Flamingos in Alaska: Nesting Overseas

The whole idea of the “nesting instinct” is pretty funny to me. That classic example of “tearing out the rose bush” and re-doing the yard just before going into labor is pretty true to the intensity of that desire to get everything just right before the baby arrives, at least in my experience.  Our family just got home after being away on a visa trip for over 2 weeks and as soon as I walked in the door, the nesting began.  I usually take my time to get things settled after trips, but not this time. Those  loads of laundry needed to get done that night, even if it killed the washing machine! True story. The washing machine died a horrible screeching death the next day, BUT I have 7 loads of clean laundry to show for it (and no we didn’t bring 14 bags with us… our washing machine is just that miniature).

It is funny enough when you’re nesting in your familiar country and culture, but this time around (this is the first baby of ours to be born overseas) I feel a bit like a sun-loving pink flamingo trying to build a nest in the frigid wilderness of Alaska. Not that the “birds” here don’t build cozy nests as much as anywhere else in the world, but I find myself trying to build the same type of nest native to my species, but in this instance using some rather foreign twigs.

This nesting urge has manifested itself in some intense language study as I try to figure out the names of products that I hope to procure, a bit of furniture re-purposing while trying to determine where the baby will exactly fit in our 2 bedroom apartment, some work with fabric that I could hardly call sewing (since I can’t sew to save my life), some international shopping and shipping,  and even my first ever, horribly unsuccessful, very hilarious attempt at plumbing.

Like I mentioned earlier, thanks to the free diaper grant from Cotton Babies, we are giving cloth diapering a try this time. I have heard that a “diaper sprayer” is a treasure worth its weight in gold for cloth diapering moms, and having found a mini-shower/bidet fixture that looks like the exact same thing, I decided to buy it and install it myself. Who cares that the item itself was purchased in Finland to be used for a Russian toilet, or that I had no idea what fixtures it needed, or the fact that I have never heard the first thing about plumbing or home improvement… I was determined that this simple project of screwing a few hoses and fixtures in place would take an adept person like myself all of 15 minutes to successfully install. Four hours later, after googling “how to use teflon plumbing tape” and “plumbing for (female largely pregnant nesting) idiots,” I had succeeded only in soaking a large number of towels and causing our toilet to leak. “Hello?! I’m nesting here! Where’s my forward progress?!”

Well, the diaper sprayer might never get installed, and I will probably feel completely ill-prepared until my foreign “necessities”  make their snail-paced way here, mostly likely after the baby’s arrival, but the baby is coming in his or her own time one way or another, and I trust that God has given us every necessity necessary to welcome this little one into our foreign nest. Until then, I’ll probably keep on being that flamingo in Alaska, and we’ll see where I end up in the end.  It might be time though to learn from the local birds rather than trying to reinvent the nest.

I’d love to hear your stories about nesting overseas! Did you find yourself in any funny situations as you prepared to welcome your baby into a foreign land? What things did you find your self searching high and low for before his/her arrival?

(Post by: Ashley)


35 Responses to “Flamingos in Alaska: Nesting Overseas”

  1. 1 Nancy DeValve June 16, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    I don’t know if they still make them or not, but diaper liners were a real life-saver with cloth diapers. The liner caught most of the poo, then you could just shake it out into the toilet and throw the liner away. (They are probably advertised as flushable….but I wouldn’t recommend it with septic tanks.) The liners also wick moisture away from the baby’s bottom which helps to prevent diaper rash. And if the liner is only wet, you can wash it and reuse it. I kept a bucket (with a lid)of soapy water by the toilet and the diapers, after rinsing in the toilet, went immediately into the bucket to soak. You do need to wash the diapers daily to prevent the bathroom from smelling like a dirty diaper! My babies’ diapers stayed white and never turned that disgusting color I’ve seen.

  2. 3 Angie June 16, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Thanks for the story, Ashley! I am looking forward to the nesting instinct to kick in with me as my house could surely use it!! Will be praying for speedy recovery or fixing of the laundry machine, toilet, and bidet…

  3. 4 Susan June 17, 2010 at 1:37 am

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  4. 5 Phyllis June 19, 2010 at 5:30 pm


    I’d like to hear what your “foreign necessities” are. I’ve had the opposite problem: all our babies were born in Russia, so I feel lost in American baby culture. We had to go to the states when our youngest was only 5 months old, and I felt like I couldn’t understand anything! I didn’t know how to put in a carseat or what things were called, and this was my third child!

  5. 6 Ashley L June 19, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    Nancy, thanks for the suggestion about the liners! I actually got some in Finland, but only enough for “special occassions” since they were over priced. I had no idea Walmart had such things! I should have had someone bring me some! Maybe later.

    Ah, yes, the “necessities!” Well, probably the only real necessity is Starbucks decaf coffee! Ha ha! Actually, we just found decaf here, so that one was take down the level of “nice-ity,” and in reality I did not have any sent over. Most of my “necessities” revolve around baby clothes and cloth diaper supplies. I can’t bring myself to pay the price of clothing here, so we had our baby clothes from our first 2 kids sent back to us here(that had made their way back to the US or been left before we came over). Also, I knew nothing about cloth diapering, and the way that I’ve gotten into was by being given those fancy new kinds that I can’t find here. Getting a bunch of fancy diapers for free is an amazing gift, and I decided to make sure to care for them the way that is recommended as to get the longest life out of them, but not all of the supplies are easily found here. The one random import item for that was tea tree oil to help with odors and sanitation. Other than that, I love my baby sling and nursing cover, both things from “home” that I either can’t find here or that are too expensive. I love “baby wearing” and think it is so good for both mom and baby, and the nursing cover is just really convenient. Again, if I could only sew a straight line, I wouldn’t rely on such things as much. =) My “necessities” are definitely not necessities (thus the quotations), but definitely things that I value! =)

  6. 7 Debbie June 22, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    Hi Ashley, I love this post’s imagery really made me smile today! We’ve been cloth diapering for 4+ years now and it’s been good for our family, definitely a blessing on the budget. There has been a lot of troubleshooting involved though in finding the right laundry solutions that kept the diapers, looking/smelling clean, retained absorbency and didn’t give the kids a rash. Odor has definitely been a problem for any of our synthetic fabrics, I guess they grow bacteria more easily than cotton or hemp. We decided against the TT oil in the wash when our pocket diapers started leaking, sun drying (when available) has been my favorite stain/odor controller. Praying for you on this new adventure (and for all the other adventures that come with a new little family member!)

  7. 8 Phyllis June 24, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Oi. You love baby wearing? 🙂 Have you done it in Russia yet? Have fun explaining! Although I have noticed that it’s becoming okay in big cities….

  8. 9 Ashley L. June 24, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    Yeah, in Krasnodar people gave me strange looks sometimes, but I saw several moms wearing babies in slings by the time we left there. Here in St. Pete it is much more common. They sell baby slings at all of the major baby stores, though they cost a pretty ruble.

  9. 10 Phyllis June 28, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    Some of my worst babushka encounters have been over babywearing. Tea tree oil is in aptekax. Starbucks is definitely a necessity! How’s that for a bunch of subjects in one paragraph? 🙂

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