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2014 March

Adventures in Pregnancy: 21 Weeks

21 WeeksAt 18 weeks I was feeling large and in charge, and this week I am feeling…larger and in charger! Although it is still probably not noticeable at all when I wear loose clothes, I am getting seriously round. And I love it! Apparently I could not be bothered to brush my hair in this picture, but: roundness!

Kicks are carrying on as before, and, if anything, getting a little stronger. Tonight Eric actually saw one as it was happening, and that was pretty cool! I don’t think they are strong enough yet to feel with your hand, but I think we’re getting there.

As is most likely obvious due to my unplanned absence last week, I had a blast partying it up with my mom and my aunt (more on that to come!). We played, we shopped, we ate, we napped, we laughed, and a great time was had by all. They were very tolerant of my afternoon naps, came along on my walks, and let me have some of their dessert. It was fantastic! It still feels like a real treat to be able to go out to dinner, since evenings have been rough on me for quite a long time. I’m feeling really grateful for all the laughter-filled meals we shared.

Pregnancy brain continues apace, and it is making my life hilarious. I misread something this week as “couscous placemats.” That sounds messy. And I misread “bookmarks” as something really funny too. I would tell you what it was, but…I forgot. That should give you a good idea of the mental capacities I am working with here!

I am not sure what else is new this week, except that we have loved knowing that our sweet baby is a boy and have been working a bit more on choosing his name. We are nowhere near making a decision, but it’s fun to flip through the baby name book! We also ordered his crib this weekend (woot!), so next up are the carseat and the stroller, and then we can work on the fun registry stuff. We’re also doing our best to take advantage of these nice second trimester days, when I feel good and am not too big to move around easily. More on those adventures coming soon too!

Inspired by Elise, as always, I have decided to make our baby a quilt. I am excited to get started on that this week (and…let’s be honest, I’m excited to go to the fabric store too!) and start pulling the nursery together. Three cheers for the second trimester!

Adventures in Pregnancy: 20 Weeks

20 WeeksThere are definitely some signs of expansion around here! But, let’s cut right to the chase: it’s a…

20 WeeksBOY!! I never want to forget the hours leading up to when we found out. Our appointment was on Saturday morning, and on Friday night Eric was so happy. He was so looking forward to seeing the baby. I asked him if he was excited, and he said, “Big time excited!” Adorable.

20 WeeksOn the way to the doctor in the morning, Eric played two of our favorite songs and held my hand, smiling at me at every stop sign. He took this picture of my excited face before we went into the office. I guess I was wearing the right color! When we finally got in to do the ultrasound, there he was! The funny thing is that Eric and I saw right away, and we would have known he was a boy even if the doctor hadn’t told us. We were so excited, but even more excited that everything in the anatomy scan looked perfect, just the right size for the baby’s age. He was jumping and kicking and dancing and cradling his sweet little face in his hands. We love him more than we can even comprehend.

We spent the rest of the day in a happy daze. We would have been completely thrilled either way, and we are just so happy that he is healthy and strong and growing just as he should. There is so much celebrating to be done over that.

I am also doing great–the doctor told me I have gained five pounds so far, and I’m right on track with where she’d like me to be. Now I should be gaining about a pound a week for the next 20 weeks. I would like to think that my walking has helped me stay where I need to be, and I’m sure it has, but mostly I think it’s just that my stomach is still sensitive enough that anything sweet or rich doesn’t seem worth the risk. Luck of the Irish! Or something like that.

Physically, things are the same. I feel great most of the day, but nights are still hard, and sleeping is getting a little more iffy. About once a week my body lets me know I’ve eaten something that it does not approve of, but otherwise I feel fantastic!

Our sweet baby is kicking away, and this past week I was able to actually see a kick while looking at my belly. That was pretty amazing! His latest trick is kicking me in the bladder, which is, thankfully, more uncomfortable than it is painful so far.

In other exciting news, Eric made an off-hand comment about a trip to Hawaii this week, and I did some digging, and it turns out that we were able to use Eric’s copious frequent flyer miles to book a trip to Maui in April! We are pretty ecstatic about it. It all came together so quickly, it was kind of amazing. We are really looking forward to our babymoon on the beach!

Thank you all so much for reading and for your sweet comments! My mom and my aunt are in town (hurray!), so I will probably be a little behind in replying until about Thursday. Thanks for your patience!

A Handful of Happy Things

HappyThe truth is, there are an awful lot of happy things going on right now. To wit:

-Blogging every day and being back in this routine feels so good. I love thinking about posts during the day, and I look forward to writing them at night.

-Last weekend Eric came with me to the craft store to buy more canvases–they were Buy 1, Get 3 Free! That is a crazy good deal, so we got four 30x40s with a really nice gallery wrap. Huzzah! That should keep me busy for the next year or so.

-I’ve been getting a handful of things at Trader Joe’s in the past few months: cottage cheese, trail mix for Eric, one of the only types of bagel that my stomach will tolerate (hallelujah!). I also started buying cheese and bread there, since that’s been a craving of mine. It’s hard to find good bread around here, and that’s why I was so ecstatic to find their Pain Pascale. It’s so huge (like…larger than my entire torso) that you just buy a half of it, and it has a great wheaty depth and a tangy hint of fermentation. It is making me so happy these days, just toasted and topped with a fat slice of Manchego.

Happy-These shoes! They are Bare Traps, and my mom bought them for me almost ten years ago for a trip to Berlin and Paris (thanks, Mom!). Quality shoes hold up so well, and these are a delight in that regard. They have a big chunky sole and lots of comfy support, which I really appreciate, since I’m carrying some extra weight.

-In other news of great comfort, I got a Snoogle body pillow a month or so ago, and it rocks my world. It’s basically a huge C-shaped support pillow that helps with side sleeping (obligatory for pregnancy). I was already a side sleeper, but this is taking it to another level. I don’t think I’ll be giving this up after the baby comes.

Happy-Today was a really stellar day. I went over to Hillary’s fairly early to watch the girls for a bit, and when I got there, she had a fire going for me, and a pillow and blanket on the couch so I could rest while the girls were sleeping in. She is the sweetest person ever, and I had a blast playing with the girls too.

Happy-And to top it all off, I got to have lunch with Steve! For those who don’t know, Steve is one of my dearest friends and also my honorary third brother. We’ve been friends since college, when he was just starting to get into cooking (he is now a seriously seriously talented and accomplished chef). Steve is spending a year in Korea, so you can imagine my glee when I got a text from last weekend saying he was in town for a week for a surprise visit to family! It was so great to catch up with him, and EVEN BETTER STILL, he is going to come back on Monday and make asparagus and spring pea pie and strawberry cream cheese pie with me and…

-My mom and my aunt! That’s right, the Three Musketeers will be reunited next week!

-And, in the background of all of these happy things, there are the little routines that fill my life with color, joy, and peace: morning walks, afternoon naps, and tiny little kicks all day long. Basically, I am endlessly grateful.

Shaved Fennel and Zucchini Salad

Shaved Fennel and Zucchini SaladI am not a fan of licorice, which is why it surprises me how much I love fennel. But I should clarify: I like fennel sliced paper-thin and marinated. It tames the tangy bite but does not impede the glorious crunch. Now that I’m back in the kitchen again, I’m rifling through our cookbooks like a kid in a candy shop (ironically, pregnancy has crushed my sweet tooth, so vegetables are my candy now). Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day is one that never disappoints. Eric loves fennel too, so when I saw this recipe, I started scribbling down ingredients. The fact that dill is prominently featured doesn’t hurt either: dill is a fresh breeze of summer when you’re still waiting for tomatoes and corn to come back in season.

Shaved Fennel and Zucchini SaladIt’s very very quick to make too, which makes it a star in our little kitchen. A few notes: if you are planning to eat the salad over a couple of days, I would add the arugula only as you’re preparing individual bowls. Otherwise it will wilt too quickly. Also, this is a solid side dish, but if you want to make it a main course, simply add some chopped chicken or tofu (Eric did this and declared it delicious). Finally, sorry about the lack of process photos! Those are always really fun, and often more beautiful than the finished product, but we have zero (count them! zero!) windows in our kitchen, and the under-the-counter light I use for process shots is currently burned out. Hopefully we will have it replaced soon, and I will be inundating you with glamour shots of eggplants and tomatoes again!

Shaved Fennel and Zucchini Salad
From Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day 

Serves 4-6

1 medium-large zucchini, sliced into paper thin coins
2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed and shaved paper-thin
2/3 cup / .5oz/ 15g loosely chopped fresh dill
1/3 cup / 80ml fresh lemon juice, plus more if needed
1/3 cup / 80ml extra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
fine grain sea salt
4 or 5 generous handfuls arugula
1/2 cup / 2 oz/ 60g pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup / 2 oz / 60g / feta cheese, crumbled (I left out the feta because I can’t have it during pregnancy. But I am sure it is perfect here!)

-Combine the zucchini, fennel and dill in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice, olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside and marinate for 20 minutes, or up to an hour.
-When you are ready to serve the salad, put the arugula in a large bowl. Scoop all of the zucchini and fennel onto the arugula, and pour most of the lemon juice dressing on top of that. Toss gently but thoroughly. Taste and adjust with more of the dressing, olive oil, lemon juice, or salt if needed. Serve topped with pine nuts and feta.

One Little Word: November

OLWAnd let the rush of last year’s posts continue! My One Little Word class was one of the things that fell by the wayside when I was sick. And, truthfully, I am usually really slow with photo-based prompts. It takes me a while to go through my photos, and then I order them and have to wait a week or so for them to come. Still, I was/am really committed to finishing this course, since it’s been a really great one. The idea for November was to take a look through your photos from the last handful of months and choose ones that spoke to you of your word. I was kind of dreading it because I had hundreds and hundreds of photos to go through. But surprisingly, this wasn’t hard at all–the right ones just jumped out at me. I hope I’ll always remember what they signify. But in case I don’t, here is a fuller explanation of each one. (But first, a quick shout-out to Hillary, who taught me this awesome stamping and outlining technique!)

OLWThis picture is from the Spanish Village in Balboa Park in San Diego. It was a truly inspiring place, full of art studios and shops and galleries, and I loved those painted paving stones. I could seriously just live in there. We visited with Eric’s dad, and we saw the coolest rock and gem society at work shaping beautiful stones, followed by glass blowing demonstrations and a lovely pottery workshop. But the openness here is something more than just being in a place of inspiration and possibility–this is where we were when we found out Eric was being asked to go to Greece for a conference. I was ecstatic (how many times do you get the chance to go to Santorini with your husband and have all of his expenses paid?!), and to me, that embrace of the unexpected is one of the things I was most hoping to achieve with my word this past year.

OLWBut being open is not always easy. I know this looks like a ridiculous picture, but let me explain. What’s happening here is that I had just found out that day that a business partnership, which I was really hoping would work out, was not indeed going to work out. This is how I illustrated my feelings to Eric when he came home from work. At least he made me laugh! I spent a week feeling very glum about it, and then I turned myself in a different direction and got on with things. Being open means accepting the bad along with the good, being willing to change course when something unforeseen or undesired crops up. After that week, I got to work on what had been my Plan A anyhow, which I am sure will be a better bet in the long run. Things have a way of working themselves out like that. I just wanted to remember that moment, acknowledge that it’s not all sunshine and roses, and reinforce to myself the value of acceptance and recalibration.

OLWOne of the other things I think I will always associate with this word and this year is being outside. This is the year that I really embraced living in Southern California and started to learn the names of all the succulents and desert flowers. I missed all the lush greenery of the Bay area, but you know what? It’s stunning here too. My daily walks prove that to me all the time. Eric and I had a lot of fun on some easy hikes this year, and it was great to feel like I could do that (I am by no stretch of the imagination an athlete). This picture is from a little hike at the top of a mountain in Big Bear, where we were celebrating our anniversary. I just love to get out and explore new places with him.

OLWOne of the bravest things I did this past year was taking Flora Bowley’s Bloom True painting course. I was so nervous about the big canvases and whether or not I’d really be able to do it. And do you know what? It is some of the greatest fun I’ve had in my life. Flora is an amazing and intuitive teacher, and she encourages us to be open and intuitive too. Things have turned up on my canvases that I didn’t plan, but totally love. That’s magic, just letting go. This is a picture of me with one of my first layers. I love it. Even though it’s a good handful of months behind, I am so happy that I made this page. It’s done me so much good even just to type out these thoughts. Thank you for following along on my often tardy crafting adventures!

March 2014 Goals

March GoalsWow, I haven’t done monthly goals since December! But I have missed them, and now that I have some energy back, I am really excited to work on some long-neglected projects. The goals are going to be simple and on a shorter list for the next little while, since I also have lots of baby prep to do (yay!). I am not sure if I’ll keep doing them after the baby comes. I sort of expect that I’ll be living in the moment with the baby for a good little while, but after some routines start to develop, I hope I’ll be able to find a bit of me time again.

In any case, here are this month’s goals! For various reasons, my craft table has been covered with all manner of fun things since last fall. We’ve made a little more space in the last few weeks, so I am looking forward to moving that stuff to a more permanent home and being able to get to my sewing machine again. I may start with some simple scrapbook page sewing, but I also have a ton of fabric that I bought last summer (giant bags full for only a few dollars!) that I want to play with. And I am kind of thinking of making a little quilt for the baby. I think I have the skill set at this point, and it sounds like a really fun nesting project.

I’ve been walking every day for about two weeks now, and I LOVE IT. Because we had a really rainy weekend, I had to miss two days of my morning routine, and I was really surprised by how grumpy it made me. It just does my soul so much good to get out and look at beautiful things in the morning.

I also want to get back to Project Life. The ever-awesome Hillary told me about a coupon code for 100 free prints on Shutterfly they had a few weeks back, and so I now have 100 pictures to play with! I think I am liking Shutterfly better than Snapfish so far, in case anyone is interested–the prints seem to be of a higher quality and more vibrant color.

Next week my mom and my aunt are coming to party with me! I am so looking forward to it. You can’t be around those two and not be laughing. It is simply impossible. We are planning to do some shopping and some walking and some exploring and some reading and whatever else strikes our fancy. I can’t wait!

It will perhaps come as no surprise that I don’t have too many pictures from the last few months. But I resolve to turn that trend around!

I’ll be back in April with an update. (Those dusty December goals have been updated here).

Update, April 2014: Well, goal #1 was a huge success. I cleared off my craft supplies, and now my sewing machine and I are best friends again. I have been working away on the baby’s quilt, but also doing a bit of repair work here and there on thrift store purchases. Nothing better than being able able to fix something! Walking has been going really well. Even on the days when I don’t get to lace up my shoes and fire up my iPod, I try to walk as much as I can (but, for the record, those days when I lace up my shoes are the best ones). I have had to miss a few here and there because of the weather, but I really hate to. I’ve become addicted! Oh, Project Life, poor neglected friend of mine. Maybe when I finish my freelance work and get the book proposal off, I can spend more time with you. I certainly want to, but these days it’s all typing and sewing. Did I party with my mom and my aunt? I did! I am already looking forward to our next all-girl extravaganza. But maybe the biggest accomplishment of the month was the picture-taking. I usually take hundreds and hundreds of photos per month, but when I was sick it hovered around 80. In March I took over 500. It feels good to be back, noticing all the beautiful things around me.

Adventures in Pregnancy: 19 Weeks

19 WeeksAlmost halfway! Hmm, I think my bump looks smaller in this picture than last week’s. I blame being in a rush and not properly adjusting my shirt for maximum bump display. Ah well, it is there, I promise!

The biggest news this week is that the baby is kicking like crazy! At first I would only feel a kick or two per day, usually after lunch. I guess our baby is really into lentils and kale. But a new pattern has emerged: every couple of hours, the baby now kicks intermittently for half an hour or so. It is awesome and fills me with glee every time. I’m starting to be able to distinguish the movements a little bit. I can tell the difference between a kick/punch and a roll, and last night I had my first full-on body slam. I am so happy to have these little signs that our baby is doing well! I have been thinking really hard about how to describe the sensation of a kick. The majority of them feel like the world’s tiniest yet most vigorous underwater high-five. I am always excited to get them. It sort of feels like this little person we’ve been talking to for months is finally talking back!

In other news, pregnancy brain is fully setting in. I read in one of my books that at this point my heart is pumping way more blood than usual, but the vast majority of it is going to the baby and away from my brain. Perhaps this will explain why I keep forgetting words, and why several times a day I walk into a room and can’t remember why I came in. And perhaps it even explains why I almost put deodorant on my toothbrush this week, and also tried to brush my hair with my deodorant. The deodorant is getting a lot of play around here.

I am rolling right along with all of the usual pregnancy symptoms. Most days when Eric comes home, I tell him the latest weird thing that is happening to my body. “Oh, my gums are bleeding/my skin is really itchy/my eyes feel super dry/my hands keep falling asleep when I lie down,” I say. Eric looks very concerned and says, “Oh no!” And then I tell him not to worry because I looked it up and, you guessed it, it’s totally normal!

Physically this week was a little bit rougher than usual. I had one very hard day, and I learned the hard way that my stomach is still so sensitive that it will not tolerate even a slight change in the breakfast routine. Message received! Bagels and cream cheese forever! In spite of all that and a few hard nights, I still feel pretty magnificent for most of the day, and I am inexpressibly grateful for that.

The SweetestWe had a great weekend date involving canvas shopping at the art store (woohoo! super sale!), the movies, and dinner out. All of this was so special because I had been feeling iffy and didn’t know if I would be up to any of it. Thankfully, I powered through and felt pretty good, and we were home from date night at 7pm. Pregnant lady’s dream! (Don’t worry, I did not have a beer. Instead I guzzled all the ice water they would give me!)

On Saturday we have our next appointment, and we should be finding out the gender of the baby. We are so excited! And maybe a little bit nervous. Either way, we will be absolutely thrilled, but it’s going to be momentous finding out who this tiny person is, this tiny person who will carry our hearts for the rest of our lives.

That moment, I know, we will cherish forever, but I hope we remember this one too: tonight at church while the baby was kicking away, Eric smiled and leaned over to me, and he whispered in my ear, “I’m so proud of you.”  I love him so much, and so fiercely, and there’s no one on earth I’d rather step into this new ocean with.

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