Oct 29 2013

Sharing life with Josephine

WOW – the past few months have been a whirlwind and the love for Josephine across the world is growing as fast as she is. All things considering, Bill and I are doing ok. Some days are harder than others but all in all, once the shock subsided and since we had our first meeting at New York Presbyterian, everything has been as good as it could be, considering the circumstances.

As a little girl, she would no doubt be loving this attention. I said to Bill as we walked in the door the other night, I already know her temperament. She is cheeky! SO cheeky and I know, if we were able to see her grow up, she’d be the kind of girl to look straight at us with her big eyes, wearing a little dress with ankle socks that had lace around the edges and say “I’m sorryyyyyyy!” and get away with whatever she had done. Kind of like her mummy. πŸ˜‰ At the moment, she is moving a lot. The moment I lay on my left side, she kicks. Almost without fail. If I try to lay on my back she starts up again. She loves it when I sleep on my right side so now, that is what I do, even though it means I cannot spend a long time facing Bill to chat with him. Now, almost every day between 3 and 3.30pm she begins to play for about an hour, before settling in and getting cozy for the commute home. Once we have had dinner she starts playing again for another couple of hours and tumbles and turns and then is quiet through the night unless I lay in a position she doesn’t like. Cold Milo sends her bananas without fail! Every movement and flutter is like a huge milestone for us. We couldn’t imagine life without these experiences!

We have done some amazing things with Joey so far as we have tried to made her the central part of so much that we have done. We just mention her anytime we are doing something special beyond our every day life, so that we are acknowledging that she is also sharing this moment with us.

Just as a start she has –

– Been to her first State Fair (GO MINNESOTA!)
– Walked along the Mississippi River.
– Visited Mall of America.
– Took a little drive into Wisconsin.
– Went to Saratoga Springs and Albany.
– Eaten at a place that was seen on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives (the JUCY LUCY BURGER!!!)
– Spent the morning with me while I became American.
– Stayed up all night to watch Collingwood thrash Essendon.
– Visited one of my favorite shops – the Cross Eyed Owl in Kinderhook! Here we are with our niece Emily –


Family photo in Wisconsin –


She really is experiencing her mummy and daddy’s love of travel. I also recently went back to Melbourne for a whirlwind visit.

While I was there she got to ‘watch’ the Grand Final and put up with the Cleary’s all yelling at the TV and at the umpiring. As well as the footy, she flew over Sydney Harbor, ate party pies, dim sims, crumpets, fish and chips and loved mum’s toasted sandwiches and drank lots of Solo Lemon and Schweppes Raspberry.

She took her first trip on a Melbourne tram, got delayed by Metro trains and hung out at the State Library.


Ding! Ding!


Best meal on earth –


She got to meet Shannyn and Ken, Nadine, Kayla and James, Ev, Mark, Harlan and Uncle Bruce. She got to spend lots of time with her Uncle Matthew and Leah and Holly and mum and dad spoiled us like CRAZY. As well as this she also had LOTS of visitors. We surprised Nana, Michael at Kays and Chris’ and Jayne and Lorraine – who all had no idea that I was visiting.

She also went to her first Diesel gig and for a drive on City Link. I got Maccas Drive Thru at 11.30pm so she could get an idea of what her mummy used to do all the time before Josephine became Josephine.

Mum and I went to Northland and Joey experienced a Wendy’s hot dog and milkshake outside Woolworths. She got to see bogans hanging out in the food court and we even went to Priceline for old-times sake.

Joey made me buy some boxes of these πŸ˜‰ –


… and all of this to bring back to New York –


We also got a 4D ultrasound done in Melbourne – across from the MCG on Grand Final Day!! Even though it was very early for a 4D, we saw something amazing. She looks like BILL and she sucks her thumb JUST LIKE BILL DID!!!

Proof –


Prayerfully, all of our Queen of All Saints family are praying for her and for us. We have the FCJ’s in Australia praying for her, family praying for her and strangers praying for her – all over the world. When I pray for Josephine, amongst other things I pray that she is comfortable and cozy, that she knows we love her and that she knows how much we can’t wait to give her kisses and hugs.

Medically, everything is chugging along nicely. We have found out that everything else in her development is progressing like normal and it looks like she has no other medical issues aside from the ancencephaly. That was almost hard to hear. For me, it was almost like if there was other things wrong it would seem almost easier to deal with. But knowing that a certain part of growth that happened so early in her life, has caused all of this and is going to take her away from us. Her fate was sealed at around 24-25 days after conception and I can look back on those two days where I was getting up, getting on the subway, going to work and going home – not realizing what was even happening to her. The only other ‘medical’ thing that is affecting me is that from about week 14, I have had to deal with constant gagging. πŸ™ It is exhausting and embarrassing and is still happening. Sea Bands have been a great help and have got me through the past few weeks as I was desperate to try anything. Despite my bump growing bigger and now being six and a half months along, I still haven’t put on any weight but neither my doctor or myself are concerned as I have plenty to go around!

Another thing is, we are also starting to plan her funeral. As Bill said to Father Joe, I am a liturgy nut – so obviously, I want the most beautiful Mass for her. I’ve read some people say they haven’t wanted to look into funerals beforehand but for me it is part of knowing that I have things done and I don’t want to forget anything or leave things to be rushed. That gives me peace of mind and gets me through all of this. I want her funeral to be a celebration of her time that we have got to know her in me. Her first flutter while I was standing in the kitchen was like her first steps for us. Her going bananas after the cold glass of milo was like her first big temper tantrum. These are the little bits of Josephine that we celebrate and make memories out of. She really is already part of our family!

See Josephine grow –

At 9 weeks –


At 19 weeks when we found out she was going to be a little girl and we got a first glimpse of her long legs and huge feet!


At 22 weeks – all happy and smiling for us!

Aug 02 2013

An angel in the making – we need your prayers

Please note – the first part of this blog post was drafted last week and the second part was drafted today. Please read the whole post.

My blog presence has been pretty sleepy over the past few months – which is pretty much a reflection of how I have been. I have been sleeping lots and not feeling very well and struggling to get through work each day. BUT – with good reason!

Bill and I have been absolutely blessed beyond words. We are expecting a beautiful baby – due on February 9 next year! We are over the moon and so excited!

Introducing – Baby Blevins – at 9 weeks!


The past couple of months have gone by in a blur of nausea and sleepiness. The best way I can describe it is – you know when you get off a dizzy ride at the Royal Show or State Fair? That bleugh feeling you have for a minute afterwards? That is how I’ve felt the whole time. Like I’ve been on a spinny ride after having eight hot dogs in a row. That non-stop sea sickness feeling. I’ve been sleeping and sleeping and sleeping. My nausea is worse at night but over 4th July it ramped up and has since subsided. It has made working really uncomfortable and dealing with the various ‘New York smells’ I encounter on the way to work has been horrendous.

The crazy stuff has been my sense of smell. I can smell anything, anywhere. When we went to see Superman, a guy five rows away from us was eating a hot dog and it was like he was waving the frankfurt under my nose. Also, I’ve totally gone off vegetables. I cannot stand them and, don’t even miss them. Same with salads. Blah!

I just want to eat icy poles and oranges and tomatoes all day and I love McDonalds now even more than ever. So much that I actually spent an hour one night googling pictures of Quarter Pounders and have a great hi-res picture of one as my wallpaper. Since the 4th of July, the only meal I feel really fabulous after is Maccas. So I’ve had it a few times to enjoy in feeling ‘normal’ for just a little bit.

Also, since five weeks along, Bill has been giving me these horrendous progesterone injections and with constant blood tests, my needle phobia has been well and truly confronted and dealt with. Needles? No problems!

~ ~ ~

All the anticipation and excitement came to a head last Monday as I passed the 12 week mark. We had our Nuchal translucency ultrasound booked. Bill came along for his first time to view Baby Blevins in full action!

At first there was some kicking and showing off for the ultrasound but then there was a sleepy break where some tapping on my tummy got the turning happening again. Our sonogram technician was quiet but nothing seemed out of sorts as I was busy ohhing and ahhing at the screen. She went off to show the images to the doctor and I remained laying on the table waiting for them to come back.

The next fifteen minutes was a whirlwind. A doctor we never met walked in the room.

Our beautiful baby had a defect. No skull. No chance of viability after birth. Fatal condition.

Between wanting to smash her face in (she was terrible and I will not hold back on my feelings here) and laying there, naked from the waist down, the only thing I remember was curling into Bill’s shoulder with tears. And being adamant “This baby stays with us!”

She came back to tell us she had spoken to my obstetrician (who unlike her, is a fabulous doctor) and he would see us today and he would speak to us about arranging a termination. Oh really? I think I rolled my eyes at her between the sobs and going “What the hell is she talking about?”

We walked the halls back to the labor and delivery wing and waited. And waited. And googled and googled while we waited and waited. 2.5 hours later, still in scrubs, our Doctor was able to see us. After a warning from Bill, I let him say his piece while seeing the booking calendar on his monitor. No doubt to schedule a termination. I can see it now “Oh yes, let me just get out my phone and check iCal to make sure we don’t have a Fresh Direct delivery scheduled!” Sigh.

In between more tears and after him explaining there was no hope and a termination can be arranged I asked him – “What would you say if I said I cannot do that?” He looked at Bill to help him out but Bill explained my position. He was compassionate as best as he could and explained that of course, this is not something that had to be decided today. I couldn’t blame him – he hasn’t known me long enough to how steadfast and stubborn I am and how there is hardly ever any ‘grey area’ for me. The concern was all about me and my health. In all my googling, I learnt that carrying an anencephalic baby is no more harmful to a mother than a normal pregnancy. The baby grows pretty much normally in all aspects except for their tiny little brain and skull. For my own mental health and well being, this baby had to stay with us for as long as she is meant to. I would have no part in deciding her fate. She would go on her terms, not ours. We owed her that much. We want to give her as much love as possible in the two minutes or two hours she is with us.

This pregnancy is going to progress exactly like a normal pregnancy. The only difference for us is, while we are still having a beautiful baby – we just won’t ever get the chance to bring her home.

Yes also, a she. We think our bundle of joy is a little girl as this diagnosis mainly affects girls. We had other names picked, but for this baby we have decided Josephine Martha (as we found out how special she was going to be on St Martha’s day on Monday). If it is a boy, he will be Joseph Martin. We were never going to find out the gender, but we will do so for Joey.

So far, we do know that this has just happened ‘just because’. All of my blood tests came back fine, all of the earlier scans were fine, I had been taking full levels of folic acid for over a year. This has nothing to do with my progesterone levels or anything and the chances of this happening again are still low with some extra Folic Acid treatment. Hopefully we will get more answers as the process goes on.

98% of babies are terminated after this diagnosis. Our Joey is already beyond special and now, even more so.

On Tuesday, we went to visit my normal doctor who squeezed us in during her lunch hour. She in herself, is amazing. Since this diagnosis, she has recommended a change of doctors and we agreed. Everything is different now and all of three of us need a different kind of care. Next Wednesday, we will be meeting with our new doctor and if she is even half as amazing as what I have read about her and her practice/neonatal hospice at Columbia Presbyterian, the next six months will be just as they were meant to be.

I know this decision to carry to term may not make sense to many of you. You may think we are being selfish or even stupid for prolonging this pain and grief. But it is nothing like that at all. I am calm and feel totally at ease. It is not easy, but is motherhood anyway? As our doctor said, we are parents now. We have a job to do and we are doing that job. Any normal pregnancy anxiety has disappeared which I think has also made a difference in how I am at the moment. Saying that, I am one person that cannot live with ANY regrets. Those who know me well, know how much I beat myself up for not staying in Melbourne for the replay of 2010 Grand Final. That was a football game. Could you imagine how I would be with even a tiny bit of regret for ending the life of this beautiful, kicking, spinning, strong heart beating baby? In all of my reading (and over the past few days I have done a lot of it) it is evident. Not ONE mother who decided to carry to term has regretted that choice. All two percent of us. We are going to be able to say goodbye – that is what we need. Not to suffer in silence while life goes on as normal on the outside, but shattered on the inside. Another article I read mentioned the sacrifice of all parents. You get up early, get to bed late, you clean their noses, you are up half the night, you feed them, you clean up vomit, you clean their scrapes with Dettol and wipe their tears. They are all sacrifices that parents make and what Bill and I are doing is just like that sacrifice. It doesn’t feel strange – it is what we have to do as a very new mummy and daddy

I know you will now probably search for information on this. The pictures can be distressing. Please know, a lot of them are extreme anencephaly cases. These babies are beautiful.

No doubt, this blog is going to turn into a whole lot of updates on Joey and us and the ups and downs of this time. There will be a lot of them. I hope you stay with us as we create a bucket load of memories and honor Joey as best as we can. Already, she is being overloaded with love and that is as beautiful as her tiny little kicking feet. The feet I cannot wait to pat dry after her bath and then tickle with my nose.

Jun 18 2013

#WhatIWoreSunday Volume 6 & 7 #blogjune

I’ve really dropped the ball with #blogjune – I have been so busy. I hope to catch up a bit now. πŸ™‚

In this double post for What I Wore Sunday, it was funny to see pretty much the same outfit but a week apart!

Volume 6 –

What I Wore Sunday Volume 6

I love love love this blouse! It is cool in summer and so comfy to wear. It has a gorgeous kind of retro bow tie and it sits really nicely. Any excuse to wear flowers!

Here is what I wore –

Pants – LLBean
Blouse – Modcloth Sigh, the Lanai Top
Shoes – Naturalizer Mary Jane’s
Purse – Ralph Lauren

Volume 7 –

It was a little bit muggy on Sunday morning so I wanted to wear another cool blouse. The sad thing in this photo is that it is not possible to see the gorgeous detail on the blouse. I have loved Peter Pan collars ever since it was part of my high school uniform and so the minute I saw this blouse, I had to get it!

What I Wore on Sunday Volume 7

Here is what I wore –

Pants – LLBean
Blouse – Modcloth ThatÒ€ℒs All She Baroque Top
Shoes – Naturalizer Mary Jane’s
Purse – Ralph Lauren

Please venture over to Fine Linen and Purple to see more WIWS posts with some awesome reflections… and outfits!!

Jun 08 2013

Leaps and Bounds… #blogjune

A few weekends ago, we spent the afternoon and night in Manhattan. First seeing the new Hangover movie (if there is a next one, we are going to wait until DVD) and then heading to the Highline Ballroom to see Paul Kelly.

It was general admission but seats were available on first come, first served for a dinner and show. So we got there early and we were fourth in line when Paul Kelly walked right past us! Also, you won’t believe it. The tickets were only $25! I felt guilty knowing what I would experience for that price!

We were both really impressed with the food at the Highline. We both had very low expectations so it was a pleasant surprise! At our table was a couple on holidays in New York from New Zealand. The rest of the place was probably 80% Australian. I did hear one American say he first heard Paul Kelly when he was on a Qantas flight and they were playing him on the inflight radio!

Dan Kelly was the support act and he was really good. I’ve always loved him since doing one of the best duets ever on Rockwiz with Martha Wainwright. I just play this over and over all the time.

After his set, then it was time for Paul. The show was in two parts. The first part he played his whole new album Spring and Fall which is performed as a song cycle. Then the second part was a greatest hits selection.

Paul Kelly and Dan Kelly

The whole show was really, really good. I loved it so much and it was so relaxing to sit back and hear a master at work! Bill did not know one song from either Paul or Dan and he enjoyed it so much as well. The only annoying part? The woman who kept yelling “SING I REMEMBER!!!!” If only she knew the song was called Leaps and Bounds. πŸ˜‰

Paul Kelly and Dan Kelly

Jun 07 2013

A little bit of spring… #blogjune

Spring time here is gorgeous providing that it isn’t unseasonably warm! Breaking up the concrete, you can find blooming flowers everywhere. For those of you going through winter at the moment, I thought you would like a couple of springtime blooms to help brighten up the weather!

Springtime in Brooklyn –

Spring in Brooklyn

Springtime on the Upper West Side –

Spring on the Upper West Side

Fall will always be a favourite for me, but this spring has been absolutely beautiful after such a long winter. I’m not complaining about anything because I know what is right around the corner! Please send all commiseration messages to Bill.. he is the one that has to put up with my moaning and groaning about the heat 24/7 when it starts!

Jun 06 2013

A little bit of Ireland in the Rockaways! #blogjune

After the Lebanese food festival on Friday, it was then time to head down to the Rockaways for the Rockaway Beach/Breezy Point Irish Festival on Saturday. The festival is hosted by the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

This was part fundraiser/part thank you for all the work that so many people have been doing in the Rockaways since Sandy hit. We had never been down there before and with the train line reopening on the Thursday before, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get into the spirit of things. Once the weather forecast was going to be hot, it was a no brainer. Being by the water on a day like that would be a welcome relief!

Once the A train goes past JFK airport, it then goes on to Broad Channel. This was the view from the train while we were in-between the airport and Broad Channel

The Rockaways

The Rockaways

This is the new wall that is being built to protect the tracks from any future storm. I think this will be eventually all covered in concrete too.

The Rockaways

The Irish Festival was held at St. Camillus Church and it was mainly lots of beer, corned beef, hot dogs, burgers and.. bagpipes.

The Rockaways

We were there right at the start of the first day. This was going to go all day until late on Saturday and Sunday!

The Rockaways

We did some shopping at the Irish Food stall to get some goodies and we then decided to go down and check out the beach. All of the boardwalk was washed away and there was basically nothing left after Sandy hit. Now, only seven months later…

The Rockaways

The Rockaways

The Rockaways

Just a block away the devastation is still evident –

The Rockaways

For the cool breeze and to see another area of New York just but getting on the subway, the trip down was worth it!

Jun 05 2013

2013 Lebanese Food Festival… #blogjune

Last weekend was a lot of fun, despite the heat!

As with every other #blogjune, it was time again for the Lebanese Food Festival. We never miss it and because we had a busy weekend planned, we decided to go on the Friday night. Friday night is just food only – the streets aren’t blocked off and there is no street fair atmosphere. But we still got to have a super tasty dinner and help raise funds for Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral!

I basically get the same thing every year… but oh gosh. It is always so good! These photos are not the best as they were just from my phone.

Here was my dinner. The kefta was phenomenal.

Lebanese Food Festival - 2013

Bill got some fried kibbeh –

Lebanese Food Festival - 2013

I dream vine leaves –

Lebanese Food Festival - 2013

It was a lot quieter in the street compared to what we normally see on a Saturday and Sunday.

Lebanese Food Festival - 2013

Check out my other posts on this great festival so you can get a better idea of how fabulous it is. If you are in New York, no excuses. You have to go!

Lebanese Food Festival 2012
Lebanese Food Festival 2011
Lebanese Food Festival 2010

Jun 04 2013

Custard Scrolls… enough said! #blogjune

I go through various stages of missing things from Australia. One of the most random things recently was Bakers Delight Custard Scrolls. My friend Warbo, would always bring them over and I would always grab one if I was passing the bakery.

So I set about on a mission.. I needed them NOW. I found a recipe for them on a great blog, My Food Obsession. Susan’s work in creating the Custard Scroll masterpiece is amazing.

A difficult part of the recipe is the Custard Scroll icing. Which is the same as Boston Bun icing. That heavy, thick, sweet icing that somehow never makes you feel blah. After reading Susan’s post, I understood that she tried to recreate the icing but it just wasn’t the same. After doing some more searching, I found a list of common ingredients that Bakers Delight use to make their icing so Bill converted the measurements to what we thought would be a recipe that would work. I decided that it was time to give this recipe a whirl.

The mixing and matching on this recipe worked a treat. They taste pretty much exactly like the real thing. They were beautiful on the day of baking and we decided to freeze some and see how they would go. That worked as well.

Here are some photos.. the proof of their greatness is in the pictures. Can’t you just taste them?!

Making the custard –

Custard Scrolls

Cooling the custard by the window –

Custard Scrolls

I had a nap while Bill made the dough and baked them… this is how they came out of the oven –

Custard Scrolls

Reading to ice, ice baby! –

Custard Scrolls

The end result –

Custard Scrolls

Jun 03 2013

Nearing the end… #blogjune

This year, I am hitting a major milestone in my journey as a kind-of-American. I am nearing my five year anniversary of entering the country. Can you believe it has gone by SO quickly? It only feels like yesterday that the got the envelope with “You have won a Green Card!” in the mail. Because I am nearing five years, it means I qualify to start the process to become a citizen. We’re getting there!

On Friday, I mailed off my naturalization application, cheque/check, some more passport photos and a copy of my Green Card.

Citizenship application - SENT!

My life and future nationality really is in this FedEx envelope.

I have now re-entered the stressful abyss of US Citizenship and Immigration Services. In a process that will take about eight months from start to finish, this involves another biometics test, then the interview/US civics test/written test, then the ceremony. It is so serious and not something I am doing lightheartedly. Even though I will be a dual citizen of both Australia and the United States, I will be required to pledge the following –

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

It is emotional and exciting and everything else in between. I won’t lie.. there were tears when Bill was asking me some of the practice questions for the civics test and I had to say that I will give up loyalty to Australia. It is heartwrenching! But note, it does not say I have to give up my loyalty to Collingwood! πŸ˜‰

I am looking forward to voting, being a real voice in local politics and also JURY DUTY! The only time I was ever called to serve was in Australia was when I was living in London. I just NEED to be a on a jury to say I have done it and to quell my fascination with being called to serve. I have to get it out of my system!

So, this is a big time for me. In other parts of the country this whole process usually takes three months. Here, it is longer because of the amount of immigrants. This is something I hope to take up with our own Senator Schumer and Senator Gellibrand. We pay the same fees as everyone else in the country and yet, are almost held to ransom by the USCIS. It is hard to explain, but the process is stressful. The uncertainty, the waiting, the hoping and again… the waiting. Much like the Green Card process, it is almost like your life is on hold. Becoming a citizen is something that should be encouraged and made as stress free as possible. If you are filing in New York, it is the exact opposite. Oh, and no, you have no choice where you become a citizen or where you file.

So, let the games begin! I have no doubt the fastest process of this will be them cashing my check. I bet that will happen by the end of the week! πŸ˜‰

Now, for a confession. Every time I think of being a citizen and being American, this song comes into my head and stays for way too long!

Jun 02 2013

#WhatIWoreSunday Volume 4 & 5 #blogjune

Woohoo! This week we have a bumper double edition of What I Wore Sunday!

I forgot to do my post last week, but looking at the photos they could be in two different hemispheres. It was so cold last week, I had to get my old winter coat out and today it was so humid and hot at 8am, I needed to take my fan to Mass!

Volume 4 –

What I Wore Sunday - Volume 3 & 4

I was in a big hurry last week to get ready and by the time we stepped out into the street the wind was blowing my hair everywhere! I had already packed away my warm clothes so I had to try and make do with what was not in space bags.

Here is what I wore –

Coat – LL Bean Wool Coat
Jeggings – Hue
Top – Macy’s Style & Co tunic
Boots – LL Bean Deerfield Equestrian
Purse – Ralph Lauren ‘Lauren’ Newbury Crossbody Purse in Tan – you can see a close up picture of it here.

The tunic top cannot really be seen here. I love it – here I am wearing it to Ash Wednesday Mass at St Peter’s for Pope Benedict’s final Mass.

Spending the day with Pope Benedict #happy365 H365/44

Volume 5 –

This week was all about keeping cool! We always manage to keep our apartment comfortable in the heat, so stepping outside in the humidity is always a shock. Our beautiful church has no air conditioning and once it gets warm, it stays that way all summer. We are so fortunate to have fans that circulate some air but dressing can be a challenge.

What I Wore Sunday - Volume 3 & 4

What I Wore Sunday - Volume 3 & 4

Here is what I wore –

Dress – Hepcat dress in Black Licorice by Modcloth
Shoes – Naturalizer Mary Jane’s
Purse – Vera Bradley Bowler (I think!) in Poppy Fields.

Please venture over to Fine Linen and Purple to see more WIWS posts… wishing you all a wonderful week!