2014 Goals

2014 GoalsGoal-setting is one of my favorite things to do. I am so enamored of the idea that we really do have a choice as to how we spend our free time, no matter how much of it we have or don’t have. For the past few years, I have been setting four larger goals and then making monthly goals as I go. I love having both the macro and the micro focus. And what I love about these larger goals is that they set a course for the year without being too overbearing. I make them pretty non-specific, and then follow in the direction they lead me. I have had a lot of fun with them. And I like that there is always at least a little bit of overlap of goals from year to year. Here are the ones for 2014!

1. Try some new crafts! I had a blast with this last year, and sometime last fall I started daydreaming about what I wanted to try this year. Candle-making and embossing are at the top of my list. I love that there are always new skills to learn.

2. Read! I went to the library today for the first time in months, and whew, am I glad that drought is over! For a handful of months there, I really didn’t feel good enough to read or go to the library, and that is saying A LOT for the girl who was usually there three times a week. Reading is such a big part of who I am, and it feels good to have that back. Libraries will never cease to be majestic treasure troves to me, and every time I go there I kind of can’t believe the breadth of awesomeness on the shelves and the fact that I can take some plunder home with me FOR FREE. God bless libraries!

3. Exercise. This is a perpetual one for me because, as noted, I do not have the exercise gene. But our doula suggested that walking every day will be so beneficial for the baby and for labor preparation, and I AM ON IT. Every morning I lace up my shoes, put my iPod on shuffle, and trek through the neighborhood. I love it more than I ever would have imagined. It’s a wonderful time to see so many flowers and trees in bloom, and exploring new streets always feels like a happy adventure. It’s been making me think a lot of Emerson and Thoreau’s essays on nature and walking (which I’ve, of course, checked out from the library), which really moved me when I read them in college. I am hoping to do some more thinking and writing about walking in the coming weeks.

4. Give birth! Come July (or August…since first babies are often late!), I will be giving birth, one way or another. Of course, the most important thing is that the baby and I are healthy and well, but birth can be so much more, and I am doing my best to prepare for it: mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually. Pain in childbirth goes all the way back to Genesis, and I know that, but I also believe it’s going to be one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Nothing is more unpredictable than birth, and every single one is different, but I am doing everything I can to be welcoming and open (there’s that word again!) to the experience, to create the best environment for it, to give myself all the tools I will need to give birth in a focused and empowered way. It will be intense, no doubt, but I am committed to doing everything I can to make it a beautiful experience.

2013 Goals in Review

SerenadeReviewing last year’s goals? When it’s almost March?! But for me, I must say, the year is just beginning, so I’m doing all this fun stuff now. Ironically, right after my big “I’m making a comeback!” post, I had the worst day of nausea in a long time. Today was much better, but my old nemesis is hanging around enough that I’m going to scrap my original plans to combine my 2013 and 2014 goals into one post. Today I’ll just go over last year’s, which is always one of my favorite things to do anyway. So, without further ado…

My first goal was to go on a retreat, and I was actually supposed to go on two, one in December and one in February of this year. I had to cancel them both because I was so sick. That was a bummer. I do have a little retreat guide from my Ignatian group that I’m working my way through on my own, though. I like lighting my candle and reading through it. And I am at peace with the idea that this just isn’t the right time for me to go on a retreat, but it will come.

I also wanted to keep up the C & E book club, and we did! We read Sarah Thornton’s Seven Days in the Art World, Tanya Luhrmann’s When God Talks Back, Emily Matchar’s Homeward Bound, and Emily Oster’s Expecting Better. I think we have done a little better in previous years, but I am sure this year we will keep the tradition going, if only with birth and baby books.

Trying new crafts was a total success! Last year I totally fell in love with both quilting and cross-stitch, both of which were new to me.

Exercise was so-so, I think. I remember doing some running and swimming with Eric, and a bit of hiking, which was really fun. I have to keep after myself on this one, since I am apparently lacking in the exercise gene.

It was truly a magnificent year, and even though it ended with a long period of sickness, nothing could take away the joy of having our little one on the way. 2014 goals coming up next!

Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

First FigsHello, hello for the second day in a row! I am so happy to say that I’m feeling so much better (like light years better!) than I did in my first trimester. I never would have chosen to be so sick, but it has made me overwhelmingly grateful every single day for the simplest things: being able to cook dinner, having the energy to work on projects, spending my evenings anywhere but curled into a ball of misery on the couch. I’m a person who likes to make things and write things and do things–it’s what makes me feel alive. And so with the recent return to the kitchen and to the craft table and to the walking routes I map each morning , there has come a tug to get back to blogging. There are things I want to think through in words and things I want to share, but most of all, I have missed you! You are just the kindest and most wonderful(ly patient) people I could ever have hoped to be in community with. It puts wind in my sails, being connected to all of you. Thank you for reading, thank you for encouraging me, thank you for being so patient with me when I more or less dropped off the face of the earth.

Last week I bought a new calendar for planning blog posts (my old one was on October 2013!) and I started to work out the things I want to write about in the next few months. The pregnancy updates will always be here on Mondays (today’s pregnancy funny: Me: I feel like a whale! Eric: You’ve got a ways to go, Moby!), but I’ve got projects and plans and a whole host of stuff I was planning on writing about before I got pregnant. I am finally ready to write again and to respond to comments (hi, friends!) and to comment on all the blogs I love (double hi, friends!). It feels so good to be back. Of course, things will grind to something of a halt around late July when the baby is due, and I am not sure yet what the new normal will be after that. But I am confident that I will get there. Thank you all again, so much, for coming along for the crazy and wonderful ride!

Adventures in Pregnancy: 18 Weeks

18 WeeksThe biggest news of this week is that I felt the baby kick for the first time! I was lying awake early Saturday morning, and I realized that I could actually feel where the baby was in my belly. I was gently pressing it and smiling when suddenly I felt this tiny yet insistent little kick, like the flick of fingers against my skin. It was the sweetest version of “Hey, quit poking me, Mom!” I’ve ever experienced. I gasped and grinned and could not believe it, and then I lamented that it was six something in the morning, and it would probably not be prudent for me to jump up and down and scream with glee. But still, it was pretty exciting!

I am also getting rounder, as you can see in the picture. I realize it sort of looks like I am not standing up straight (and I always wondered about that in bump pictures), but I am totally standing up straight! It’s just that my belly precedes me wherever I go. I love it.

This week we were able to book the doula we really wanted, and we’re so thrilled about that. She has been fantastic already, and we’re so glad she had availability around our due date. We also booked our childbirth classes–we won’t start until late April, but these classes are the best and fill up quickly, so we’re really happy to have gotten in.

Eating remains about the same, which is good. I have been eating a ton of beans and greens this week, and I am making more this coming week. If I am craving anything, it is Indian food: bring on the spices! I also started drinking smoothies again this week. It’s really just milk and frozen fruit tossed into the blender, and then I add in some ground almonds and oats and flax seeds for extra protein and to keep me full longer. They are so nice to have on hot days (it has been 80 for most of this week!). Once every two months or so, I sort of hilariously get really hungry and buy ice cream at the store. I eat it once and then am pretty much done with it. So basically, it’s a good time to be Eric around here. I haven’t heard any complaints!

The other major development of the week is that I have been out walking every day. Our doula suggested that I do this for the baby and also to prepare for labor, and it has been fantastic so far. I love getting out in the sunshine every day, and it makes me feel good to take the baby on walks to the same places I will take him or her someday soon in the stroller.

Physically, I am feeling good! I am not sure I will ever get over how wonderful it is not to be nauseated all day long–I feel amazing most of the time. Nights can still be hard sometimes, and I still have the occasional rough day, but I am so much better that I do not mind this in the slightest. It’s great to feel like myself again! However, the other feeling I have is TIRED. I have always sort of faded in the afternoons, but in these caffeine-free days, it’s nap or else! And I am so ready for bed by about 9pm. However, I think the walking is giving me more energy, and I’m just grateful that an afternoon nap is a workable thing for me.

Our little baby feels more real to me every day. I can’t stop staring at the handful of baby clothes we have (so tiny! so adorable!), and I think Eric and I have finally figured out the most optimal furniture arrangement situation (okay, it was totally his idea, and never have I more appreciated his engineering acumen). He has a big deadline in mid-March, but after that we’ll be going full tilt on cribs and car seats and registry and all that fun stuff. In the meantime, I’m enjoying these sweet days of calm before the (happiest possible) storm.

Adventures in Pregnancy: 17 Weeks

12 weeks vs. 17 weeksBaby bump pictures are so much more fun if you can see the progress! Big thanks to Eric for helping me put these two pictures together. It’s awesome to see how much I (and our baby!) have grown over the last month or so. When I wake up in the morning, I hardly have any bump at all, but as the day goes on, I get rounder, and by evening I feel downright rotund. I love it. The baby is still down low in my belly, and I had a momentary freak-out when I realized that my uterus wasn’t as high up in my belly as one of my books said it should be. Of course, everybody is different, and that’s a calming thought, but Eric actually performed some torso measurements with me, and it turns out that mine is way longer than his. That is kind of remarkable, given that he’s half a foot taller than me. I guess I have short legs! In any case, it made me feel better to know that our baby has just got a further distance to traverse to reach my belly button than some others do. And also, one million gold stars for Eric for engaging in the possibly ridiculous to ease my mind.

I haven’t felt any movement yet, but I am eagerly anticipating it! Our next ultrasound will be at 20 weeks, and that’s when we’ll find out if it’s a boy or a girl! We are really excited about this, even though there’s a chance we may not find out if the baby is not in a good position for the doctor to see. It’s funny, I never thought I would want to find out the sex of my babies, but now that the opportunity is here, I can’t resist. I want to know who’s in there, and I am sure it will make me feel closer to the baby, especially when I can call him/her by name. We still have a long ways to go on name choosing!

Physically, I am feeling about the same, which is GREAT. Evenings are still the hardest time of day, but even they are growing a bit less treacherous. At 17 weeks the placenta is fully functional, which takes some of the hormonal strain off your body, and it also makes the second trimester a time of greater energy for most women. I have noticed that I feel a little less tired in the last few days, and I am loving it. I am still sleeping relatively well at night, aside from my midnight snacks. Sometimes after I get up I really can’t get back to sleep, but there’s no time like the present to start getting used to alternative sleep patterns!

Eating has become a lot more fun in the last week or so. For a very long time in this pregnancy, eating was much more of a chore than a pleasure. I knew that it wasn’t forever, but that didn’t make it any easier to choke down bread and crackers while feeling really nauseated. Being able to eat yogurt and cottage cheese was a huge step in the right direction, and now I am feeling good enough to cook again. I have been craving Indian food, and I made the most killer chana masala last week, if I do say so myself. I am also eating carrots and grapefruit like there’s no tomorrow. A fun thing happened this weekend too–up until now I have had no interest whatsoever in sweets. You would have had to pay me to eat a cupcake. I got Eric these fancy chocolates for Valentine’s Day, though, and I had just a few nibbles of them (the pomegranate one was to die for). It was a revelation. Chocolate, I forgot how good you are. Yesterday we went for a walk, and when we got home I was ravenous. I told Eric I felt like eating a whole cake, but instead I ate an entire Goo Goo Cluster. And it was delicious. I don’t plan to make this a regular thing, and I don’t feel badly about it because it’s the first real indulgence of whole pregnancy. I am just so excited to be feeling good enough that chocolate sounds like a good thing! Otherwise, though, I am mostly craving salad and fruit. I bought enough kale and salad greens at the store on Saturday to make myself look like a true LA caricature, and I bought so many tangerines, oranges, and grapefruits that I had to have Eric help me bring them up. Grapefruits are heavy! Anyway, all this is to say: I am so happy to be feeling more like myself. Every day I can eat a normal meal is a day worth celebrating!

FlowersWhat else? Eric and I had the most lovely weekend. We have always been very close, but enjoying this unique and special time together has been such a joy. I hope I won’t saccharine anyone to death by saying that I am just madly in love with him. Because I am. He brought me the most beautiful flowers for Valentine’s Day, and that was secretly what I was hoping for. You can see him peeling a clementine up top. Cutie.

SaladOn Saturday we went to Little Flower for lunch, and we had a nice time, even though we found it a little overrated. It was loud and chaotic both inside and outside, but it was fantastic to be out in the sunshine (we had a warm weekend: 70s-80s). I got this Vietnamese salad, and while it was a little underdressed, the pickled daikon was a delight.

PaintingAnother wonderful weekend development was that I felt good enough to paint again. I started working on these canvases for the Bloom True e-course in October, and it feels so good to get back to them. That’s my improvised easel: a ladder, two C-clamps, and some plastic sheeting to protect from drips. I highly recommend it for large canvases!

On Sunday Eric and I took a walk together after lunch and then took a hearty nap on the couch. Both were awesome. I was sick for such a long time that being able to spend time together still feels like a magical treat. We are treasuring it, and treasuring these special days before we meet our precious baby.

Adventures in Pregnancy: 16 Weeks

16 WeeksThis week has been the best one so far, and I hope that I’m eventually going to sound like a broken record in these updates, saying, “I’m feeling better!” every week. Evenings and nights are still the hardest time of day for me, but the days have been so fantastic that I don’t even mind. It’s so wonderful to feel like myself again, to have the energy to work on projects, to enjoy all the things I used to enjoy before I started feeling sick. I have actually been cooking dinners, and that feels like a huge accomplishment, even if sometimes Eric has to take over halfway through because I start feeling sick. I have a feeling we’re going to have a romantic Valentine’s lunch instead of dinner, but that’s okay with us.

I am thrilled to be eating a more well-rounded diet now, but I wouldn’t say I have had any real cravings, except maybe for the unexpected things you really can’t have during pregnancy. I told Eric I am planning on having a huge pastrami sandwich after the baby comes, and I happily imbibe the fragrant steam from everyone else’s coffee. I sorely miss feta and goat cheese too. Maybe I will slather them on that pastrami sandwich. I am still getting up to eat in the middle of the night and eating frequently to stave off the nausea that comes with an empty stomach. I’ve left bread and crackers behind, and now my mainstays are plain yogurt and cottage cheese (protein helps keep me full longer). So if you catch someone scooping yogurt out of a pint container at 3am…it’s me!

We had an OB appointment this weekend, and while I was initially disappointed that we didn’t get an ultrasound, the sound of our baby’s heartbeat thumping away was enough to bring tears to my eyes. I have been really nervous before our last few appointments, not because I think something is wrong with the baby, but just because I am so excited to see him/her. I am just madly in love with this tiny person already, and he/she is going to carry my heart for the rest of my life. It reminds me of how nervous I used to feel before my early dates with Eric: happy flutters, extreme joy.

We had a marvelous weekend, kicked off with lunch at the cutest cafe after our OB appointment. It feels amazing to be on a date with Eric, and I’m treasuring these last special days of just the two of us. We also went shopping for maternity clothes (woot!), during which Eric was as patient as a saint (no surprise there), and I got pretty much everything on clearance. On Sunday we had lunch with dear friends, and that was lovely too. Every normal thing I can do, I feel so grateful for it.

In weird pregnancy symptoms, at least the ones that are fit for sharing, I have a really stuffy nose most mornings and nights. It turns out that that’s actually a thing, and it’s called rhinitis of pregnancy. Who knew! Apparently it’s caused by extra blood circulating in the area (the same thing that causes your gums to bleed during pregnancy). Last night I had a real scare when I felt a sharp pain in my abdomen, down where the baby is. It kept pulsing for a few minutes, and I was momentarily terrified. Then I thought of something I had read before and asked Eric to look up round ligament pain in one of our books. Thank goodness the description matched exactly, and it’s totally normal for this stage of pregnancy. If you google round ligament pain and see an image, it’s easy to see why this poor little strip of tissue is hurting–it stretches so much to support the weight of the uterus! Anyway, I sort of feel like this is something they should preemptively tell you as soon as you get a positive test: Hey, you are going to feel these crazy pains in a few months–don’t worry! In spite of all these weirdnesses, I am in awe of what my body is doing. Every time we see the baby or hear the heartbeat, I seriously just can’t believe it.

16 WeeksEven though I doubt that a passerby would guess that I am pregnant and my maternity jeans are sort of falling down all the time, I love having the tiny bump that I do. I catch myself cradling it all the time, and it makes me smile. I love having this little way to say, “Mommy’s here, Mommy’s holding you.”

One Little Word 2014: Nurture

One Little WordWoohoo, two posts in one week! Thank you all so much for your well wishes. I have had a couple of great days, and I hope this is a sign of things to come! Evenings are still the hardest part of the day for me, but having an almost nausea-free day really feels like an amazing gift. I’ve been feeling more like myself than I have in months, and I’m really thrilled to have enough energy to get back to some of the things I love. It feels like a breath of fresh air and a huge step in the right direction.

The transition into a new year is one of my favorite times, and not because I’m particularly into champagne or watching the ball drop or even, ahem, staying awake until midnight. I love it because I love the chance to look back and to look forward, to review the year behind me and set new goals and plans for the one ahead. Of course, this kind of thing can be done anytime of year, but I love the excitement of everyone sharing their new words and new goals, along with their favorite experiences of the year that has just passed. I always have a long list of posts for this time of year, but this time I just did not feel up to it. Some of those posts will just fall by the wayside, but I will share a few of them. Better late than never!

One of the ones I really wanted to make room for was this one: my word for 2014. It’s funny, I had a word all picked out for 2014. It’s a very powerful rah-rah sort of word, and I was really excited about it. But when I found out I was pregnant, I just immediately knew that this year was going to be about something else. This new word came to me right away, and I knew it was the one. This year will be about nurturing.

Hopefully nurturing a big project into its next stages during that magical second trimester.

Nurturing myself through what has already been and will continue to be one of the most physically challenging experiences of my life…but also the most joyful, the most profound, the most fantastically life-changing.

Nurturing this little one as best I can right now, with lots of good food and vitamins, and plenty of water and rest.

Nurturing our sweet baby in those early days, in the later days, and during every day of his or her life.

Nurturing our marriage as we grow into parents and lean into intense joy and intense sleep deprivation together.

I think it’s going to be a pretty great year. When I was toying with ways to make our announcement, I was considering titling the post “The Best Thing About 2014.” You absolutely are, baby, you absolutely are.

Adventures in Pregnancy: 15 Weeks

15 Weeks!Hello and thank you to all you sweet readers and commenters–you totally brighten my days! It’s been a while since I checked in, so here I am with an update!

I am excited because, as you can see in the picture above, I think we can safely say that I have traversed the distance between “What? You’re pregnant?” to “Cameron! Did you just eat an entire pizza?!” I look forward to the days when the bump will triumphantly announce its occupant, but this is a good start. We have our next appointment about a week from now at 16 weeks, and I am so looking forward to seeing our little one. So far, ultrasounds are my favorite part of pregnancy. We were even able to see the baby sucking his/her thumb in one we had a few weeks ago, and that pretty much made my life.

Otherwise I suppose there’s not a ton to report. The baby is now the size of an apple or an orange, depending on which book you consult, and is apparently kicking and flipping and flexing tiny muscles in there. It’s too early to feel any movement, but I can totally feel my uterus, and that is pretty cool as a stepping stone.

Eric talks to the baby every night, and I’ll just let you imagine how adorable that is. I’ve been doing lots of research on baby stuff, and we’re working on plans for setting up the nursery and making room for everything we’ll need. I shall not dissemble, I am really excited about it! We have also had some very preliminary name conversations, and we both have secret lists we are waiting until a bit later to share with each other.

Physically, I am unfortunately still sick. Ugh! I don’t know that it’s really any better than it was last time I posted, but maybe a little? In any case, at least I am used to it by now. And I am so so so grateful for the times when I feel good enough to talk to friends or take a walk or run errands. I know some people are sick until 16 weeks, some until 20, and some…the whole way through. I hope that’s not the case for me, but it will be okay even if it is. I know it’s not forever, and it is unquestionably worth it!

In other news, a really good way to upset a pregnant woman is to tell her that her insurance has been canceled. This is what happened to me last week. I knew immediately that it was some sort of crazy mistake because we pay our fees every month, and nothing has changed. That’s exactly what it was: some inexplicable clerical error. But I still had to spend an awful lot of time on the phone with an awful lot of people, and it was so frustrating. Thank God for Eric, who fielded my hysterical phone calls and took over for me when I was too overwhelmed to deal with it anymore. He’s my hero. Everything has been resolved now (or so I am told!), and I wish it hadn’t happened, but I am still extremely grateful that we have insurance. Whew.

Washing MachineTo end things on a happy note…we got a washing machine! We have a dryer in our unit, but not a washer, so Eric has been schlepping our loads down to the basement for years. It wouldn’t be such a big deal except that the washer down there is constantly breaking. We knew that wasn’t going to cut it with an infant, so we got our own! It was delivered on Saturday, and the rest of our day was filled with glee. Eric said, “This is the best day of my life!” And even though he was kind of kidding, we are so excited to have this little part of our lives made easier, this one little thing in place for when our little one arrives.

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