Friday, May 30, 2008

Weekend of Projects: #4 Dresser

This is as close to seeing the nursery as you'll get for now. This used to be Keith's dresser from high school. It was a natural-looking wood veneer—pretty plain and simple.

I don't remember when it appeared in our house .... I think Keith's parents handed it down to us when we got the house for our guest bedroom. Oh, I take that back. Keith said that we had it a few apartments ago, so apparently it's been around longer than I thought!

To make it fit in with the nursery, Keith painted it white and I added the brown and green accents. It wasn't a very cooperative piece of furniture—Keith needed to do three coats of white before it looked even. I got frustrated because the wee little accents took FOREVER to paint. It was the smallest area we'd painted all weekend, and yet it seemed to take an inordinate amount of time. Probably because, once it was finished, I could put down my paintbrush once and for all!

Of course, having said that, I think another coat might be in order for the colored accents. But I just might get used to how they look now, since the alternative is to open the paint cans again.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Weekend of Projects: #3 Bookshelves

This was really all Keith's and my Dad's project. Therefore it's my favorite project, because these fabulous bookshelves appeared, just like magic!

Ever since we moved into this house, I've wanted bookshelves in the living room, flanking the fireplace in the living room. For a few months now, Keith and Dad have been working on this project—researching the best way to build the bookshelves and measuring and buying materials.

Silly Keith and I; we thought the bookshelves were pretty much done once they were assembled. This weekend he would just be doing some "finishing touches." Oh, our DIY naivete strikes again!

FYI: Staining takes a LONG time. Especially when you need two coats of stain on each bookshelf. Plus on the back (which was attached after the staining process). And on the trim pieces. So just keep that in mind.

But as you can tell from the pictures, the final results were absolutely worth the (Keith and Dad's) time. I think they're great! I can't wait to fill them with all of my impressive literature books from college. I'll have to dust the books off first, though.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Weekend of the Project: #2 Garden

This is a picture of a project in process, because it didn't occur to me to get an After photo. We got 5 bags of mulch and a few plants to make the front garden beds look a little less pathetic.

This project involved weeding, which for me is a game of "Is this a weed or a plant?" After weeding, I planted a few myrtle starter plants, since I'm trying to get ground cover started to compete with the weeds. Maybe, about 5 years from now, the myrtle will be winning and I'll have a little less weeding to do.

I also planted a container that looks very cute on the front step. It almost looks like our yard isn't completely hopeless! There's still plenty of room for improvement—and I mean room. There's not a whole lot of plants and large spaces for the weeds to grow in-between. So, as with the myrtle, my plan is to take the long-term view. Take out a few weeds and put in a few more perennial plants every year, and eventually we'll improve the weed-to-plant ratio to an acceptable level.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Weekend of the Project: #1 Necklaces

I can't believe it, but we actually survived our project-filled weekend. This week will be posts of some of the projects we completed over the weekend. Unfortunately for you, you won't see pictures of the finished nursery quite yet. It is completely painted and it looks AMAZING. We're both so pleased with how it turned out and I'm looking forward to showing it off. But we are hoping to show it to a few people in person first, so the Big Reveal will have to wait.

In the meantime, here's the easiest project of the weekend. I've been meaning to do this for quite a while; my jewelry box just isn't big enough to fit all of my necklaces. I toyed with the idea of getting fancy decorative hooks to hang my necklaces, but in the end I decided it was more important to have something that went easily on and off the wall than something very decorative.

After a quick trip to the store, this project was finished in about 15 minutes. If only they were all that easy!

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Pain of Childbirth Classes

"What's the first word that comes to mind when you think about labor and childbirth?"

This was the ice-breaker question for our childbirth classes. As ice-breakers go, I didn't think it was too bad. It wasn't too personal, but it's obviously something that was already on all of our minds! The first woman said "Pain." Ding! Ding! Ding! I felt like, if we were on the Family Feud, the survey would have said she was absolutely correct.

Her husband said it was a process, which was a bit more clinical, but still apt. I suggested "endurance" because Keith had just finished the marathon and I'd been joking about how we both had endurance events this year—the only difference being that Keith trained for months to prepare for his, and mine will probably last 5 times longer.

Most of the answers were pretty predictable; only one answer really stuck out to me because I had instantly disliked the woman who said it, and her answer reaffirmed my initial impression.

"Natural," she had shrugged when it was her turn to answer. "Childbirth is completely natural and women have been doing it for thousands of years." It just seemed like such a snide, self-righteous comment to me. Yes, we all know that we are not the first ones to do this. Or the last. But that doesn't mean that I can't/shouldn't be frightened and apprehensive about squeezing out an 8-pound baby! We're not really talking about the natural process of childbirth—this class is about ME and what can I expect in a few months and how do I prepare for it.

When class re-convened the following week, the instructor asked us to tell one thing that we had learned the week before. Most of us talked about specific parts of labor that we hadn't been aware of, or pain management techniques. Our snide classmate?

"Last week I learned that I already knew even more about childbirth than I had realized!"

So all of that information may have been news to us uneducated masses, but SHE knew better.
I suppose it's probably wrong that I wish her an incredibly long and painful labor, isn't it?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hapless DIY-ers

Last weekend, we went to Home Depot to purchase all of the materials needed to paint the nursery.

In theory, it's not that hard. Just pick out a few cans of paint, right? And yet, somehow, we were there for nearly three hours. THREE LONG, PAINFUL HOURS.

A big part of the problem is that we don't really know what we're doing. And we don't pick simple projects. Actually, those two issues together pretty much sum up the problem in its entirety.

For example, we can't just paint the nursery one color. Oh no! I saw a cute picture in a magazine where the bottom two-thirds of the wall was one color, separated from a different color on the top one-third by a trim board. It was adorable! But much more complicated that just slapping some paint on the wall.

Even before getting to Home Depot, it required significantly more detailed measuring of the room, since we were buying several paint colors. It will also require leveling abilities when we hang the trim boards.

And how do we hang the trim boards, exactly? With our old plaster walls, Keith isn't a big fan of putting in a lot of nail holes. But can we get away with gluing the boards? This gets to the second part of the problem: we're both pretty new at all of this house maintenance/decorating stuff, and we don't know the best way to do things. We don't know any way to do things, really. We're just kinda making it up as we go along, and that takes a lot of brain power. Especially considering that it usually means the plan changes at least once during implementation, because there's a kink we'd failed to factor in during the "planning/making it up" stage.

By the end of our Home Depot trip, I was physically and mentally exhausted. I hung around the cash registers, waiting for Keith to pick up one more thing that we'd missed in our first five rounds of the store. When he finally returned to the front, he told me I looked defeated. I thought it was a pretty accurate description.

If the painting this weekend goes well, maybe there will be pictures to post next week. If you don't ever see pictures of the nursery .... well, don't ask. Just assume we've decided to take a break from DIY house projects.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Baby Shower

The nursery is starting to fill up! I had my work baby shower last week, and then my Cleveland baby shower was yesterday. The final baby shower in Cincinnati is a few weeks ago, which is good because it gives us some time to figure out where to put everything we've already gotten before more presents arrive.

The only other experience I can compare a baby shower to is our wedding showers from a few years ago. I wasn't a big fan of the wedding shower. I mean, I'm not complaining about people getting together to give me gifts. But it felt sort of awkward, with all of the focus on me. I felt on display, and I wasn't really sure how to properly display my appreciation for a Crockpot or laundry hamper.

But I thought, overall the baby showers were a lot more fun. There were two things about it that really stuck out to me as different from a wedding shower. First, as I've discussed with several friends, registering for baby items is really hard work.

When you're registering for a wedding, you basically know what you need as a functioning adult. But what does a baby need?!? I had no idea. And there are so many products out there to choose from. Every time we tried to register, Keith and I would only make it through a few items before our brains were friend and we'd give up. It was rough.

But what's great about the baby shower is that people give you things both on and off your registry that they think you'll need or like. There's so many gifts that people gave me that they could personally recommend, and I really enjoyed getting the gifts AND the recommendations. It helps me feel a little more prepared, and like I may have a clue as to what I'm doing.

I also enjoyed that we got a LOT of books for the baby. Reading is a huge part of our lives, and something that I can't wait to share with my children. So, in my case, getting books that my friends and family have personally cherished and want Little L to enjoy meant a lot. Some of the books I've heard of before, but most of them I haven't. I'm looking forward to reading them to Little L both before and after he/she is born.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Bump Inferiority

Pregnancy-related activities are heating up. My doctor's appointments are starting to be closer together. We're taking childbirth classes this month. And a few nights ago we took our prenatal tour at the hospital where I'll be giving birth.*

It's very interesting to be surrounded by other pregnant women. The tour started with a talk in an amphitheatre. Of course, once we sat down I started checking out all of the other moms-to-be. Is her bump bigger than me? Am I waddling more than she is?

I came to the conclusion that everyone else had put off the tour a lot longer than we did, because they all seemed hugely pregnant. My bump looked so small! Or do I just think that because I've gotten used to my bump, and it doesn't seem so big anymore?

I did experience some minor feelings of bump inferiority, but I got over it when I realized that the majority of pregnant women on the tour had foregone shoes that laced up. I'm at the end of my 7th month, and so far I'm still making the effort to bend over and tie shoelaces. It may not always be easy, but I'm still doing it!

* I took a break here for about 5 minutes of breathing into a paper bag.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Little L: Month 7

We've made it to the third trimester. Like, third of three. This is it!

My 7-month check-up was actually a few weeks ago, but it took me awhile to post about it because I had a bit of scare that required further follow-up. I had my glucose test to make sure I don't have gestational diabetes, since it does sometimes happen that women who aren't normally diabetic can become so during pregnancy. On the plus side, this condition can be treated through diet and medication. But on the downside, it does put the mother and baby at a higher risk for Type II diabetes later in life.

I wasn't phased by the test. No one in my family is diabetic, and I've had a very easy pregnancy so far. So I was that much more shocked/dismayed/worried when I got the call from the doctor's office the next day that my sugar levels were high in the initial test, and I had to come back in for a longer test. The following Monday, I was back in the lab bright and early, on an empty stomach, to drink more glucose drink and get my blood drawn every hour for 4 hours.

Between the drink, lack of food, and nerves, I was sick by the time I got home at mid-afternoon. I ate lunch, called into work, and slept for the rest of the afternoon. I thought about all the pop I've drank and Oreos I've eaten over the past seven months, and wondered about what I would be like as a diabetic.

The next morning, I got the call from the doctor's office saying my latest test results were normal, and I did NOT have gestational diabetes. Once the experience was all over, I convinced myself that it was actually good for me (since the final results were negative).
  1. Drinking less Coke and and eating fewer Oreos can only be good for me and Little L.
  2. It was a reminder that, although my pregnancy has gone really smoothly so far, there's still a lot that's out of my control. I need to be aware of that, and also grateful for the good fortune I've had so far.
  3. At the end of the pregnancy, there's still the labor and birth to go, and that whole experience can be so unpredictable. So I need to learn to go with the flow and trust my doctor's advice, even in a less-than-ideal situation.
But the final verdict is: So far, so good. Little L is growing well and sounding great. He/she moves around a lot now, and Keith can hear the heartbeat when he lays his head on my large (and growing bigger daily) belly. As always, I'll keep trying to eat healthy, get some exercise, and enjoy the last trimester!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Didn't See That Coming

"I should wear more black eyeliner and mascara."
--Aloud musing from my husband, as we watched part of a Greenday concert on TV.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Congrats to Keith!

Keith is officially a Marathoner. He finished the Flying Pig Marathon yesterday in 4 hours, 8 minutes. His original goal was to finish in under 4 hours, but 26.2 miles is a long time for everything to go your way, and his calf muscles started cramping at the end.

It was a great day to spectate. A little chilly at first, when we arrived at spectator point #1 at 6:30am. The race started about 15 minutes late due to a house fire on the course.
But once the race started, it ran smoothly, and the day warmed up quickly as the sun came out.

I joked with Keith beforehand that he was wearing his "anonymous runner" costume because he wore a long-sleeved, white shirt with gray shorts. He didn't exactly make it easy to pick him out of the crowd! I had been guilty of missing him last year because I couldn't find him amongst all the runners, and I was worried about missing him again.

I actually got pretty nervous for Keith the morning of the race. Until that point, I had been quietly confident. But once it was really race time, and I couldn't see him or talk to him to find out how he was feeling, I got anxious. Did he feel good? How did the start go? Was he on pace? The few times that we could a glimpse of him at miles 2 and 6.8, he looked good, but that still left a lot of time just wondering how it all was going.

It was such a relief to see him come running toward the finish line. Not hobbling, or being carried, or walking even. I'm so proud of him for not just running the race, but also for training since last December to be prepared for this race. It's just one more sign that he is determined, and passionate, and the most wonderful partner I could ever wish for.

Congratulations, Keith!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Sh@tting on Cloth Diapers

Why does everyone insist of acting like I'm an idiot for saying I'm doing cloth diapers? It's really been ticking me off lately.

It's not really people I know and trust. Which, as I'm discovering, is true about most of the "advice" I'm getting. If it's given from a trusted friends or family members, I appreciate their thoughtful opinions, and I'm glad they've shared their wisdom with me. The problem is from the fringe elements—co-workers that I don't know that well, people I would label as "acquaintances" rather than friends.

These are the people who, maybe because they don't know me as well?, seem eager to criticize my choices. These are the people who don't hesitate to tell me that I'm gaining too much weight, or too little. Or that I shouldn't be drinking caffeine, or sleeping on my back, or whatever else they can think of.

These people also have a united opinion when it comes to cloth diapers, I'm discovering. I wouldn't really say they give "advice" about the subject, because that would imply perhaps some useful instructions. Instead, when they hear "cloth diapers," I just get attitude. A little laugh or an "Oh, really?" and a smirk that clearly indicates they think I have no idea what I'm doing, and I'll learn soon enough that cloth diapers are too messy/inconvenient/expensive/what have you to actually be feasible.

I'm not saying that I'm a complete expert on cloth diapers. But that's just it—I'm not an expert on ANYTHING baby!!! I can just study up, get opinions of people I trust and make the decision that is most in line with my beliefs and values. And to me, choosing the (slight? insurmountable? imagined?) inconvenience of cloth diapers over disposable is important enough to my beliefs about the environment and personal responsibility to still make that choice.

And even though none of YOU, my loyal readers, are the scoffing opinion-foisters, I'll still include a few links about cloth vs. disposable, for your reference:

The Simple Dollar cost-comparison of cloth vs. disposable

"Joy of Cloth Diapers" at Mothering Magazine

"Just the Basics" at Cotton Babies

Friday, May 02, 2008

Experiment: Real Live Baby on the Premises

There was a real, live baby in our house last night. Outside of the womb, I mean. And Keith and I were in charge of it.

For whatever reason, I never babysat much as a kid. Yet I never really doubted that I wanted to have children. I have worked in educational settings, and I know I enjoy children. Children of a certain age, that are old enough to blow their own noses and use the toilet and say amusing things. I don't really have any experience with babies or infants.

But last night, Keith and I babysat my boss's six-month old daughter for a few hours, while she and her husband went to a dinner. She had assured me that her daughter was the perfect "starter baby"—a happy, easygoing child. And it was only for a few hours, right?

And it did go okay. There was a bit of fussing, because Keith and I were too slow on the feeding part of the evening. There were a few gorgeous smiles during playtime, and then a lot of adorable sleeping. It seemed strange, only in that it felt very natural.

It helped that we had already dropped Beckett off at my parents' house for the weekend, so our house was much quieter. It didn't help that, once the baby ate and fell asleep, someone looking for petition signatures rang the doorbell. Rang the doorbell at 9 o'clock! What ridiculous behavior.

I think it was a good introductory experience. I just can't believe how tired I am today. It was a long day yesterday before the baby arrived, but even so .... I need a nap!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

It's a Good Decade

Now that I've had some time to think about my birthday and how I've felt about turning 30, I've actually discovered that I'm pretty excited about it!

I've started thinking that I wasn't really meant to be in my 20s. I mean, they were great. I did many memorable, wonderful things. Graduated from college, lived abroad for a year, got my first job/apartment/car, graduated from college again, got married, got a house/dog/cat. I've obviously left off countless experiences, but I think that list covers the biggest ones.

But there's a couple things about my 20s that just didn't quite fit. I'm not big into going out, dancing, drinking ... all those wild and crazy things you're supposed to enjoy doing in your 20s. Like in college—I enjoyed being in college a lot, but I definitely didn't feel like I fit the undergrad stereotype.

However, now I'm in my 30s. And even though it's just my own mental perception, I feel like the 30s suit my personality much better. When I think about what 30s means to me, I feel like your world gets smaller, in a good way. You spent your entire childhood and young adulthood learning new things, trying out new experiences, traveling and learning about yourself and others.

Now, in my 30s, I think that I can take all of that knowledge and apply it back to myself. I think of settling down into a house and starting a family. Focusing on the people closest to me, and really just enjoying where I am in life, and the person I am becoming. Learning to be content with the adult Me. Spending time on my current interests and hobbies, because I don't feel pressured to be the carefree, adventurous young thing that I never really was anyway.

I don't really think of a stereotype for the 30s, and that's so exciting. It's the women from Sex and the City and it's small-town family life. It's settling down or starting a new life on your own terms. It's whatever you want it to be!

I'm looking forward to my 30s. And I think they will live up to my expectations, because my only real expectation is that I make my own choices and try to enjoy life. It's going to be a good decade!