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Bless Bless

Dear Iceland,

You have been close to our hearts for a long time now, as the first time Eric came here, for 9 whole months just after we started dating, served as a crucially formative period in our relationship.  I visited you then, in the dark, windy 1st week of December 2005.  We came again in 2009, a remarkably gorgeous summer, just a year before we had our first child.  We saw some amazing bits of your countryside on two road trips, and I soaked up every inch of Reykjavik that I could.  Once more, last spring, with our boy just 7 months old, you greeted us with snow on the 1st of May.  We stayed in the city then, laying low as Everett battled a fever.

And then this year, deep in the middle of February, we returned, in the dark, in the snow.  Everett now 16 months, and a baby girl growing within me.  We settled in, we hibernated as our active toddler would allow.  Eric set to work on some of your manuscripts, working on a writing project and exploring the history of your fascinating people.  I set to work exploring the walkable radius of our apartment in the snow, meeting other mothers and knitters, and growing this baby.

Then she came.  Helped along, no doubt, by the many kilometers I must have walked through your streets as she grew, she made her entrance swiftly.  Aided and welcomed by two of your own daughters who comforted and encouraged me through the labor; your naturally heated spring water as the first element to touch her fresh new skin, she arrived.  Bryndís Ann, bearing a name that is part of your beautiful language, and who I hope will always be proud to claim you as the land of her birth.  You are now an indelible part of our family.

We say farewell, or “Bless bless,” to you now, but it is not forever.  We will be back, it feels inevitable, even necessary.

With Love,
Eric, Emily, Everett, and Bryndís

This chapter in the Bryan Family Adventure was made possible by: Icelandair, The Missouri Research Board, the American Scandinavian Foundation, The Arni Magnusson Institute, and the Missouri University of Science and Technology.  We would also like to thank Jóhanna Bogdottir, Hanna og Elvar Ingolfer for their lovely apartments; Magnea and Helga at Hallgrimskirkja, Bergdís Rosantsdottir and Hrafnhildur at the Red Cross; Jenny, Torril, Kassia, Renee, Jana, Colleen, Amanda, Sonja, Johanna, Sandra, Anna, Dawn, Angela, and all the other wonderful mothers I had the pleasure of sharing playtime with (no doubt I’m leaving someone important out); Hrafnhildur at Bjorkin Midwives, and Soffía of Hönd í Hönd for making Bryndís’ birth possible at home, and a peaceful, joyful experience; Kara Payne for coming to take care of us for awhile; Diane, Mike, Kaitlin, and Freya  Wilson, for being the difference between surviving and enjoying this visit; and of course our families, for showering us with love and encouragement, spending a fortune to send us the things we couldn’t buy here, and another fortune on coming to visit, serving as glorified babysitters and taking us out to dinner.  We couldn’t do it without you, and we appreciate you letting us take your grandchildren so far away for awhile.

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2012 in Travel, Writings

 

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Heima, part 4: Hanging out with Kiddos

We get out and about as much as possible as Everett’s energy level seems to increase daily and he needs more to keep him occupied than can be (safely, undestructively) found in our home.  But occasionally we do have a few lovely moments just chilling at home together, sometimes involved in activities together, sometimes everyone doing their own thing.
One of Ev’s favorite new things to do is climb into our bed with a book (or 5) and flip through them–literally, he loves just fanning through the pages–sometimes under the covers, sometimes sprawled out, and almost always with violently kicking feet and healthy doses of drool.
 This photo’s from awhile back, when we first moved in here in April, (and I have since had to retire that lovely red and white sweater due to a massive growth spurt in late April), but this fort stayed up for a few weeks and was a favorite place to summon Daddy when he came home in the evening.
At first, I thought this coffee table was an awkward height; then we set up the trains:)

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2012 in At Home, Fun with Everett

 

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{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.* A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2012 in This Moment, Travel

 

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This Moment (a new tradition drawn from SouleMama)

Thanks to the SouleMama blog for this, hopefully I can keep up:  {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.* A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

*Technically this is not from this week, but I have so many sweet pictures from my time away from the blog that I thought this would be a nice forum for showcasing them.

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2012 in Fun with Everett

 

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Settling

I took an unintentional 3.5 month hiatus from blogging and quite a bit has changed since I last posted, like, let’s see: our home, the weather, the number of people in our family, the overall shape of my body, amount of sunlight in each day. . . I have lots of thoughts, pictures, news, and on and on to share, but for now, here are some highlights:

April 1-we moved from 107 to 101 Reykjavik, to an awesome flat facing the Tjorn in the center of town.  It was nice being next to Laugardalur park, but I’m much happier downtown where I don’t have to take the bus to get anywhere.

April-May, sometime–it stopped getting dark, at all, ever.

May 7th–Baby girl enters the world!!  I really look forward to sharing her insane birth story and a few precious pictures in an upcoming post:)

May 8-June 2–first our friend Kara visits, then my mom, then my sister!  Several fun day trips with everyone to other fantastically beautiful parts of this country

June–settling into life with two kids, fortunately with the help of some gorgeous weather!  Lots of time spent at the playground, in the kitchen, at playgroups, and the library.

Projects finished since March 13–Everett’s sweater (ALMOST in time for Easter), E’s Easter basket (now toy storage), easter garlands and letters for friends back home, E’s overalls, knit baby blanket, tiny baby sweater and matching hat, tote bag for a friend’s birthday, fathers’ day present.

In other news: a new addiction to Pinterest (something easily explored one-handed and while nursing or bouncing a fussy baby) has led to a growing project list and several yummy kitchen experiments.

Pictures and links to all patterns, tutorials, and recipes forthcoming!

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2012 in At Home, My Projects, Travel

 

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Old-Sweater-Leggings

Believe it or not, in addition to the crazy amounts of fabric I brought with me, I also brought some old sweaters that I have no intention of wearing, but rather cutting up into bits for various projects.  How did I have room for this in our limited baggage allowance?  Here’s a secret–IcelandAir allows TWO free bags, so I brought clothes in one, my sewing machine in another, and stuffed fabric and yarn into every possible little crevice available.  I knew I wanted to make Everett some sweater pants, because I had a few great old sweaters perfect for this AND with the idea that something warm but snugly-fitting would be perfect under snow pants.  And he wears snow pants almost every day, even if there’s no snow, because it’s cold and there’s always at least dampness on the ground and he falls over a lot.  Did I mention that we go outside EVERY DAY?  It’s the only way to ensure he will both nap and sleep through the night (that’s right folks, THROUGH THE NIGHT, as in, at least for the next two months, I get a full nights sleep most nights–totally worth going outside even in ridiculous Icelandic weather)

But I digress:)  I won’t bother trying to do a tutorial for these because there are about a million already out there–here’s one that looks about like what I did, but all you have to do is google it to get several versions.  I will say, though, that the rise on these did not end up as deep as I would have liked because I did a pretty long inseam for my tall little toddler, so they’re kinda low-riders.  I also added an extra panel in the back of two pairs, just to make sure the diaper would fit inside.  Otherwise, these were quick and dirty, no frills, not even CLOSE to neat seams, and what I would give for a serger to make them a little more durable!  Zig-zag stitch worked ok though.
I was so anxious to get started one night that I didn’t even take a picture of the green sleeves before they became pants!  Then, of course, it took at least two weeks before the rest got done as I lost a little bit of steam:)
An old J.Crew sweater, the rest of which I used for the lion snuggly way back last spring.
These did have an extra panel in the back, but didn’t really need it.

 I love these, though, check out the waistband–look kinda funny?  Yeah, I totally sewed the elastic casing inside-out.  When will I learn?  DON’T SEW WHEN VERY TIRED!!  I just left it, b/c they work.
Sorry for the darkish picture but you can clearly see the extra back panel here; these are thinner cotton, navy stripe on white, so adorable and comfy.
 All of these work perfectly under snow pants as well as for every day wear, and as cozy pi’s.  I kinda want some.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2012 in My Projects

 

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Belated 1st Birthday

So I confess, life back in St. Louis hardly seems blog-worthy these days.  Eric teaches two days a week, during which he has our only car, and keeps a pretty rigorous research and writing schedule the other three-to-four days, so mostly I hang out with Everett, try to keep the place liveable amongst a mess of stuff that has been displaced from the lowest shelves, and try to find things to keep both of us occupied, inside or outside the house.  This does not often include world-class museums, monuments, or even shopping that is not necessary for survival.  And it rarely leaves time anymore for creative endeavors.  Eric’s mom was visiting us for awhile back in September, which gave me some extra time, and planning and preparing for Everett’s first birthday party–which we held a week and a half after his actual birthday–has been my main creative outlet recently.  I thought it would be fun to have a travel-themed party, given the fact that Everett spent more of his first year outside of the U.S. than here, so we had some travel themed activities, favors, and food from each country we visited.  Both sets of grandparents were here, as well as my brother, and we had an absolutely perfect day for the outdoor affair.  I think it was a total success!

Little sketchbooks made to look like passports ("PASSPORT" is stamped in gold on them but it was pretty hard to see), along with stickers that looked like passport stamps

Our favor boxes, meant to look kinda like suitcases, with some luggage tags made from leftover oilcloth scraps--tutorial anyone? They were super easy to make! Inside were European candies (from World Market) and space for their activities like. . .

these little wooden airplanes from Oriental Trading Co., easily "painted" with crayola markers!

Some decor--simple flags cut from an old U.S. road atlas and sewn together at the top--also super easy!

The cake--maple walnut with maple cream cheese icing--to represent Canada (along with the moose finger-puppet-turned-cake-topper)

The birthday boy with his first taste of cake

Our earliest guests enjoying themselves--eventually the backyard was full of toddlers and older sibblings and parents and it was fantastic!

Unfortunately I didn’t get any good pictures of the food table, I was too busy trying to get the food finished and out and keeping cool or warm!  But we had dutch pannekoeken (pancakes, a lot like crepes) with nutella and other spreads, scones with jam and cream mini steak and ale pies, chips (fries) with malt vinegar (English style) and mayonaise (Dutch style), salad with our favorite L’Abri recipe dressing, and Icelandic skyr (yogurt) that I managed to find at Whole Foods.

Everett opened presents with just family after everyone else had left, at which point he was totally overwhelmed and a bit glassy-eyed so the pictures are more amusing than adorable, but he got lots of good stuff, and we are grateful for lots of new toys to keep him occupied (we had painfully few after all the traveling!)

I am hoping to participate in a couple of craft shows coming up, and I also want to add a few things to my currently inactive etsy shop, so keep an eye out for a possible giveaway as I attempt to draw more attention to myself:)

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2011 in Fun with Everett, My Projects

 

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