you say goodbye; i say hello

Four years to the day after we moved in to our little first floor apartment, we said goodbye. It was the longest I’ve ever lived in any single dwelling place since leaving home for college. It’s where we huddled under down comforters and wore bathrobes on top of sweaters all winter to stay warm.  It’s where we used box after box of shims to try to get our furniture straight on hundred-year old wooden floors that were crooked past belief (and by “we” i obviously mean John).  The basement was dark and damp and cobwebby, the floors were sinking in ominously in several places (and we had only one parking spot at our house, and Will’s room didn’t have a heating vent, and it was right on a super busy road….) BUT it was home. I knew exactly where to turn the knobs on the stove, without looking, to get the temperature right for whatever I was cooking. We had our little compost bin that John built when we first moved in. It’s where we brought our first baby home, completely in love and completely bewildered and where our second baby burst forth in all her rapid glory. It was home, and a beautiful one. DSC_1774 DSC_1777

But we were bursting at the seams. And the house was being foreclosed on.  And so, here we are. This is our living room/kitchen. Pictures of the two bedrooms maybe to come soon? Reading nook! Gas fireplace! Big windows overlooking the woods. And a million thanks to John’s parents who literally packed and unpacked our whole house in one weekend. We couldn’t have done it without them.

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image-5 image-6 image-7 image-8Well, friends, we are moving to a new apartment.  The living room windows overlook the woods (instead of a busy road as they do now), the bedrooms (still only 2) are a bit bigger, and there are closets.  So many closets.  And a mud room (not pictured, yet). There’s a gas fireplace (not as awesome as a real one, but should be fun in the winter, and by winter I mean of course the whole year except for July and August). John’s parents are coming to help us (otherwise I don’t know how we would do it) and we’ll be moving this Saturday! More pictures to come once we have everything set up in the new place!

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.

Valentine’s Day

DSC_1330 DSC_1287 DSC_1297 My sweet mother always made Valentine’s day special for my brother and me when we were little.  There would be a pretty red tablecloth, little heart shaped doilies, a special breakfast, gifts.  And even though Will is still a bit young I decided this year to do something for Valentine’s Day.  Partly because it has been so, so cold.  I knew we needed some splashes of red and treats to help us through these days of single digit weather and endless snow. So we made heart shaped pancakes and ate raspberries and got Will a red helium balloon, aka toddler crack. Pretty simple, but it was a sweet morning.  Wishing love and warmth to you all.DSC_1323 DSC_1325 DSC_1302 DSC_1326

Budgets and Beauty


I’ve been using cash for groceries the last few months, so as to help me stay within our already more than reasonable budget and so that I do not spend $20 extra each week on roquefort or special tea or some kind of new herbal supplement that might solve all my problems. It’s back to basics for us, by gum. Beans and eggs and bread and potatoes and onions. And it’s oh so difficult staying in budget but good in that way that hard-but-valuable things like marriage and sweeping the floors and folding laundry are good. (And ok, so maybe marriage is just a small bit different than sweeping floors, but there is a certain discipline and necessity and dailiness to both and maybe either one can be a joy or misery just depending on how much grace you are able to see it with. Also, by using the word “dailiness” I do not wish to convey the impression that I sweep our floors every day.  I’m using that word in a very broad, generous, metaphorical sense.)

Anyway, I went to Aldi for the first time a couple of days ago. It felt strange being in a new grocery store, and the overall atmosphere was eerie and disconcerting, but oh my word a head of cauliflower cost only $2.29 and they even had almond milk and cashews.  And I bought 6 roses for $3.99.  I’m not sure if that’s even a good price for roses, but I bought them because in the midst of staying on a strict budget it can be easy to lose the joy. But the beauty of staying on a strict budget is that the little things, like $4 worth of flowers or a cup of Celestial Seasonings tea or the morning coffee, become treasures. It made me think of this passage from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn:


Francie, Neely, and mama had a very fine meal. Each had a thick slice of the “tongue,” two pieces of sweet-smelling rye bread spread with unsalted butter, a sugar bun apiece and a mug of strong strong hot coffee with a teaspoon of sweetened condensed milk on the side.

There was a special Nolan idea about the coffee. It was their one great luxury. Mama made a big potful each morning and reheated it for dinner and supper and it got stronger as the day wore on. It was an awful lot of water and very little coffee but mama put a lump of chicory in it which made it taste strong and bitter. Each one was allowed three cups a day with milk. Other times you could help yourself to a cup of black coffee anytime you felt like it. Sometimes when you had nothing at all and it was raining and you were alone in the flat, it was wonderful to know that you could have something even though it was only a cup of black and bitter coffee.

Neeley and Francie loved coffee but seldom drank it. Today, as usual, Neeley let his coffee stand black and ate his condensed milk spread on bread. He sipped a little of the black coffee for the sake of formality. Mama poured out Francie’s coffee and put the milk in it even though she knew that the child wouldn’t drink it.

Francie loved the smell of coffee and the way it was hot. As she ate her bread and meat, she kept one hand curved about the cup enjoying its warmth. From time to time, she’d smell the bitter sweetness of it. That was better than drinking it. At the end of the meal, it went down the sink. — A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith