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!