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2014 July

The Sweetest Welcome

Our precious baby arrived early Thursday morning and stole our hearts forever. His name is Micah David; his middle name is in honor of my sweet Daddy. He weighed 6 lb 12 oz (exactly as my doctor predicted!) and has a head full of blonde hair, just like his Daddy. It’s impossible to describe how much we adore him–he is the love of our lives. We had a wonderful hospital stay and came home Saturday afternoon. Everyone is doing great! There is so much to say, but right now we are doing lots of swaddling, rocking, diaper changing, gazing into the most precious blue eyes we’ve ever seen, and catching naps where we can, all in a state of exhausted bliss. Hopefully soon I will have a chance to type up and share his (kind of unbelievable!) birth story. After that, I think what I’d like to do is set up a private password-protected blog where I’ll post baby updates for family and friends (blog and Instagram friends, this includes you!). I will still be writing here, but just want to create a more private space for sharing about Micah. I will let you know when I get that set up. In the meantime, thank you so much for your love and support! We are so moved and touched by your kindness, and your sharing in our joy just makes this precious time in our lives all the more sweet and wonderful. (PS: This photo was part of Micah’s newborn shoot at the hospital. They have a photographer who comes and takes all the pictures in your room. Amazing!)

Adventures in Pregnancy: 39 Weeks

39 WeeksIt’s exciting to be getting close to the finish line, especially now that we are so much more ready. These past few weeks have been a flurry of activity, including lots of furniture assembly, washing of tiny clothes, moving things down to the garage for storage, and freezing meals for our first few weeks as parents. When the doctor and the doula told us at 37 weeks that he could come anytime, we *really* kicked it into high gear, and, if I haven’t made this clear before now, my husband is a saint, who has tackled all the things that I told him were of the utmost urgency. We actually never expected to get this far–I am about 20 minutes away from having the quilt finished, for instance, and Eric wrote most of an important paper this morning while I did laundry, sewed, and cooked meals for the freezer. What a considerate baby we have, giving us enough time to finish all these things! On the other hand, Eric said today that it feels a little bit like throwing a party, when you’re scrambling like crazy at 6:59 and then 7:00 hits, then 7:01, and then 7:05, and no one has arrived yet, and you think, “Okay, what do I do now?” An apt simile! And a website to answer the all-important question: Have you had that baby yet?

However, as I am looking at the calendar, I see that I could actually be pregnant for two more weeks (I am 39 weeks 3 days as of today, and my doctor said she will let me go 10 days past my due date). It’s a bit of hurry up and wait around here, and I can’t imagine what I’ll do if I really am pregnant for two more weeks, but I am sure I will think of something. Naps seem like a good idea. And maybe I will finish the last year or so of my scrapbook: ha!

I am still feeling really good on the whole, but I am starting to feel uncomfortable. I don’t think it’s that he’s really much bigger than he was a few weeks ago, but between Braxton Hicks contractions and carrying him very low in my pelvis, walking has become a bit of a challenge. I can feel the pressure of his head, and it sort of feels like a bowling ball is about to come falling out! So I take a wide stance and go slowly. Also, the heartburn is really starting to kick it up a notch. It’s been kind of brutal these past few days (but still…so much better than the first trimester alternative!) I definitely am up a lot in the night, including about an hour sometime between 4 and 6. I usually get up and read for a while and then can go back to sleep. I consider this good practice (if on a smaller scale!) for the nights ahead of me.

39 WeeksI am so grateful that he has stayed put this long, though, so I know that his little lungs and organs have had plenty of time to fully develop. My discomfort is so far very manageable, and that is a gift. However! I admit to being a little impatient. I just can’t wait to hold him and kiss him and tell him I am his Mommy!

But also, knowing that I’m close to delivering, these are some things I am looking forward to, in no particular order: coffee, pastrami, soft cheese, wearing my wedding rings, no longer having feet and ankles that look like flotation devices! It will take some time for the swelling to go down, I’m sure, but I am excited to be able to wear more than flip flops again (however, thank heaven flip flops are pretty much year-round appropriate footwear here).

I have to say, though, this is a really really special time. The baby is really active at night, and he responds to touch and voices. It seems like he can sense when Eric is lying next to me, and he always kicks away. It’s so sweet. We are both so excited and so in awe of how our lives are about to change. We’re savoring this time of expectation and feeling so close to each other. It’s a beautiful thing.

Currently : July

July: CurrentlyFinishing the nursery! It has been so awesome to see it take shape this week. What’s left: a few odds and ends, decorating the walls, and clearing out the closet. I can’t wait to share pictures when it’s done!

Eating all the things. I can tell I am nine months pregnant because everything sounds SO DELICIOUS ALL THE TIME. I am still keeping things pretty healthy around here, but I am so enjoying eating when I am hungry. It is glorious! Melons and peaches and (stereotypically) kale are really floating my boat.

Listening to NPR while I work on stuff around the house. I finally figured out how to stream it on my phone, and this makes up for all the years I haven’t been able to get a clear signal on the radio or stereo.

Washing crib sheets and tiny baby things.

Walking in the mornings and evenings to beat the heat. Enjoying cool breezes when they come my way.

Packing our hospital bag.

Reading labor books and doing lots of pelvic rocks to try to turn the baby anterior.

Quilting away and hoping to finish before the baby comes.

Enjoying all the little kicks and squirms and I’m feeling throughout the day.

Feeling so excited, so happy, so in love with our little baby. So looking forward to meeting him!

Adventures in Pregnancy: 38 Weeks

38 WeeksIt is so exciting to be nearing the home stretch! Or, who knows, we may already be in it! At our appointment this weekend the baby’s heartbeat sounded great, and the doctor said he has moved down a little more (still posterior, but not too worried about it). She also told me I am 1 cm dilated and 50% effaced, which is awesome. I am more excited about the effacement than the dilation, since that’s pretty much a prerequisite, and also: apologies to our baby. I thought all this time that he was punching me in the cervix, but it turns out he is innocent! It was just my cervix doing its thing. It is wonderfully reassuring and empowering to find that my body is trucking right along, doing exactly what it’s supposed to do, with no particular help needed. The process of birth is so many things: mysterious, sacred, incredible. I am excited to have gotten things underway.

38 WeeksOn the other hand, we still have a bit to do before we’re really ready. But ready is relative, right? We have everything we need–it’s just not exactly in the right place yet. However, this week was one of enormous progress. We went to Ikea to get a dresser and an extra bookcase, and we also got this gratuitous panda. Every baby needs a panda. So says me.

38 WeeksEric has been heroically putting things together all weekend. Almost all finished now! He’s also been bolting everything to the walls so our little tiger can’t pull things over on himself. As is evident here, he has maintained a good sense of humor throughout this process, which makes him even more deserving of the automatic halo one earns every time one puts together a piece of Ikea furniture.

As for me, I’ve mostly been organizing and rearranging things and washing all of the baby’s tiny clothes, which has been so much fun. I can’t wait to get them all put away in his dresser, which should be tomorrow’s job.

I am, remarkably, still feeling fantastic! I am not exactly sleeping so well these days, but that’s just practice for the future. I can’t really complain when it’s still very easy for me to take an afternoon nap. My feet look like Shrek feet again (maybe due to the heat?), and there’s some intermittent heartburn, but nothing of any real seriousness. I am having lots of Braxton-Hicks, but those don’t hurt at all and are a great warmup for labor. On the whole, I am really very comfortable and super thankful for it.

Words cannot express my gratitude to all of you: THANK YOU! Thank you for reading and commenting and for your love and support and encouragement. Thank you for sending your well wishes and for rejoicing with us in this amazingly special time. And thank you so much to all of you who have sent such sweet gifts to us, many of them made by hand, even though we have never met in person. I have been reduced to tears many times by your kindness, your thoughtfulness, your great generosity. When I started this blog, I was hoping to find a creative outlet, but I didn’t really expect anyone but my parents to read it. I could never have imagined that I would meet such wonderful people and form such deep friendships as I have with you. Thank you so, so, so much. You are incredible, every single one of you, and you are so loved and appreciated.

Map Bookmarks

Map BookmarksI have been wanting to share these bookmarks Hillary and I made for the baby shower–so fun and easy!

Map BookmarksHillary bought a fat book of pre-cut bookmarks in pretty colors from Michael’s and we measured and cut the map strips with a paper cutter. These are actually Doctors Without Borders maps–very easy to find in thrift stores (though the map possibilities are endless…I just liked the pretty colors of this one).

Map BookmarksWe affixed the map strips with double-sided tape and glued little compasses on top. I bought about a million of these at the Depot before our wedding, thinking I might use them for favors. Glad to be finally showing them off!

Map BookmarksWe punched holes at the top to thread a ribbon through.

Map BookmarksHillary typed and trimmed these little banners for the bottom, and they might be my favorite part! The magic of reading has been such a joy in my life from early childhood to my glee-filled trips to the library today. I hope it’s a joy we’ll share with our child. Speaking of reading your way around the world, check out this awesome project–reading one book (or more!) from every country in the world! Who wants to do this with me?! It sounds so amazing.

Map BookmarksWe gave them a little stamp on the bottom, and they were ready to go!

Map BookmarksI really love these compasses, even if they only marginally work.

Map BookmarksHere they are, peeking out of the totally rad gift bags Hillary made for the shower. I think there will be more map bookmarking in my future, if only because I forgot to keep one for myself! But it makes me so happy to think of the people who came to the shower, our most beloved friends, using these to keep their place in whatever adventure they’re immersing themselves in.

Laguna Beach and Crystal Cove State Park

Laguna BeachEric and I always try to do a little getaway for our anniversary–nothing too fancy, just a chance to get out and celebrate with some exploring of a new place. It’s one of our favorite things to do together. This year I made plans for us to go to Laguna Beach and San Juan Capistrano (which is going to have to get its own post because of all the pictures of the beautiful mission there!).

Laguna BeachWe headed down on Saturday morning (almost a month ago) and ate the most delicious and expensive Mexican lunch–worth every penny. Especially to a pregnant T-Rex. And then we set out to explore the town. We stopped by the beach and the historic lifeguard stand, and this picture has me totally cracking up because I look so tiny! Time flies when you’re growing a baby. And so do your belt buckles. I am also laughing because the forecast lies every time we take a trip–it was way warmer than we expected. I think at this point we might just start packing for the opposite of the forecast. Worth a try!

Laguna BeachLaguna Beach started as an artists’ colony, and there are still lots of galleries and an active art community here. (Have you seen Arrested Development? Do you remember the Living Classics pageant? Yeah, this is where it happens in real life.)

Laguna BeachAny town that espouses this viewpoint is pretty rad in my book.

Laguna BeachSome of our favorite things to see in town were the little artistic touches, like this fantastic brick work.

Laguna BeachAnd this guy, working hard to get into the phone booth.

Laguna BeachWhat we were most excited to see, however, was Crystal Cove State Park. It’s a beautiful beach and wildlife area, with tidepools to boot. Tidepools make me so happy–I love seeing beautiful creature flitting around (or just lounging) in such shallow water, right before my eyes.

Laguna BeachBecause we’d dressed too warmly, Eric rolled up his pants and took off his shoes. What a stud, huh? I sure think so.

Laguna BeachWe walked several miles down the beach and then back, seeing lots of tidepools along the way. We saw a few anemones, but it was mostly little crabs. Eric was worried that I wasn’t having a good time because I wasn’t really looking too closely, but I told him I just can’t bend down like that anymore! However, I did really love seeing all the incredible rocks and rock formations. Thinking about how this one was slowly and delicately carved into a perfect circle just blows my mind.

Laguna BeachBy the time we reached the end, Eric was carrying our water bottle too because he is just good like that. It was plenty warm by then, and I have a real aversion to water that is not freezing cold, but he got me to drink it anyway. Good again. And then he bought us a new bottle of water that was ice cold. Even better.

Laguna BeachAfter our big hike we headed to the hotel to get ready for dinner. We went to Habana, a great Cuban place where we actually went for our first anniversary.

Laguna BeachAnd I ordered the exact same thing: ropa vieja. Oh so very very good. And bearing bonus plantains. The next day we headed south to the mission. More on that coming soon!

Adventures in Pregnancy: 37 Weeks

37 WeeksLots to report this week! We had both a doctor and a doula appointment on Thursday, and both of them told us our baby could come any day now: eek! I’m not afraid of labor, it’s just that we have plenty to do to get ready. We did get the furniture moved, thanks to our awesome friends, and we got a few things for our hospital bag and for the early baby days. We’re making progress!

But back to the tiny guest of honor. We were very excited to see him on an ultrasound, but he is so big now that it’s much harder to see what we’re looking at. However, he looked great, and his heartbeat sounded great. The doctor did some measurements to get an estimate of his current weight, and the first thing she said was, “You’re not having a big baby.” We were worried that he was a little small, but she said he is well within the normal range, and it’s nothing to worry about. He currently weighs 5 lbs 12 oz, so she thinks he’ll be about 6 lbs 12 oz when he’s born. He still has a few weeks to grow, but even if he were born right now, he would be totally fine. That’s a relief! I called my mom to tell her the news, and she was in a loud restaurant. When I told her that he was currently 5 lbs 12 oz, she sounded very concerned and was surprised that the doctor had said this was a normal weight. I didn’t know why she was worried until five minutes later in the conversation, when I realized she hadn’t heard the 5 lbs part, and thought he only weighed 12 oz! That would indeed have been cause for concern.

Two slightly less than awesome things: although the baby is now head down (hallelujah!), he is posterior (sunny side up). I can definitely deliver him this way, but it will be significantly harder for him and for me. So we are doing all we can to turn him! Also, I tested positive for group B strep. I am not sick at all–it just means I have the bacteria in my body. There’s only a tiny chance of passing it to the baby, but they will give me antibiotics at the hospital during labor to take care of it. It’s nothing to worry about, but in an ideal world, I wouldn’t be a carrier.

37 WeeksIn spite of both of those things, though, I am feeling pretty ecstatic about where we are right now. I am getting lots of Braxton-Hicks contractions, which don’t hurt at all and are good practice for labor. And I’m also feeling lots of cervical activity, for lack of better term–just enough to let me know that something’s going on, hopefully something that’s helpful preparation for labor.

A few nights ago I had a few real contractions, and Eric and I were both very wide-eyed about it. I didn’t think they were serious ones, and they soon passed, but it’s good to have some idea of what things will feel like when labor begins.

Speaking of feeling things, our little tiger is just as active as always. He actually woke me up a few mornings this week when I’d planned to sleep in a bit longer. I was hungry, so I assume he was too, and his little kicks made me smile so much, as I imagined him thinking, “Hey Mom, feed me!”

Sleep is still going fairly well, and I am feeling really great and SO THANKFUL for that. Three weeks (or more? or less?) to go!

The World’s Most Glorious Goodwill

GoodwillLast week Hillary and I (and one adorable twin) drove past a new and giant Goodwill on the way to the fabric store. We needed to get back home after lunch, but we planned to make a trip to check it out another day. On a whim, I said, “Let me look it up and see if it’s a good one.” And then my jaw more or less dropped because I realized from the pictures that it was A BARGAIN BARN. Those of you who have been around for a while know of my deep love for the Bargain Barn in Memphis, where I have scored all of my leather boots for $1 per pair and tons of fantastic clothes for $1.49 per pound. That’s right, $1.49 per pound. It is the most magical of places for people who love to treasure hunt. You really never know what you’ll find. Among my plunder: a copy of Madame Bovary in French, designer clothes with the tags still on them, and more shoes, purses, and belts than you could shake a stick at. A good 70% of my wardrobe comes from there (except, alas, in these latter days, when I haven’t had the chance to visit as often). I never ever imagined that they would open a Bargain Barn here, though I certainly checked when we moved here. I just never dared to hope! So, you can imagine my extreme glee when I made this discovery. I totally texted my mom in all caps about it. Two days later, unable to resist the siren song, Hillary and I made our maiden voyage. As a point of technicality, this Bargain Barn is called a Goodwill Outlet. But no matter: a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

GoodwillThis Goodwill is actually a MEGA Goodwill. It has the outlet store, a regular Goodwill, a cafe, a career center, and meeting rooms. And maybe even some other stuff that I didn’t notice. It was impressive. This is the entryway. Beautiful, no?

GoodwillAfter a quick look around, we headed over to the outlet store. I could not believe how big it was! At least three times as big as the Bargain Barn, if not bigger. This picture doesn’t even get all of it. I told Hillary as we were walking in that although it was $1.49 per pound of clothing in Memphis, I expected it to be more like $2.50 or even $3.00 here–everything is pricier in California. But it was $1.49! And $0.69 per pound for everything else. Amazing.

GoodwillNow, a bigger store requires a different strategy. In Memphis, my mom and I have a system to thoroughly comb every bin, and we usually hit it all. But here, you have to be more choosy because it’s just impossible to see it all. I don’t like one experience better than the other–they are both fun. One other cool distinction–at the one in Memphis, there is a scale you place your clothing items on to be weighed. Here the scales are mounted into the floor. You just drive your cart onto it, they take off the tare weight, and that’s it!

GoodwillSo, how does this work? As far as I can tell, the items for sale here are things that did not sell within a certain amount of time in the regular Goodwill. I have no idea how they would keep up with that much volume, but I think it has to do with the colored tags (items in the bins have the colored tags, but not the paper price tag). Goodwill always has 50% off a certain color tag every day, so maybe after they clear out most one color tag with the discount, they send the rest of it to the outlet. I don’t know exactly what magic makes it all work, but I am continually amazed at the things I find there. My favorite thing about it is the absolute freedom–it’s so cheap that it’s almost free, so why not take a chance on something? It’s a great place to find items that have great fabric but need some reworking (I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to pay $10 for something that I’m going to dye or alter). I also really love the “found objects” philosophy that overtakes me when I’m there–I buy things I might never have considered in a retail store, and I end up loving them. I will never tire of this adventure. Oh! And a bit of Bargain Barn culture–the people lined up in this photo are waiting for a new bin to come out. They brought out 10 or 12 while we were there.

GoodwillWithout fail, something like this always turns up. I am glad I had my Goodwill supermodel to show it off for me!

GoodwillBy now we had worked up an appetite, so we headed over to the cafe. When I first heard that they had a cafe, I didn’t imagine it would be anything too nice. But I was so pleasantly surprised! They have a really nice and extensive menu, and the food was really good (and so ridiculously cheap!). I should also note that everyone was so tremendously kind that I actually thought I might be in Memphis. Not that people aren’t friendly here too, but there’s a certain openness and sense of welcome that I always associate with home.

GoodwillGuess how much I paid for this enormous veggie sandwich and salad? SIX. DOLLARS. That’s an LA miracle. They also had smoothies and really good-looking pastries, and (be still my heart) a fancy coffee machine. You could spend all day here. And someday we might!

GoodwillThis is the cafe interior. Cute, yeah?

GoodwillI forgot to show you the cool mural.

GoodwillAfter lunch we hit up the regular Goodwill. It was a very nice one, but we didn’t buy too much, still too consumed with the glory of the outlet.

GoodwillWant to know what I got? I love it when other people show off their plunder, so I will do so here. And then you have to guess how much it all cost! This is a game we always play with my dad when we get home from the Bargain Barn. All of this is from the outlet, for the record. I got two pairs of pants (for post-baby!), a skirt, three t-shirts, and a tank top. And yes, that green t-shirt on top depicts a T-Rex biting a reindeer’s butt, so obviously I had to have it.

GoodwillAnd I got a few little things for the baby for when he’s a bit bigger: a playsuit, lion pants, and (most importantly!) a monkey hoodie.

GoodwillI also got a few books. The red one is an old encyclopedia volume with really cool illustrations. So, guess how much all this cost! $30? $20? $15? No! $9.40! That’s right, nine dollars and forty cents. If ever there were a shopping paradise, this is it! (If you’re local, here is the info for this amazing place. And, even though this ode is full to the brim with praise, no one paid me to write it. I just really love Goodwill!)

July 2014 Goals

July GoalsIf it weren’t for my blog calendar, I’d never remember to write these goal posts (haha, nerdy pun intended!) But I am so happy I have them. A new month always feels like a fresh start to me, and that’s worth celebrating. And I always like the rush of setting goals, which for me is really about recognizing that my time is what I choose to make of it. Also worth celebrating!

So, what’s on the agenda this month? The biggest thing is the one that’s hardest to miss (I have referred to myself as both a barge and a land shark in the last few days, but in all honesty, I love this big belly and really love the baby inside it!) He is due July 25th, so, theoretically, he could join us anytime now. But I have mentally added a week to my due date from the very beginning, since first babies are often late. I don’t want to get to the 25th and feel discouraged, so I’ve been imagining him as an August baby for all these months. However, mommy hunches mean about the same as due dates, which is to say: nothing! Whenever he comes, we will be thrilled thrilled thrilled. I’m also including here a few things I’m hoping Eric and I will get to do together before the big day: lunch at Athenaeum, the Route 66 exhibit at the Autry Museum, the new LACMA exhibit, and Shakespeare in the Park!

And I will feel even more enthused about his arrival once we’ve got the nursery all ready. We have everything we need (just about), but furniture still needs to be moved. We’ve been working on prepping our room and the nursery for the last few days, and it feels good to be making solid progress. Of course, if he comes before it’s all ready, that will be okay too. But I have this dream of having the nursery all ready and rocking him in the glider (still in my belly) while I tell him all about it. Of course, I can do that after he comes too!

I am having SO much fun with the quilting part of the quilt process. I realize that sounds totally redundant–what I mean is that actual stitching of all three layers together. After that’s finished, I’ll just need to put the binding on, and it’ll be ready.

I have been so busy with nursery stuff in the past few days that I haven’t done any painting, BUT in that fallow field some fresh ideas have sprung up. I think I can see a path to finishing two out of three of them, and I have some thoughts on next steps for the third one too. I would love to get them finished and hung before the baby comes.

It’s more critical at this point in the pregnancy than any other, I think, for me to keep moving in preparation for labor. Walking on the treadmill has been a good compromise with the heat setting in, and swimming has been fabulous. I’m doing my best to keep it up in this final push.

And, one way or another, I am sure there will be jillions of pictures!

June goals have been updated here, and here are my July goals from 2013 and 2012.

Update, October 2014: Well, July, you were full of happy surprises! I was oh so comically wrong about being overdue, and our sweet baby arrived one day early! Thankfully, the nursery was finished (though I was folding and putting away baby clothes as labor began). I finished the quilt two days before he was born, which was excellent because otherwise it would be gathering dust right now, I am sure! I did finish two of my paintings, but the third one is still awaiting some new directions. Hopefully I can get outside and work on it as the weather cools off for fall. I was walking and swimming up to the end, and I am so proud of that. I have to think that it helped with my crazy short labor. And I am not sure I have ever taken more pictures in one month. Micah is already so different, and I am so happy that I have all of them. Even if they make me cry! Happy tears are the best tears.

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