Thursday, January 31, 2013

Omnibus Wedding Advice Post

Nathan and I got married a year and a half ago, and I started this blog shortly after our honeymoon. At the time, since I still had the wedding on the brain, I wrote a long ass list of advice I wanted to share with my baby sister. I figured it would be easier to post the advice on my blog, so she could read it at her leisure. This seemed much more civilized than inundating her with a bunch of (unwanted) advice when she gets engaged some day.

I've been slacking on my wedding advice series, and with baby's imminent arrival, I predict the slacking will only get worse. In the interest of getting all my advice into the blogosphere, I'm just going to dump my remaining thoughts into this post. Katherine, when it is time for you to plan your wedding, feel free to ignore all of this advice! I realize you are far more stylish than me and my advice is probably total crap.
  • Remember: it's a wedding INDUSTRY. They want to suck as much money out of you our parents as possible.
  • The wedding magazines will make you feel like you have to have your entire life mapped out in order to throw a successful wedding. This is bullshit. You don't need a signature perfume in order to get married. And you may decide in five years that you don't like the sugar bowl you registered for - that doesn't make you an evil human being.
  • Make sure the items on your registry hit a broad range of price points. Someone may actually want to give you a $5 can opener, and someone else may want to spend $300 on a kitchen gadget.
  • Don't make a ton of changes to your diet the month before your wedding. The day before your wedding? Not a good time to start eating more fiber. The week before your wedding? Not a good time to quit caffeine or smoking or heroin. (FYI, if you ever try heroin, I'll kill you.)
  • It's okay to wear flip-flops under your gown, assuming the dress is long enough. They do not need to be expensive. I spent HOURS searching for the perfect pair of bridal flip-flops online and ended up wearing $5 white wedge flip-flops from Old Navy during the reception. They were the same height as the heels I wore during the ceremony, and no one could see them under my dress. (And if anyone could see them? Eff em.)
  • Your man does not have to help you with the registry.
  • In fact, it is probably best if your man does not help with the registry.
  • You do not have to register for china. Only register for what you actually want.
  • Do not be a drunk bride. 
  • It's the bride's job to have fun at her wedding. The guests cannot enjoy themselves if the bride looks miserable (except for maybe a few drunk assholes). Do your best to make sure everyone enjoys the wedding and then let it go. Someone will have a bad time and seriously, that's out of your control. If you spend the entire day obsessing over that one person, the wedding will be ruined.
  • Get your crazies out before the wedding. Then, you can be calm on the happy day. If you need me to hold your hand while you have a nervous breakdown about the shrimp cocktail, I can do that for you.
  • Everyone appreciates a free pair of dancing flip-flops. Because no matter how many weddings they attend, people will always forget to wear comfortable dancing shoes.

  • You don't have to pick a short song for your first dance. After a certain point, the DJ can fade out the song or invite other couples to the floor. If you adopt the second strategy, make sure several couples are prepared to ambush the dance floor at the right moment. Nathan and I are happy to do this for you.
  • You will obsess over something stupid. For me, it was finding the right pair of sexy espadrilles for the honeymoon. After hours of stupid obsessing, I found the right sandals ... and never wore them. But that's okay. It's okay to be stupid about something.
  • You don't have to toss the bouquet. Think about your female guests. Are there a bunch of young unmarried women in their 20s who are happy to fight for the bouquet? Or are there a bunch of unmarried women in their 30s and 40s who are humiliated by the concept?
  • It's okay if the groom is not excited about the wedding planning. His level of interest in the stationary has no bearing whatsoever on your future happiness as a couple. Nathan was interested in the alcohol and honeymoon and ... yeah, that's really it.
  • Be yourself. I hated the idea of having everyone looking at me as Dad escorted me up the aisle. So instead of traditional wedding processional music, I had the DJ play the Star Wars theme song and that made me sooooo happy.
  • But you don't have to personalize every detail. Remember those stupid trivia cards I made? Yeah, so glad I threw those out.
  • Unless the guest list is very, very small, you will not have time to chat with all your guests. That's okay. Just try your best to visit with the guests who traveled.
  • If it's in the budget, I highly recommend a sweets table. Wedding guests love unlimited access to sugar.
  • Boutonniere: don't make your man wear a pink flower unless he wants to.
  • You can't control the weather. If there's a possibility of rain, just make sure there is a covered area for the reception. The ceremony will work itself out.
  • Make sure you designate someone to help with group photos. Your wedding photographer does not have a freaking clue who your Aunt Pam or Uncle Al are.
  • Also, make sure someone is in charge of policing the area that is being used for wedding portraits. It's really unfortunate when the bride has to wave her bouquet in the air and scream, "Aunt Claire! Move out of the way!!!" (Not that I'm speaking from experience.)
  • Your brother can be a bridesmaid.
  • Your wedding cake can be small. Just have a sheet cake in the kitchen that can be sliced up for the guests.
  • You will not look good in every photo. People will post really unflattering shots of you on Facebook. Get over it.
  • If any of your guests are bringing babies or small children, make sure they are seated at a table with an easy escape route.
  • Children are cute, but you don't have to invite everyone's child. My rule was the kid was invited if her parents had traveled from another state or if she was a relative.
  • Have your man look at photos of wedding rings online before you go shopping for his band. He's a guy. He's never thought about jewelry. Ever. His head will explode at the possibilities. He will need a very large slice of pie after this ordeal is over.
  • People don't drink red wine at summer weddings. We bought waaaay too much red wine. Our guests drank beer, white wine and whatever liquor was available.
  • Set aside a few moments with your groom after the ceremony. He's your husband now! You deserve some time together. Have someone bring you a few appetizers while you decompress - you'll be hungry. In that same vein, sweetheart tables are AWESOME.
  • Practice the first kiss.
  • A low key rehearsal dinner can be really fun. Think margaritas and nachos.
  • If you host a day-after brunch, it does not have to be formal. We just had bagels and donuts. Nathan still talks about the donuts. He really enjoyed getting to pick out six dozen donuts at once. I bought the orange juice in advance because no one wants to worry about orange juice the morning after their wedding.
  • Get as much as possible done in advance so you can spend time with friends and family in the 48 hours before your happy day.
  • You do not have to honeymoon in an exotic land. It is very relaxing to honeymoon in an English-speaking destination. Maui = perfect.
  • Do not get a massage the week before your wedding. You don't want to end up with some freak injury.
  • You don't have to attend formal cake tastings. Especially if there's a bakery you already love that does wedding cakes.
  • You don't have to take formal dance lessons. There is nothing wrong with the awkward adolescent sway.
  • Are you actually still reading this?
  • After the major decisions have been made (venue, color scheme, band vs. DJ), stop looking at wedding blogs and magazines. You don't want to question your judgment and drive yourself crazy.
  • Everyone has an opinion. You don't have to follow all the advice you receive. You just have to do what works for you and your groom.
  • You might see your calligrapher in her underpants. It will be kind of traumatizing. This is not really advice, but I just wanted to get that warning out there.
  • You can spend the night before your wedding at your home. You don't have to stay at a fancy hotel. I myself stayed at home because this was calmer. I didn't have to worry about packing all my toiletries.
  • It's okay if the groom sees your dress before the wedding. Trust me, he still won't have any idea what you are going to look like in the dress (unless you are marrying a tailor or fashion designer).
There was no way I could hide
this bad boy from Nathan.
  • You don't have to write your vows. Because if you do, someone's will be better. Do you want to feel crappy that you half-assed your vows while your groom wrote a sonnet for the ages?
  • People will start asking about babies during the rehearsal dinner. Prepare yourself with a vague but friendly response, e.g. "Oh, you'll just have to wait and see [giggle]." 
  • I used this book to get in shape for my wedding dress. Loved it! It's okay to tear off the cover of the book if it shames you (I did).
  • There will be changes to the guest list the week before the wedding. That's okay. We had one table with six chairs and only two guests! Nathan and I were worried for those guests, but they loved it. They had left their young kids at home and were thrilled to enjoy a fancy date night.
  • If you can start the ceremony at 5 p.m., that means you can have a leisurely morning and you won't be frantic as you get dressed.
  • Make sure you are in a committed relationship with your deodorant. Have an entire extra tube on stand-by in case the company that makes your deodorant goes out of business and there is a worldwide shortage.
  • Prepare a wedding day kit with things like floss and tampons. Even if your period is not due for two weeks, you need to be prepared - stranger things have happened!
  • It's okay to have a small wedding party. In fact, this can cut down on the headaches.
Whew! I think that's enough wedding advice, don't you agree? If you read this entire post, congratulations: you are really lame; yes, it's time to make some new friends or get a hobby.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pregnancy Brain

This pregnancy is starting to make me dumb. Yesterday, I went to the grocery store. I picked up all our groceries, from apples to bread to everything in between. I waited in line to check out. I loaded all the groceries on to the conveyor belt. The clerk started to process the items. I handed her my key chain, which has the miniature plastic card that gets me points for exciting coupons. Then I reached inside my purse for my wallet.

That's when I realized my wallet was at home.

For about 0.2 seconds, I hoped that the wallet had been stolen while I was picking out eggs or avocados. Because seriously, I would rather deal with the hassle of being robbed than acknowledge the fact that I'm so dumb, I went to the grocery store without my wallet.

But no, I knew exactly where my wallet was. Before I went to the grocery store, I had cleaned all the old receipts out of my wallet. Ambitious and industrious, no? But then, because I'm a dumbass, I just left my wallet on the ledge where we keep our keys and change bowl. And when I left for the market, I didn't think to reclaim my wallet from the ledge.

Such a dumbass.

Fortunately, the grocery clerk was very sweet and friendly. She always recognizes me (the bump is pretty obvious) and asks how I'm doing. She continued to ring up all my groceries and then suspended the transaction so I could go home and get my wallet. Thank God. I would have cried if I had to do a second circuit around the grocery store to reclaim our bread and apples.

About three years ago, I learned how to use a sewing machine, but then I never followed up on the skill. I was thinking about busting out my sewing machine in February so I could sew something for Baby Girl. But with my new dumbass pregnancy brain, I'm thinking that's not such a good idea. Although it might be good practice for the pain of labor, I don't want to accidentally sew my hand to the sewing machine!

Friday, January 25, 2013

So What Brings You To The Cranky Pumpkin?

If you have a blog, you can use Google Analytics to track information about your blog's visitors - e.g. how many people visit your blog, how long they stay, how many pages they read, etc. I like to check Google Analytics from time to time just to make sure I'm not blogging into a vacuum. (Although I'd probably keep blogging even if the only people reading the Cranky Pumpkin were myself, my husband and my parents - does that make me narcissistic or just stupid?)

Anyway, before I continue: Don't worry, I have no idea who you are. Google Analytics does not provide that sort of information (or, if it does, I have no idea how to access it! I have, at best, the computer skills of a very clever monkey.)

But, I can see from Google Analytics the sorts of Google searches that lead people to the Cranky Pumpkin. The most common search that leads to my blog is... cranky pumpkin. (Big "no shit, Sherlock" there.) But there are some bizarre search terms that have led folks to the Cranky Pumpkin. In the past month, people have typed the phrases below into Google and Google recommended one of my blog entries as a search result (and seriously, I'm not making any of these up!):

- "abnormal women with extremely large foreheads" - I don't even want to know. I feel dirty just knowing that someone looking for information about "abnormal women with extremely large foreheads" landed on my blog.

- "bed bug bites in between the fingers are they similar to aunts": Have I blogged about bed bug bites? For the record, we don't have bed bugs! Also, I like all my aunts and would not compare any of them to a bed bug. And hey, dumb ass, learn the difference between "ant" and "aunt" before you even think about coming back to my blog.

-  "bitches be like waiting for the right one skeleton" - Words fail me.

- "attractive self portraits" - wow, I can only imagine this reader's disappointment when they came to my blog in search of an attractive self portrait.

- "castle illegal hay" - seriously?

- "kryptonite nachos" - oh god, now I really want some nachos, but Baby Girl will kick my ass if I even think of eating some before she's born. Damn.

- "lego lord of the rings gondor castle sets" - in case there were any lingering doubts about my nerd status... (and does such a thing exist? Because now I want it.)

- "spoon from coconut shell best from waste" - someone did not actually type this into Google, did they? It sounds like a poem written by a drunken surfer.

- "tiny model Laura" - creeeeeeeeeepy

- "tree that smells like lemon" - you mean, like a lemon tree? Glad to see the Cranky Pumpkin is attracting all the geniuses of the world.

- "watchmyass" - NO, damnit, watch your own freaking ass. Preferably while reading someone else's blog, you weirdo.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Unsolicited Advice for My Baby Sister: Survival Tips for Attending A Friend's Wedding

My baby sister Katherine is twenty-four, and the first of her college friends is getting married this summer. Ten years ago, the first of my college friends got married, and since those first nuptials, I have learned a lot about being a wedding guest. Here are some random tips I have for Katherine so she can maximize her fun at the reception:

  • Order A Gift From The Registry ASAP: Buy something off the registry! This is easier for you and the couple. If they really wanted polka dot ice cream bowls, they would have registered for them. But they didn't, so that means they either (a) hate polka dots, (b) hate ice cream, or (c) don't have space for polka dot ice cream bowls. And since you are going to buy a gift off the registry, do it now! Don't wait for the week before the wedding when all the good/affordable stuff is gone. I know it's on the registry, but do you really want to buy a feather duster and soap dispenser for your friend?
  • Screw Group Gifts: Yes, if you pool your resources with your college crowd, you can afford that Cherry Red Kitchenaid Stand Mixer. And if someone else is coordinating the group gift and you just need to write a check, by all means, join the group gift. But don't spearhead the group gift unless you enjoy nagging your friends for money.
  • Don't Bring A Gift To The Wedding: If you order off the registry, then you should be able to ship the gift directly to the bride. DO THIS. You see that big pile of gifts at the wedding reception? Someone has to schlep those gifts to the car, and then the gifts have to be schlepped from the car to the house... Just let UPS work its magic.
  • Don't Pay Extra For Gift Wrap: If you order a gift online from the registry, you can pay extra for gift wrap. SCREW GIFT WRAP. The bride and groom will receive a ton of gifts in the mail in the weeks before the wedding, and gift wrap just means more crap for the waste bin. The box is wrapping enough. (But remember to write a gift message so the bride actually knows who sent the present!)
  • Be Ridiculously Careful With Scandalous Gifts: I have heard many brides complain, I can't believe So-and-So gave me crotchless panties, I was so embarrassed to unwrap that present in front of my grandmother! I have never once heard a bride complain, Geez, the cake pans from Williams Sonoma are awesome but what I was really hoping for was a vibrator and some edible chocolate lotion.
  • Eat Before the Ceremony (And Maybe Even Bring A Snack With You): Weddings are notorious for starting late. Then the cocktail reception might be at another location; but even if it's not, it still might take forever and a day before you get to nibble on some shrimp. Sometimes, there is a catering disaster, and you will have to fight to the death to get one crab puff. So then, you have to wait for dinner... but there might be forty toasts before the kitchen serves dinner... and if you are sitting at the college friends' table, there is a strong possibility you will be among the last to be served. Do yourself a favor and eat a normal meal before the wedding.
  • You Are Not Meeting Your Soulmate At The Wedding: Yeah, I know, I know. It happens all the time in the movies. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your life is not a movie. Just assume the groom's friends are all either (a) in a serious relationship, (b) antisocial, (c) gay, or (d) man whores who are only interested in a one night stand. Maybe you'll be pleasantly surprised. Probably not.
  • Don't Be That Crazy Drunk Girl Everyone Talks About: It's okay to drink, and hey, if don't have to drive, go ahead and get drunk. (I can't believe I just gave my baby sister permission to get drunk.) But make sure someone is drunker than you. Everyone remembers "the drunkest girl at the wedding" and makes fun of her for years. No one remembers the "second drunkest girl."
  •  Don't Bug The Bride In The Days Before the Wedding: If you have a question about the dress code or weather, ask the bride for advice several weeks (if not months!) before the wedding. Don't wait until the week before the wedding when bridezilla is freaking out about ... well, everything. If it's 48 hours before the wedding and you realize you don't know where to get pizza in Chicago, CHECK YELP, YOU DUMBASS. If you call the bride for directions to the wedding venue as she is getting her make-up done, you are a horrible human being.
  • Wear Dancing Shoes: If you want to dance during the reception, then you need to wear shoes that are comfortable for dancing, end of discussion. If you have any concerns about your shoes' ability to dance all night, sneak a pair of flip-flops into the reception. Your feet will thank you.
  • When In Doubt, Bring A Pashmina: I don't care what the weather forecast says. If the ceremony or reception are outside, it might get cold. My pink pashmina has saved my shivering shoulders at more weddings than I care to remember.
  • If Possible, Figure Out What Color The Bridesmaids Are Wearing: And then wear a different color. No matter how fabulous your dress is, it will suddenly look like crap if it matches the bridesmaids' gowns.
  • Don't Expect To Spend Tons of Quality Time With The Bride: You may actually get to spend a lot of time hanging out with the bride. But then again, maybe you won't. It all depends on the bride. If it's a big ass wedding with 400 guests, it's safe to assume you might only see the bride during a few rushed encounters.
  • Don't Gossip About The Bride, The Groom, Or Their Families: You never know who might be listening. If the groom's sister overhears you making fun of the groom's fat butt, you will spend the rest of the evening feeling sick.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Novel Update

I've been busy working on my novel since the New Year and thought it was time for a little update on my progress.

Shortly after Thanksgiving, I finished the second draft of my novel and gave a copy to my sister Katherine to read and critique during her winter break. Honestly, as I passed the novel to my sister, I was feeling a little "eh" about the whole thing. I had written the story I wanted to write ... but not really. It felt like I was only halfway there, but I didn't know how to push my novel any further.

I wanted to tell Katherine about all my concerns and insecurities for the novel, but she would not let me. She wanted to read the novel with a fresh perspective. She is a wise little sister.

Katherine also told me to take a break, so I did. (Have I mentioned how smart she can is?) I started doing some random creative writing and developed a pair of characters that really excited me. Suddenly, I wanted to abandon my novel and write about these new characters. That first novel was a piece of garbage and should be forgotten. I shouldn't waste any more time on it.

But then, before she even finished reading the entire thing, my sister started to give me some overall comments about my novel. Most importantly, although my novel had a beginning, I never really knew when it should start. I felt like the first 100 pages were kind of boring, but I didn't know how to ditch those pages. And even though I had not told her this, Katherine basically said the same thing, but she had a solution: (a) start with the scene at a Vermont motel (pg. 97) and weave the first 96 pages back into the story as flashbacks. Brilliant.

I wanted to jump right back into working on my novel, but the holidays were rapidly approaching, and Katherine was still editing. So I waited. Right before Christmas, Katherine returned my novel with hundreds of comments inked into the margins. Again, I wanted to jump right back into work, but I carefully set the revised copy aside and waited for the New Year. That seemed like a good time to get back to work.

Since the New Year, I have been re-reading my novel and considering all of Katherine's comments. They have been very helpful and given me dozens of ideas for how I can improve the next draft of my novel. I kept a running list of all these ideas, and then yesterday and this morning, I turned it into a master checklist. I highly doubt I'll be able to finish all these revisions before Baby Girl arrives, so I wanted to create a road map now while the ideas are fresh. That way, whenever I do have the time to get back to my novel (the fall? 2014? the next decade?), I'll be able to easily remember the changes I want to make.

My checklist is pretty bad ass. It's fifteen pages long with 78 different items. I feel like that should be intimidating, but it's not. It's exhilarating. 

Thank you, Katherine! You are a rock star.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My Grandma Is Cooler Than Your Grandma

Last week, I received the following email from my sister Katherine:

I called grandma to see if she wanted to do something this weekend. She has to call me back because she isn't sure if she has time. Grandma’s social life is more intense than mine. I repeat. Grandma has more plans on a weekend than me. Either I'm lame, or she's f***ing awesome.

My sister is a 24 year old who lives in Manhattan. My Grandma Shirley is just a wee bit older, lives in Queens, and is about two months shy of becoming a great-grandmother. Needless to say, this is one of the best emails I've ever received.

p.s. I don't even want to know how my raging social life compares to Grandma Shirley's. 

p.p.s. By "raging social life," I mean I spent New Year's Eve at home with Nathan and made pot roast. We watched t.v. until I passed out around 8:30 p.m. Not even pregnancy can excuse the depths of my lameness.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Birthday Misadventures

Yesterday I turned 34 years old. I had an excellent birthday even though the day began with a locksmith.

Well, that's not entirely accurate. My morning technically began with a sourdough bagel and cream cheese. Nathan has a crazy trial that begins tomorrow, so he needs to work all weekend; but he wanted to spend some time with me. After our bagel breakfast, we decided to play a little Mario Kart before he headed off to the trenches.

As Nathan turned on the Wii, I ducked into our front bathroom. I brushed my teeth, washed my hands, grabbed the handle to leave and ... the door wouldn't open. I tried again and although the knob turned like it normally does, the door would not budge.

I assumed that the door was just wedged in a little tightly, so I called for Nathan. He's a big guy and could easily force the door open with his shoulder.

He could not open the door either. From his side, the handle appeared to be locked. But from my side, the knob acted like it was unlocked. WTF?

I was stuck in our windowless bathroom. Let's take a moment to review some basic background facts: it was my birthday; I'm seven months pregnant; and my husband needed to get to the office because he has an ass shit ton of work to do for this trial he's working on.

When I realized I was stuck in the bathroom, I felt my pregnancy hormones surge. I wanted to freak out and cry even though things were obviously going to be okay. But I did not cry (yet) and I managed to stay calm.

For the next half hour, Nathan and I tried numerous tricks to try to open the bathroom door. The screws for the door knob were on my side, but none of our screwdrivers would fit under the door. Nathan passed me a knife, but it would not turn the screws. He passed me a different knife - no dice. I eventually told Nathan to get Bob, our neighbor across the street who is a contractor; but at this point, it was only 7:15 a.m. and Bob did not answer the door. Finally, I called a locksmith. (Nathan had passed my iPhone under the door so I could distract myself while he went to Bob's house.)

The locksmith said he could be at our house in 30-35 minutes. Shortly after I spoke to the locksmith, I sat down on the toilet and started to sob hysterically.

Nathan said lots of reassuring things to try to calm me down. I screamed something along the lines of, "I JUST NEED TO CRY! MY PREGNANCY HORMONES ARE OUT OF CONTROL! LET ME CRRRRRYYYY!!!"

I cried for about three minutes, and then the storm passed and my hormones settled down. As I was crying, I felt bad for Nathan. I knew he felt awful listening to his pregnant wife cry on her birthday while she was trapped in a windowless bathroom. But I could not help myself. I had to cry or my head would have exploded.

After my crying jag ran its course, I tried to enjoy my captivity. I played Words with Friends with Nathan, who continued to say sweet, reassuring things from the other side of the door. I texted my sister about my plight. And since I was in the bathroom, I used my fancy sea salt scrub to carefully exfoliate my face.

Making the most of my captivity.
I was going to apply a face mask, but then the locksmith arrived and hey, it only took him twenty-five minutes to get to our house. So there's that.

The locksmith passed a screwdriver with a very small handle under the door. I calmly unscrewed the knob.

My trophy.
For the next fifteen minutes, the locksmith worked away at the knob and locking mechanism. He had to knock away every bit of metal because a lever in the door knob had broken.

I asked Nathan to send me a photo so I could
imagine the drama unfolding in the hallway.
Finally, after fifteen minutes, the door swung open and I was free! I hugged Nathan. Then I wondered if I should hug the locksmith, but that would have been weird, so I just thanked him a dozen times. All told, the adventure lasted about ninety minutes.

According to the locksmith, this is apparently what happened: a lever in our doorknob snapped and broke, trapping me inside. I did nothing wrong. Repeat: I DID NOTHING WRONG. This incident just falls under the category of "shit happens."

When I was first trapped in the bathroom, I was so annoyed, but now I feel really, really, really lucky. This could have happened on Monday, when Nathan was at the courthouse, and I could have been trapped in the bathroom all day without food, a comfortable chair, my iPhone or something to read. Or, God forbid, this could have happened in three or four months, while I was taking a shower and Baby Girl was napping in her crib. I could have spent all day trapped in the bathroom while Baby Girl was crying for me in another room. Can you imagine? And at least I was in the bathroom, where I had a toilet and sink. These amenities were greatly appreciated.

As an extra stroke of luck, I had already scheduled a birthday pedicure for 10 a.m. 

Being trapped in the bathroom is not so bad when you get
 a reward like this.
By the time I was lounging at the nail salon, my morning misadventure was already an amusing story. As my sister Katherine observed, it was like my own personal episode of Modern Family.

In case you were wondering, our guest bathroom does not at the present time have a door knob. The old knob is perched on the mantle like a trophy and "buy new door knob" has been added to my to-do list. For the record, the bathroom's new door knob will not have a lock. And yes, I'll be buying non-locking knobs for several other doors in our house. Before we know it, Baby Girl will be Toddler Girl, and I don't need a toddler trapped in a bathroom or bedroom, thank you very much.

Friday, January 11, 2013

January Happy List

Although the holidays are over and the Christmas lights are gone, lots of things are making me happy this month:

  • My new black glitter Toms: with the exception of my hiking boots and flip-flops, my feet no longer fit into my old shoes. On the bright side, this gave me an excuse to buy these Toms and they make me smile every day.
  • My Moop market bag: I bought this thinking it could be a good diaper bag alternative, but I'm already using it as my purse. We're in love.
  • Vanilla milkshakes: have I mentioned this obsession?
  • Sweet baby kicks in my tummy: it doesn't matter if it's at 4 p.m. or 4 a.m. or if they are gentle or sharp, I love each nudge.
  • My new Five Year Journal: I just started year three of my perpetual journal, and I love it! This little book is a fun twist on the perpetual journal experience. It asks a different quirky question for every day of the year. I now use both journals every day. (Whether I can continue this practice after Baby Girl arrives remains to be seen.)
  • My new internal thermostat: It's January, so I should be shivering and begging Nathan to turn up the thermostat. But Baby Girl keeps me plenty warm and now Nathan is the one to turn the heat on (although he pretends he's doing it for me!)
  • Fuzzy Socks: except no matter how warm I am, my feet still get cold.
  • Downton Abbey: welcome back, old friend! Santa brought me the BBC version for Christmas, which includes deleted scenes that were cut due to time-constraints for PBS. I'm rewatching Seasons One and Two this month in tandem with Season Three. My cup runneth over!
  • My daily walk: or maybe I should call it my daily waddle.
  • Prenatal yoga: the instructor at my studio is also a duela, and she offers lots of great wisdom as we work on the poses. Very relaxing, and it makes my body feel sooooo goooood.
  • Mario Kart Wii: I will play this game until the day I die.
  • Plants vs. Zombies: Ditto.
  • Baby clothes: I'm trying to not buy too many onesies, but it's hard to control myself.
  • Getting the house ready for Baby Girl: I do this in small bits so I don't wear myself out. Hopefully I will never wake up at 3 a.m. and beg Nathan to set up the crib immediately. But I've already apologized to him in case that sort of nesting insanity happens.
  • Anything with polka dots or stripes: Thank you, Old Navy, for making comfy but cute maternity clothes.
  • My Old Navy maternity leggings: ditto.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Little Serenity

I realize that some of my pregnancy posts might seem bleak. I don't mean to be bleak! Physically, this pregnancy has fallen on the tough side of the spectrum. But mentally and emotionally, I'm doing great. I feel calm, serene and happy. I don't know if it's the pregnancy hormones or all the vanilla milkshakes I'm drinking, but I feel very content and peaceful.

I probably don't say this enough, but I am very excited for Baby Girl's arrival. I am thrilled that she is healthy and thriving. I have some discomforts and dietary restrictions, but they feel like good learning experiences. This pregnancy has made me a better woman.

Alas, it's not very exciting to write about contentment and peace. When I sit down at my laptop, it's much more interesting to write about puke and building pillow forts for my back. That's the sort of writer I am, and there are not enough vanilla milkshakes in the world to sand away my edges.

When I complain about yakking or not being able to tie my shoes, that's just me indulging my darker sense of humor. I'm not swimming in despair. On the contrary, I am glowing with joy. Even when I'm tired and sick to the stomach, I mainly feel positive and blessed.  

Okay, that's enough sappiness from me. Excuse me, I need to go find something to be cranky about.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Pregnant Lady Musical Chairs!

As a child, musical chairs was my third favorite birthday party game. The pi├▒ata was my favorite, and Pin the Tail on the Donkey a close second. But musical chairs was pretty bad ass - unless you were one of the first kids out. Then it sucked.

Now I play musical chairs every day - except there's no music, prizes or cake. The rules for Pregnant Lady Musical Chairs are very straightforward: wander around your house and look for a comfortable spot to sit. This might sound easy, but there's a twist: the most comfortable place to sit is an ever-shifting variable that changes with my pregnant back's whims. Sometimes it's the armchair in the living room; sometimes it's the glider in the future nursery; and sometimes, it's not even a chair at all but it's the couch, bed or the floor. You have to find the most comfortable place to sit before the music stops, or your back will demand an evening with an ice pack.

For several weeks, I had mastered Pregnant Lady Musical Chairs: the leather armchair in our den was the place to be. But a few days ago, my back revolted and demanded a chair with a harder back. I had to improvise and wheel our office chair into the den. This worked, sort of, but Monday afternoon I discovered that our outdoor rocking chair is even better than the office chair, so I had Nathan bring it into the living room. (I swear, I could hear my pregnant belly laughing when I considered dragging the chair into the house myself.)

So now our living room looks like this:

Well, I was going to include a photo here, but either Blogger or my laptop is being a little bitch, and not letting me upload a photo. Grrrrr... Please use your imagination - just picture a living room that has been hit by a tornado and you'll get the idea.

Does the living room look tragic with an outdoor rocking chair? A little. But do I feel like a genius for winning the latest round of Pregnant Lady Musical Chairs? Absolutely. Besides, this game is preparing me for motherhood. I'll have to adjust our decor as Baby Girl learns to sit, crawl, stand and walk. Breakable objects will have to move, outlets will have to be covered, and baby gates will be installed. Pregnant Lady Musical Chairs is just part of the adventure called motherhood.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My Favorite Quote

When I was in high school, I taped a big sheet of paper to the side of my bookcase and used it to keep track of my favorite quotes. I have messy handwriting, and I scrawled the quotes with my Pentel markers, so it was not exactly a thing of beauty. But hey, it made me happy and it was a budget-friendly decoration for a teenager.

I don't have a Quote Wall anymore, but I still love me a good quote. This has been my favorite for many months now:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

----from A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson.

What a beautiful thought! I have never read A Return to Love, but this quote is so inspiring, maybe I should put it on my To Read List for 2013. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Few Good Books

Nathan gave me a Kindle Fire for Christmas, and I believe my Kindle Fire is magical - or at least lucky - because every book I have read since Christmas has been outstanding.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple. This book has an Arrested Development feel, which makes total sense since the author used to be a writer for AD. The story and characters are quirky and whimsical, but the novel still has a lot of soul. I could not stop reading this and was very satisfied by the ending.

The Newlyweds, by Nell Freudenberger. A woman from Bangladesh and a man from Rochester, NY meet online and get married. An Amazon reviewer complained that the story was not "realistic." Folks, if you are looking for realism, please head to the nonfiction aisle. But if you want a damn good story that will make you think and will keep popping into your head long after you finish the last sentence, then I highly recommend The Newlyweds.

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, by Ayana Mathis. This is the latest Oprah Book Club selection, so I avoided it for a few weeks on principle. (What principle? Honestly, I don't know.) The novel starts with Hattie, the mother of a large brood, and then each chapter focuses on a different one of Hattie's children. I worried it would feel like a short story collection, and I'm rarely in the mood for a short story. I'm a novel reader, and when I pick up a novel, I expect a novel. And yay, that is exactly what Mathis wrote. Although the chapters follow different characters from 1923 into the 1970s, the narrative pulled me along and I was disappointed when I reached the end. My Kindle Fire said I had read 94% of the text, so I expected another chapter! When I clicked to the next page and saw the word "Acknowledgments," I sighed loudly and then reread the last few pages, just to make the story last a few minutes longer.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Pregnancy Q&A

The New Year started on Tuesday, but my third trimester started on Wednesday, and for me, that feels like the bigger deal. I thought it might be fun to do a little Q&A with myself and take stock of how my pregnancy is going.

Do you have any cravings?
Vanilla milkshakes, milk, bread, and cheese.

Any anti-cravings?
If I walk near the seafood counter at my grocery store, I want to die. Also, I have to avoid acidic foods, or else I throw up. That means no tomatoes, onions, chocolate, etc.

When was the last time you threw up?
About four hours ago.

Are you sleeping well?
Well enough. Every night, I build a "pillow fort." First, I stack four pillows against the wall to lean against. (If I lie down in a flat position, I throw up.) I put a fifth pillow under my knees, and then I position a sixth and seventh pillow on either side of my body, like big pillow armrests, except they are more like "tummy rests."

Is Baby Girl kicking a lot these days?
Tons, but it doesn't hurt. 

If you could use one word to describe Baby Girl, what would it be?

Does she have a name?
Yes, but only Nathan and I know her name and we are not telling anyone else until after she is born.

Is her nursery ready?
Good God, no. But we do have her crib. It's in a box, and the box is chilling in our living room.

How is your energy?
Inconsistent. Some days I'm fine until about 8:30 p.m., without any naps. Other days, I craaaaaash at 3 p.m. and need to nap for several hours before I can stagger into the kitchen for some "dinner." On those days, "dinner" means something like a spoonful of peanut butter or a handful of cereal.

How was the glucose tolerance test?
Totally overrated! Everyone complains about how nasty the glucose drink is and how the test made them dizzy/nauseous. The drink tasted like soda with a slightly funny aftertaste, and I was able to guzzle it down in less than a minute. Then I sat and worked on a cross-stitch project while I waited for my blood test. I never felt ill. No problema.

Have any ordinary tasks become difficult?
Tying my shoes! Thank God for my Uggs. I can just slip them on and I don't have to worry about socks or laces. But, my Uggs do not offer great support so I only wear them if I'm walking a short distance. If I'm walking any significant distance, I suck it up and put my running shoes on.

Are you carrying high or low?
I have no idea. I just know my belly is big.

Do you have any plans for what you want to eat after Baby Girl arrives?
A ham sandwich! The ban on deli meats is the worst. I want a ham and cheddar cheese sandwich on sourdough with mustard, onion and tomatoes with a can of Coca-Cola.