this past weekend i had my baby shower! hooray! it was mostly a surprise, because you all know how much i loooooove surprises, but i kinda sorta figured it out eventually -- because i knew that i was going to have a baby shower, and we were starting to run out of weekends before christmas, and then it was january and the baby could come any day at that point.
but also, i definitely knew last thursday: my friend, valerie, had been helping out a TON to plan this shower with adam, and was a major factor in getting all the games planned and getting a cake and sending out invitations, etc. she was planning on coming out, all the way from amsterdam, to be here to play with us and be the hostess. but then, sadly, her opa died and she had to fly back unexpectedly to the US for the funeral so she couldn't be here. so on thursday, the day before she flew out, she drove alllll the way out here to see me, and to bring me her presents and the cake that she ordered. and she pulled up in her car, and was all, "umm.... surprise?" it was soooo sweet. so obviously i knew by then what was up. it was at that point that adam called my friend, kelly (from the book club and who also came to my intocht party), to see if she would be willing to step in at the last minute to fill valerie's role as hostess and MC. and kelly, predictably (cuz she's just that sweet), went on and on and on about how honored she was to help out, and would love to support us in any way that she could, and ohmygoodness what can i do for you guys, and let me make sure that i get a crown for amber to wear since she's queen that day etc etc etc. it was sooo sooo sweet.
(and, as long as i'm giving props here, i need to also say a big thank you to adam, who was a major planner in this event, and built us a fire in the fireplace, and cleaned the whole house including the nursery so people could tour it, and went shopping, and also sent out invitations, and even got spruitje some presents to open at the party, and he did all of this and he didn't even get to come to the shower! what a sweet, supportive partner! and thank you also to sabrina who did awesome note-taking so that i'd have a very clear list of who got me which gift, so that my pregnancy-brain wouldn't forget which present was from which person, so that i could write my thank you notes and so that later i could still remember who the fun clothes and toys were from, and who also took a ton of pictures so i could just sit and relax and enjoy myself. and also thank you to everyone at the party who helped themselves to cake and food and drinks, and didn't expect me to get things for them, because it made my life a lot easier and it saved me a lot of energy because i didn't have to get up and down all the time! you girls are great!)
the party started at around 2:00 on saturday, and everyone was given 4 clothespins to clip on. and for the rest of the party, you couldn't say either "baby" or "spruitje," because if you did, and the other person caught you, you'd have to give one of your pins to the other person. the person with the most clothespins at the end of the shower won a prize: jolanda and eva were both tied at 9 pins each. i, of course, lost badly.
another game that we played was called "pin the binky on the baby." just like "pin the tail on the donkey" (or, as it's called here, ezelpinnen), only with a baby and paper binkies. kelly made it extra challenging by telling us that we couldn't feel around for either the poster or the binkies that were put on before... we had to just stick the binky to the first thing that we felt, even if it was a wall. so kelly would put the mask on us, turn us around (sometimes stopping us facing the opposite direction!), and then wish us luck. i lost this game horribly, too. i got my binky the FURTHEST away, farther than anyone else at the party. (that's mine alllll the way over there on the far right-hand side. yep. doesn't bode well for the mama-to-be, i don't think.)
we also played a game which i am calling "guess the girth." we gave everyone a ball of yarn and asked them to cut a length which they think is about the size of my belly. then i would walk around and people would place the yarn around my waist to see how close they got. i would cut the extra length off, and the person with the shortest string leftover wins. mariska won this game, guessing only about 3 inches too large. after the party, i pulled a length of string to see how i would have done, and my string was about 4 inches too short. again, i totally lost this game. i'm no good at this stuff!
two other games: we asked people to bring baby pictures of themselves, and tried to guess who was who (it was really hard!), and we also had people write "S-P-R-U-I-T-J-E" on a piece of paper, and then begin a piece of advice for the mother-to-be, and the first letter of the advice had to begin with the corresponding letter in "spruitje." two of my favorites, for the hardest letters, were "U: uhhh....?" (because i think that there are always going to be times when i just don't know what to do or say, and i'm going to have to wing it, and do my best, and there are not always answers to every problem but if i approach it with humor and openness everything will work out okay), and "J: jelly fingers! be sure to bring wet wipes with you everywhere!" yes! practical advice i can use!
and then on to the best part: presents! i was totally amazed at all the gifts that everyone brought for sprouty. we are so spoiled! we mostly got a lot of really soft, really warm clothes, with little footies at the bottom, and things with hoods and bear ears on top, and a fuzzy bathtowel with a hood on it too. (the character on this towel is "nijntje," who i think goes by the name of "miffy" in the united states. he's really popular out here, and is designed by a dutch author/illustrator.) i was so embarassed when i saw all these pictures during present time, though, because i was totally NOT sitting like a lady. it's hard to sit with your legs crossed -- or even together, for that matter -- at 8 months pregnant. i should have thought of that before i decided to wear a DRESS that day! (i edited nearly every one of these pictures so that you couldn't see my crotch. it's really disturbing and sad.) i did leave one particularly bad picture alone, though, so you could laugh at me/with me/in spite of me and how i was sitting. oh, goodness. i'm so embarassed. it's funny now, but i sure do feel bad for april and alice, who were sitting directly across from me the entire party! sorry, girls!
the party wrapped up by about 5:30, and then i had a few hours to rest and eat and clean up before bob and rae called me to wish me a happy shower and watch us open presents on the webcam, and then about an hour after that my mom called me from minnesota. she was at my uncle doug and aunt nancy's house in minneapolis, and everyone was having their annual family christmas party. so they turned on the webcam and showed me some MORE shower gifts that my mom is going to bring out when she comes to visit next month, and i got to talk to i think almost everyone there, and it made me totally homesick and grateful for such an amazing and fun family.
it was such a wonderful day. really. even though baby showers are totally not dutch (they all come to visit AFTER the baby is born, and bring gifts at that time instead), and very few people there had ever been to a baby shower before (myself included!) we all still knew how to celebrate sprouty's upcoming arrival. i feel so loved, so spoiled, and so honored that so many people from so many areas of my life were there to support me that day. it's incredibly touching to feel so loved and appreciated by this new community of girlfriends. thank you all so much!