Introducing :: John Elias Sprague


On Tuesday we got a sweet surprise of welcoming our son into the world a couple of weeks early! We're all pretty over the moon about him. 
We got to come home yesterday and are soaking in all the sweetness of the first week with a newborn.  More details on his birth will come (eventually.) What I can say is that God is so faithful and kind to this family.

I love having four of us in this house.

The Day You Came :: John Elias

Life Lately :: January 2015


+This January has been a whole lot of preparing. Getting things ready for the little guy while also packing up Christmas/organizing and putting away presents from previous months/years to make room for the new stuff. It's been both super fun to get everything set up and kind of tiring. Perhaps that's because we got a nice big belly on our hands and a wildly excitable toddler. Regardless, near everything is in tip-top shape and ready to go.

+Eowyn has been pretty awesome these past few weeks. While today has been a bit harder (even now during nap time she's gotten her legs 'stuck' in the slates of her crib,) she's been more verbal and it's been fun having a little person around to spend time with. I remember commenting to Ben how much I couldn't wait till the person I spend all this time with actually talked to me when I talked to her. It's fun to have the company. We're pretty excited for his arrival. I'll be 38 weeks this Sunday, which is awesome and exciting. It's been a bit of a practice in trusting Jesus because induction keeps being brought up due to him 'measuring big.' I think the rub is that we really don't feel like an estimated large baby is legitimate grounds for rushing things and nothing we read seems to suggest otherwise. So, even when these realities are brought up, it doesn't seem to matter much. There's definitely a pull between listening to the care that we've been placed in and making the best decision for our kidlet. Not sure of the outcome yet, and I  know what I'd like to happen (erm, he could come now and avoid the situation entirely.) So, that takes up a lot of brain space.

+ It's getting brighter out!!! Happy days indeed. While it's been relatively cold (nothing compared to MN, but we walk everywhere, so it's a bit different) the sun makes for a much better feel to the whole city. We gain two whole hours of sunlight by the end of this month. It's such a fast paced change and I love it. Winter hasn't been too bad.

+ I've had a lot of words, and about 15 draft posts to prove it, but none of it seems to come out quite right. Ever have seasons like that? When the process of all that is going on in heart and head doesn't translate well? I think God's doing a number on me in this season. Rather than try to milk it for a lesson, I'm learning to just experience this season. It's been a combination of really sweet moments and constantly releasing my need to try and control my circumstances.

+ Overall we're pretty happy in this season. In just a few weeks my sister and mom come to visit and hopefully by then, if not a little later, a little mr. will be with us. I keep pausing to take little mental bites of this season before everything changes. So grateful for a relatively quite month before growing to a family of four.

Getting Ready :: 10 Baby Essentials We're Using a Second Time Around


Many moons ago when I was growing a little Eowyn in my belly, seasoned moms shared their awesome advice with me on what products to buy and which to avoid. It saved us a lot of headaches (and a lot of money.) With the second one coming and with the need to repurchase baby things all over again (since we didn't bring hardly anything with us,) we took a serious look at what was worth our time the first time around. Below are the items we chose.

Here are the ten baby essentials we'll be using with our second kid: 

1.Rock N Play Sleeper //  2. Medela Electric Pump // 3.Play Mat  // 4. Earth Mama Nipple Butter // 5.Burts Bees Diaper Creme  // 6.Summertime Swaddler  // 7.Cloth diapers + Wipes // 8. Nose Frida // 9. Baby Carrier (Solly Baby)  // 10. White Noise App

1. Rock N Play: All the baby angels sing. This rock N play was one of the best purchases we made last time around; one that we were willing to make again. Eowyn was a refluxy gal, so our good friend recommended it to us. Not only did it help TREMENDOUSLY with the reflux, she also slept longer stints in it. PLUS it was so easy to take with us to small group, family's houses etc. It was her bed for the first several months. (We still haven't bought a crib for this bundle, we'll just be using this until we reach the weight limit or he can sit up.) Ben even recommends it to other new dad's. We rave about the Rock N Play.

2.  Medela Breast Pump: Something I'm hoping to do a better job of this time around is creating a better milk supply for days when I need to get out and leave baby with someone else. I'm grateful that I was smart enough to bring our pump here with us. I really like this one, and while word on the street is dual pumps are where the party is at, this has been a trusty friend. I'm looking forward to getting more use out of this fancy nancy.

3. Play Mat: My sister gave me a sweet play mat last time around that came with us wherever we went. Eowyn loved it. Since we didn't bring such items to Finland with us, I was sure to buy another. I got this one from target (and had Ben's parents bring it to us.) It even folds and twists to pack easy. So that's nice. We've actually only bought him this play mat and one other toy... Our son now has a sister to play with, so pretty sure I never need to buy a toy again. :)

4. Mama Earth Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter: A friend recommended this to me and after my little hospital tube of lansinoh ran out, I bought a container of this. This stuff is so wonderful. It's a small container, but has saved the girls time and time and time again (and I only used half the container through my year of feeding E.) I've recommended it to other breastfeeding moms and they've all echoed how well this stuff works.

5. Burts Bee's Diaper Cream: While the debate is still out on if this cream is cloth diaper friendly, it was definitely the most effective diaper cream for us with Eowyn (other than just letting her run around nekked, which tops all.) We got 4 tubes waiting for the little guy.

6. Summertime Swaddler: While I'd like to claim I'm a swaddling genius, these did the work for me so I didn't have to be. They're affordable, and were super nice at keeping Eowyn in a swaddle and helping her sleep. So we were sure to pick up a few more this time around. We also have the Ana+Anais swaddle blankets, but I often used those more for covering a shoulder while nursing or the carseat than actually swaddling our baby.

7. Cloth Diapers + Wipes: We're busting out our cloth diapers and wipes again! I re-sized all my fuzzibunz one-size  back to newborn size and got all our flips ready too. If you want to read up on my diaper adventures, read here. After getting all doe-eyed at how itty bitty they look, I got excited for entering that stage again. We still use the cloth wipes for Eowyn (she has a little potty in her room for night time and naps) so we bought some more wipes from etsy from this store  (where the image is from.) We're all set for baby number two! I'm interested to see how the diapers do with a boy vs. girl. Word on the street is there can be some variation regarding how well they absorb. Regardless, looking forward to using them again.

8. Nose Frida: Not only is this a standard thing sold here in Finland (near every grocery store has them.) This thing works. And while many a mother nay-sayer cringes and makes fun of the glorious Nose Frida, I say "don't knock it till you try it." No, you don't eat baby boogers, and yes this thing does a waaaayyyy better job when your kid has a super stuffed up nose (and the Frida doesn't get filled with nasty mold like the hospital blue bulbs do.) Nothing so satisfying as a baby that can breath through the night.

9. Baby Wrap/Carrier: We're all about the ease of baby wearing. Last time around, I used a sling for the first 6 months of Eowyn's life. My mom brought me back an awesome sling from Honduras when she traveled there and I loved it. This time, I'm trying out the SollyBaby wrap as well. My sister was the one that first recommended wraps to me and might loan me her Moby too. So I might be able to tell you the pros and cons of each soon enough. Regardless, we also have a Becco carrier that we're pretty big fans of for the back support and the higher weight limits. We brought both the sling and the Becco with us. All that to say, I'm excited for the baby wearing to commence (especially while chasing after that curly haired toddler.) Plus we walk everywhere, so this is kind of a must.

10. White Noise App: Oh the freedom that comes with this free app! It helped Eowyn stay asleep so often, (even now we use a fan in her room and have noticed a difference) that we're sure to use it for this bundle. Plus it's free, so why wouldn't you try it? It's allowed us to watch movies without E waking up. Having some resemblance of date night while you're in the newborn trenches can really save a heart. Plus its portability allowed us to have solid small group time and Eowyn would sleep through it all.

All of these items can be purchased either on Amazon or Target (or free on google play.) The Solly Baby Wrap can be purchased from their website. I'm not compensated in anyway for recommending these, I just think they're pretty rad. 

Any products you use time and time again? I'd love to hear what you'd recommend.

2.5 :: Eowyn Grows


In honor of our girls half birthday cookies were made, her favorite meal prepared, and a dragon movie was watched. Funny thing, those toddlers, in the midst of the party as we explained to her it was her half birthday, she looked around and asked "presents?!" Good thing kisses and hugs are legitimate 'present' currency in this household.

I don't think I've felt as many emotions in my whole life as I've felt in the two years of getting to be this girls mom. So happy to have had 912 or so days getting to experience life with her.

Happy Half Birthday.

 to watch Eowyn grow, click here

Thirty-Two, Thirty-Five:: Baby Bump


Apparently I was pretty serious when joking about these posts becoming more sporadic over the past several weeks. Weeks seem to fly a wee bit quicker during the holiday season. Luckily, I noticed with Eowyn's posts, they too started getting spotty during third trimester as well, so I'm guessing it just comes with the territory. No second-child complex going on.

I've mentioned this already, but I got to take the good ol' GD test a few weeks ago due to our baby measuring big. The plus side is now we know for sure I don't have gestational diabetes. It's been a bit of a stresser because had I been in the states, there'd be no issues at all. I measure right along with my dates. But, in Finland, they put you on a growth chart (much like growth charts for babies-which caused big issues for us with Eowyn in her early months too) and if you're outside of averages, you get special attention. Finnish women apparently have small babies because while at 31 weeks, I was 30 cm fundal height, that's a few cm larger than other Finnish women. I get a lot of "Woah, that's big."

I guess it's just one of the ways that having standardized health care can kind of be a struggle. Variations aren't really allowed. We keep referencing the fact that Ben is a pretty tall guy, and I'm nothing of the wispy variety, and we're hoping they won't start pushing too hard the whole induction thing too soon. Prayers appreciated. Hopefully we'll have that baby come early. Here's a study I found regarding the length of pregnancy for first time vs second/third time moms that I found pretty interesting. While it's survey based, they've got a pretty decent sample size (over 4000). All my pregnant friends, you might like it. It's a bit better than scoring forums and reading personal experience stories. So if our experience is similar, maybe we won't even have to worry about the whole 38/39 week induction thing.

We had a pretty awesome experience stateside with natural birth, and I'm a big fan of the recovery time that comes with it and the general ease that I had with other aspects of having my hormones do the work. So, we're rooting for that again. That being said, we're praying, and I'm learning how often my expectations for how it 'should be' get in the way of how things end up happening, then I struggle with enjoying what is. So, our goal is one healthy baby and healthy momma. The rest, in the end, are details. Since Ben isn't willing to deliver the baby himself (I asked) and home births here are like..10 a year here in Finland, we're embracing their way of doing things. I have high hopes. They have one of the lowest c-section rates, and seem to be pretty big fans of natural birth. It's just those jumbo babies that present the problems. :) Regardless, we're just excited to meet him.

Just to give myself a helping hand, I'm guzzling up that red raspberry leaf tea, doing my squats and walking all over this city.  Maybe the extra weight will work to our advantage. Worse case scenario, word on the street is there's a trampoline kiddie play house nearby. I'll just hop onto one of those for a few big jumps right around the 37 week mark. That should do the trick, eh?  ha.

We've officially reached the point where we get to go to the midwife every week. Pretty exciting. In a couple of days this will all be brand new territory. I've never been 36 full weeks pregnant. Excited to meet this little guy, but grateful for the extra time to have with Eowyn and to prep for his arrival.

Cheers to 4 weeks plus a few days till full term. It'll be interesting to see how far we get!

Korkeasaari Zoo


On New Years Day, with hardly anything else opened (and our deep love for the zoo,) we headed out for the first time to the Korkeasaari zoo. This zoo is on an island, so we got to cross a walking bridge to get to it. While we heard mixed reviews, I left pretty impressed. We got to see all sorts of animals, and the fog allowed for the weather to be a bit warmer than the past couple of days. Eowyn was in love with the alligator and other 'dinosaurs' and we got to see a snow leopard enjoy his lunch (and enjoyed a tasty lunch ourselves.)

I'm excited to come back during the summertime. All the animals that are donning their winter wear will have changed to the summer versions of themselves (like the owl seen above.) Plus, they have beautiful picnic areas and places for kids to play. 

It was a great way to welcome the new year.

Nuuksio :: Haltia Nature Center

Getting to head out to Nuuksio with all the fresh snow we received for Christmas may have been one of my favorite days of all December. The place was downright beautiful. We drove nice and slow since the holidays meant the roads were a bit more slick, but once we made the 45 minute hike up to this National Forest, we were so glad we did. They had a nice Finnish Brunch Buffet for us at the Haltia Nature Center, and Eowyn enjoyed all nature centers pictures and displays (we did too.) The walk through the forest at the end of our trip left us all marveling at how incredible God is.

Finland, you're breathtaking.

Touring Helsinki

The last week of December held a lot of mini trips to all our favorite (and some new) haunts throughout Helsinki. It was fun showing Ben's parents around Sibelius, downtown, the Rock Church and a few of our favorite cafes (Cafe Regatta & Brooklyn Cafe!) Plus the sun joined us more than once. It was a sweet time.  We also fit in a trip to Nuuksio and the Zoo (posts that will be posted soon, as well) making for a very fun last week of 2014.

Sprague Christmas 2014


We had a sweet time for our first Christmas here in Helsinki. Breakfast was eaten, presents were opened, Jesus was celebrated. Eowyn had the capacity to open only about 3 presents at a time which made Christmas-present-opening an all day event for our girl. I'm thinking we might do that every year rather than a mad dash to get through them all. We'll see how she feels next year. She opened a few in the morning, played fully, then opened a few after naptime, and lastly opened a few after dinner. I love how even simple things like pajamas or a toy plushie is plenty to keep this girl entertained. It makes giving gifts to her that much more fun when we know she'll take time with her treasures one by one. :) We bought her a slew of musical instruments which lead to full family concerts. I think we might be the next family band.

The sun peaked around 11 (which is like...the 8 o'clock sun for all of you Minnesota folks) so we hiked out and enjoyed the sunrays on a short walk. Everything was closed, leaving our street fairly silent and beautiful to walk through-especially with fresh snow on the sides of the roads. It was cold. Also, I forgot my scarf, so I got to try out my hair beard. I now have a deeper understanding of my husband.

We came home, made a nice big Christmas dinner complete with all the fixings-most of which were made from scratch since we don't have all those fancy things the states has and enjoyed the evening. It may have been the tastiest feasts yet. It was all that a quiet Christmas should be.