Thursday, December 31, 2009

Resolutions for Zolo. What the Heck.

(Sorry about the font weirdness. I am not able to fix it and I don't know why.)

Hi everybody! I hope your Zolo is better than your Zoog. Because that's what we should call this upcoming year: Zolo. There is a lot of faux uproar in the blogosphere about what to call it. Two thousand ten? Too long! Two thousand AND ten? Way too long! Twenty ten? Weird! It's a silly thing to get into words about. Just pick something and call it that, and if something else feels better eventually, call it that.

A good song to
listen to as this year comes to an end is David Bowie and Queen's "Under Pressure". Gee, what a coincidence: that's what Stanley happens to be playing right now. I made him play it again. I think it expresses the feeling of the year pretty well, for me personally as well as for some other people I know and for the country. We've been challenged this year and we've come through it better than we were when we went into it. Just think: this time last year, we had an idiot president and a terrible looming economic catastrophe on our hands. Now, not so much. Well, it may be a catastrophic economy, but at least it's no longer looming. This is ourselves under pressure!

I had my check-up today. I debated whether to share this as it may be TMI but what the heck. I am one cm dilated and 50% effaced, which apparently means nothing at all. The doctor feels it's most likely I'll go a few days past my due date. Of course, anything can happen. Stanley is a little melancholy this evening, because it's 6 hours until midnight and still no labor, which means we don't get the child tax credit this year unless something really drastic happens. Yesterday he went so far as to suggest that if I pushed Blueberry out this year, I alone could decide how we spend the money. I tried to get her out but, so far, have failed.

Do you have any New Year's resolutions? For the last few years I have done myself a favor and let myself off the hook for resolutions, but this year I have one: to love my daughter. That should be easy, so I'm going to add one more: to bake a cheesecake. In my whole life, I have not baked a cheesecake, not even from a mix. But I don't want to set myself up for failure by setting the bar too high, so I will change it to simply eat cheesecake at some point during the year. What the heck, let's add a few more:

Hazel's New Year's Resolutions:
  1. Love my daughter.
  2. Eat cheesecake.
  3. Lose at least 10 pounds, all in one day.
  4. Recycle something.
  5. Change at least 2000 diapers.
  6. Go outside.
  7. Make a phone call.
I'll stop there. No need to get carried away.

Any fun New Year's plans? My physician's assistant asked me that question today and I told her I was going to get really really drunk. She laughed as though she thought I was joking. I guess that's not the worst reaction one could hope for. But seriously, some friends are coming over for a mellow night of board games and cocktails. My goal is to stay up past midnight. Wish me luck.

I highly suggest that if you aren't already doing it, you should find some music from your past and play it tonight. It is really helping me get into that Auld Lang Syne spirit.

Happy New Year! Drink a cup of kindness.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hazel Finishes a Project, for All Intents and Purposes, with Caveats

Hello! Feeling good, lots on my mind. Here's my belly this past Saturday.

Blueberry is now (estimated) 37 weeks, which is full-term. Yay, Blueberry! I half expected that she wouldn't make it to week 37 before her arrival because that seems to happen to a lot of people I've met. I get the impression, naive though it may be, that she doesn't intend to come out anytime soon. It's just business as usual with her and me. She kicks/punches/headbutts me when I eat delicious food, and also when I sit down after being on my feet for a long time. She gets hiccups a couple of times a day. She's not giving me any trouble. Hopefully it is a sign of things to come, except for the kicking/punching/headbutting: I would like that to stop once she is on the other side.

We had a wonderful Christmas and I hope you did, too! Here is our tree on Christmas morning.

Santa wrapped most of the gifts in recycled paper. This is because back in October, Stanley received a fishing net for his birthday from that came in a huge box, most of which was filled with a 45-foot sheet (measured with my eyeballs and lots of arm-flailing) of 30"-wide brown paper. A monstrous waste of materials, with the only upside being that it was recyclable. I wanted to save it for a decorating project or something, so it was still around when Santa used it to wrap gifts. And yesterday, the recycling company picked it up from the curb, presumably to recycle it again. It felt good not to use regular wrapping paper this year, and I hope to do something similar next year. Here is a blog post that gave me some cute, clever ideas for environmentally friendly gift-wrapping. And somewhere, I can't remember where, I read a good method for eco giftwrapping:

1. Use brown paper, random fabric, a shirt, newspaper, old tissue paper, old maps, a credit card application, or whatever; doesn't matter how ugly, as long as you are saving it from being thrown out.
2. Tie it with pretty ribbon or some unexpected type of material, such as twine, yarn, or a daylily leaf.
3. Tie on a random object as a "garnish", such as a pinecone, a gnarled twig, a piece of potpourri, a Christmas ornament, or something related to the gift, such as a wine bottle stopper or a baby rattle, or an interesting piece of card stock with a hole punched in it, and write the recipient's name on this "garnish" if desired.

Apparently, if you follow this method, you "can't go wrong" and your giftwrapping skills will be praised.

Okay, here is why I really wanted to blog this evening. The nursery is DONE!! At least, it's done for all intents and purposes, not taking into account the fact that one is never really done with decorating, and also the fact that I am not highly skilled at decorating and equipping a nursery, and ALSO the fact that you might have an opinion that leads me to change/add/remove something. If so, PLEASE share! Here are the pictures!!!

First, for full effect, the "before" pictures:

We were using it as a dressing room, and not very well. But once we learned that Blueberry was on her way, I thoroughly embraced the task of designing the nursery. It was a lot of fun and I'm totally thrilled with it! I was inspired for the decor decisions from a book I had as a child (and still have):

I love the poems and illustrations and I used my interpretation of them throughout the room as best I could. The first step was adding insulation to the ceiling, which was not much fun for Stanley, but the room definitely got warmer. Then, Stanley's parents helped us install three can lights in the ceiling to replace the low-hanging, butt-ugly, two-and-a-half-watt, single light fixture that failed miserable in its attempt to shed light along the 20' length of the room. Just the lighting change by itself was a big enough improvement to make me feel like the rest wasn't necessary, except of course clothing and furniture. But, we carried on, and I'm glad we did. We spackled and caulked a lot of large holes and cavernous gaps along the ceiling trim and walls. I actually had to stuff plastic grocery bags into some of the trim gaps so as not to use up an entire tube of caulk in a bottomless gap. Then, Stanley kindly covered the ugly putty-colored paint with "soft cream" on the ceiling and "sawdust" (buttery yellow) on the walls. Then, we furnitured and accessorized. So, maybe I should show some "after" pictures?

Voila! YAAAY I'm so happy and excited to finally be posting this! The shutters on the left were from some unknown window and were stored in the basement when we bought the house, so I wanted to use them somehow. This was an afterthought that is probably going to be fraught with good hindsight. A one-year-old will likely yank them out of the wall. But for now, they are staying up because of all the effort and grunting it took to hang them straight and all trips up and down the stairs for more appropriate tools and supplies. And ta-da! A fake window! For no reason! Woo.

Rocking horse: $10, yard sale, which I embellished with a simple fabric saddle and mane and tale ribbons.

The reading nook in the back of the room:

As Dale demonstrates, it's comfortable. The two framed pictures are my favorite illustrations from the book. I ordered the same book off of eBay for pretty cheap and cut it up to make art for the room. The above photo also shows the three fabrics I used all over the nursery. They were each inspired by the illustrations in the book. Another flash of hindsight: after I spread these fabrics all over in pillows, the curtain, lamp shades, dust flap for the crib, and basket liners, I read in a design magazine that a sign of an amateur decorator is that they take a fabric and use it in several places rather than just one. I had no idea, because I'm an amateur and this is my hobby! I have no training and I don't get paid. But, I like to think that I am learning by doing, which is part of the fun.

Here is the view looking back at the door.

I will eventually be replacing that chair with a glider rocker that is currently in the guest room on the main floor, because the guest room is probably where we will all be sleeping for the first week or three while I recover and try to get used to Blueberry's care and feeding. By my request, Stanley's dad kindly installed an electrical outlet near the floor and another light switch on the wall so that the lamp can be turned on by flipping the light switch. This way we don't have to get blinded by the highly photonic ceiling lights or go fumbling for the lamp switch for 3:00 a.m. feedings. There was some reason he couldn't make it a double switch rather than two separate ones, but I don't remember the reason, and it looks a little strange but I like the functionality.

Here's the changing station:

We'll see if it does the job. And across from the crib is a stenciled verse from a poem from the book, and a mural that I mostly copied from an illustration in the book:

It felt really good to get that painting done but I might want to add to it. The picture in the book has a little more going on, such as a bumblebee above, and a tiny little boy floating on a leaf looking up at the scene. I think that would add some important features to it, and help it relate to the poem better (click on the image if you can't read the poem), but I don't want to try painting a little boy. I don't do hands or faces, and without hands and a face, the little boy would be kind of creepy.

Going from other pictures from the book, I might paint (in other spots in the room such as near the chairs) a robin's nest in a tree with big pink blossoms, or a garden with lots of flowers. I don't want the all the random painting to be too distracting or jarring, though. So, I might be done. We'll see. Depends on how I feel if week 41 comes along. Also depends on your input!

Other than the nursery, I've been doing a lot of organizing and purging throughout the house, which feels really good. I could be "nesting" but I also might be indulging my natural inclination to organize since I have a good reason now. One project in progress is to make our back hallway into a bona fide miniature mudroom, despite the fact that it is surrounded by four doorways, two of which open into it, and is only 3' X 6'. I have a plan and we'll see how it goes. If it works, we won't have to use the back bedroom as a mudroom anymore.

And finally, it's cold and icy and I don't want to go outside because I might fall down and that would suck.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sawing and Sucking

You may recall that our beloved birch tree in the front yard is afflicted with the bronze birch borer. We are in year two of a three-year effort to save it, and the arborist feels that we have a good chance. He wanted to charge us hundreds of dollars to cut off a large limb that had completely died, but Stanley, understandably, wanted to save the money and do it himself if possible. Thus ensued a long-term disagreement between us about how best to go about this. I wanted all manner of safety measures, such as cones in the street, but Stanley just wanted to put his pregnant wife in the icy street to block traffic at the moment the branch came down. The solution for Stanley turned out to be to wait until his pregnant wife took her daily nap on the sofa, put some recycle bins in the road so that cars have to go away from the tree to get around them, then whip out the chainsaw that his pregnant wife bought him for Christmas last year, and carefully cut the limb down at the proper angle and distance from the trunk.

This is what I saw when I woke up.

The limb didn't even go near the street. But it could have!! If there had been a strong gust of wind or something.

Fun stuff I accomplished this week:
  • Put pictures on the nursery walls
  • Began stenciling a poem on one wall of the nursery
  • Packed the hospital bag
  • Burned my tongue on hot cocoa, on two separate days. It's just so tasty, I can't wait for it to cool down.
  • Slept through the noise of a chainsaw outside the window
  • Heard Blueberry's heartbeat again; 130 bpm, which is healthy, as always. Or I assume so: the doctor said "Yay!" Almost as if she didn't hear healthy fetal heartrates all the time. And maybe she doesn't. I continually feel grateful for Blueberry's health and my health throughout this pregnancy.
One of the items in my hospital bag is a focal point. I've often read that it's good to have a focal point during labor, something on which to focus your attention so that you aren't as focused on the pain. I don't know if it will work, but what's the harm in trying? Some of the suggested items to use were a pretty item from your home, a photo of yourself and your significant other, or an item of the baby's clothing. I'm going to use this:

In full disclosure, this is not a photo of the actual thing, it's an image I found on the Internets that looks pretty much exactly like it. It's a strawberry-vanilla lollipop, about 4 inches across. I like the idea of using a huge lollipop because it's easy (for me) to see the relationship between labor/birth/baby and a huge lollipop. Both require a lot of patient waiting (I've waited my whole life to get a lollipop this big), and are worth it in the end. And both are beautiful and have an element of magic. I was planning to buy one right after Christmas, but I had told our friends Nate* and Krissy* about my plan, and they gifted me with this one yesterday. So sweet of them! Literally!

Apparently I need to practice with the lollipop beforehand. One suggested method is to place my hand in ice water, while practicing a breathing technique and looking at the lollipop. I will let you know whether the ice water experience is comparable to actual labor. Somehow I think not. But at least it's painful.

Yes, I plan to eat the lollipop after Blueberry is born. Maybe not immediately after. I imagine it is frowned upon to reach for anything other than your newborn baby once he/she is born.

Here is my to-do list for today, for your extreme pleasure, and to help me gather my thoughts:
  • Finish stenciling poem in nursery
  • Start nursery mural (last step in baby preparations! woo hoo!)
  • Practice breathing/focusing
  • Do some reading for work
  • Put window film on windows in main floor bedroom (mudroom) and bathroom
  • Analyze some data
  • Bake cookies for a going-away party. Our friends, Bob* and Tori* (Tori hosted my baby shower) are moving from Minnesota to California. What could be a better scenario in which to use my Minnesota and California cookie cutters!? Let's face it: if I don't use them for a situation like this, I don't think I ever will.
  • Attend going-away party and try not to be overly negative about them leaving. That would be a downer.
Hope you have a wonderful day!

*Names changed.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hazel Is Feeling Chatty and Gifty

Hello, Friends. I'll be 35 weeks along tomorrow. Yes, I'm excited!! Here's my belly at 34 weeks:

Blueberry weighs approximately 5.25 pounds, as much as a honeydew melon:

And now I'm craving honeydew melon. Otherwise, I've been feeling great, lots of energy, hip pain is all gone, hardly anything to complain about, but give me a minute and I'll think of something. Oh, here's something.

Decorating work on the nursery has stopped, because there are always more important things to do than putting up pictures and painting a mural. Like putting insulating window film on various windows (mostly done), getting the car seat inspected (did it yesterday), writing up a birth plan (done) and packing the hospital bag (not yet begun, but I have a packing list). Maybe I'm afraid that if I get the nursery done, then I will get antsy waiting for the baby. You would think that having the nursery done would make me less antsy, but not in my world.

Speaking of antsy, I've had these weird, interesting emotional spells for the last three nights in a row. Not tonight yet, but it's early. It usually happens around 9 or 10. I'll have about 10-20 minutes of non-specific anxiety and I can't use reason to get myself to calm down. It's not as severe as a panic attack, per se; it's like I'm nervous about something but I don't know what. Sure, maybe I'm nervous about the baby, but it's just the weird timing of the anxiety that I can't explain.

Another weird emotion I've been having is homesickness. It's not really homesickness, because I'm home, and there is nowhere I'd rather be, but I periodically (10 minutes/day?) have that feeling I would get as a child when I had been away from home for a while, such as at church camp or at Grandma's, and I missed my mom. That wistful, aching feeling. Are you familiar with it? Well, it's come back from my past to haunt me for no good reason. Hmmm. Maybe I'm feeling it so that Blueberry will get used to feeling it, so she'll be more attached to her parents. Yeah, that's got to be it.

I chalk it up to raging hormones and I'm kind of enjoying the ride. I have lots of good emotions, too, but those are not as interesting.

New topic. When we first moved in to our house in the Fall of '07, our neighbor across the alley was a newspaper delivery person and he would toss us a free paper pretty much every day. It was great, except for the guilt about all that paper we had to recycle. After about a year, he stopped. We don't know why. Now, as of four days ago, suddenly we're getting the paper again! It's great. A Christmas card in one of the papers shows that it's from a different family, but the weird thing is, they live at the same address as the first guy. Maybe it's his daughter and son-in-law? Oh well, free paper, don't question it.

It's officially winter: there is snow on the ground (it fell on Wednesday and Thursday) and it's not likely to get above freezing for a couple of months, so the snow is here to stay. Looks like it will be a white Christmas. Yay! I had kind of been dreading the snow this year, but now that it's here, I realize how much I like living in Minnesota. The winter is cold and bright, and helps you feel alive. And the other seasons are nice, too.

My favorite online magazine, Lonny, just put out their second issue; check it out. I haven't yet, so if it sucks, I apologize. I'm waiting to browse through it on our new computer because it has a big screen which makes it easier to read. Yeah, that's right, we got a new computer. A desktop PC. It's nice to have. We put it in the living room in place of the TV, and moved the TV down to the basement. I really like not having the TV front and center anymore. When we watch TV now, it's because we make a special point to watch something: most recently, last night's Barbara Walters' 10 Most Fascinating People of the Yeaw. I can't help it; I love that stuff. And tonight, we're watching the film "Burn After Reading" which Stanley just picked up from the video kiosk at the gas station. Anyway, not having the TV nearby has naturally made us eat dinner in the dining room rather than at the coffee table, and I really like that. We're facing each other and having a focused conversation. It's revolutionary. So we're getting more use out of two rooms: the dining room as well as the basement. I can see myself hanging out down there, doing laundry. Here's a photo of the new TV room.

It's a little hard on the eyes because of the blue and orange, but that's what I had available, and the walls were already orangey. If anyone has any suggestions on color or any other aspect, feel free to share. It's a work in progress.

Speaking of interior design, my designer and Facebook friend, Meredith, of Spire Design Group, has a blog that I have been enjoying. She is trying to expand the reach of her blog and would like to acquire 100 "followers". I'd like to help her out, so here is a contest. Go to her blog, check it out (she has lots of interesting and inexpensive new design services), scroll down, look on the right for the "followers", click "Follow" and follow the instructions. Once you've completed this and can see your icon on the list of followers, comment on my blog or email me with language to indicate you are following her blog (I will also be able to see your icon with your username on her list of followers, but you need to comment, or email me, that you are following to be entered in the contest). The winner, chosen at random, will win ONE of the following (your choice):
  • A Christmas card from moi, containing a dollar
  • A box of homemade cookies, made by moi
  • An amateur artistic abode adjustment from moi, based on one or two photos that you provide of an area in your home and any extra info you care to give me about your decor issues. The abode adjustment shall consist of 100-150 words of amateur advice.
  • A 2-3 minute recorded video message from moi, unless I don't know you
  • Six or eight Avon crystal champagne glasses with an etched hummingbird design that I have been meaning to give to GoodWill but I could send them to you if you want them. They look like this:

The deadline for entering the contest is 8:00 p.m. on Friday, December 18th, 2009. Good luck!

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Hazel Avoids Ruining Various Things

I just ordered Blueberry's birth announcements which I will be sending to immediate family (this includes our siblings and their kids) and family who don't use email. I know it's a bit "premature" (sorry) but I am hoping to have them all addressed and stamped so that I can just order a bunch of prints from Shutterfly, hand-write her important info on each card, slip in a photo, and then they will be ready to go soon after her birth. That's the plan, anyway.

I ordered the announcements from Paper Source, a company which I love. I first used this company for my wedding "guestbook" in which I asked guests to write their wishes on a small card and stick it in an envelope, as well as for place cards at the reception entrance telling guests which table they should sit at. (Yes, I told my guests to stick it and sit it.) They've got a lot of great products. Did I mention I love them?

The announcements arrived, they look great, and were packaged excellently for shipping. Everything in the box was recyclable; no foam peanuts or bubble wrap (yes I know you can recycle these but in my town, it's not curbside, which is useless). Instead, the product was packaged with this:

Biodegradable air cushions! They break down in 9-60 months. I plan to put them in the compost bin, which is working out great, by the way. We've been composting all our vegetable waste since this past spring, and the pile is shrinking, decomposing and not smelling. We haven't spread any compost around the garden yet; maybe next spring.

So I emailed their customer service and thanked them for helping me avoid ruining the environment. In return I received an auto-reply, followed by a standard reply thanking me for my comment and saying they would forward it to the appropriate people. I hope the appropriate people see fit to reward my comment with some free products from their lovely company. Otherwise, what's the point?????

In other news, I ruined our dining table.

In the lower left, you'll see my belly has crept into the picture. It has just begun to get in the way in many ways, such as in this photo, and also when I go up to the window to look outside; it arrives at the window first and I have to lean in to get closer. But I digress. See the big white blotches on the table? So do I. These developed because while making curtains for Blueberry's nursery I used the table as an ironing board. I had wrapping paper on the table (to protect it from fabric glue, which is better than thread, in my opinion) and I had a towel on top of that, to protect it from the heat of the iron. It didn't work.

So as with every other problem I have had since 1998, I googled it. The #1 advice on the topic was to lay a white t-shirt on the blotches, then apply an iron to the area on the steam setting. It seemed counterintuitive to use the same method to remove the stains as I did to put them there, but I tried it and it worked terrifically. After:

No sign of the white blotches whatsoever. So, I didn't need to tell Stanley that I ruined our cherished antique table. But I told him anyway. He was alarmed and relieved.

Stanley finished painting the nursery last night!! I'm so excited to put everything in place and take pictures. Also last night, we picked up our new crib from IKEA (thank you, sister Lotus*), along with a crib mattress, and on Friday I assembled our new glider rocker and ottoman (thank you, sister Janis* and bro-in-law Grover*), and I think all of the fabric decor (curtains, basket liners, pillows, etc.) is complete and ready to install. Also on Friday I washed all of Blueberry's clothes and diaper covers (still need to do a 5-wash marathon on the diapers themselves). So in a matter of a few hours the nursery will be DONE!! Of course I will then spend the next 7-12 weeks tweaking it to perfection.

My hip still hurts, but I can walk (slowly), and it feels better or worse depending on my activity level, which is great for my peace of mind because it's not getting steadily worse and it's somewhat within my control. So I'm happy.

*Names changed.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ow! :( Sympathy Please.

My hip hurts a lot when I walk. It has hurt for two or three weeks but it is getting worse. I stayed home from work yesterday, and Stanley surrounded me and my chair with everything I needed and wanted for the day before he left for work. I sat in the chair all day except for eating and bathroom breaks. Either it didn't help, or I shouldn't have taken that one trip up the stairs to get a Phillips screwdriver to assemble Blueberry's mobile (Fisher Price N8849):

("Mobile": Is that ironic?)

So since I'm not better, it looks like today will be another day of sitting. It really sucks not to be able to tool around the house. I am kind of running out of things that can be done while sitting. Yesterday, in addition to assembling the mobile, I Skyped with Jasmine* and showed her all the fun stuff I've been making for the nursery. I am really excited about it and can't wait to show all y'all, but I would have to do a lot of hobbling around to take pictures, and I'd rather just show you pictures of the nursery when it's done. Other things I did yesterday: made some fabric liners for a set of three little baskets (sized small, smaller, and ittybitty), put a bunch of Blueberry's clothes, towels, etc. in a bag so they can be laundered (wish the machine was not in the basement, or they could already be clean). :( :( I am not happy about this. Everything was going so great. I know this is par for the course with pregnancy but I would rather have more pain somewhere else if it meant I could at least walk around. I have been taking my mobility for granted up until now.

My plan for today:
  • Get a phone call from my boss to discuss some data and maternity leave.
  • Make a fabric "saddle" and mane and tale ribbons for a rocking horse in the nursery.
  • Write some letters, such as to Aunt Martha.
  • Start filling in Blueberry's baby book with family history, baby shower details, etc.
  • Mani-pedi
  • Write up a birth plan. We got some helpful tips on that at Monday's birth class. Oh, did I tell you we're taking a birth class? Every Monday night for five weeks. Two sessions down, three to go.
  • Make pumpkin bread for a church potluck tonight. I'm using this recipe. Stanley put a stool up to the counter, and most of the ingredients and tools are out, so I can sit and make it. I know I'm trying to stay off my hip, but I have to go to the potluck because I have to get sympathy for my hip.
Hey did I mention my hip hurts and I can't walk much? Yeah.

Update: I talked to the doctor today, took some Tylenol, got a massage from Stanley, did some stretching, and I feel much better. Still painful, but manageable.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Saturday Project

I bought a Moses basket for Blueberry at a yard sale last month. It looks pretty much exactly like this:

Three people who saw me carrying it around voluntarily commented on it. One lady said, "You're going to love that!" SOLD! The woman running the sale said she used it for her son 10 years ago. Her son was there; he looked about 10 years old, and none the worse for wear. SOLD AGAIN! The woman's husband later appeared and said that they used to bring it (with their son in it, I presume) out on the back patio and sip coffee. SOLD AGAIN!

It came with a waterproof bottom cushion and two washable cushion covers, but without a liner. So today, I made one for it:

I am quite thrilled with how it turned out. I made it out of fleece because Blueberry will be using it in the winter to start with (inside, of course), and because fleece is one of the few fabrics that does not require hemming. I didn't even need to sew anything; I just cut 1/2" holes to thread the strips through to attach it to the basket. It's on there pretty good but is easily removable for washing. If you click to enlarge the photo, you can see the fringe I put around the edge. This step is what took the longest but it helps it look more finished.

Since I didn't do much measuring (I much prefer eyeballing when possible), the striped fabric with lots of colors turned out to be very useful to make sure I was keeping it even everywhere. Stanley says it reminds him of Joseph's Coat of Many Colors, so being that it is on a "Moses" basket, it's a virtual testament to the Old Testament. I think I will fill it with stuffed animals, two of each kind, and then banish it from the garden.

I'm ready for Halloween. The candy is next to the door, the porch light is on, and Stanley is at the grocery store, buying, among other things, more candy for the trick-or-treaters. We have enough candy for 34 kids, and it seems like we got more kids than that last year.

In addition to handing out treats tonight, I'll be working on curtains, pillows, and lamp shade decorations for the nursery. When Stanley gets back, he's going to start painting the nursery. It is my utmost hope and, dare I say it, expectation, that in one or two weeks from now I'll be able to post photos of a completed nursery. I'm excited!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tea for Fifteen

I got on here to post an entry and saw that my friend Amacrine (blackbirdnight) just posted on her blog, so it's going to look like I'm copying her. But I can't let that stop me. First things first. The belly:

Blueb is good, kicking up a storm on occasion, and getting hiccups every few days, which is cute. She's this big (the coin is a quarter):

And she can blink her eyes.

I had a wonderful shower this past Sunday. It was a tea party. Stanley's mom came up from Texas for the occasion. I got to use my wedding china and silver, try out some great teas, and gnosh on fabulous finger food. Plus I hung out with some lovely ladies, who gave me terrific, thoughtful gifts. Here are some photos from the event.

Approximately two-thirds of the guests. My friend Tori*, who hosted the shower, is second from the left:



Each guest decorated a onesie for me with fabric paint.

The finished products:

Stanley and our friend Bob* admiring the artwork after the shower.

Everyone gave me a favorite children's book, and described why they liked it. Here's me explaining why Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses is my favorite. I can't explain my facial expression.

I felt so blessed and grateful to have had such a wonderful baby shower. I'm in the middle of thank you notes now.

Also on the to-do list, just because I like to list my to-do list:
  • Take video of my cat Sappho playing dead, and put it on Youtube
  • Xerox Stanley's genealogy, which his mom brought with her on her visit. It's a rich source of baby names.
  • Work more on baby names
  • Start filling in Blueberry's baby book
  • Buy birth announcements
  • Wash new diapers 5 times to get them fluffy and absorbent
  • Give myself a haircut
  • Continue working on the nursery (it's prepped for painting, Stanley is going to paint this weekend, and I've got a bunch of fabric for curtains, pillows, etc. Can't wait to show you photos.)
  • Put out the trash
  • Fix all the clocks in the house. They are all off by a little bit one way or the other.
Oh hey, the World Series is on. That kind of crept up on me this year. Yankees/Phillies, huh? Interesting.

*Names changed.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Accidental Blogger

Hi. I logged on to the blog to change the widget thingy on the right that shows a little fetus cartoon and the progress of the pregnancy. I wanted it to reflect the original due date, rather than the date suggested by the 20-week ultrasound, which was only five days different, and ranges in accuracy by a couple of weeks. I like having the due date a little later because I don't look forward to the due date coming and going with no baby; I'll be uncomfortable, waiting, possibly getting lots of questions as to whether the baby is here yet, etc. So the later the due date, the better.

Anyway, since I logged in, I thought I might as well update you on things. I don't have a good plan for what I'll write, and I really should be heading for bed soon. So this post will be a little incomplete by my own abstract standards. But here's my belly last Sunday:

I'm actually trying to suck it in. It doesn't suck in anymore.

The nursery preparations are under way and I'm pretty excited about it, and glad that it's moving along because I really, really would like it to be done and prepped and ready for an infant when Blueberry arrives. I've written before about this room, which is a dark, slope-ceilinged, long, narrow attic room which we had been using as our dressing room, when I attempted artistic adjustments to it to make it a more inviting dressing room and 2nd guest room. Stanley's parents came to visit a couple of weeks ago and helped us insulate the attic and crawl space around the room, which makes it more cozy, if only psychologically. They also helped us replace the ugly, old, low-hanging single light fixture in the center of the room with a row of three recessed lights going down the length of the room. AMAZING difference in the ambiance. It's incredible what improving the lighting will do for a room. I would post a picture but a) I'm lazy and b) I'll be posting pictures when it's completed. Stanley bought the paint today: Sawdust for the walls and Soft Cream for the ceiling. LITERALLY. Hee hee. The sawdust is kind of a buttery yellow. We also bought enough Soft Cream to paint the landing, stairway, main floor hallway, and mudroom (a.k.a. main floor bedroom that is being used as an entryway/litter box room).

I joined the hand bell choir at church. The director asked if I had played bells before and I said that I had in a past life and that I hoped it would ring a bell. Fellow bell choir members rolled on the floor laughing at my clever pun. Not really. The first two practices didn't go well for me; I felt lost most of the time and rarely rang the right bell at the right time. It was frustrating and mildly embarrassing. But the third time was the chime. Groan. I had a breakthrough; some synapses in my brain must have fired in some kind of synchrony because I finally got it. I got through a whole song with no mistakes. In full disclosure, this particular song only required me to ring the bell in my left hand once and the bell in my right hand three times, but I was able to follow the music and keep my wits about me like never before. It was awesome. The other song we practiced didn't go badly either. We've got our first performance Nov. 1st. I need to practice more than I do, but every time I get the sheet music out and start practicing, one of the cats walks across the music and sits on it and licks him/herself.

That reminds me that my method of ignoring Dale when he meows in the kitchen and giving him extra attention elsewhere seems to be working. Now he meows once or twice and then stops. It's such a relief.

But it's 11:43 and I've got some work to do in the morning, so I have to go to bed. TTFN

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Pile of Thoughts

No theme today. Just various updates on mostly unimportant things.

We had a couple of friends over for dinner, and they brought flowers. I LOVE them. It makes me want to bring amazing flowers every time I go to someone's house for dinner.

Here is my belly.

This is actually last week's photo, but I can't see any difference between this one and the one I took today. Actually, I think my belly looked smaller today than last week. So you get last week's. It seems to be growing kind of slowly, in my naive opinion. The ultrasound 3 weeks ago suggested that Blueb is slightly bigger than expected, if anything (but not outside of the norm). So she's not the problem. At church today, two people volunteered that I definitely have a belly now, and one of them said so upon seeing me across the yard. But another woman hadn't heard that I'm pregnant and when she learned this, and that I'm 24 weeks along, she said "Wow, I can't tell at all!" So I don't know.

We have a coffee problem.

Normally we have one opened one and one or two on standby, but things kind of got out of hand because we sometimes had to pick some up on the fly if we forgot to bring it with us for camping, and sometimes it would be on sale so Stanley would buy a couple. Also, I stashed it at various places in the kitchen so it wasn't clear how much we had until I called a coffee summit. Thirteen bags. And only one of them is decaf. And neither of us is supposed to be drinking much coffee.

And Dale, bless his heart, is driving me insane with constant meowing and pacing. Actually, it's only constant when I am in the kitchen, working. It's particularly maddening when I am trying to focus on a recipe. MEOW. MEOW. MEOW. It's really tough to measure out 13 half-cups of flour when he's meowing and pacing. When I'm not in the kitchen, he stops. He has food and water. And cat grass. And plenty of time with me when I'm not in the kitchen. But when I'm on the sofa, he naps on the sofa table. No interest in me at all. I have tried throwing water in his face each time he meows, but on one occasion, I threw water at him 5 times in 10 minutes, and he was totally soaking wet, as was the floor and cabinets, but the meowing and pacing continued, and I don't believe it, but it was almost as if the water encouraged him. I don't get that at all.

So my plan is based on an internet search and consists of ignoring him when he's in the kitchen or meowing and paying extra attention to him when he's not. This has been our second full day of treatment. Ignoring him is rather difficult when he does things like jump on the counter and walk toward the stove when it's on, or jump on the refrigerator and push a glass vase toward the edge, but instead of reprimanding him, I quietly get him out of the situation and pretend like he's an inanimate object that I'm putting back in it's proper place. It's not working so far. But it took him years to develop this behavior so I'll try to be patient.

Ever since I saw an ad for Aveeno Positively Radiant Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 30 (APRTMSPF30), I have wanted it. It's a moisturizer, it evens out your skin tone, it makes your skin glow, and protects it from the sun.

Four products in one. My current moisturizer only moisturizes and protects from the sun. What a waste!! The APRTMSPF30 costs $15 for about 3 oz., which is four times more than I have ever paid for a beauty product. So I just tried to forget about it, but I couldn't. Then I went looking for it every time I went to Target or the grocery store, but sometimes they didn't have it, and if they had it, I lost the nerve to buy it. So I tried ebay, and on Monday, Sept 14th at 10:04 a.m., I outbid, outlived and outlasted 4 other bidders and got two bottles for $10 apiece, taking shipping into account. I was so jacked up when I won. I love winning. The lady that sold them had opened one and realized they were too light for her skin. So one of them was "used" but not really.

I put it on today for the first time and the same people that said they could definitely tell I was pregnant, made a point to tell me I was "glowing". Yay I finally have that glow. I don't plan to tell anyone it's artificial. Except you all, and you can keep a secret.

Dinner's ready. Hope you had a great weekend!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Fun Facts

Lots on my mind. I guess the most prominent thing on my mind is the fact that we just had the first ultrasound and we found out that Blueberry is a GIRL!!!!

YAAAAAAAAAAAY!! I had been wanting a girl but expecting a boy. So I was bound to either get my wish or have my intuition validated. Either way, that's good. Stanley had been expecting a girl until we were actually undergoing the ultrasound, when something about the ultrasound tech's behavior led him to think maybe it was a boy. We asked her not to tell us at the time, and have her put the gender-relevant images in an envelope, and we took the envelope with us to one of our favorite restaurants, and opened it just after the waiter brought the salads. It was quite a moment. I wish you could have been there. Fun Fact: Both Stanley and I had blueberries in our meals, just by sheer coincidence. Or, the chef at Muffuletta on Como Ave. in Saint Paul, whose name is Jason, puts blueberries in everything. But that would still be a nice coincidence.

Here are some of the ultrasound images of Blueberry. If anything is unclear, and you want me to show you where stuff is, I could draw it on the images and email it to you. I don't have much going on work-wise these days. Unfortunately the tech was not able to get a whole-body image. So please enjoy the following body parts.

First, her nose and upper lip, and upper teeth buds.

Tilt your head to the left. It's a very small part of the image, between the two largest dark blobs, and looks like a spinning top, laying on it's side, with the top of the top on the left, which is her nose, then the middle of the top in the middle, which is her upper lip with some barely visible teeth buds below that, then the sharp point of the top on the right, which is I don't know what. Her chin? Her uvula?

Well that was fun.

Here is her leg!

It looks really strong, which is partly what led Stanley to think it was a boy. Heh heh heh. Her thigh is the big blotchy rectangle in the middle, her knee is bent, and her calf hangs down from the left side of the rectangle.

Her heart (and lungs?).

The large roundish thing that is offset to the right is her lungs, I believe, and her heart is nestled inside it. You can make out the four chambers of her heart. Stanley was very impressed by the resolution demonstrated here. We could see it beating. Yay. :)

Her hands! And a forearm! The tech said she is pointing with one hand and sticking up her ring and middle fingers of the other hand. Try it. It's not as easy as it looks.

Her foot. It's tiny, right in the center of the image. You might have to click on the image so it will zoom in.

Fun Fact: I love baby feet. I always touch babies' feet when I'm near them, and they always pull away. I'm going to touch my baby's feet all the time so she gets used to it. Unless she fusses at me, in which case I will stop.

Her brain!!! Can't wait to fill it with Fun Facts.

The tech said everything looked good and healthy. She doesn't have the final word. But I feel pretty confident in her judgment.

I left out the gender-relevant images because I would like to preserve Blueberry's modesty. She will thank me when she's old enough to browse the internet.

I know that there are pluses in having either a girl or a boy, and if it had turned out to be a boy, I would probably be excited about that, too. It is the case, however, that one of my long-shot desires, right up there with having an ocean-view home and a live-in masseuse/maid/chef, is to have 3 or 4 girls, and no boys. This is silly, I know. It's all based on a picture I saw in a magazine of a mom and her four lovely teenage daughters sitting on their front steps. Little did those people know the effect their smiles and perfect clothes would have on my life's ambition. But I would be happy with a boy. I really would. I'm happy with Stanley, and he is a boy, after all.

The big thing with the gender reveal is that we KNOW and we can move forward with name choosing, clothes buying, and nursery decorating. The nursery decor was already planned with a neutral theme in mind, which I should share with you at some point, but it's just nice to be able to accessorize with items that don't land dead-center on the gender stereotype continuum.

Here is a picture of my belly, taken this past weekend. It's bigger than it was 20 weeks ago, but it's not that impressive at this point. However, I think it is just about to pop out prominently. So think of this as a before picture.

My friend Amacrine*, who was visiting from Texas, and is also pregnant, joined me for the photo. She also posted this photo on her blog, so I hope she doesn't mind that I copied her. She's five weeks ahead of me. Actually, Fun Fact: the ultrasound tech said it looked like the baby is 5 days older than I thought. She could be wrong, and I could be wrong. But if she's right, then Amacrine is only four weeks ahead of me. So it's even more possible that we could go at the same time. Exciting!!

I've been taking a belly picture weekly for the past 4 weeks. I'm glad I started when I did, because I didn't start to show until maybe this week.

This is already getting kind of long but here's another Fun Fact: I'm feeling kind of daunted about picking names. Here are the problems:

1. No name sounds perfect.
2. How can one person name another person???
3. There are thousands of names and they all crowd each other out.
4. Should we go with a popular name or a unique name?

Here's my strategy: I've made an Excel spreadsheet with a list of possible first names. We'll worry about middle names after we've narrowed it down to 1-3 first names. We'll keep adding to the list as necessary, and there is a column for Stanley to rate a name 1-10 for how much he likes it, and another column for me. I'll hide the other person's column so as not to bias things. The third column will be the average of our ranking, and the fourth the standard deviation (so as to avoid choosing a "7" over a "6" when perhaps the "7" is highly disliked by one of us, and highly liked by another, whereas we both gave the "6" a rating of "6").

Before rating a name, we each have to say the name out loud to ourselves three times, but not three times in a row; there needs to be some time between each verbalization. We should imagine the name being yelled from across the street, being whispered, and being announced (first and last names) as the CEO of a major company, and as a famous Broadway actor. If she wants to go into something we don't approve of, she's just going to have to deal with having an inappropriate name for that profession. Then, simply rate the name 1-10. What could be easier.

Fun Fact: Gotta pee.

*Names changed.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Puzzle Wrapped in a Conundrum Wrapped in a Tortilla

I'm trying to figure out how to use our rooms in the best way once Blueberry arrives. I'm kind of confused. Could you help?

We have 4 bedrooms, 2 upstairs and 2 on the main floor, and a ~12 X 20 finished basement. Here is how they are currently being used:

Upstairs 1: Master
Upstairs 2: Dressing room
Main Floor 1: Guest room
Main Floor 2: Entryway/mud room, shoe dump, litter boxes
Basement: Work desk, craft storage, plus 2 adorable loveseats that would be destroyed by cats anywhere else.

We plan to move the litter boxes to the 2nd floor landing as necessary, and could get dressed in the master bedroom, like normal people.

My sister Jasmine* suggested, and I agree, that there should be a baby sleeping/changing area both downstairs and up.

So do we set up two separate dedicated nurseries? Two cribs, two changing tables, two rocking chairs? Do we use the guest room as one of the sleeping/changing areas? The guest room is a little nicer than the mud room but with a little work (paint, a nicer area rug) I think the mud room could compete. It's not a mudroom, it's a bedroom, but it's near the back door and has an extra door on the other side, so it's a convenient dumping area and a way to get to the rest of the house, so it has become an entryway. But it doesn't need to be.

The guest room is more convenient to the living room, where we spend a lot of time, but that would make it less quiet I suppose. On the other hand, we usually enter through the back door, which is right off the mud room door, so if Blueberry is sleeping, that might wake him/her up.

It would be nice to keep a dedicated guest room as long as possible. But other options for guests are the basement (a little musty but otherwise pleasant and well lit) and the living room (well stocked bar).

So is there a clear answer? What would that be? Any suggestions? Thanks very much.

*Names changed.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Hi Bloggies!

Have you heard that I'm going to have a baby in January? I had to get that out there. I'm 13 weeks along. I may be showing but I think it's my normal belly with a little extra fat because I've been eating a lot. I had a great first trimester. No major symptoms, and I felt great except that I needed a nap every day. Stanley and I heard the heartbeat and some somersaults via doppler two weeks ago. 170 bpm, and a somersault every 10 sec. All systems go.

The fetus' name is Blueberry, named by my sister Janis* when I told her that he/she was the size of a blueberry. Currently, he/she is the size of a peach. Last week was plum.

Blueberry will no doubt be a steady feature in future blog posts. My friend Amacrine* is also pregnant, 4-5 weeks ahead of me. She may be coming to visit at the end of August, at which time she will be ~25 weeks and I will be ~20 weeks. I hope we both look obviously pregnant at that point, so that we can cause a scene everywhere we go. If I don't look pregnant enough, I'm going to add some padding.

These berries are growing on a tree in my yard.

I plan to eat them once they're ripe. I know you're not supposed to eat berries if you don't know what they are but I believe they are chokecherries, which people use to make jam. I am basing this belief on Stanley's mom's hunch about the tree as it blossomed last spring, and on google searches for images of chokecherries, as well as for "mistaken for chokecherries". Apparently the berry commonly mistaken for chokecherries is buckthorn, but this is definitely not buckthorn. So I'm going for it!!

When we got back from our 4th of July week in Texas, I found a bunch of adorable sprouts in the compost bin. There are two of these:

Possibly a tomato? Anyone?

And approximately 50 of these:

Possibly cantaloupe? If so, I guess they will have to be thinned out. I don't really feel like transplanting them because it will take work to till the soil, etc. I have learned a valuable lesson in gardening because I made a half-assed attempt at planting a bed of ipomopsis and butterfly weed this spring by hacking at an area of grass with a pickax, pulling out some (but not all) clumps of grass, and poking seeds into bare areas. This is an excellent way to encourage weeds. Some ipomopsis and butterfly weed sprouts have appeared, but they are not growing. Stanley suggests they need fertilizer. I think they need a gardener. This is why Stanley is in charge of the vegetable garden and I am in charge of the flowers and volunteer/pre-existing/self-sustaining fruits that we may or may not eat.

Blueberry fits into the self-sustaining category. As long as I feed my face, Blueberry will be fine, and I can be counted on to feed my face.

Our black raspberries are ripening!

Have some fruit today.

Friday, June 26, 2009

More Garden

Here's what's happening in the garden today. First of all, it's a beautiful day.

Mr. Gnome can't believe how tall the onions have grown.

He also mentioned that we have a tomato. I was like, "Yeah, right." And he's all "I'm not kidding. Go check it out." So I did:


I was sitting on the deck sewing up a shirt that Stanley ripped on a chair while he was trying to squeeze by me in the dining room, when the squirrel came by. I'm pretty sure it's always the same squirrel that I see on the deck. She's rather large and lacks the fear I see in most other squirrels. She hung out for a while, giving herself a little scratch/tongue-bath session on the railing. I video'd it with my new camera but I am having trouble uploading it, so you're going to have to settle for a still photo.

She's pissed that I'm sitting on her deck. She spitefully notified me that I had messed up and put the ugly side of the stitches on the outside of the shirt. I was like "No way." And she was like "Yah, biatch!" And I was all, "No I di'in't." And she's like "Holla!!"

We have 12 zucchini plants. So far. New ones sprout every few days. I googled how many zucchinis can be expected from each plant, and the only example I found was 24. So we might expect nearly 300 zucchini this season. This causes me to worry, and Stanley is worried as well, as indicated by the following quotes: "That's awesome!" "Yay, lots of recipes we can try." "It's okay, we can give the extras to people."

Yeah but 300.

I bought a pitchfork so I can aerate the compost now and then. The little piece of wood and my bare hands were (literally!) just not cutting it. A shovel never worked; I couldn't shove it into the compost effectively. So I turned it with a pitchfork for the first time and it worked pretty well. I learned a lot about compost during this exercise. Here is some of what I learned.

  1. Turning compost is subjectively disgusting (if you're squeamish, skip to #2). The main element that contributes to the grossness is a surprise factor, in that you don't know what you're going to discover with each turn of the pitchfork. I impaled a potato (a whole potato, yes I know I should have cut it up first, but it was from a big bag of old potatoes and I did NOT want to spend time chopping up old potatoes. Next time, I will, because they are not decomposing very quickly) and a string of off-white slime oozed out of it. Was not expecting slime.
  2. Compost can emit very strong wafts of various unrecognizable and vaguely recognizable odors. The compost doesn't smell in general, but turning it unleashes all the odors that have been covered.
  3. Seeds in the compost often sprout. On a whim I took a clove of garlic that had sprouted roots and about 6 inches of deformed stalks, and planted it in one of the red pots that had an onion in it that had not sprouted a flower as the other one did. I put the non-growing onion in the compost. Whole. Yes, I know. We ate a cantaloupe this week, and the seeds went in the compost, so we may have some cantaloupe growing someday. This happens to Stanley's mom all the time, and she just lets it grow and eats the melons, as long as they haven't crossbred with something different that would affect the taste. Apparently this year they crossbred with squash. According to Richard Nixon, this would be a good reason to abort the cantasquash. Squasheloupe.
  4. I've been adding all our food waste (except meat), plus extra brown matter (leaves, old mulch) each time I add food, and having been doing this for 6 weeks, and the pile has remained the same size throughout. It's like magic. A perfect waste disposal system.
  5. The food I added at the beginning has decomposed. The only recognizable food left is stuff we have put in there from the last week, and whole things. Whole potatoes, whole onions.
Have a great weekend!!