Bedroom, Before and After

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IMG_1886So when we were moving up to Ithaca four and a half years ago we stopped at an IKEA and bought these shelves.  We knew we needed some extra clothing storage in our bedroom, and these shelves ($60) seemed like a better deal than buying a whole dresser for $200. So we’ve used these shelves mostly for John’s clothes, and then once our tiny second bedroom/office room became the nursery, we moved the printer and some office-y things in.  And a stack of DVDs. And a down comforter and pillow. Not a pretty sight, though I never really thought anything of it.

Until a few weeks ago, when my nesting craze began. I realized that I hated these shelves! And that we must procure a dresser immediately! Fortunately, this urge settled in right around the time we were planning to go visit John’s parents in Maryland, so we went to IKEA and bought a dresser (which I know I’ve already mentioned, but I thought the before and after pictures were worth sharing). Excitement! Joy! The picture frames are going to be hung on the wall at some point, and yes, that is a camo hat hanging in the corner.

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37 Weeks and the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

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37 weeks.  Massive nesting continues.  I have literally crossed off a list of about 20 project-y type things that have been lingering on my to-do list for months.  And gotten rid of 2 more bags of books, several more bags of clothes, and several more bags of things for Goodwill.  I’m emphasizing the word “more” because I already got rid of so much stuff a few weeks ago, so the fact that there was more of everything to go feels really satisfying. This second wave of purging was inspired by The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Amazing, lovely, wonderful little book. I highly recommend it.  I found that there seemed to be a symbiotic relationship, somehow, between getting rid of physical objects and also having the energy to accomplish onerous, project-y tasks that have seemed impossible until now.  Or maybe it’s just the fact that it’s not -15 degrees every day.  Or that I’m not working now.  At any rate, I have been super productive and our house is free of junk and the book is lovely and I highly recommend it– we have more open, free, clean spaces in our tiny apartment now than we did 4 years ago in the same space with no children. (Oh, and most of this second wave of cleaning stuff out was made possible by the most AMAZING HUSBAND IN THE WORLD, who single handedly put together a massive IKEA dresser, cleaned out a bunch of his own personal stuff, hung pictures for me, and basically did hours and hours of cleaning/organizing/etc. with/for me last week.)

So, pregnancy stuff:

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Weight gain: 25 pounds

Cravings: Just ice, but it has to have sort of a crinkly texture, and I can only find the right kind in a few locations in town.  And weirdly, chamomile tea with a splash of half and half. And this kale salad. I literally can eat an entire bunch of kale in one sitting if it’s made this way.  I’ve been making it with just salt, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, a very scant number of raisins, and lots of crushed red pepper flakes. A foodie friend of mine brought the most amazing kale salad to a potluck awhile back, and she said the secret to kale salads is to massage the greens for awhile once you have them chopped.  Maybe everyone already knows that, but it was a revelation to me, and it makes the salad much easier to eat!

Other stuff: John has been gone all week, so it’s just been my huge pregnant self and the crazy toddler.  I may or may not have curled up in the fetal position for about an hour and  a half this morning while Will watched Daniel Tiger. But otherwise we’ve been making it ok.  The worst pregnancy thing right now is that I’ve been sleeping pretty badly, waking up around 3 or 4 and just being wide awake for hours, sometimes all the way until morning. I drink chamomile tea, use lavender essential oil, take calming baths before bed, have calming bedtime rituals and everything.  Nothing seems to work. Otherwise, I’m doing pretty well.  At least being up at night with a baby won’t be a shock to the system?!

And some pictures of random things: a tiny, rose pink shirt I found at the consignment store and fell in love with, in case it’s a girl; peonies finally in bloom; and a Matisse print from IKEA!  (We went there when we were in Maryland two weekends ago to buy a dresser for John, and I also finally got this!)

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35 Weeks Pregnant: Nesting etc.

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I’ll be 35 weeks tomorrow, but I’m going to go on and round up for today. So the baby is now a little over 5 pounds and 18 inches long (approximately). I feel huge. No heartburn, praise the Lord, but the baby still kicks me every night for an hour or two before letting us both get a little sleep. Wrangling a toddler while in this state is getting hard. Will loves touching my belly (sort of awkward picture of which above), but is also in the tantrum-throwing, crazy stage of personhood, and there are times when I have to carry him from some place to some other place against his will, and he’s pretty strong, and it’s hard, and I’m worried he will kick the baby and cause some sort of horrible injury.

It’s nice and warm here, which still feels like a miracle. I’m glad I don’t have to be pregnant in the south in the summer, but even up here I have been getting pretty warm and just needing cups of ice to eat. If I could eat ice cream for every meal I would. Also, hamburgers.  We went to a cookout at our friends’ family’s farm yesterday, and it was beautiful.  When I walked up to the grill to get a hamburger, the guy doing the grilling (a father of 5 little ones) gave me a burger and then 4 sausages of some kind.  I have no idea what was in them, only that they were cured in some old world fashion, he said, and they looked good.  But I felt touched that he instinctively knew that I would want to eat not only a hamburger but also all the other meat that would possibly fit in my belly. Some pregnant women talk about how they can’t fit very much food in their stomachs toward the end, but I seem to be immune from that particular struggle.  I also may have eaten 2 cookies and 3 brownies yesterday as well.  Though in my defense, I couldn’t finish all the sausages (and they were smallish to begin with) and I just ate some kale salad for dinner, and I will try not to eat any more sugar the rest of this week. But still, wow.

(Speaking of how much food I’m eating, I’ve been dreaming of having maternity pictures taken by someone who understands how to angle the camera to make me look small and adorable & feeling a little mopey and self-pitying that we can’t afford gorgeous professional family pictures of us all running through a field or something, but alas. So blurry selfies it is for the time being rather than me in a flowy skirt in soft, hazy light with John at the beach.)

The dream:

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But anyway, moving on.  The past few days I’ve been in massive nesting mode.  We’re going to be staying in our 800 square foot apartment when the baby comes, and as I’ve written about before the nursery is about 7 x 9 feet. For the first few months the baby will sleep in our room, but at some point we’ll have to transition him or her into Will’s room.  Not sure how we’ll squeeze them both in, but I think we can make it work. I’m kind of excited by the challenge of it?!

So I’ve been in extreme nesting mode, which has meant extreme levels of clearing things out.  (I’m hoping this energy turns itself toward a good floor-mopping pretty soon, but that hasn’t been the case yet.) I’ve been putting away winter clothes, sorting through my clothes (maternity winter, non-maternity winter, non-maternity summer/fall/nursing/etc.) and putting as much as possible into storage bins in the basement, ruthlessly tossing odds and ends into bags for Goodwill, and trying to clear out drawers. I took 2 huge bags of books down to the used bookstore and got $10 cash for them! I cleared out a nice half of a drawer in Will’s dresser for baby things! Some friends of ours gave us a huge pack of newborn Pampers, so we will have diapers for the baby!

Oh and I bought 3 of these linen t-shirts at Target last week (on sale!) in a light pink color.  (what I’m wearing in the picture above).  I needed some maternity t-shirts but these shirts are long enough that they fit great now and will also be wearable after I have the baby! These shirts are my new favorite of all time, and I want to buy about a dozen of them. Anyway, that’s about all the pregnancy-related news I have for now. I should have been taking a nap or mopping the floors, but instead I thought for some reason that my time would be more valuably used in telling a small handful strangers pointless details about my life. Maybe I am instinctively sensing that once the baby is born I will never ever have time to write another blog entry?!

Will Turns 2 (and the Simplest Birthday Party Ever)

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Will’s 2nd birthday was last week.  We had a really simple celebration at home that mostly consisted of putting 2 candles in an apple and then opening the birthday cards and couple of gifts sent by family. We still aren’t really letting Will eat any sugar, and when we asked him what he wanted for his birthday for the preceding few weeks he would invariable answer, “apple.” So that was his cake.

I want to write a whole thing about how precious this child is, how these have been the two best (and hardest) years of my life, how, when John and I are having a serious conversation Will will get a serious look on his face and nod thoughtfully here and there, how Will is best friends with all the older boys at church and has them following him around like he’s the king of the world, how he sings little songs and folds his hands when we pray at night and takes a truck or train to bed with him at night instead of a stuffed animal… There is so much I want to write, but this pregnant mama is going to take a nap instead.

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Pregnancy: 32 Weeks

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I’m nearly 33 weeks pregnant, which is starting to sound like for real, legit pregnancy.  So I thought I’d write a quick thing and post some pictures of me making awkward faces at my cell phone.  I just learned about the existence of selfie sticks last week and was horrified and appalled, and today when trying to take a picture I actually thought, Wow, a selfie stick would be really useful right about now.  Heaven help me.

Anyway, when I got pregnant this time around I originally had planned to do in-depth weekly updates here with all the nitty gritty details about weight gain, cravings, weird symptoms and issues, etc., and the craziness of life has just gotten in the way.  But here’s the update for 32 weeks.

The Baby: Weighs about 3.75 pounds, is about 16.7 inches long, head down (at this point), wiggles around fiercely, sometimes for hours, every night as I lie down to go to sleep. We don’t know the gender and are pretty much completely up in the air about baby names at this point. Yikes!

Weight gain: 20 pounds. Feeling pretty much enormous but trying to remember that my body knows what it’s doing.  And that there have been months where I have been SUPER careful about what I eat and I’ve gained 6 pounds, and then other months where I’ve eaten relatively quite a lot of ice cream, chocolate, etc, and gained less.  My sweet sister in law wrote a beautiful blog post about pregnancy and body image when she was pregnant with my niece, if anyone is going through this whole crazy thing and needs some encouragement.

Cravings/Food: Not craving too much these days, which is great.  Except hamburgers. And anything chocolatey/sugary. And the ice from Ithaca Bakery now that it’s warm. Just the ice in a nice, big cup. Trying to eat lots of fish– mostly sardines and canned anchovies (not the super salted ones, just little anchovies in a tin like sardines) and tuna and salmon.  I try to buy the sardines/anchovies/salmon with the skin and bones included, because you actually get a pretty huge amount of calcium from the little bones (which you can just crunch up and eat). Mostly sticking with the little fish (less mercury) but tuna is a lot cheaper.  Also eating either lentils or mung beans a few days a week for lunch, and as many vegetables as I can manage. And eggs every morning for breakfast.

Herbs/Supplements: I take a gummy prenatal (because for a long time I couldn’t stomach the thought of swallowing anything), plus cod liver oil a few times a week and fish oil. Drinking lots of herbal tea.  Nettle and raspberry leaf and things like that. I’m hoping to write more about that soon. I read in one of the pregnancy magazines at the doctor’s office this week that healthy amounts of Vitamin D may decrease pain during labor, so i’m planning to spend the next 8 weeks in the sun as much as possible.  Which I would be doing anyway, but this will just be extra motivation.

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Clothes: I’m pretty much down to about a skirt or two and a couple of t-shirts now that it’s warm.  My entire first pregnancy was during the winter– Will was born on May 6th, and I bought maybe a couple of t-shirts during the last week or two, but it was chilly enough through late April that I was wearing jeans and long sleeves the whole time.  Sooooo this time around I’m going to have 8 weeks or so of warm weather to dress for.  A lady at church asked me just last week if I had any summer maternity clothes, and I told her not really, and she said she had a ton that she would bring! So hopefully tomorrow!

I do have this black dress (below) that I found on sale at Target for $9 (and wore it to a wedding in March), a couple of t-shirts and a skirt or two.  I’m hoping some of my friend’s clothes will work out, because I don’t want to have to buy a whole new wardrobe (even a very small one) for just a few weeks of pregnancy.

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How I’m Preparing for Birth: By not doing anything except running around after a toddler.  Last time around I took prenatal yoga classes, listened to hypnobirthing tapes, did visualizations and deep breathing exercises, read about a hundred books about natural birth, and thought about it obsessively.  I did open one of Ina May Gaskin’s books to read some birth stories last week, for inspiration or something, and the pictures of babies emerging from vaginas filled me with a deep horror and dread and caused me to remember the unspeakable pain of last time, so I stopped reading and I’m just going to really try not to think about it and hope for the best. Once every 2 or 3 days I tell Will we’re going to do some yoga, and I’ll do cat/cow for about a minute and a half before he starts crawling on me, and that’s that. (Actually, I’m sort of kidding– Will will do baby yoga with me for quite a while before he starts climbing on me, and seeing him imitate the poses is adorable.  But still, overall yoga time is negligible).

Speaking of Will, he is about to turn two, and as I write he is in his crib, having just woken up from a nap, singing a little song to himself.  His little singing just kills me.  He also found a purple bead in the yard the other day and carries it around like his most prized possession.  He takes it outside when he and John play in the yard and he drops it every few minutes and then in a very concerned voice says, “Bead! Bead! Bead” over and over until John searches through the long grass and finds it. Now his song has developed lyrics, and the lyrics are, “Mommy, mommy, mommy,” in the softest, most plaintive voice you can imagine, so I’m off to get him up.

A Few Things

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My mom came to visit for a bit last week and just played with Will, washed dishes, babysat, and generally was a wonderful grandmother!  She sang songs, played and read with him nonstop, and treated us to delicious meals out.  Will is smitten with her. And we are so thankful for all her help.

Will is saying new words every day.  I’ve stopped trying to keep up.  He pronounces flower “fwowee” and it melts my heart. His car/truck/construction site vocabulary is quickly outstripping that of all other categories.  He has a little green dump truck that he takes to bed every night and calls “dump.” Oh the little boy-ness of this little boy.

It’s getting warmer here, finally.  It is a miracle. We finally took the plastic insulating wrap off the windows.  I’m 30 weeks along in pregnancy and have been wanting to write a pregnancy update, but that will have to wait for another day.  The short version: things are going well, except my poor bladder.  And all the excessive weight gain. But other than that.  The baby is kicking around like crazy, and these weeks are going by fast.  Eating lots of almonds and cashews, and salads with soft boiled eggs or sardines or chickpeas on top.  With this salad dressing, when I have enough cashews and energy to make it. Drinking nettle and raspberry leaf tea.  And seltzer water, oh the seltzer water. Trying to remember the cod liver oil but forgetting most days and just taking my gummy prenatal vitamin and hoping that I haven’t completely ruined this small person’s chances in life by drinking a small, tiny, minuscule amount of coffee most mornings since around 20ish weeks.  (It should be ok, right?) Anyway, more soon, including a picture of my enormous self! So stay tuned!

A Little Place to Sit and Think

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This old wooden chest has been in our bedroom for a couple of years now. It belonged to my dad’s mother.  We store blankets and out of season things in it.  Recently I put our sheepskin rug on it and then a pillow my mom made me out of a sweater of my dad’s from probably 30 years ago. She sewed little wooden buttons on it. We love it.

DSC_1330And so with that pillow or this richly patterned one that belonged to my Uncle Laurence, this has become a perfect little sitting place where I can read quietly with a cup of tea. Which happens maybe less than 5 minutes per week.  But theoretically, this is a perfect place to sit quietly and read or journal or whatever.

DSC_1328(John and I bought the sheepskin rug before we got married.  We had this vision of putting it on the ground between two comfy reading chairs and reading together with our toes buried in the rug.  But we don’t have the two comfy reading chairs yet, and I’m also sort of waiting to put this rug on the ground until we live in a place where we take our shoes off inside and have cleaner floors.  Anyway, until then this little space, even if I rarely get to sit there, makes me happy and is a small spot of beauty in our quirky old apartment.)

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La Grossesse and Other Matters

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Will is entering a stage of sort of incomprehensible, ineffable cuteness.  I just literally do not even know where to begin. This picture sums up quite a lot.  He’s saying new words every day, random ones like “candle” and “steam” and I think he said his first two word sentence today.  We’ve told him that we can’t play in our yard because the lady who lives in a small house behind ours lets her dog poop all over the yard and doesn’t clean it up.  Today Will looked out the window at the yard and wistfully said, “Poo poo, ruff ruff.” (“Ruff ruff” being “dog”– he calls all animals by the sound they make, except for rabbits, which are “hop hop.”) So, basically, my child is a genius.

Anyway, I swore to myself I wouldn’t write a blog post to complain about the weather, but I just have to say that March in the north is worse than all of winter in the south combined.  Every year I forget how terrible March is, how it’s still 10 degrees at night, still in the 30s every single day, and how April actually won’t be that much better.

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We had one day a few weeks ago that was sunny and 50 degrees, and when I got together with a few mom friends this morning (at an indoor gym for little kids, because it’s 34 degrees and raining here), one of the moms and I were talking about how we both felt like we were a different person that day.  She said wistfully, “I was a nice, happy person.” I was too, my friend, I was too. But most of these other days we are mean and sad because the weather here is soul-killing and horrible.  I haven’t told John this yet, but if we live here another year I am moving back in with my parents (in Nashville) right after Christmas and staying until at least mid-April.  (Is that ok, John? I hope it is because it sounds like I’m kidding, but I’m actually not.)

In other news, I ordered a pair of maternity panty hose a few days ago because I’m going to a wedding this weekend and that’s just one of the things you need.  The package arrived and quite charmingly was written in French and English: maternity hose.  Which in French, apparently, is “collants de grossesse.”  I took just enough French to know that “grosse” is the French word for “fat.”  So, basically, pregnancy in France is referred to as fatness. It’s an apt word, at least for me, because something really primal kicks in when I’m pregnant and no matter how much or how little I actually eat my body becomes INSANELY efficient as storing it all as massive amounts of fat. I’m not even going to talk about it. Except that I am hungry ALL THE TIME and I am still gaining more weight than I should be gaining.  But whatever.

I guess I’m ok with being fat if it means growing a tiny human being in my uterus. Except I hate all women who are able to be pregnant and have skinny legs.  Other than that I am just fine and not bitter at all. But if it weren’t for the grossesse and the miserable weather I think Will’s cuteness would actually kill me for joy, so I’ll take being fat and cold if it means getting to live this sweet life with John and my precious baby who says whole sentences about poo poo.

Good & Cheap: Amazing Cookbook for Small Budgets

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I ran across a blog post this week by a woman who feeds her family of 7 for $300/month.  So theoretically, I could be feeding my family of 3 for $150/month.  That is definitely not happening any time soon, but I am always trying to find ways to reduce our grocery budget. In her post she mentioned a cookbook by Leanne Brown called Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day. ($4/person, per day is about what is allotted under the SNAP program, i.e., food stamps.) You can download this gorgeous book for free! Free, I say! On Leanne Brown’s website, here.  It is gorgeous, and I love her food philosophy so far: buy good quality eggs, even if you are poor; eat much less meat and many more vegetables & beans.  And use lots of spices and make things taste good! Yes! And the pictures are gorgeous (did I mention that?). She includes lots of Asian-inspired dishes, a Filipino Chicken Adobo that looks incredible, and things like cornmeal crusted veggies, Mexican street corn, smoky and spicy roasted cauliflower, and six variations on oatmeal. Anyway, this is a beautiful book, which you can also pre-order on Amazon, here. (The first edition has sold out, and the 2nd ed. is going to be released in July.)

A Bit of an Announcement

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I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to announce this, but we’re expecting our second precious baby in June! We are completely ecstatic.  Will has started pointing to my belly and saying, “baby!” over and over, which is darling. I’m 24 weeks along and enjoying this phase of pregnancy– past the exhaustion of the first trimester (which was intense), showing enough to feel cute in maternity clothes, and not big enough to be uncomfortable yet! I’ve been eating a lot of eggs, devouring grapefruit, drinking seltzer water (our tap water tastes terrible to me when I’m pregnant), and generally trying to eat nutritious food without gaining crazy amounts of weight. Anyway, I’m going to try to post pregnancy updates here and there so stay tuned!

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