Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Questionnaire

I saw this on Jane’s blog, and thought it would be fun to do!

Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot chocolate all the way.  I’m a chocolate fiend anyway, and I never pass up cocoa.  Well I do now, thanks to my gestational diabetes, but normally I don’t.  I like egg nog in small doses, but I LOVE cocoa!

Colored lights on tree/house or white? I think white lights are very elegant and colored lights are very fun.  So it depends on my mood and the setting.

Do you hang mistletoe? Nope, I don’t.  I don’t need a reason to kiss my husband and that’s really the only reason you hang mistletoe right?

When do you put your decorations up? Depends on the year and when we have time.  This year they went up right after Thanksgiving since we’re not sure when baby boy will be making his appearance.  It was either then or possibly never, so we opted to be on the safe side and put them up early.  And I shouldn’t really say “we” since Mark pretty much did everything by himself.  Thanks Mark!

What is your favorite holiday dish? My mom has always made a really good shrimp dip that she only makes during holiday dinners.  I love it!

Favorite Holiday memory as a child? Sitting around the tree with my family opening presents.  It was always fun when there was a huge mound of presents and my cousins and uncle and grandparents were there.

When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I don’t remember how old I was, but I started figuring it out when I noticed that Santa had the same wrapping paper and handwriting as my mom.  I remember her telling me that was because Santa wanted to blend in, but I don’t think I bought it. 

Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Yep, we always got to open one present on Christmas Eve.  I’d like to continue that tradition with my kids.

How do you decorate your Christmas tree? With a bunch of random ornaments we’ve gathered over the years, and lights.  We have a decent collection of sentimental ornaments, fancy ones, and kid-friendly ones.  I’d definitely like to add to them though!

Snow! Love it or Dread it? Coming from the mid-west, it doesn’t feel much like Christmas without snow.  I definitely missed snow when we lived in FL, OK, AZ and now Italy, where we very rarely get it.  I definitely like having four seasons.

Do you remember your favorite gift? I honestly don’t, which tells me one of two things.  Either I have a terrible memory, or it’s more the whole atmosphere that I enjoy.  Although I took the Five Languages of Love test and my love language was giving and receiving gifts, so that kind of surprises me.  Now I pretty much remember most things people got me/us and I can go around the house pointing out who gave me what, so you’d think I’d remember a favorite gift.  I will say the year I was hoping Mark would propose, he got me a laptop instead.  Haha!  My co-worker asked me if I balanced it on my finger and said, “Look at the way that delete button shines!”  *grins*  (For the record, no, I didn’t… and he proposed in February!)

What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Puppy chow!!  I actually was just talking to Mark about this last night and how I associate the holidays with eating puppy chow!  (Crispix covered in chocolate chips,butter, peanut butter and powdered sugar.)  I made some, even though I can only eat it in very small doses right now (due to the diabetes).  That might be a good thing though because I could easily eat an entire bag of that stuff.  SOO good!

What is your favorite holiday tradition? Again, just sitting around the tree with family, opening presents.  I’ll miss having more family around this year, but Abbie is lots of fun to watch and we’ll have new little guy to keep us busy too.  I also love going to the candle lit service at church. 

Candy Canes: Yuck or Yum? They’re not terrible, but not my favorite thing either.  Again, I’m much more of a chocolate person.

Favorite Christmas movie? I don’t really remember watching many Christmas movies, besides Love Actually, so does that count?  I need to watch some of the classic Christmas movies.

Saddest Christmas Song? For some reason I always cry when we sing Silent Night at church.  Or songs about people not being together at Christmas.

What is your favorite Christmas song? O Holy Night.  I love it. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Adding to the clan

So our baby boy should be here within a few weeks.  Possibly in less than 2 weeks if they decide to induce me.  I am so excited to meet him, and I’m to the point where I get all teary-eyed when I see other newborns.  But to be honest, I am a little nervous.
Over the summer I somehow got caught up in listening to this psychologist, who’d done a ton of research on sibling relationships, talk on this radio interview.  He said that it is human nature for parents to have a favorite child – that it’s natural to be more bonded with one child over another.  And that scares me.  I obviously want to love my children equally, and I’m wondering how our relationship with Abbie will change once the little guy gets here, or even more so, how he’ll ever fill the huge footprints she’s left.
Abbie is just a special little girl.  I truly believe all kids are special in their own ways, but obviously I am biased towards my own.    We often have people who interact with Abbie tell us how special she is and we have strangers comment on her beauty frequently.  She has a huge personality, but is very sweet-natured and generally is a joy to be around.  I know that won’t change once this little guy shows up, but I am worried that we’ll always be comparing him to Abbie, even though we know Abbie is pretty advanced in a few areas.
I guess I’m just anxious and excited and nervous to add a member to the family.  I love the way our family dynamic is now and I know it will change.  I’m sure it will change for the better and I have no doubt I’ll love this baby boy as much as I love Abbie, but I know things will be different also.  I’m eager to find out the difference of raising a little boy verses raising a little girl and I’m thankful that I will have the opportunity to experience both.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A night out

Last weekend we had a Hail and Farewell.  (For you non-military folks, a get together to welcome new people and say goodbye to people leaving the squadron.)  It was at a hotel and restaurant about 45 minutes from our house.  I don’t know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t this!  The place was just gorgeous with all the lights and the stream in front and behind it.  Apparently this place was an old mill of some sort and they still had all the old mill parts in the lobby and the watermills behind the place.  I would love to go back and visit it during the day, but it was completely enchanting at night.

Everyone else took buses to get to the place, but since I’m so close to giving birth we didn’t want to risk us having to ruin everyone else’s fun by me going in to labor.  So we drove separately, which was nice because we got there a few minutes before everyone else and that’s when we took all the outside pictures!
The food was AMAZING!  We had a guessing game at our table to try to figure out what most of it was, but whatever it was, it was good.  One of the courses were fig stuffed dumplings and another was some sort of cheese something under crispy proscuitto.  REALLY good.  I loved it all, but I was afraid to eat most of it since I’d just been diagnosed with gestational diabetes earlier that day and I still didn’t know what I could and couldn’t eat.

We had a wonderful time with our friends and a really nice evening out.  I didn’t get any pictures of Mark and me (bummer!!), but I did get a picture with my friends, Laura and Jennifer.  Next time I’ll get a picture of Mark and me!

Saturday, November 26, 2011


I’m a few days late on this, but better late than never.  I’ve been in a bit of a rut this past week or so.  I’ve been in a lot of pain, which is completely exhausting.  And this gestational diabetes diet is making me all sorts of pissy.   I feel like I can’t eat anything I want to eat and I’m having a hard time being positive about the whole thing.

I decided to make a list of the top 5 “little” things I’m thankful for – things that can easily be taken for granted.   I’m going to leave out the obvious things – my family, friends, health, shelter, food, etc. – and focus on the less obvious things.

1.  I’m thankful that my husband has a good job.  He earns enough for us to live comfortably and have nice things, and it allows for me to be a stay at home mom, which I wouldn’t trade for the world.

2.  I’m thankful for modern technology.  I loved being able to talk to Mark every day while he was in Afghanistan and I was in the States.  To be able to video chat with him and see his face a couple times a week was really a sanity-saver for me.  And on the same note, I love that we can video chat with our families and that Abbie gets to see and talk to her grandparents that live on a different continent.

3.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to live overseas.  It’s a huge adjustment, and a tad bit frustrating at times dealing with a culture that’s pretty different from what you’re used to, but I’m still glad we’ve had this opportunity.  I think you gain so much by stepping out of your comfort zone and our time in Italy is time I will always treasure.

4.  I’m thankful for other people’s creativity.  I’m definitely not the most creative person in the world.  I can follow a pattern or recipe or read music, but as far as creating things from scratch, I’m about worthless.  I’m thankful that there are people in the world who can create things from scratch.  They inspire me.

5.  I’m thankful for our military.  I think it’s easy to take our freedom for granted since most of us haven’t ever known anything different.  I’m also very thankful that there are people willing to volunteer to defend our freedom.  For years I took for granted that there were many, many people spending months and even years away from their families and loved ones to defend my freedoms.  Obviously I’m a lot more aware of that now that I am directly affected by it, but the truth is, we’re all directly affected by it since we’re all receiving the benefits our military provides us.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you survived Black Friday if you dared to venture out!


Friday, November 25, 2011





1. Is there a special dish you prepare that you are famous for?  No, not yet anyway, or not really.  We don’t normally do Thanksgiving with family due to the fact that we’ve always lived at least 12 hrs away from them, and since we’ve moved 5 times in the past 5 years, we’re never with the same people for Thanksgiving either.  (The joys of the military lifestyle.)  But this year I did take Oreo Truffles to the squadron Thanksgiving dinner and got lots of compliments on them and requests for the recipe.

2. Are you (did you) go Black Friday shopping ?  Nope, I’ve been checking out deals online, but the BX is the only place in Italy that would have black Friday deals and there wasn’t anything there I absolutely had to have.

3. What are your strangest holiday traditions?  Probably the strangest thing is that we really don’t have many traditions yet.  Although now that Abbie is 2.5, we should probably start making some since she’s old enough to know what’s going on and possibly remember.

4. Pecan or pumpkin pie? (She actually asked "Apple or pumpkin?" I just T-giving'ed it!)  Definitely pecan!  I don’t really like most pies, but pecan is one of the very few that I do like.

5. When will you put up your Christmas tree?  Hopefully we’ll get it up this weekend.  Let’s face it.  I’m almost 37 weeks pregnant and if it doesn’t get put up soon, it won’t get put up at all.


**Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!**

Monday, November 21, 2011

More to think about.

My appointment on Thursday went fairly well.  She checked me and I’m not at all dilated, which I’m a little bummed about.    By 36 weeks with Abbie, I was 4.5cm dilated.  The midwife told me that they’re not going to force me to do anything.  That they’ll give me my options with the risks and benefits of each option and they’ll make it known what they would prefer me to do, but ultimately, the decision is mine.  Good to know.
Saturday I had my third glucose test, and I failed it.  I passed my fasting test.  My 1 hr was 170 out of 180, my 2 hr was 165 out of 155 (failed) and my 3 hr was 142 out of 140 (failed).  So I’m not a “full blown” diabetic since my number were close, but they have diagnosed me with gestational diabetes at 36 weeks and now I have to start in with the finger pricks to monitor my blood sugar and they’re going to try to have me control it with diet and exercise, I think.
Honestly, I feel guilty about this whole GD thing.  I feel like I have it because I was overweight to begin with and if I was athletic and in super good shape, I wouldn’t have GD issues.  I’ve had to go this whole weekend without really knowing what I can and can’t eat and it’s made me paranoid to eat pretty much anything.  I always feel hungry, but I don’t want to eat a lot because I’m afraid it’s going to raise my blood sugar, which in turn, raises baby boy’s.  I know I’m supposed to avoid carbs, so I’ve been reading labels like a mad woman and EVERYTHING has carbs in it.  I know I’m supposed to eat the good carbs vs the bad carbs, but besides knowing sugar is a bad carb and whole wheat is a good carb, I don’t really know what that means.
Tomorrow I need to go in for another NST and fluid check and they’re going to show me how to use the finger poker and give me all of that stuff, and then I’ll have to make an appointment with a nutritionist to figure out this diet, but I probably won’t be able to do that until Tuesday at the earliest.  It’s great having to go on a diet RIGHT before Thanksgiving….  I’m frustrated and angry, to say the least.  And I’m worried that I’ve really had GD this whole time and for some reason was just passing the tests and I want to know what that’s done to baby boy in the meantime.  I have a lot of questions and I’ve had a lot of time to dwell on them over the weekend, which isn’t good.
And because I am officially a gestational diabetic now, they’re going to treat my delivery differently also.  As I said before, because of my GD, they now lower the maximum birth weight to 4500g, which is 9.92lbs – almost Abbie’s exact birth weight.  So if he’s measuring over 9.9lbs according to an ultrasound (which can be up to 20% off, easily), they’re going to recommend I have a c-section.  It’s easy for my first reaction to be to dig my heels in about that and say no way, I’m not having a c-section, but it’s much more complicated than that.
We had a squadron dinner the other night, and I managed to corner the flight doctor, who has experience delivering babies, and ask him a TON of questions.  His whole take on my situation was that doctors would prefer to do a c-section because it’s a very controlled situation.  Since shoulder dystocia is a known problem with macrosomia (large babies), you have to weigh the risks and benefits, and the bottom line is that delivering a large baby can be risky.  It’s not always, but sometimes it is, and how much am I willing to risk?  His take, partially because he’s a doctor and partially because he’s a guy, I’m sure, was, as long as I take home a healthy baby, why does it matter so much how I deliver him?  I told him I’d like to have one or two more kids (maybe) and that I know c-sections have their own risks involved also and how that could affect my future pregnancies.  He said they were valid concerns and something to think about.  I should also add that the hospital on base is very small.  They don’t have a NICU and they only have room for 3 people in labor at once and the ONLY thing they do at the hospital is deliver babies.  So that also needs to be factored in.  I have no doubt in the base doctors capabilities, but they have very limited resources to work with.
So basically I have to decide what I’m more comfortable with.  Since we don’t have any absolute positives, besides the fact that I’m having a baby, everything I have to make my decision is going off of guestimates, which makes this REALLY hard and is causing me to lose quite a bit of sleep.  I could just agree to having a c-section, have a major operation, with a longer recovery time and possible complications later on with future pregnancies, but most likely baby boy would be fine.  Or I could say I at least want a trial of labor, which could end one of two ways.  One, everything goes fine without complications or two, he does get shoulder dystocia, which could end very, very badly.  So what do I choose?  Something that I want to do, that could potentially be life threatening to him, or something that I don’t want to do and might not be necessary at all?  How do you make these kinds of decisions when it could literally be the difference between life and death and all you have to deal with are the “what if’s”?  Can someone else just make this decision for me?
I’m hoping and praying that I’ll go in to labor on my own before the date that they would induce me and then the choice won’t be mine anyway.  That would be the ideal situation, except for the whole trying to figure out what to do with Abbie last minute, but hopefully we’ll be able to deal with that when the time comes, if the time comes.  I’m just ready for it to be mid-December and have the birth and all these decisions and unknowns behind us.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Abbie’s big girl bed

Last weekend we moved Abbie into a big girl bed so we could put her crib in the baby’s room.  I wanted there to be a little time between when she transitioned to her big girl bed and when he showed up, so it didn’t seem as though he was stealing her bed.  However, since we live overseas and only the shoppette here sells beds and mattresses (American sized), we were only able to get the box spring and mattress.  They didn’t have any full sized bed frames or headboards in stock, so we’ll have to order them and then wait 2-3 months for them to arrive.  But in the meantime, this works out well for her.
She seems pretty excited about her big girl bed and she loves having all her stuffed animals sleep with her.  She won’t get out of bed unless I’m in there with her, which is a HUGE relief for me.  She’ll call for me and ask me if she can get up, but she won’t get up unless I’m in there.  I’m hoping this lasts for quite a while because it makes my life a lot easier, for sure.  I still have a monitor on her so I can keep an eye on her when I’m in my room.
We took away her bottle and moved her to a big girl bed all in the same week, but she’s handled it well.  Now we just need to put her new dresser together and get her old dresser/changing table into the baby’s room, but I’m not in any rush to do that, especially since I still use the changing table with her.  And I still need to order her a bed spread and more sheets, but I’ll get around to that eventually…. I think.

Friday, November 18, 2011



1. Do you have a go to song that always puts you in a good mood?  Christmas music.  I could easily listen to it all year round.

2. Are you a real Christmas tree kinda person or do you go with a real fake one?  I love real trees, but they make huge messes and are a pain to get rid of after Christmas, so we’ve been using a fake tree for now.  When our kids are older, we’ll go to Christmas tree farms and pick out our own tree.  I remember doing that as a kid and always loved it.

3. What are you thankful for?  I am thankful that my husband came home safe and sound from this deployment and that I have a very supportive family and wonderful friends.

4. Which fashion fad from the past do you wish you could wear today?  Ya know when you’d use massive amounts of hair spray and hold your hair away from your face and spray it so it stuck out some by your ears and then poofed your bangs up with hair spray too?  It looked ridiculous, but it was easy and my frizzy hair actually cooperated with that.  I wish that was “in” again and everyone did it, because I could actually do that.  That and banana clips.  Those were super easy too!

5. Do you wait until the "low fuel" light comes on before you fill up the gas tank?  No, not usually.  That kind of stresses me out.  Especially here in Italy when gas stations are only open at certain times so you can’t just fill up any time you’d like.  Well you can, but you have to pay European prices for gas, which is something like $8/gallon.  So I like to go when we can use our gas coupons and get gas for cheaper.


Happy Friday!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Abbie Rose is 2.5 years old!!


Sometimes I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to be this little girls mom.  She has brought so much joy to Mark’s and my life that, at times, we don’t even remember what life was like before she came long.  I could sit and stare at her all day and her perfection amazes me.


Abbie has changed quite a bit in the past few months.  Her vocabulary is far above most kids her age and most people don’t believe me when I tell them she’s two and a half.  Their next question is always “When is her birthday?” so they can do the calculating themselves.  This past month, I got her off the bottle (WOOHOO!!!) and we also moved her to a big girl bed.  (More on that in a different post.)


Abbie has started pretending quite a bit recently.  She loves dragging her stuffed animals all over the place, and she puts bibs on them all and lines them all up at her little table in her room and feeds them.  And then she’ll stuff about 14 of them into her tiny doll stroller and take them all for a walk.  This obviously makes her much easier to deal with because she’s able to entertain herself for an hour or so at a time.  She also loves looking at books still and asks me to read her about 15 books a day, or she’ll “read” them to herself.  And she’s all about “Olivia”.  She LOVES the TV show “Olivia”.  I got her 2 more “Olivia” dvd’s for Christmas because, quite honestly, I’m tired of watching the same 10 episodes over and over.


Abbie knows all the basic colors now and can pretty much say her ABC’s.  She loves singing songs like Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and You are my Sunshine.  She can repeat nursery rhymes by herself and we discovered right after we got back from the States that Abbie can say the entire “God is great, God is good” prayer by herself, so she says the prayer for us at dinner every night.  I really need to record that.


I think Abbie is going to be a great big sister.  She loves helping me around the house.  She’ll throw things out for me and pick things up for me, and she’ll go get things that I ask her to get, or put things back.  She can open all the doors now, including unlocking our front door, so she’ll let the dogs in and out for me, or sometimes when I don’t want her to.  (Don’t worry, I have an alarm on it that I set if I’m not right by it to watch her.)  She has no problem opening the fridge and will bring me the milk or juice when she wants more of it.  We’re working with her to not get into the fridge without permission and she’s getting better at listening to us.  She also has no problem whatsoever climbing on to our pub-height kitchen chairs, which freaks me out because I’m afraid she’ll fall.  But she’s pretty careful and hangs on pretty well.  I think we’re going to move her to a booster seat pretty soon because her high chair is getting a little tight.


We’re still working with her on her “strong-willed-ness”.  There are times we’ll ask her to do something and her immediate response is, “No, you do it!”.  She definitely has an agenda of her own and it takes some coercing at times, to get her to do what you want.  She also likes to dictate who does what for her if both Mark and I are around.  Surprisingly, she seems to usually want me to do everything for her.  I thought she would be all about Mark doing everything for her once he got home.  She usually wants Mark to play with her and me to do everything else for her though.  I’m still deciding if we want to try to get her partially potty trained before baby boy arrives or just wait until after he’s here to deal with it.


Abbie still loves all animals.  She’s usually all over Oliver, who in turn is wrinkling his nose as high as it’ll go along with growling with all his might.  Abbie is completely oblivious to it and doesn’t at all hesitate to get right in his face.  She loves looking at and touching bugs (ew) and would spend all day out in the yard if I let her.  She’s been asking a lot about my parents lately.  I usually talk to my parents every day and Abbie will always come running up and ask if she can talk to them.  When I hand her the phone, she’ll start wandering around the house and pointing out everything she sees to them, or she’ll tell them about her day or what we’re planning on doing tomorrow.  And every single time she talks to them she asks when they’re coming to see her.  (She’s talking to my dad in the picture on the right below.)


We’re really excited to see Abbie interact with her baby brother once he arrives.  She often talks about how he’ll be little and she’s big, and she’ll find things that she wants to give baby brother or that she wants to share with him.  I just can’t believe that she’s already two and a half.  I really wish we could just keep her little forever because she’s at a really fun age right now.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Third times a charm?

I promise this blog isn’t going to turn into only talking about this pregnancy for the next month, but right now, it’s a subject very near and dear to my heart.  Bear with me and I promise that eventually I’ll start blogging about the cool stuff like traveling.  I don’t see me being in a “travel-worthy” state anytime in the near future though… Just saying.

I pretty much feel like, in the month I’ve been being seen here in Italy, my pregnancy has fallen apart.  The clinic here seems to be very “doom and gloom” and they don’t have a positive outlook on anything.  I feel like they’re just looking for problems and grasping at straws to come up with things, and it’s making it really hard to feel comfortable with giving birth here.  I honestly feel like the OB clinic here is scared about something, and they’re doing everything for their own best interest, instead of mine.

I had an NST appointment on Monday.  Again, everything is fine.  My bp was like 130/78 (aka: not hypertensive) and baby boy was fine.  So then a new doctor, that I’ve never seen, comes in to do my fluid check (which again, was fine).  He no sooner gets the ultrasound wand up to my belly and gets an image on the screen and asks, “Have you had a growth scan lately?”  I laughed and said, yeah, I know, he’s huge.  He kind of backtracks a little bit and then starts laying it all out….  He said that he wants me to do the 3 hr glucose test for a second time since one of my four numbers was close to the cut off and one was under.  So I failed one of the four tests, and here, they only allow you to fail one.  He told me their numbers are pretty conservative, and I passed the 3hr, but he wants me to do it again, just to make sure.  I asked him about inducing me before 39 weeks (as in 38w4d), and he said that they don’t consider size to be a reason to induce.  And then in the next breath, he said, but if the baby is measuring over 9.5lbs, that would be a reason to do a c-section.  …. um, what?  So you’re telling me you won’t induce me before 39 weeks due to his size because that’s not a “medical reason”, but yet you find his size to be reason enough to do a major surgery and not even let me try to labor naturally first?  Give me a freakin break.  Every time I start asking questions, they pretty much say ACOG (American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynocology) recommends it and that’s always their blanket statement.  I feel like they’re putting me between a rock and a hard place and it’s either their way or no way and they’re not going to let me have any say in the birth of my own child.

I got home and called my OB I went to in the States, just to ask about their cut off for the 1 hr glucose test, that I passed by 1 point.  She basically said that that’s the standard their lab came up with and that’s the number that they go by and it’s worked fine for them.  She also told me that in their practice you can have two numbers in the 3 hr glucose test over the limit and still pass it.

Tuesday I had another growth scan ultrasound.  (I was 35w5d.)  Baby boy was measuring 38w3d and weighed 7lb14oz… and I still have 4 weeks to go.  So I’m pretty sure he’s going to be a big boy.  Honestly, he just feels bigger to me.  I don’t ever remember feeling this big with Abbie, not even at the very end, let alone with a month to go.  That kind of scares me quite a bit, but I’ve given birth to one big baby, so I think I’ll be able to get another one out.

I have yet another appointment tomorrow, so we’ll see what they say about his size and what they want me to do.  I’ve talked to Mark’s squadron commander’s wife about it and she’s said that if his commander needs to get involved in the whole situation, he will, but that’s about the last thing I want to do.  I don’t want to piss everyone at the clinic off and make them feel like I’m going over their head, but at the same time, I don’t want them to push me into doing something I don’t want to do either (aka: a c-section), unless it’s absolutely medically necessary.  I would much rather have them induce me a few days early than just automatically schedule me for a c-section.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Not much time left to guess!!

We’re getting closer to the end now!  Technically I have a month left, although I’m fairly sure he’ll be here before his due date, one way or another.  If you’d like to make a guess as to what his birth date, time, weight and length will be, go HERE.  Or you can click the link on the bottom of the blog.  Happy guessing!!

PS:  Those of you that have guessed him to be under 8lbs, you’re sweet.  I appreciate it.  But if you’d like to change your guess, let me know and I can edit it for you.  =)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

New addition


Last month, Mark and I picked up our 2012 Volvo XC90 R-Design.  We ordered it while he was in Afghanistan and I was in the States.  We picked out which options and packages we wanted for it, along with a few accessories, so we were and are pretty excited about it.


We had always said we’d never get a brand new car because it’s a waste of money.  As soon as you drive it off the lot, it depreciates so much in value and it just didn’t seem worth it to us.  However, Volvo has a pretty good military program in here, so we could buy this vehicle over here for like $8000 less than you could get it in the States because of the discounts they give is.  So we felt like it was a pretty good deal and we wanted to take advantage of it.


We had a tough time deciding if we wanted a silver exterior and dark grey interior, or if we wanted a black exterior and a light interior.  We ended up going with the black exterior/ light interior, and we’re both pretty happy with it.  It might be harder to keep clean, but we have kick guards on the back of the front seats so the kids won’t be able to scuff them up with their feet.  We also decided to splurge on the rear seat entertainment system, which hopefully will help us out on longer car trips.  The kids can either watch a DVD together, or one can watch a DVD and you can hook the other TV up to a game system.  Should come in handy eventually.


This car is pretty cool.  It has a TON of safety features, which is why we liked it in the first place.  But it also automatically detects my phone via bluetooth as soon as I get into the car, and will automatically start playing music I have on my phone.  This probably isn’t as big of a deal in the States where you have radio stations that are all in English, but most of the stations here are in Italian and some of them play American songs, but some don’t.  I like having my music with me and not have to do anything except get in the car.  My phone stays in my purse, but I can make calls from the car using the bluetooth system, so it’s always hands free.  It’s really, really nice, and I love it.  It also has the active bending headlights, so when we go around corners, the headlights turn in the direction we’re going.  It actually makes a pretty big difference as we found out on the winding mountain roads around here.


The only complaint we have about the car is that the turning radius absolutely sucks.  The faster you go, the better it turns, but turning at slow speeds is horrible.  Our garage/driveway area is pretty tight and we had to mess around with the Volvo and our VW for a few days before we found a parking configuration that worked where we didn’t have to do a 24 point turn to get one or both of the vehicles out.  The first few days we had the Volvo, I’d be out on the driveway telling Mark how far he could back up and go forward without hitting the other car or the neighbors fence, and it would literally take 5-7 tries before he’d be clear of both and we could pull out of the driveway.  But we have it figured out now, so it’s better.


I wish it still had 6 miles on it.  I think it has over 700 miles on it already, but we’ve gotten a lot of use out of it, including two trips to Ikea.  And the double BOB fits great in the back of it, so I’m excited about that.  Hopefully it’ll last us quite a few years!