I stepped was wet and I almost slipped on my ass. Luckily, I avoided that embarrassment, for the day. I had no sooner gotten my feet out when a police man came by yelling at people to get out of the fountain. Phew!

We then stopped and enjoyed some delicious Italian ice cream, gelato. It was a good sugar rush and made it so that we could take a nice break before dinner. We got to the restaurant, which was only about 20 steps from our hotels front door, at about 7:00. They informed us that we could sit down, but that they didn't start serving dinner until 7:30. Everyone had wonderful food again. It seems to be the Italian way of life. :) I finished the night off by talking to Nick so that I could sleep in the morning! Woohoo!

Rome--Day 2

We woke up and met for breakfast at 7:30am. I had a little less sleep since I had woken up to call Nick. Unfortunately, my brain was a little too tired and, although, I woke up an hour early, I still thought it was time to call him. Oops. I just spent some time reading and showering.

Breakfast was much better than I had expected from a free breakfast included with the hotel room. I had scrambled eggs and toast every morning. I had plenty of fruit, yogurt, and pastries.

We purchased day subway passes. The subways in Rome are filled with graffiti and are not nearly as nice as their London counterparts. However, it was nice to be dropped off so close the Vatican. When we started walking by the line for the Sistine chapel, we were a little amazed. We kept thinking it was going to end, but it was a like a sea of never-ending people. I think that all of us were about to give up and do something different when I asked a tour guide about what he was selling. He was working for one of the groups that had special access to the Vatican Museums which connected with the Sistine chapel. It cost us 30 euro but it was so worth not waiting outside in the line of over 1000 people. Plus I loved the things that our tour guide told us. Some of the most interesting tidbits are listed below.

Michelangelo loved human anatomy. At 13, he was allowed to watch in on the dissection of male corpses. However, the heart and brain could not be touched as that is where the soul lies. He was not also not allowed to see females being dissected. The believe this is why that his female characters have beautiful faces but manly bodies.

DaVinci used the same man to paint both Jesus and Judas in his painting of the Last Supper. These paintings were done several years apart. While he selected his subject for Jesus after hearing him singing in a church choir, he did not select him for Judas. His commission was overdue and people were breathing down his neck to finish the work. So he sent his students out to find the worst, smelly drunk that they could find. The brought him back to the studio, propped him up best they could. When he woke up for his drunken stupor, the man looked at the painting and instantly recognized himself as Jesus when he was a happier man. It wasn't as much of coincidence as it sounds as DaVinci didn't travel far from home to find either subject.

There are so many things hidden in the Sistine chapel paintings that my mind is blown away. Some of my favorites were:

He changed the picture of the temptations so that Eve was sitting there after an apparent act of fellatio and watched as Adam picked the apple from the tree. I think if we hadn't been on the tour, my mind would have flipped it to the story that I always thought that I would see.

Also, the intricate details in the creation picture. Who is the women wrapped in God's arms? Surely, she isn't Eve as Eve's body is clearly present in Adam. As I told you early, Michelangelo was fascinated with human anatomy. Therefore, why does he have two knee caps? Also, his leg is cleaved with muscle where there should be none. When you look at all this together, it is clearly the body of woman, starting with breasts. Very cool....

Also, I love the fact that Michelangelo did not like the Pope. After one of their more bitter fights, he painted an ass on the robe of angel that is flying away from God. The Pope was quite enraged after this painting and order Michelangelo to be taken off the job and to start chipping away at the works that were already up.
When the Pope saw the beauty of the entire ceiling, he begged him to return. It took him three years to convince him, but it he ended up returning to finish. Today, they are missing a large section of the ceiling because even though Michelangelo repaired it, it was a weakened ceiling and fell during one of the bombings in Rome.

Finally around 1:30, we were out of the museum. We stopped at this delightful little pizza place. We must have done something very American, but none of us could figure out what it was. We know that we did it because we had the local giggling at us. Oh well. The food was wonderful.

As you all know, I am a water baby. I thought it would be delightful if we could do a boat tour along the river. Bad idea! I didn't think about the fact that the river was so far below the river walls. It made seeing any real scenery impossible. All we really saw was the sad fact that people have chosen to destroy the area with graffiti and that Rome's homeless population spends a considerable amount of time on the river. We did see some advertisements for gay dolls, which surprised since we were in town that is 98% Catholic.

Next, we set out to see the Trevi Fountain. Along the way there, we walked into a thriving plaza. There were several artist selling their paintings. I loved them all. I caught slack from the Norman's about loving all the flower paintings. Probably a good thing or Nick would have ended up with more flowers in the house. Instead, we found this locally famous artists whom we all loved. His actually paintings were far to expensive, but I was able to pick up a couple of prints relatively cheaply. I am plan to get them framed and hung on the wall. They are going to look stunning in our living room.

The Trevi Fountain was great. I found a cool, noise making bubble gun for Jarett and some rubber stretchy things for my classroom. They are hard to describe. Street vendors are everywhere in Rome. I liked some better than others. The biggest scam is to try to give the women, who are with their mates, roses. After the "gift" they ask for money for them. This happened to us and we just gave back the roses. The guy acted disgusted. Oh well, I was disgusted at the trickery.

We made our way back to the hotel. finding more great Italian food along the way, and decided to move breakfast to an hour later. We needed a good night's rest.

Posting Comments

According to Andrea, "Now a couple things about posting comments... You can post comments on each post I write. At the end of each post you will see (in tiny print) “comments”, which you can click to read any comments or post your own. After you click on comments then you’ll be taken to a new screen. On the left you will see any other comments that have been left on this post and on the right a box for you to type in your own comments. After finishing your comment, enter the letters that you see on the screen into the box. Next, sign your comment by signing into your G-mail account, or just select “Other” and then type your name into the box that appears. If you choose “Other” you can just leave the website field blank. Then just click on the orange “Publish” button and your comments will be posted on the blog. If you don’t see them right away, don’t worry. Just give it a minute, or try to refresh your screen after you get back to view the blog (you can do this by pressing the F5 key). I have found that it isn’t the easiest to navigate back to the normal view of the blog after posting a comment, so I usually end up using the back button until I get back to it, and then I use F5 to refresh."

I hope that you will all leave comments :)

Rome--Day 1

Roman Holiday: Part 1

We left from the apartment at about 5:00am, so that we could make our flight. The trip there was uneventful as any good plane ride should be! I finished up Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. It is the first book in a series that Nick just loves. It had some provocative points, but I surely didn't enjoy as much as he did. However, I did enjoy it enough that I will at least read a couple other books in the same series.

We got to our rooms after one crazy cab. Both Andrea and Michael told me that it wasn't nearly as bad as I had thought. I can't imagine bad then. This guy was creating lanes where they didn't exist and taking his half out of the middle. Rome traffic is clearly something that I could not handle driving in!

We had rooms in a fancy hotel that had mirrors everywhere. It was the first hotel room that I had stayed in that had a mirror above the bed and a 3' by 6' mirror on one wall.

We decided to take a trip up to Vatican City since it was so close, just a little over a mile a way, from our hotel. On the walk down, we enjoyed the beauty of the architecture (sorry dear, but it had to be admired. There were also several street vendors selling their wares, several of which had shawls and t-shits available. Just entering the Vatitcan city is a breath-taking event. It is hard to describe the awesome power of seeing so much history and wealth in such a relatively small space. We took pictures of the outside and decided to head over to St Peter's Basilica.

I must say that I did see signs for no tank top or short skirts, but if you'd seen all the people ahead of us that were wearing similar things (I had on a dressy style sleeveless shirt), I figured it was trying to say no bathing suits or something like that. We got to the front of the line and the guard asked me where my shawl or t-shirt was, I just told him I didn't have one. He informed that I couldn't enter the building unless by shoulders were covered. Then the light bulb went off! No wonder there were so many women clamoring around those street vendors carts buying those shawls. Luckily, Andrea was quick thinking and remembered she had a small 6 x 6 white towel that she used to wrap up her telephoto lens. We used my credit card to create a hole in it and Michael tore it in half for me. We tucked up it under my bra and got in. I am hoping that many of the catholics in my life can explain why this rule exist. We were laughing while creating my look, which clearly offended them. We weren't laughing at them, so much, as the look that I was sporting.

The inside of the basilica was beautiful. You can tell it took many years, lots of talent, and even more money to create such an awesome sight. We were hoping to get into the Sistine Chapel, but all the signs are in Italian so they weren't a lot of help to us. We were walking along and saw two lines that said you could either go into the Cupola or the Tomb of the Popes. The Cupola line looked longer and seemed like it could be a word for Chapel. However, we met some friendly people who informed us of what it really was and also gave us tips for getting into the Sistine Chapel. Apparently, none of were dressed correctly to enter the Sistine Chaepl and it had closed 40 minutes before. We put it on the to-do list for the next day. We opted for the elevator instead of the stairs so that we could enjoy the view less painfully. The walls and ceiling of the chapel are done completely with mosaic tile. After taking it all, we had to make the decision whether or not to walk to 320 more steps to the very top. We decided that it couldn't be that bad. Well, let me say, that I at least, thought it would be normal steps. No! They were cramped, twisty, short, and slick. I was doing okay, but with about 50 steps the baby decided that I needed to sit down. Luckily, there was a little alcove so that I could sit down and still allow people to pass me. I was severely out of breath and out of water. One very nice young woman stopped and gave me her water and some gum. After about 10 minutes, I decided that I could finish the walk to the top. It was absolutely worth the view! There is nothing like a 360 degree view of Rome. Andrea captured several great pictures that I will post later for you to look at.

We ended the day with short nap and a wonderful dinner. Dinner in Rome takes about 2 hours and unfortunately my stomach decided to revolt and I had to enjoy my dinner back in the hotel room. Luckily, I was able to sneak out my food. I wasn't sure if they would understand the concept of a doggy bag. One travel tip, don't try to impress the people you're traveling with by trying to order the food in the native language if you really don't know how to speak it. The three of us got a good giggle out of watching one girl do just that! Silly tourists!

Pregnancy--Week 13

So, we've made it quite a ways :) Everything seems to be progressing normally. I've been doing a good job about getting in more fluids and am finally having something resembling an appetite returning. My stomach still revolts againist me every now and again, but it is much better than it has been. My activity level is going up. I walked around 35 to 40 miles the four days that the Norman's and I spent in Rome. My only real surprise has been my shifting fat. I guess I had just figured that I would go from my normal body to a slightly forming belly and then showing all the way. Not so! Oh well, I am proud to be carrying this child if I don't care what she (no, we don't know the sex) is doing to be figure. I thought you might all enjoy the snippet from BabyCenter that lets you know more about the future Baby Thomas.

"..., he's only about 3 inches long crown to rump — roughly the size of a jumbo shrimp — and weighs just about an ounce. Despite the small proportions, there's a fully formed baby inside your womb now. Much more proportional than it was a few weeks ago, his head is now only about a third the size of his body. His tiny, unique fingerprints are already in place."

Wednesday, 4 July 2007


Kara Exploring London

Andrea was kind enough to post some pictures for my first day out and about experiencing London. I will post more of my details of the trip when I have time. We are heading out for Rome in 45 minutes and so I don't have the time to really give you more. Hope you enjoy the photos.

I've Started a Blog

So as many of you know, I am visiting my friends Michael and Andrea in London. I decided I would start a blog while I am here so that I could share my adventures and pictures with everyone. After I return to the States, I will be using this blog to post on our growing family. Check back frequently for updates!