Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year = New You????

(ok, so it's not a NY photo, but it's awesome and a fairly accurate portrayal of our relationship. Also I really like my hair here.)

So it's that time of the year: Top Ten lists, recaps, resolutions. The yule log embers are still glowing, but everyone has moved on.

According to these are the most popular New Year's Resolutions:

Now, I have no idea about that last one, but the first 12 seem to be believable. A few of them are even on my list of things I just want to do: save more money. Take a trip. Volunteer more. But these all feel like no-brainers.

I would like to live a better, longer, healthier, more fulfilling life.

Way to be vague.

I prefer to look at resolutions as a giant to-do list. Major projects that take more than a weekend or two to master. Things that I can look back at at the end of the year and say "I did that."

So here they are, in no particular order:

1) Give birth.
2) Return my body to pre-baby status. This includes (but is not limited to): losing the weight I've put on. Regaining the tone in my arms that comes from climbing and goes when you lay on the couch and eat milkshakes for the better part of nine months. Regain six-pack. (My boobs are another matter. They'll be in use. I hope.)

3) Re-learn how to shoot manually. And by shoot I mean with this:

That "F" up there by the number 75....that stands for FILM. That's right bitches. I am not part of the DSLR elite. I have a PhD (Push here, dummy) and an SLR. It is the latter which has been neglected. I have the knowledge. I've taken the classes. It's all locked in there somewhere. And I've got an infant coming. Who better to use as a test subject for the learning curve? I'm even tempted to make it a weekly-ish posting here. For the rest of the Luddites.

4) Garden. I got a nice start last spring and then I got knocked up and it all went to hell. I have a diagram of our (rental) property as it exists:

Michael Pollan I am not. But I have aspirations. That's not to scale, by the way. I'm not good with scale.

5) Cook more. From scratch. Learn how to make the things we use daily/weekly from scratch: chicken stock, bread, vinegar.  I also want to allow myself to be more creative in the kitchen. We have all of this bounty and I did not take advantage of it this year. (Morning sickness isn't just for the morning, you know.)

6) Blog more regularly. Here and on my Book Review Blog. After all - what good is a consolidation if you still neglect the blog?

7) Climb. Climb. Climb. Climb. What do I miss the most about being pregnant? Not booze. Not sushi. Not soft cheese or lunch meat. Climbing. Cllllliiiiimmmmmmbbbbbbbiiiiiiinnnnnnngggggg.

Castle rock. That's not even real climbing. I'm in hiking shoes for cripe's sake. But it was fun. And it must happen again. Also, those are my ass jeans. I'll fit into those day....

8) Take Advantage of living in California. Mountains. Beach. Napa. Gold Country. We're here. We should make an effort. The state's motto is EUREKA! I feel that's trying to tell us something.

9) Most dauntingly - especially with the baby: finish the novel. It got shelved when I hit the bed in late May and I never returned to it. Rewrite. Edit. Revise. Submit. In that order. That's an ORDER!

10) Figure out the Gregory line. In the ancestry project. It's the one I don't have. Once I have that I can put the family tree in order. Also - edit all of those photos. I have dozens of family photos and they need editing.

(my great-grandfather is all the way on the right)

So there you have it. My personal Top Ten.

Maybe somewhere in there I'll be able to fit in "take over the world" and "cure cancer" but those might just have to wait until next year...

Monday, December 28, 2009

So now that we're ready...

Bunny is behaving as though he's nice and cozy and happy to stay inside where it's warm for two more weeks, thank you very much.

Christmas came and went with a bang (a little one that was overshadowed by the OMFGWE'REHAVINGAKIDINTWOWEEKS anticipation coronary) and we spent the long weekend being lazy together.

We did set up the crib. Lots of people are confused by this, so I'm going to just spell it out.

A) we do not have a lot of room. We have more than we did, but that guest room is going to remain a guest room for the foreseeable future.

B) I'm ok with Bunny sleeping in our room for many reasons, but the two tied for number one are SIDS and Night Feedings. I'm one of those people who greets being woken up before I'm ready with a sneer and a string of curse words. Then I'm grouchy until I have least. So being able to roll over and snuggle Bunny up to boob him without my feet having to hit the (cold) floor is a HUGE bonus. And then Wonderful Morning Person Husband can get up and do his morning thing while Bunny and I sleepily snuggle and boob and then he can come back and take Bunny for a fresh diaper and some Man Time (apparently man time will involve porn, big blocks of cheese, and meat products. Lucky Bunny) while Mama gets twenty more minutes of sleep. How can you argue with that?

So here's the crib setup.

The view from the door. Yes there is a towel on the mattress. We have cats who don't understand that all of these great new cozy places aren't actually for them.

The view from the other side.

We literally just didn't attach the one side of the crib. The trick to being able to rig your crib up in this manner is to get one that converts to a toddler bed. The structural integrity is then on the base pieces and not at all on the railing.

You do have to worry about furniture migration - particularly if you have bare wood floors like we do. The solution: bunjees:

That huge gap will be closed with some kind of foam insert. Either I'll be ambitious and measure and cut and insert so it's all perfectly flush and fitted or I'll do what an inspirational friend of mine did and buy a pool noodle and shove that in there. As long as the gap closes...

In that middle picture, you might notice an egg on the bedside table. It's this:

Baby monitor/thermostat. If it's yellow, then the room is comfortable for a baby - between 66 and 74 degrees. Blue is too cold, Red is too warm.
I have discovered (after being greeted with the current temperature every time I open my eyes) that I am really only comfortable at 70-72 degrees. 68 is ok, but 66 makes me shiver. And I'm running hot lately because that's what pregnant people do.

So there you have it. The "nursery" exists purely to store clothes, and the sleeping quarters are mere inches from the breastaurant. It's win win.

And yes, Polly does think this is her new bed:

Friday, December 18, 2009

Is it a gratuitous picture of you if people request it? (And some baking)

So yesterday I saw a picture of a lovely little cupcake and I was inspired. So I chatted with a baker friend of mine and trolled around and cobbled together some recipes (cupcakes here and ganache here...confession: for the Icing I used a pre-made tub of cream cheese icing with a few drops of peppermint extract mixed in.)

And here's what we got:

I had exactly 24 mini cupcake papers (which is convenient because I have exactly one tin with exactly 24 mini-cupcake reservoirs) and the saintly husband stopped at the store on his way home from work (I know which store he stopped at - he is more of a man than I) and picked up a package of white regular sized papers - which produced exactly 24 regular-sized cupcakes (again - convenient because I have exactly 24 regular-sized cupcake reservoirs.)

I baked them last night and this morning I made the ganache and smeared it on top to add to the mocha-ness.  Then I mixed the cream-cheese icing with a few drops of peppermint to make sure it was well balanced (and hopefully not too toothpaste-like) and piped it on top of the ganache...until I ran out. Then I topped all of them with little peppermint pillows, even the ones with just plain ganache:

The result?

Holiday Cheer:

Then I took them to work and husband is unloading them on his co-workers as you read this.

Now - for the gratuitous pictures of my (GPOYF)

These might be the last ones I take of my belly...Bunny is making overtures of being ready to be an outside baby and I'm far enough along that there will be no moving to stop him once he makes up his mind. In fact - it's speculated that January 11, 2010 (when the c-section is scheduled) is now and "outside" date.  This weekend: pack hospital bag. Install Carseat. Erect Crib.

Blame the sun for the look on my face. This is me at 35weeks, 6days. The ticker to the side there counts down to the c-section, not my actual estimated due-date.

From the other side. Because I can. It *is* called GRATUITOUS Picture of You Friday.

One more for good measure. Yes, I have an outie. My little hoodie says "let it show" and has a snowflake. Because we are all "sacred, unique snowflake[s] of special unique specialness."

Happy Weekending!

Monday, December 7, 2009

A little closet DIY

So I feel like I'm up to my eyeballs in things that need to happen before Bunny comes (in five weeks, for those of you keeping track) and one of those tasks is washing and putting away all of his new clothes. This would be made much easier if our dryer hadn't decided to die over the weekend. (For those of you keeping track, that makes the FIFTH electronic device that I've killed in the past couple of months: printer, dvd player, photoshop, mouse.)

I decided that closet dividers would make the clothing task a little more appealing: we all know how organized I like to be. But I couldn't find any on the market that I liked enough to pay for, so I pulled out my craftiness and got to work.

I started by cutting the flaps off of one of the many, many boxes that have been showing up on our porch.

Covered them with vellum and card stock (using double-sided tape.)

Added the size denotations with a stamp set I've had for a few years and some stickers and ribbon.

And hung them in the closet of the guest room/nursery.

Yes. This is a rental. If it weren't, this closet would have already received a *lot* more attention. As it is, now that I'm going to be opening it more frequently than to retrieve wrapping paper...let's just say that the shelf will be getting a new liner.

Right after I figure out this dryer thing.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Blog Slacker...or what happens when your interwebs randomly go on holiday

So this morning at some point I noticed that my chat client had booted me offline. This isn't unusual (hello Google...fix that please) so I set my status to available and watched the little curser whirl in a circle. Then I watched it some more. Then I got the news: Unavailable to contact server at I check my browser. It wasn't just google. The whole thing was down.

So I did what any sane person would do. I set a playlist going to make sure it didn't suck and I started (and completed) a project that I've been staring at for way too long.

What's that, you ask? Why WINTERIZING our casa, that's what.

The fact that Silicon Valley gets winter like Houston gets winter is beside the point. We don't need a lot of winterizing.

What we do need, is a solution to this:

No. That's not the closet door from the Poltergeist. It's our front door. Our back door is similar, but not nearly as cool to photograph.

So I broke out my new sewing machine and decided it was time. For Draft Snakes.

Step one: buy fabric that you like. A yard-ish will do. But that door is 38" wide, so I opted to go overboard and bought two yards. (Yay leftovers!)

Cut it into two 8ish inch strips and then sew up two sides - leaving the top open so you can fill it with the heavy material of your choice (beans, rice, kitty litter.)

Yes. We use the wheat litter. Because they strip mine for the clay kind. Not pictured: the funnel you're going to need. Trust me.

Then pin the ends so you don't end up with a very large mess:

Then sew up the ends and voila! Draft blockers to confuse your cats:

Here's hoping that helps some with the insulation. Every little bit counts, right?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

So I'm An Imaginary Woman?

A few months ago, Glamour (a magazine to which I subscribe) put a tiny little picture on one of its pages along with a single-page article about body image...and loving yourself no matter what your flaws are.

This is that picture:

Her name is Lizzie Miller and she's twenty and gorgeous and no one is debating that.

You can find the editorial follow up here.

What is my beef, you ask?

This is what I looked like at the ripe age of 10.

This is what I looked like at the ripe age of 30...a mere month before getting myself knocked up. Sure, I look great, but T&A are not things I was endowed with.

And this is what I looked like right after lunch today. I'm 31, I'm 30 weeks pregnant, and two weeks ago I weighed in at 135. (I will be weighed again tomorrow, but we don't own a scale.)

I took these pictures at the library in the bathroom (because pregnant women pee. a LOT.)

Why was I inspired to pull out my camera and take pictures, aside from the stellar orange wall and the fact that my camera battery was actually charged?

Their guest today? Cindi Leive, Editor-in-Chief of Glamour magazine.

(hear it all here.)

Let me point out some of the key differences between my body and Lizzie's up there:

1) I am not a size twelve. On a good day I'm a size 2.
2) I'm not blonde.
3) Apparently, I am not "normal" or "real" because I don't have curves.

Who uses those heinous words? Normal. Real. Cindi herself. People who call in. Random people on the street. I've been hearing about this woman for MONTHS. I've had conversations with people who are on the other side of the body image equation wherein I've been given a heaping plate of guilt because I "just can't understand" what it's like not to be thin and gorgeous. (You know why I'm funny and a good cook? Because I was NOT a cute teenager. Lanky twelve year old boy is not a good look on a fifteen year old girl who hasn't figured out how to control her hair, yet.)

According to these people, every woman featured every where should be a "plus size"...which is a ridiculous phrase. Seriously. Plus what?  And arm? A leg? A head? Some fingers?

And women like me - the roller-skate skinny girls who just can't gain weight - should remember that men only like "real women" with curves and cushion and whatever.

Is swinging the gauntlet to the other extreme going to help women the most universally? No.

Here's what makes a person a "real" woman: having a vagina.
Here's what makes you "normal": not having an extra head.
Here's what makes you "beautiful": not being a hag.

The end.

PS - there are a few instances in the interview where the focus on health rather than appearance. But the fashion industry - by definition - doesn't care what you had for lunch. They're not selling you food. They're selling you, as so eloquently put by Nigel in The Devil Wears Prada, art that you wear. And art isn't always realistic. Sheesh.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Weekend Harvest

It's no secret that my favorite tree is our pomegranate tree.

When we showed up last January it was all gnarled and dormant and then was a harbinger of spring with it's tentative, delicately waxy leaf buds, and then it flourished in the late spring and early summer with vibrant, Hummingbird-seducing red trumpet flowers, and then we've been watching as the fruit plumps and is one of the last truly seasonal fruits and I am completely enamored.

Yesterday we determined that it was time to have the first official harvest.

Because I am currently a sideways camel, I could not go up the ladder, so Steve did the honors.

Good thing the weather has been perfect.

Kipper, of course, helped. He let us know two things:
A) Pomegranate leaves are not as tasty as grass.
B) Solid ground is better than a branch.

The four on the bottom came from our tree, the three in the middle from our farm box and the one on top from our tree. it's about the size of a ping pong ball.

Same thing, different angle. There are grapefruits on our neighbor's tree smaller than that one on the bottom left.

It's ok to be jealous.

In other news:

Don't let your onions sit too long. Even if you have an overflowing bounty of them.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Animals and Babies

There's a lot of talk going on lately about getting pets ready for new babies.

Since we have cats, I pay attention.

Meet the cats:

This is Polly. She is three years and a few months old, she weighs in at a "whopping" elevenish pounds, and that feather-thing is HERS. It's her security toy and I promise I did not pose this picture. I wake up sometime to discover she brought it to sleep with her on my knees.

This is Kipper. Her "big" brother. And by big I mean he's coming in at about 18 pounds. He doesn't have a feather, but he does have a sense of presence. And he has no hesitation about crawling onto whatever new baby item we've brought home to make sure that it smells like him - just in case anyone is under the impression that someone else might own the house.

They have their routines - preferred spots in which to sleep, preferred laps, mealtimes, etc. They have distinct personalities and inside our home neither one of them is viscous or threatening. (Unless you are not me and you mess with Kipper's ears. He'll take your hand off.)

So...aside from bringing in the baby stuff in a timely fashion so that they can claim it as their own, we have decided that best preparation for a baby is to be as irritating as possible.

Because babies are not gentle. They grab when they should pet. The pull when they should let go. They drool in a way that will probably make my cats shudder.

When we are forcing our cats to play, snuggle, or be carried, Polly will jump away and groom a bit before going to another room. I'm completely ok with this reaction.

Kipper, will grumble while allowing you to do whatever it is you're doing. Steve likes to hold him in the cradle position and jiggle him. It's like Kipper-Skat.

My preferred method of irritating (and probably more accurate when a baby/toddler is involved) is to swoop in when there's exposed belly and rub and rub and rub. I just can't help myself.

Look at that Belly! Could you help yourself? No. And what is his response? He rolls on his tummy and gives me this look:

"Human. You are irritating me."

Mission: Accomplished.

Monday, October 19, 2009

These are the People in my Neighborhood...

When we left our fair city for Silicon Valley, we decided two things:

1) There was absolutely no reason for us to pick a spot that made Steve's commute too long. (And good thing, too, since his car was crushed like a grape in transit and he cycles in 3 days a week, now. Don't be sad for him. He'd cycle in five if he could and then do a full century - 100 miles - on the weekend.)


2) Since we were leaving the state altogether, why not try something completely different?

We picked Willow Glen. Small townish without being too far removed, suburban but not contrived, and quirky.

For the record - none of those things are hard to find here. Seriously, through a dart at a map of the small towns that got swallowed up by San Jose and you will find lovely communities with gingerbread homes and historical markers aplenty.

As for the quirky -- we've been noticing Halloween decorations going up around town lately so last night we decided to walk around our little neighborhood and get some pictures*.

The lights that line the walk are pumpkin shaped.

A close-up of the window. It says "Happy Halloween."

This porch has the string lights and cobwebs...simple but festive.

I'm going to have to get a picture of this in the daytime - it was just too dark. This (very nice) gentleman has arranged Skeletons to be crawling out of their graves on his lawn. He also has a LOT of cobwebbing and apparently on the night of the big ToT, he puts out a smoke machine.

These guys weren't waiting for Halloween to pull out the stops...or if they are - Halloween is going to be *awesome* at their house. On the right is a giant moving spider that is both self-illuminated AND strobe-lighted.

A close-up of their graveyard. The skull on the right blows smoke.

This is across the street and two houses down from us. It makes me giddy.

I'm going to plan BIG for Christmas and next Halloween. Apparently in our 'hood a plain-ol' Jack-O-Lantern just won't cut. I'm actually REALLY good with that!

*taken with my slowly becoming obsolete phd olympus. I <3 that camera, but it's not so great for night shots. It's best for high-noon pool party shots.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What I Want. (A preliminary birth plan)

So I have to have a c-section. Bunny is not even allowed to look at the light, much less head towards it, until it comes rushing at him in the form of a Dr. coming through the womb. Violent, yes, but not any more than any other form of childbirth.

It's been in my mind off and on that because I'm not able to have the birthing center/home water birth I would like to have I'm going to be less present for the birth of my baby. In fact, I've run across women who treat the c-section like it's a form of infanticide (I've also run across women who view formula and circumcision as infanticide.)

And then Mothering, in honor of Attachment Parenting month, posted up THIS article, written by a mom after my own (soon-to-be-mommy) heart, who had a scheduled c-section and lived to talk about it.

So I think that having a clear, well researched birth plan is what it's going to take to set me at ease. Our family is not able to make it out until several days after the birth (in some cases weeks and months)so I'm looking into having a doula present and we'll also have the illustrious Kelly M doing our birth day photography.

Today I did some research and asked around and put together a preliminary birth plan. Here it is:
(format and some wording borrowed from a very helpful friend on one of the mommy boards I frequent)

To my Health Care Providers: Thank you so much for what you are about to do for us. Today parents, as well as a child, are being born. Because we will both be emotional (and Emily will most likely be nauseous) we have taken the time to research, discuss, and create a birth plan for guidance. Because this is a planned c-section, there should be no surprises, and we would both like to be as aware and present as possible at every stage.  For your respect and care, we will be forever grateful.

*I would like to have my husband (Stephen) and doula with me at all times, even for procedures and administration of anesthesia.
*Because our family cannot be in town until several days after the birth, it is very important to me that my photographer, Kelly, be allowed as much access as possible. 
*If possible I would like to have my music played.
*My arms are not to be strapped down unless general anesthesia becomes necessary during an emergency.
*Please let me know before start any procedure or administer any medication. 

*I would like to have use of my arms during the procedure, please administer blocks accordingly.
*Please give me medications to help prevent nausea and vomiting.
*Please do not administer mind-altering drugs. I do not wish to be less alert due to sedation. If it becomes necessary to sedate me, do not do so without express permission from either myself or Stephen.
*I would like the catheter put in after anesthesia is administered. 

During the Procedure
*If my baby needs assistance during the delivery process, please use a vacuum.
*We would like to wait 1-3 minutes for the umbilical cord to be clamped. (We are donating the remaining cord blood to a public bank, please do not discard it.)
*If at all possible we would like that Stephen be able to cut the cord.
*I would like to see the baby immediately after birth. I prefer that he be placed on my chest rather than the warming tray. If my chest is unavailable for medical reasons, then please have my husband disrobe and hold the baby to his own chest.
*I prefer that the outside incision be sutured with stitches and not staples. 

Newborn Procedures
*It is ideal that Sebastian be with Stephen or myself at all times.
*We do not wish to do the eye ointment, the Hep B vaccine, or other immunizations and will sign a waiver.
*Please apply a topical anesthetic to our son before sticking him with any needles.
*Stephen has Gilbert’s disease, which can cause jaundice. Please be aware that this may be an issue for Sebastian. Do not proceed with any treatment without express permission from myself or Stephen.
*We would like to give our son his first bath. Please do not bathe our baby.
*Our son is to be exclusively breast-fed. Please do not offer my baby formula, pacifier, artificial nipple or sugar water without my consent.
*Please do not circumcise our son.
*All tests and procedures are to be done in the presence of Stephen and/or Emily, and with our expressed consent, including any emergency situation. 

Emily’s Post-Op & Recovery
*I would like to have contact with the baby as soon as it is possible in the delivery room.
*I would like my doula to remain with me at all times during the recovery.
*I request to recover in a Labor & Delivery Room so that I can have my baby immediately and have my husband and doula with me.
*I would like the catheter removed as soon as possible.
*I wish to have the baby with me in recovery so that I can breast-feed.
*We would like our baby to room in with us.  Any procedures or pediatric checks can be done in our room.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Happy Fall!

This came in our box today. Our first GOURD! I'm so excited. what in the world do I do with it?

Also. I went to pull out all five of our Halloween decorations only to discover them missing. Either they were lost in the move or I packed them so cleverly I can't find them.

Either way, this is a bummer.

IKEA this weekend for a crib, a bedside table, maybe a rug (???), and Halloween decorations.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

So Close...

Yet so far...

What my ripest pomegranate looks like:

What the rest of them look like:


And for good measure...what our Orange crop looks like:

Chances of that first one up there being ready when we get back from Vegas....slim to none. By Halloween for sure. Can you say Holiday Mocktails? Because I can!

Oh yes, we're going to Vegas. There was supposed to be a wedding but that got canned (boo!) but all of the men from the wedding party had already booked so they're having a guys weekend. One in which wives and a few parents are involved. 

This means that I'll be spending a lot of time drinking virgin Daquiris by the pool.

Which pool?

THIS pool:

It's ok to be jealous.

I've got a couple of maternity dresses that are actually cute (thank you, Nordstrom) for the two nice dinners we're still having and a stack of magazines and books.

Husband looked up "Strip Club Etiquette" on the web the other night. If you know him, you're not surprised. If you don't know him - trust me. Don't be surprised.

We've got an understanding that room service is a must.

I'm charging my camera batteries.

See you Monday, BAMFs!

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