Our Map-Themed Baby Shower

Map-Themed Baby ShowerA warning: this will be a photo-heavy post because there is just so much awesome to share! And I want to brag about the many talents of my amazing friend Hillary, who threw the shower for us. Look at this adorable display! And also, I just want to remember as much as I can about this special day, which I can only describe as completely luminous, filled with love, and one of the happiest times I can remember. We are so lucky to have such wonderful people in our lives!

Map-Themed Baby Shower

Hillary and I worked together to make the map bookmarks (more on those soon), but my jaw dropped when I saw all the other things she had added to the party favors. These adorable bags with their own air mail tags, and map coasters and magnets! And yes, they are nestled in a suitcase.

Map-Themed Baby ShowerThe coasters were a total surprise, and I think everyone’s were specific to them. Ours featured Memphis, San Francisco, and Russia!

Map-Themed Baby ShowerThese are a few of the magnets. Aren’t they awesome?! Hillary has promised to show me how to make them.

Map-Themed Baby ShowerWe had been planning and working on crafts for the shower for a few weeks, and on Friday we went on a huge Costco run to get the food. I had no idea she was planning anything else, and I have no idea how she found the time to do it on top of the regular party prep, but feast your eyes on this: a customized scrapbook station for the baby!

Map-Themed Baby ShowerThis just totally blew me away, and I was so incredibly touched by it. The pages all had maps and travel themes, and the scrapbook (in the briefcase) was so perfect. I treasure every page, and it is so sweet to have these wishes for our baby. I can’t wait to show them to him someday!

Map-Themed Baby ShowerHillary’s girls made pages too, and they were so very sweet.

Map-Themed Baby ShowerBut let’s rewind to the beginning of the party! Here is the spread, but only in part. There was so much more, and I am not ashamed to say that I ate a LOT of it.

Map-Themed Baby ShowerThis is the lemonade stand, next to the girls’ playhouse in Hillary’s glorious backyard.

Map-Themed Baby ShowerA certain princess enjoyed stomping on the shadows of the lanterns.

Map-Themed Baby ShowerOur awesome friends Jack and Juliette, who we are thrilled to have as our baby’s godparents.

Map-Themed Baby ShowerHillary suggested that I sit in this chaise lounge and hold court as queen, and I was happy to oblige. Some kind princesses even lent me their wand.

Map-Themed Baby ShowerRevelers enjoying the beautiful backyard.

Map-Themed Baby ShowerI wore this beautiful white dress that Hillary lent me. Two ladies in white! Isn’t she lovely?

Map-Themed Baby ShowerThe present pile! Please note that awesome Katie made us a decorative newspaper baby, complete with umbilical cord. I loved it.

Map-Themed Baby ShowerEveryone came inside for the (sweetest ever) champagne toast (and sparkling water for me), and the girls got to feel the baby move.

Map-Themed Baby ShowerAll our beautiful friends, and my favorite in-home art gallery on the left.

Map-Themed Baby ShowerWe received so many thoughtful and lovely gifts, and the girls were my expert helpers in unwrapping. They made me laugh too. A lot.

Map-Themed Baby ShowerA new addition to the baby’s library.

Map-Themed Baby ShowerAnd fox pajamas!

Map-Themed Baby ShowerAfter present time, I was really hot from sitting in the sun, and Carmen gave me her seat, which was directly in front of the air conditioner. Pregnant ladies love a good arctic blast. (I am sorry that Eric isn’t in any of these pictures–he was the photographer!)

Map-Themed Baby ShowerAfter the festivities, Eric and I and Katy and Kostas stayed for some afternoon relaxation. The girls just fell in love with both of them, and I cannot blame them one little bit.

Map-Themed Baby ShowerProof that Danny is always, always making me laugh.

Map-Themed Baby ShowerThese are my people. I love them so much. I always thought that the term “shower” referred to a shower of gifts for a baby or a bride-to-be, but what I understood after Saturday is that it’s really a shower of love. I was just totally awash in gratitude and wonder that we have so many incredible people in our lives, and that they all love our sweet baby so much, even before he’s here to charm us with his little smiles and laughs. Each person who came made the day so special, as did everyone who was there in spirit. All I can say is thank you, thank you, one million times thank you. Thank you for loving me, thank you for loving Eric, thank you for loving our sweet son. I am more grateful than you’ll ever know.

Adventures in Pregnancy: 35 Weeks

35 WeeksI am writing this post in the afterglow of the most wonderful weekend. Our dear friends Katy and Kostas came down from Berkeley to stay with us, and we had the baby shower at Hillary’s on Saturday. I will share shower pictures tomorrow, but honestly, it was just so overwhelmingly wonderful. So many fantastic people, so much love in one space. Everyone who was there means so much to us, and we had such an awesome time catching up with them, eating delicious food, and laughing about anything and everything. It touches my heart so much that so many people love our little baby even before he is here with us.

This week was a busy one, punctuated by several car mishaps, which definitely led to some hormonal crying jags. However! It has mostly all been taken care of, and crying always makes me feel better.

35 WeeksMy ankles are definitely swollen this week, but getting better some days. Walking helps, as does swimming. We went to the pool today, and as I glided like a blimp into the wall, I told Eric that I felt like a hippopotamus. But a graceful one! I am slooooow, but I feel like breaststroke is very helpful for the swelling. And this is very convenient because it is the only stroke I can still do. The funniest thing to me is that there isn’t anything physical about this pregnancy that has really bothered me yet. Well, I was not a fan of the first trimester, but I love my big belly, and I don’t mind a single pound I have gained. My arms are thicker, and my face is fuller, and I do not mind in the slightest. But when I noticed that my ankles were swollen, it just totally weirded me out. I called my mom and told her that I have Shrek feet! And she laughed. After I broke a pair of my flip flops this week, I bought a new pair at Walgreens for $3, and they make me feel like I’m walking on a cloud. So comfy! And, by the way, given the direction my feet are going in, I decided to go ahead and take off my rings, before it’s too late. Eric said to watch out, since hitting on pregnant ladies is a big thing. Ha!

My sweet cousin Laura, who has two boys, told me that she wasn’t really uncomfortable until 34 weeks in her pregnancies, and I started to understand that a bit last week. My feet were hurting, the heartburn reached a new level, and I kept finding myself wanting to go to bed at 8pm. But I still wouldn’t say I am really uncomfortable, which is good, since I have five weeks to go. My belly for sure gets in the way of some things, but I am so happy that I am still able to move easily and walk comfortably.

35 WeeksAlso, I finally broke down and did some maternity shopping to add to my meager collection of things that still fit me. Ironically, my constantly falling-down maternity jeans now fit me, but…it is way too hot for jeans. I got this black and white dress and a good handful of shirts to go with my skirts and shorts, and I hope that will hold me, at least for the next few weeks, after which: muumuu time!

Our sweet baby is kicking and wiggling almost all the time, and I love feeling him move. One morning this week he was especially quiet, which made me a little nervous. I had Eric talk to him and play some music on my belly, but still nothing. Finally I leaned forward (his least favorite position), and I felt a little kick! He’s been kicking almost non-stop since then, which I do not mind in the slightest. In fact, as I am typing this, he is wiggling from one side to another. My belly is rather hilariously lopsided, and I love it.

This weekend we’ll have our 36 week appointment and an ultrasound to check his position. We haven’t seen him since 20 weeks, so I am beyond excited. And beyond excited to hold him in my arms in a little more than a month!

Friendiversary

FriendiversaryOne year ago today I was checking my email over breakfast as usual, when a familiar name popped up in my inbox. There was an email from Hillary, whose blog I knew and loved. I had read about her adventures with her adorable twin girls, and, gasp, had figured out that she lived in Pasadena. I was hoping to meet her, and I always secretly looked around for her when I went to the library, a location I knew we both treasured. The email was so sweet, offering to give me some craft supplies she wasn’t using anymore. I have never been one to turn down free craft supplies, but I was mostly so excited to meet her! We arranged to meet at the library (of course!), where she gave me a huge bag full of goodies and some gorgeous tomatoes from her husband’s garden. And I got to meet the sweetest and most brilliant four-year-olds in the world (now five-year-olds!)

But the best thing Hillary gave me was her friendship and the gift of a place in her life. It is really a special magic to find someone who loves all the same things you do, and on top of that is overflowing with kindness and wit and wisdom and joie de vivre. Soon we were having craft nights (and crafternoons!) and picnics and going thrift store shopping and scheming about how to bring our grand artistic ideas into fruition. We took (the most fun!) road trip, had a good handful of pool dates, and I became a regular with her, dropping off and picking up the girls from school. We celebrated Easter and Thanksgiving together with our families. I came along to the girls’ dentist appointments, and Hillary got a babysitter so she could come with me to my glucose test. We took a painting class together, shared so many delicious meals, and talked and talked and talked (and laughed!) about anything and everything.

FriendiversaryThere are people you meet later in life and wish you’d always known, and that’s definitely the case here. I kind of can’t believe we’ve only known each other for a year because we are already family, and I can’t imagine my life without her, or her wonderful daughters and hilarious and kind husband, who also happens to be an amazing cook. She’s my favorite thing in Pasadena. You know the kind of friend who makes everything fun? Like even a Costco run or a cleaning session? That’s the kind of friend Hillary is, and I thank my lucky stars for her.

I think you really only get a few friends like this in life, enough to count on one hand. I hold onto my little friend bouquet extra tightly, and extra gratefully. I love that today, one year later, we are going shopping for food for the baby shower, which she and her family are throwing for us. I have no doubt that, like the 365 previous days of our friendship, it will be a raucous good time! Friendship, like love, carries within it all the richness and joy of life. This one has been a gift straight from heaven, and I am so thankful for it.

Three Blissful Years

Three YearsBlissful is definitely the best word for these past three years. I can’t type that without smiling. Being married to Eric has been the most fun I have ever had in my life. What other adjective could you use to describe getting to hang out with your best friend every day? I still jump up to hug him when I hear his key turn in the lock. He’s my favorite.

When I was in high school, my best friend and I used to rank boys based on their knowledge of obscure Doors songs and their willingness to discuss poetry with us in arty coffee shops (bonus points if he wrote his own poetry!). We were silly, and we (mostly?) knew that, but our ranking system did have an override function. When someone rose far above our petty criteria, he was good. These boys were, of course, largely unattainable, but that didn’t stop us from murmuring to each other, “Oh, he’s very good.”

I have been thinking for months that that’s the perfect word to describe Eric. He is just so good, in every way. He is so compassionate and patient and intelligent and funny and caring and faithful. A friend of mine from college happened to go on a date with Eric before we were dating, and Eric told me about it as soon as he realized that we were friends. When I told her I was dating him, the first thing she said was, “Oh, he’s very upstanding!” And yes, he is. I love that about him so much.

And I love that he makes me laugh all. the. time. Last night we got our birth ball in the mail, and I requested that he say, “I will pump you up!” in his best Arnold Schwarzenegger voice while filling it with air. And he did. I love that we have our own private language and a slew of inside jokes that never fail to crack us up (isn’t that one of the best parts of being in love?)

And I love the everyday part of being with him. I love being part of this team, I love making decisions together, I love discussing our days over leftovers. I love going to the farmer’s market every Saturday and walking down to the gym together. I love tag-teaming the dishes and having lazy afternoons. I love fancy dinners and romantic getaways and flowers and surprises too, but it’s this everyday building of a life together that I really cherish.

This isn’t to say that there haven’t been hard times in the past three years, but, thankfully, they made us even closer instead of driving us apart. We’ve had our fair share of illnesses and stresses and all the other things that are just a part of a life, and every time we have said, “There’s no one else I’d rather go through this with than you.” When I think about the things that Eric has patiently seen me through, I can’t help but cry. He is seriously the most dedicated and supportive person I’ve ever known.

I can’t wait to see him as a dad. I know I’m going to fall in love with him all over again. Happy anniversary, baby. Here’s to so many more!

C & E Slideshow

Tomorrow is our three year anniversary. Hurray! I am going to write a special post about it, but for today I wanted to share our wedding slideshow. It’s not a slideshow of our wedding, but a slideshow of our two separate lives and how, blessedly, they came together six years ago. I kind of can’t believe I didn’t think to share it earlier, but here it is. It still makes me cry.

Love is one of those great mysteries, not only in a cosmic sense, but also in a logistical one. For every two people who have found each other, it’s impossible not to wonder at the chance meetings, the small decisions, the seemingly random events that brought two lives together. It’s a beautiful thing to reflect on, everyday magic.

But what fills my heart even more than that when I watch this slideshow is an overwhelming sense of gratitude to the people in our lives, both friends and family, who helped shape us, who helped bring us together, who have loved and supported us as a couple and as individuals. Thank you. Thank you so much to all of you, who have made our lives so richly joyful. We love you!

Adventures in Pregnancy: 34 Weeks

34 WeeksWell, this has been a big week! Big being the operative word here, of course. (Yes, I am totally wearing the same dress I wore last week. It is my most beloved tent. Don’t fear–I wash it! Often!) We had our hospital tour on Wednesday, and it was awesome. The hospital is really lovely and calming, but more importantly, everyone was so nice and so supportive of natural birth. The hospital actually has some policies in place that make it easier to have a natural birth if you want one, and I was so excited to hear about them. The rooms in labor and delivery are just huge, and there’s a private garden for women in labor to walk around. Um, that is amazing.

34 WeeksAnd we won this tiny t-shirt for our baby in a raffle. Honestly, it was just such a pleasant experience, and we feel very positive about where we’ll be delivering. That is worth its weight in gold. Or in anything else of value. Like strawberries. Or peaches. Or really cold water. Those three things are my currency these days.

On Friday we went in for our regular appointment, and we went over our birth preferences with our doctor (it’s a form we’ll take with us to the hospital). She was on board with our wishes and was very supportive. Huzzah! But the best news is this. I asked her if she could tell what position the baby was in, and she said, “Oh, his head is already down.” And my jaw dropped, and I said, “Really?! That is the best news I’ve ever heard!” Never say pregnant women aren’t melodramatic. He is not really in position yet–his head is down, but his body is still curled up a little bit. But that is still such fantastic news! I think he turned sometime around Wednesday, and Eric said he could definitely see a difference in the shape of my belly. Hurray! I hope he’ll stay this way, but we’ll have an ultrasound in a few weeks to confirm his position. A huge weight off my shoulders!

What else? I am still very active, but I am slooooowing down. My range of motion is becoming more limited, and my feet really hurt. They are carrying an awful lot more weight than usual. I don’t think they are swollen (yet?), but they are definitely worn out. When I get up in the middle of the night and my feet hit the floor, they’re like, “Wait, you want us to do what now?! We’re off the clock!” I noticed today that my rings are feeling more snug, but I also had a lot more salt than usual this weekend, so hopefully they’ll be back to normal in the next few days? (All you experienced moms, feel free to cackle at me!) Otherwise, I have no real complaints except for heartburn. And that’s not really a complaint because Tums forever!

34 WeeksThis weekend we took a quick little trip about an hour south for our anniversary. It was great fun, and I will write more about it this week for sure, but I had to share this picture. We ate dinner at the same restaurant two years ago for our anniversary. I look so different now! I think maybe we can add my face to the list of things that are potentially swelling. Ha!

Home Days

Home DaysI am really used to working from home. Grad school will do that you, and a dissertation will drive it home (ah, those cold mornings I spent researching at my kitchen table in Berkeley, with a hat on!) Writing, the kind of writing I do now, lends itself well to this way of life too. Over the last ten years, I’ve become so comfortable and cozy at home, putting together rhythms and routines that work for me and switching them up every couple of months when they get stale. I love getting out and about, but home is my base, a place of books and warm Earl Grey (in a few months!) These past few months have been busy ones, though, and every day there are places to go: checkups and appointments, grocery runs and other household errands, and all manner of baby prep. Also, I would probably go crazy if I didn’t get to hang out with Hillary at least twice a week. So these days, a whole day at home is a rarity. It happens once every few weeks, and I love it.

My home days feel expansive as they stretch out before me, and I often find that I have more focus if I know I won’t have to stop working to go somewhere. On home days I write and I research and I clean and I play with my toys: paint or paper, fabric or felt. I get things done that I have been meaning to tackle for weeks. I take time to read and have Skype dates and cook (well, I cook almost every day anyway because I am a pregnant T-Rex, but I enjoy it more when I don’t have to be rushed.) These days are so restorative, and they leave me ready to rush out to a prenatal appointment or a birthing class or even the farmer’s market. I always make sure to get out for a walk or a trip to the gym in the evening, and the whole world feels new: the brilliant blue of the sky, the gentle whisper of leaves in the wind, the shadows of palm trees dancing at my feet.

I think that I’m extroverted by nature, but as I grow older, I find more introverted traits developing in myself, and I kind of love it. A new branch growing on an old tree.

Rajmah: Red Kidney Bean Curry

RajmahOkay, okay, I know this doesn’t look like much. BUT it is one of my favorite things to eat of all time. I am baffled that I haven’t put it on the blog yet. We just learned on our hospital tour that we have access to a fridge and freezer and can bring whatever we want to eat after delivery…so I think I will be bringing this. It is just so lusciously delicious. The spice mixture is so absolutely perfect that it should be patented (not by me, of course). The sauce is so exquisite that I always scrape up whatever’s left in the bowl with pita bread (naan would be even better). I double the recipe every single time I make it. And tripling it doesn’t seem like a bad idea either.

RajmahIt’s also a remarkably easy dish, one of the first ones I made back when I was learning to cook. There’s a little bit of chopping, a little bit of measuring, and then the heat does the rest. I love this dish for its depth of flavor and subtle heat (not enough to cause a pregnant lady heartburn, and that’s key). I hope you love it as much as I do. Sorry again for the lack of process photos. The chopped ginger and peppers are so pretty, but I am getting too HONGRY while cooking to stop and take pictures!

Rajmah (Red Kidney Bean Curry)
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen (with a few notes from me)

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (C: when I double the recipe, I still only use 1/3 c olive oil–it’s sufficient)
1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 plum tomato, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large green chili, chopped (C: I use serrano peppers.)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
8 ounce can of tomato sauce or 8 ounces of one of your choice
3 cups boiled red kidney beans or 30 ounces canned red kidney beans, undrained (C: I use dried beans cooked in a pressure cooker.)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley, if you’re cilantro-averse)

-Heat oil in a deep sauce pan over medium heat for one minute. Add ginger, garlic, onion, green chili, and let sizzle for one minute.
-Add the tomato sauce, salt and remaining spices and cook for an additional five minutes, stirring frequently.
-Add the kidney beans with water or canned red kidney beans (undrained) plus one additional cup of water, and tomatoes.
-Bring it to a boil, then reduce to medium heat and let cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Garnish with cilantro.
-Serve over rice or with naan.

A Handful of Happy Things

HappySometimes I find myself at a bit of a loss with blogging. Usually I plan out at least a week’s worth of posts in advance with post-it notes on my big desk calendar (artfully taped to the back of our office door). But I am so tired these days that it mostly falls by the wayside. I’m only doing four posts a week now, but I often find myself wondering at 10pm why I didn’t take a picture of something at 2pm when there was natural light. And I often think about how the things I’m spending my days on aren’t finished yet and aren’t ready to be posted. Obviously, no one is making me write blog posts, but I enjoy the rhythm of it, and I like checking in with all of you. So I’m especially happy when I remember that a blog post doesn’t have to be a lengthy essay full of profound thoughts or a new quilt/art project/recipe that I’ve successfully tackled. I’m happy when I remember that the kind of life I value is found in small pleasures, little moments that add up to a lot of joy. And then I come back to this little series, a handful of happy things. Like baby pomegranates.

HappyAnd the discovery that the inside of a palm tree looks a lot like vermicelli.

HappyOr, if cut differently, like fuzzy fur.

HappyHeart-shaped leaves.

HappyAfternoon swims with Eric.

HappyTiny elegant jacaranda leaves.

HappyAnd lots and lots of reading. I have been plowing through a handful of novels during lunch and before bed. Reading feels like an essential part of being alive to me. Trips to the library still make me a little giddy: who knows what treasures I’ll discover there?

HappyAnd this: I was reading a library book in bed the first night that Eric was in Sweden, and I was missing him. I turned a page in the book, and this Valentine fell out. Such a sweet little coincidence. It’s an awful lot of happy for just the past week or so. I love every bit of it.

Adventures in Pregnancy: 33 Weeks

33 WeeksI feel like I probably say this every week, but wow, I am awesomely round. I look at these pictures and wonder that I am still able to move around very easily and am still quite comfortable (sure, there is some soreness and heartburn, but these are nothing compared to the first trimester or the discomfort that I am sure awaits me around 39 weeks or so). So, no complaints from me! I got this dress a few weeks ago on clearance at Target, and at first I felt a bit like Cindy Lou Who in it–it was definitely a bit too long. But now my belly is big enough that it doesn’t drag the ground when I walk. A solid investment!

This past week Eric was in Sweden for work, and the time thankfully passed without incident. I wasn’t too worried, but it’s good to have him home. However! As of last week, the baby was head-down, and I was so excited about it. My overachiever baby, already in position. And then Monday morning of last week, he suddenly turned…sideways. And my hormonal self got plenty upset about it. It’s early yet, of course, and there’s no cause for concern–there is still plenty of time for him to turn, and some babies actually turn even during labor. Our childbirth teacher (also a doula) said that what will happen in the next few weeks is that his head will become the heaviest part of him, and it will naturally come down. I sure hope so. The issue is that a transverse baby (in a sideways position) can’t be delivered except by c-section. And while I am very thankful that that option exists, I would like to avoid it if I can. It’s a major surgery, for one, and I also would just really love to have the opportunity to birth my baby myself. Birth is painful, of course, but it is also an incredible and deeply empowering experience, one I’ve wanted to have my whole life. I am working hard to prepare for it–physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I feel so excited for it and so unafraid. And so I hope he will turn! There are plenty of ways to encourage a baby to turn too, and I may be trying some of those in the next few weeks. Only one of them has to work! (Send me all your baby-turning success stories, please!) But if in the end, he stays as he is and a c-section is necessary, I will still cry an ocean of joyful tears when I can hold him in my arms.

On the positive side of things, I think this is the first time in my pregnancy that I have actually been really worried, and I am so thankful for that. I was worried about my glucose test, but that was really more worry about my body’s ability to handle the fasting than anything having to do with the baby. And this too is really more about me than him. I think that’s a gift, and I am grateful one million times over for such a healthy pregnancy.

33 WeeksI am definitely noticing that I’m more emotional in this past week or so. There have been a few episodes of crying, which I think were good for me. Nothing terrible happened–just releasing emotions. The book I was reading today suggested that it’s a good thing to just let the tears flow in the last weeks of pregnancy, and so I will let them! It’s good to know that, like just about everything else I’ve looked up during this pregnancy, it’s totally normal.

Otherwise, I am happy as  clam, working on projects here and there, getting things ready for the baby (soooo close to finishing the quilt top!), and walking on the treadmill most days. It’s deathly boring, of course, but my iPod helps, and I actually like having the routine. It’s getting harder to tie my shoes, but that’s my only real issue!

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