Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pregnancy Pictures

Erin's Growing Baby Belly from Tim Betler on Vimeo.

I have to confess that Matt and I have not capitalized on the photo op provided by my ever-expanding pregnant belly. We haven't yet come up with a "concept," and it's preventing us from moving forward. Lame, I know.

First, I had the idea that we could bring our camera along on our weekly trip to Whole Foods and we could ask a different random stranger to pose with me each week. Although I like this idea, Matt and I agree that we are both a little too shy to pull this off.

Last week, we agreed that we would make a stop-motion video of my growing belly by taking many, many pictures and putting them all together to make a video. However, we disagreed about how we would take the pictures. I argued that I should wear the same outfit to keep some consistency, and Matt thought I should change my outfit every time.

This week, we decided that we could make a sort of thematic video. I could be planting seeds and watering them and then they could grow into a plant with a seed pod that eventually opens to reveal our baby. Our brains are still spinning with the logistics of this. I think it would work if we make the plant grow on the flat ground, but Matt thinks we should try to make it grow vertically.

Oy vey. Sometimes we are both too stubborn to work on creative projects together. We need to hurry and get our act together because my belly is seriously pooching!

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Monday, August 30, 2010

Minimizing Sugar During Pregnancy

My midwife is kind of strict on the nutrition front. When I was preparing for conception, I looked at the sugar content of my food and tried to keep it below 20 grams for a particular item (since that's the number I had in my head from my friend's birth with my midwife a few years ago).

When I started going to my midwife, I realized the limit was not 20 grams but, instead, 3-6 grams. Gulp! What that means is that I cannot eat things like dried fruit or any type of flavored yogurt or juice. There's simply too much sugar in pretty much everything.

For the first trimester, my midwife gave me permission to eat whatever I needed, in order to get through the first trimester. At the end of my first trimester, she asked me to start filling out a food log to track my eating. The night before the log started, Matt and I were eating at a Mexican restaurant outside of Zion National Park. Unfortunately, I couldn't touch my meal. It made me way too queasy. I pushed some of the food around on my plate to make it look like I had eaten something (who knows why I felt so guilty for not eating something I paid for!). I then informed Matt that we needed to order dessert because I was going to be completely starving if I didn't eat something. I took a few bites of the erupting brownie sundae but then set down my fork, not wanting to binge on sugar simply because my food logging wasn't going to start until the next day.

That was pretty much the last bit I've sugar I've eaten this entire month. I feel so proud of myself! Normally, it is a real struggle for me to keep away from the sweets. I'm good about not buying them at the store, but if I go somewhere where they're being served, it's over. For some reason, that hasn't been the case this month. Perhaps it's because this dietary restriction is relatively new to me, and it's easier to stay motivated in the beginning.

Part of me thinks, however, that I'm not craving sugar because I haven't been eating it. I'm really not sure. This past week alone, I've been able to resist (without much work on my part), such temptations as root beer floats with local ice-cream, Snickers bars on the tables at really boring professional development sessions, hot and fresh donuts, chocolate bars--the list goes on (this is what it's like to work in the public school system!). I haven't had any crazy pregnancy cravings at all. I'm perfectly content to eat healthy foods all day long, including snacks.

Granted, I may be eating my words in a few weeks! But I thought I would share the fact that I am currently a huge fan of minimizing sugar throughout pregnancy. One of my student's moms is due in five weeks, and she has also been on a strict, minimal sugar diet. She reports that she, too, doesn't have any crazy cravings and that she feels great. She also put her family (six children) on a minimal sugar diet, and they didn't have a single illness throughout the entire summer.

I can't find much information about not eating sugar throughout pregnancy, and I honestly haven't talked to my midwife about her rationale (I promise to ask her report back!). But I wanted to offer up my own testimonial, even if it may be premature...

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Halloween Costume

2004 Super-Ego

2006 Rainbow Brite

2007 A Picnic

2008 Scrabble

Last year I got terribly behind with my holidays. The fall holidays seem to come so fast. First it's Halloween and then there's Matt's birthday to prepare for and then Thanksgiving is here and once Thanksgiving has passed, there's no time to prepare for a handmade Christmas. This year, I want to slow down, undertake fun projects, and fully savor each holiday.

So, I hope you can understand why it's August and I'm already talking about Halloween. Plus, I need your creative help!

Since this will be my first (and perhaps only) Halloween as a round, pregnant person (I'll be approximately 6 months pregnant), I have to take full advantage of the opportunity.

Here's what I have so far:
  1. A beach ball: This costume would be really easy. I would simply paint a t-shirt to look like a beach ball.
  2. A crystal ball reader: My belly would be the crystal ball, and I could pass out little fortunes that read, "Baby says..."

That's it! Please chime in with your ideas!

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Office Chair or Bouncy Ball?

I'm seriously considering trading in my home office chair (and maybe my chair at school?) to sit on an exercise ball instead. What do you think?

I definitely need to do something because our home office desk chair is giving me lower-back pain. I've read that exercise balls can be good for forcing you to sit with good posture. I do worry, however, that it might be too much ab exercise for my pregnant self. I'll have to ask my midwife about it. It's also not clear to me which size would allow me to reach my keyboard comfortably. I've read some reviews with conflicting opinions. Some say 65cm is right for my 5'7" height, while other reviews seem to suggest I should go with the 75cm.

I read this interesting article about the benefits of using an exercise ball as a chair. I wonder if I would get tired of sitting in the same position all day (with a chair, I often cross my legs up on the chair or I put my feet on the ground or I cross one leg over the other).

I'd appreciate any insight you have! I might just invest in a more supportive office chair instead...

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Baby Book

I've written my second letter to our baby (you can read the first one here). I think we're going to make a Baby Book the same way we make our own living, growing scrapbook. It's so low-pressure, and it's easy to keep up with. Our living, growing scrapbook was initially inspired by these words from Amy at Progressive Pioneer (talking about her own baby book):

I've tried to be diligent about recording Sam's life from the beginning. I decided early on that the most important thing was to simply record the important things, not to have a perfect, charming-looking album. I knew if there was too much pressure about how it looked that it would never get done. But if I could just jot things down here and there, there was a much better chance that in twenty years Sam would have something to look back on.

We simply tape pictures to white cardstock using double-sided tape, write words directly on the page, slide it into a sheet protector, and put everything in a binder.

One of these days, I might flip through an actual baby book and get some ideas about what kind of information is usually included. It would be pretty easy to type up some questions and print it directly on the cardstock that we're already using. The adorable folks over at Young House Love did something similar (but mine would definitely be a much simpler version!). I think I'll go add that to my pregnancy project plan now...

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

DIY: Maternity Skirts

I'm on a roll with these maternity skirts! Perhaps it's because I live in Houston and it's hot as anything here? (Although, I do have to say that I think I am one of the few people who prefers humid heat to dry heat. I couldn't stand the heat in Las Vegas!)

Also, my belly is expanding. I can't really tell if I'm on track or if I might be growing twins (it runs in our family). The books seem to indicate that I shouldn't really be showing yet, although searching google images for pictures of other 15-week pregnant people seems to show that I'm even smaller than average. Who knows! All I know is that I am most comfortable in skirts that have no zippers or elastic. I love naturally stretchy fabrics!

For the blue skirt, I simply started with a botched dress I tried to make a while ago. I made the bodice of the dress perfectly well, but I totally couldn't finish the arms and neckline. So, I simply chopped the top off and then used the rest of the dress for the skirt bottom. I used a piece of knit fabric for the waistband. I stretched it around my body to see how long of a piece I should cut. Then I cut a long strip and sewed it together at the ends to make a circle. Then I sewed the right-side of the knit circle to the right-side of the skirt. I pinned it in four places around the waist before sewing, and then I simply pulled on the knit to stretch it, while the sewing machine attached the knit waistband to the cotton skirt. As I mentioned before, I don't bother to finish the edges of knit fabrics because they roll up on their own.

For the skirt with the Amy Butler fabric, I took the fabric scrap I had (right-side to right-side), folded it in half horizontally (to make the front and back) and then in half again vertically (to double up the skirt). I did my best to cut out half the shape of a skirt. When I unfolded it vertically, I then had perfectly a perfectly symmetrical piece. The right side of the front matched the left side because I had folded it in half on a vertical line, and the back piece matched the front piece because I had folded it along the horizontal line.

Then I took my front piece and my back piece (which were still facing each other right-side to right-side), and I sewed up the sides. Then I folded the bottom hem up twice before sewing it (to tuck in the frayed edges and make it look cleaner). Then I followed the same procedure to create the waistband using a stretchy, knit fabric.

Boy, I really am a terrible tutorial writer. If you want a better tutorial, try this one from See Mommy Sew. I think my main reason for writing about my DIY sewing projects is to attempt to inspire those of you who are aspiring crafters. Have courage! Take risks! It's the only way to learn. And skirts are a great place to start.

I really should learn how to read patterns. I could expand my sewing repertoire considerably if I knew how to follow all the intricate information included in a sewing pattern. I have an ongoing list of things I would like for Christmas or my birthday. I think I'll add a pattern reading class from Sew Crafty to my list!

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Monday, August 23, 2010

The End of Summer

Lake Louise in Canada
[insert small sigh]

I'm kind of lamenting the end of summer. School officially starts today. I go back to teaching 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders at a public Montessori school in Houston. I'm excited to return to the classroom for another year (it gets easier every year!), and I am even eager for fall to arrive.

It's been a good season. I made it through my first trimester of pregnancy relatively unscathed. I also envisioned and then executed an online course about preparing our minds, bodies, and lives for pregnancy. I also went on three amazing trips: a yoga retreat, a road trip from California to Canada, and a trip to Zion National Park in Utah (with a side-trip to Las Vegas for a conference). I presented at a national educational conference. I managed to keep my two blogs up and running, despite all my travel. I learned how to use my DSLR camera on the manual setting. I helped a public school in Minnesota apply for a charter.

I'm looking forward to the fall. I love Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year's. There always seems to be something exciting around the corner in the fall.

Before summer ends, however, I asked myself if there was anything else I needed to do in order to close out the summer. The only thing I could think of was to make a watermelon cooler.

It's an embarrassingly simple recipe: scoop watermelon into the blender, add ice, blend until smooth. It's so refreshing! I think I'll go make one now...

Is there anything you want to do before the summer comes to a close?

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Sleep Training

I've been reading as much as I can about how to take care of an infant. Once our baby is here, we won't really have much opportunity to consult the books!

A friend of mine recommended the book, Heading Home with Your Newborn. It's been a decent resource for me, with some topics being more in-depth and helpful than others. I know I'm dorky, but my plan is to create laminated, half-page reference cards for myself on different topics, so the information is easy to access when we're inundated with life as new parents. I'll be sure to share them, once I have time to create them.

My midwife also gave me the book, Attached at the Heart, which seems to be one of the mainstays of the attachment parenting movement. It's got me thinking a lot about co-sleeping. I definitely want to co-sleep in the beginning (I believe in the benefits of co-sleeping, as well as the major perk of being able to breastfeed our baby during the night without getting out of bed). We'll probably get something to put right next to our bed, since we barely have enough room for the two of us as it is, and I like to sleep with lots of pillows and blankets, which isn't good for babies.

But at some point, Matt and I will want to transition the baby to her/his own room. Our lives are going to be so centered on the baby all day long. At night, it will be nice to reclaim a little of our own space and to have a little time to ourselves. I feel selfish writing that, but I'm being honest.

A friend of mine (whose baby seems to be amazingly well-adjusted and happy) swears by the book: Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child. It's a "step-by-step regime for instituting beneficial habits within the framework of your child's natural sleep cycles." I know I'm the kind of person who is drawn to routines and regimes, so I need to be cautious that I don't try to exert some kind of unhealthy control over a child in order to benefit me, but I'm at least going to read the book. I'm really interested in cultivating independence in children, since I believe that independence is the root of healthy self-esteem and a high sense of self-worth. My guess is that sleeping with children for years and years can actually undermine their independence. (Of course that's easy for me to say now; I don't have any children yet!)

What Matt and I really need to do is come up with a parenting philosophy about the kind of child we're trying to nurture and the kind of environment that is aligned with that end. Again, I need to be careful not to expect the child to mold itself into a super-specific vision, but I think we could do it in a general and broad way that would allow us to think through smaller decisions in the context of the bigger picture. I'll try to work on that when I get some spare time!

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Craft Date

My dear friend, Katie, and I got together for our monthly crafting date this past Saturday. I spent most of my time quilting a mat that my students can use for the Montessori math materials. However, at the very end of our time, I whipped together a maternity skirt.

Here's what I did:
  1. I folded one yard of a stretchy knit in half (with right side matched to right side).
  2. I laid one of my stretchy skirts on top of it to use as a makeshift pattern.
  3. I cut around the edges and the bottom of the skirt (I forgot to leave a seam allowance--oops!).
  4. Then I sewed up the two sides of the skirt. I decided to leave the bottom unfinished because I was in a hurry and because the knit kind of rolls up anyway and creates a cute edge.
  5. Then I cut a long strip of fabric (it must be about a yard long and eight inches high) and sewed it onto the top of the skirt. I decided to create a side tie that would allow me to make the skirt tighter or looser as my pregnancy progresses.
  6. Voila!

Working with a knit was way easier than I imagined (probably because I didn't try to finish any of the edges). I've always been scared to work with it, but my design was very forgiving and hides a lot!

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Relaxation Ritual and Other Routines

When I was preparing my body for conception, I did a lot of work around de-stressing my life. I worked on eliminating commitments from my life that drained rather than nourished me. I tried to get into a consistent exercise schedule. I analyzed the link between nutrition and stress and tried to reduce my refined sugar and flour intake. I also cultivated the habit of breathing all the way into my belly on nearly every inhale.

For a month, I also instituted a nightly Relaxation Ritual. At 8:15 every night, I would stop whatever I was doing (I would even leave night meetings early to honor this sacred time in my day!) and spend about 15 minutes restoring our home environment (i.e., picking up stuff that had cluttered our house throughout the day). Then I would do 15 minutes of yoga and spend the rest of my time reading or chatting with Matt before our 9:30pm bedtime.

After successfully implementing this Relaxation Ritual for a month (plus all the other strategies), I was actually able to bring my menstrual cycle to a much more normal/average length. I also felt great.

As I prepare to start the school year next Monday, I want to get back into the habit of setting aside this sacred time as much as possible. It can be so easy to go, go, go right up until bed (or go, go, go right past my bed time!).

I'm also trying to think about what kind of routines I will need to put in place to help me balance my work, all the "work" I do outside of school, plus my pregnancy.

Here's what I'm thinking:
  • 5:30-5:50 = Shower and get dressed
  • 5:50-6:00 = Eat breakfast and journal
  • 6:00-7:15 = Work on school stuff every day
  • 7:15-7:30 = Make my green smoothie and pack up my stuff
  • 7:30-7:40 = Drive to school
  • 7:45-3:30 = School
  • 4:00-4:30 = Nap
  • 4:30-5:30 = Exercise
  • 5:30-6:30 = Blog
  • 6:30-7:45 = Make dinner with Matt and clean up
  • 8:15 = Start relaxation ritual
Of course I'm not going to hold myself rigidly to this schedule every day of my life, but it helps to have it in place. It shows me that I can fit everything into my life in a sustainable and balanced way.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Green Smoothie Recipe

At my last visit with my midwife, she said I should work on increasing my iron. I'd really rather not have to take an additional iron supplement (my prenatal already has 167% of the recommended amount). Too much iron can lead to constipation, which is already something that pregnant people have been known to struggle with.

Instead, I'm going to try and incorporate more iron-from-food into my diet and see if that brings me up to adequate levels for birth. As a vegetarian, I think the easiest way for me to do this is through spinach.

Now that I'm sailing into the second trimester (I'm due in mid-February), I think I can start eating vegetables again. I was so repulsed by pretty much every vegetable for the first couple months (especially leafy green ones!). I still have a hard time eating salads (even though I used to eat them at least four times a week before I was pregnant!). So instead of salad, I'm going to get back into green smoothies.

Today's recipe:
  1. 1 cup tightly packed baby spinach
  2. 1 banana
  3. 1 cup frozen mangoes
  4. filtered water to make the blender work
  5. crushed ice

So smooth! The flavor is very mild. I think I'll start bringing one of these to work with me every morning and sip on it as the children and I settle into our day.

As I was putting together this post, I started investigating the iron content in spinach, and it turns out that it might not be the best place to get my additional iron, due to absorption issues. But still, eating a cup of spinach every day has got to have a ton of health benefits, right? Maybe I'll try to get more iron through edamame and prunes, as well...

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Revisiting the Budget

So last week I was talking about the new couch and eco-friendly mattress I wanted to get. Matt and I looked at a few furniture stores this weekend, and then I came home to look at our budget.

Um, we will not be getting a new couch or an eco-friendly mattress any time soon.

I was thinking we could make a few upgrades to our home because we have enough in the bank, and we've been adding to our "Lima Bean" savings account every month. I did not, however, take into account that my entire maternity leave would be unpaid. I haven't talked to an official representative of the Human Resources department within my school district, yet but I did talk to another teacher who has gone on maternity leave before (and will again this October). She said we get 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

So it's time to kick our savings into high-gear. The irony of the situation is that "to kick our savings into high-gear," I basically need to do nothing. My next step is to spend less. That's it!

I've already combed over our budget again (you can see our budget categories here), and there's really nothing more we can cut out. We just need to make sure we are sticking to our budget. Once the new month starts, I'm going to implement our index card system again. That should help keep us on track.

In terms of other action steps, here it goes:
  1. Give our couch a good cleaning. Once it's clean, we need to start cleaning it on a weekly basis.
  2. Continue to save money by checking out pregnancy and parenting books at the library rather than purchasing them.
  3. When we do go out to eat, we should be really conscious about choosing more inexpensive restaurants.
  4. Rather than seek to improve our home with monetary additions, I will try to find other ways, such as keeping it more tidy and by rearranging pieces we already have.

It's so tricky to find the balance between enjoying life now and saving more so we can enjoy more in the future. But in this case, it's pretty clear-cut. We need to spend the next 6.5 months saving, saving, saving, so I can enjoy at least three months of maternity leave. Once I make it through those 12 weeks, I'll go back to school for approximately three weeks and then I'll be on summer vacation for another 10 weeks (getting paid this time!). Woo-hoo!

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Eco-Friendly Mattresses

While Matt and I are busy trying to squirrel away more savings (for things like a midwife and doula, nursery, new couch, 12 weeks of UNPAID maternity leave, etc.), I keep adding to the list of things to buy. For example, I really want a new mattress.

Throughout my first trimester, I found sleeping to be pretty difficult on our uncomfortable bed. However, every time we traveled this summer, I had no problem falling asleep (usually on pillow-top, hotel mattresses). Plus, Matt has been hankering for us to upgrade from a queen to a king.

The thing is, if we buy a new mattress, I'm pretty convinced we should get an organic mattress. Regular mattresses are chock-full of disgusting chemicals that off-gas as soon as you bring them home. In general, I don't mind paying more for products that are healthier for us and the environment. Plus, I try to spend one third of my life in bed, so it's a worthwhile investment to me.

However, the folks over at Young House Love did lots of organic mattress research and settled on the Savvy Rest, which would cost us $3,000. Gulp! That is a serious financial commitment! Sheesh!

So what are our options?
  1. Postpone buying a new mattress until we can save up enough money. I really don't like this option because I agree that it would be nice to upgrade to a larger and more comfortable bed now, especially since I'll be heading into the third trimester in a couple months, and after that we'll be heading into serious sleep deprivation.
  2. Just go ahead and invest in an expensive, organic mattress. This option doesn't feel right either. So many other things are financial priorities right now!
  3. Upgrade to a quasi-eco-friendly mattress (like the ones at IKEA). This option feels like such a waste because we'll probably want to upgrade to a nicer mattress in a few years. Then again, we could probably resell it on Craiglist, which would keep it out of the landfill.
  4. Upgrade to a quasi-eco-friend mattress but invest in an organic mattress topper. Hmmm....this might be the way to go. That way, our faces would be pressed against something that is eco-friendly, while the rest of the mattress wouldn't be too terrible. Then again, if the total cost comes to something like $1,500, it might make more sense to just double it and go with quality from the very beginning.

Oy vey. It's moments like these that make me a twinge sad that Matt and I rake in non-profit salaries. (But just for a moment. Then I'm really happy that we managed to find jobs that we enjoy and that make the world better. I just wish they paid more!)

What are your thoughts? Are there other options I'm not considering?

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Breaking (and Making) Bread

I'm so excited about the fact that I pulled out our breadmaker and made some bread this week. It's so simple! (I have to confess that I took even more shortcuts by buying a bread mix from Whole Foods).

I simply added water and oil into the breadmaker, dumped in the contents of the bread mix, made a hole for the yeast, and added it. I shut the lid and pressed start. Four and a half hours later, I had a loaf of freshly baked bread (and a delicious-smelling house!).

The plan is to use the bread to make grilled cheese sandwiches later this week.

As we prepare for the arrival of an infant in February, I'd like to add easy recipes to our binder. Right now, most of our recipes take at least 45 minutes to cook. Things like grilled cheese and ready-made ravioli from the pasta section seem like good ways to spend less time in the kitchen.

What other ideas do you have for fast, vegetarian, mainly-homemade meals?

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Midwife Visit #2

P.S. I'm on the verge of needing to start wearing maternity clothes (either from excessive gas or from my ever-expanding uterus). I hate to buy new maternity clothes for such a relatively short amount of time, and I'm a bit too busy to scour Houston for good, used stuff (school starts s-o-o-n!). If you happen to have a box of maternity clothes that you aren't using and would be willing to lend to me, please e-mail me! I will gladly pay for shipping. I'm 5'7" and I used to wear a size 6/8 or medium.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Baby Announcement Idea

I know I'm getting way ahead of myself here, but I've been thinking about baby announcements ever since we promised the innkeepers at The Desert Thistle that we would send them one when the baby arrives in February (Editor's Note: I'm going to the midwife today, so I'll be able to give you an update about how the baby is doing.).

I realized that I want to be able to get as much as possible done before the baby arrives. Here's the plan I came up with:
  1. Matt and I could make a collage of pictures from the pregnancy using the collage feature at Wallgreens or Snapfish. We could leave one open spot for a picture of the new baby.
  2. We could order some sort of big labels from Etsy. On the labels, we could write messages to our friends and family.
  3. We could get other labels to print everyone's names and addresses.
  4. We could mail both sets of labels and stamps to a friend or family member who wants to help.
  5. Once the baby arrives, we would e-mail a photo to the helper. The helper would then add it to the collage, use our credit card information to order the prints, stick on both sets of labels plus the stamps, and then mail them. Voila!

Matt and I always send regular photos as postcards. It's better for the environment (no wasted envelopes!) and postcard stamps cost less. For example, that's what we did for our wedding thank-you cards.

I think this plan is a great way to make personalized, inexpensive announcements that will allow us to do the bulk of the work before the baby comes. I also imagine that a friend or family member who lives far away will be eager to help out in some way.

As a side note, has anyone seen cute labels for sale at Etsy? (I would make them myself, but Matt and I don't have a color printer...)

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Search for a New Couch

Matt and I need to get a new couch. I try not to use the word "need" when describing new, consumer goods, but, honestly, we really need a new couch.

I bought our current couch ten years ago when I lived in rural Louisiana. It has traveled with me to six different homes, in three different states. It's the comfiest, most inviting couch. In fact, the problem is not the couch; the problem is our dog, Hoss.

You see, Hoss is a bloodhound-mix. Bloodhounds are notorious droolers. Hoss is no exception. He also sheds uncontrollably. He pretty much sheds enough hair to create a replica of himself approximately once a week.

Matt and I initially tried to keep him off the couch while we were at work by covering it with chairs. When Hoss seemed to jump beyond the chairs and settle onto the couch anyway, we started adding baskets and other random things. Hoss still managed to jump beyond all of it and nestle himself on the very top ledge of the couch. He didn't even care that he would sometimes scratch his belly in the process. Did I mention that bloodhounds are also notoriously stubborn?

So Hoss spends at least eight hours a day on our couch. As a result, it is covered in hair and encrusted with drool. In other words, it's disgusting. So disgusting, in fact, that I find myself avoiding spending time in our living room. Since our house only has six rooms total (a living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, office, and bedroom), I'm definitely missing out.

The thing is, I'm pretty sure we need to get a leather couch to cope with the bloodhound situation. A leather couch would allow us to easily brush off the hair, and we could use a sponge to wipe off the drool. Sounds heavenly! We could also go the slip cover route, but I probably couldn't bring myself to wash it more than once a week, and in that time, it would get incredibly dirty and I still wouldn't want to spend much time on it.

The problem with leather is that Matt and I are vegetarians. We don't eat meat for a variety of reasons, including the environmental impact of raising cows. Buying a leather couch feels kind of hypocritical, although I do feel better knowing that we will likely have the couch for a long, long time.

I tried to get around this issue by searching for a used leather couch on Craigslist. I've been at it for more than a year. Needless to say, it is very difficult to find a good looking couch on Craigslist...

It looks like I'm going to have to resort to a new leather couch. I've been thinking about the IKEA Stockholm sofa. I wish it were a lighter color, but I appreciate how comfortable it is. It's also super-spacious, despite having a small footprint. I'll have to do a fingernail scratch test on it to see if it could withstand a dog getting on and off.

I should also explore some furniture stores around town and see if we can find something better...

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Friday, August 6, 2010

Genetic Testing Part II

When I started reading your comments in response to my genetic testing dilemma, I initially thought that I needed to go through with the test. There were so many compelling arguments about how I needed to honor my internal planning self and find out as much information as possible in order to prepare for whatever might be in store for us. I was especially compelled by Sharpiegirl's question: "If you have a student that is going to be in your class next year that is special needs, wouldn't you want some advanced notice so you could help that child be all it can be right from the beginning?" And then LauraC brought up the whole point about knowing early on that you're having twins, so that you can adjust your prenatal plan accordingly.

But then Eliza shared this story about a woman who learns that her child has down syndrome when she gives birth to her baby and holds her to her chest for the first time. Even though the woman had spent nine months bonding with her baby and was then holding the living, breathing little girl in her arms, she still had an overwhelming sense of rejection toward her daughter. It made me realize that I think my midwife is right. If I wouldn't consider abortion based on the results of the genetic testing, then I should just spend my pregnancy focusing on loving my child without any expectations about who s/he is.

Before I was pregnant, I was more open to the possibility of resorting to abortion if there was something "wrong" with the baby. But now that I'm pregnant, my feelings are changing. I don't feel like I can bear the responsibility of deciding who gets to live and who dies.

Don't get me wrong; I am still pro-choice. I don't think we as a society should ever force a woman to bring an unwanted child into the world. But when it comes to chromosomal abnormalities, special needs, and differences, I can't be the one to decide what kind of child is "worth" being carried and what kind should be aborted.

That's just me and where I am right now. I certainly honor the fact that each of us needs to process these issues for ourselves and figure out what makes sense to us. I just wanted to update you on what I'm thinking right now.

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Response to Your Comments

You all make my life better on a daily basis. It sounds cheesy, but it's true.

Every single one of your comments gets delivered to my e-mail inbox, so they keep me company throughout the day. I respond to them in my mind, much more often than I respond to them in the comments section. I even bring them up in conversations with my friends and family.

Your comments inspire me, answer my questions, give me invaluable resources, make me think deeply, and smile.

I wanted to take a second to pull some comments out from last week and address them in this post:

People in my life who have given birth say over and over again that the more scared you are, and the more you're expecting pain, the harder it is. And the harder it is, the more likely interventions are needed (which isn't to say we cause interventions, or interventions aren't needed all the time for practical things like a baby in breech). But that is to say, we can lay the groundwork as well as we can, and that means preparing to totally let go, give up all control and ride it. This is, I think, a very literal example of our mind's shaping our realities.

I absolutely agree with you. Most of the "fear" that you heard in my post about birth was primarily related to birthing in a hospital with commonly accepted interventions. That's why I'm not going the hospital route (although I recognize that I cannot ultimately control how my birth unfolds and I may end up in the hospital if it becomes necessary). I plan to spend several months of my pregnancy preparing myself for the amazingness of birth. I'm going to sign up for a Hynobabies course, and I'm going to read books like Birthing from Within. I plan to do lots of reflection about how I'm feeling and what I'm fearing. My goal is to enter into the birth experience with overwhelming positive expectations and eagerness. I want to learn how to let my mind and body completely relax, so that my uterus can do what it needs to do. I don't want to get in its way!

At the end of the day, what I most remember about #1 is that you really have no control over labor and delivery. You kind of just have to go with the flow and remember that a successful birth ends with a healthy mom and healthy baby.

I absolutely agree with this, too. We can control the inputs (e.g., I can eat nutritious foods, drink plenty of water, get lots of rest, destress, mentally prepare myself for birth, take my vitamins, proactively seek out a health care provider that I trust, etc.), but we can't control the outputs. I very much appreciate the conception and pregnancy processes for helping me cultivate the ability to focus on the inputs and let go of control of the outputs. This skill will be invaluable when I become a parent!

It seems like a lot of women go the natural route just so they can wear that badge of honor rather than because it is the best for them and the child, and I hate that. It just seems like a new form of abuse towards women - that you need to do it naturally to be a real woman.

I think everyone needs to do what feels right for them (and then analyze the underlying reasons about why it feels right). For me, going the natural route is not about any "badge of honor" or doing it in order to feel like a "real woman." First of all, I distrust the pharmaceutical industry in the United States. Its primary motivation is money, not people's health and wellness. There have been several medicines that have been used for maternity care over the last several decades that have later been proven to have severely negative consequences. I simply try to avoid medications, whenever possible. Second, I trust my body and I trust that birth is a normal experience that women have been going through for thousands and thousands of years.

I think we need to get away from judging and labeling each other based on our individual birthing choices. We are all different and have different perspectives, priorities and experiences. At the end of the day we all do the best we can for ourselves and our children.

I wholeheartedly agree with this! I think it's important to respectfully ask each other critical questions and to consider other perspectives, but at the end of the day, we each need to do what makes sense for us. There are no absolutes with any of this stuff. Even the "experts" change their opinions every few years.

And while I appreciate that you share your perspective on your own experiences, I suggest that you might want to consider, when reflecting on how quickly you were able to get pregnant, sending a shout out to the scores of folks who have difficulty doing so. There is a privilege in getting pregnant, and in getting pregnant easily. While I certainly don't deny your own feelings related to that, I'm asking you to consider others'.

I'm so, so sorry that you don't think I talk about my experience in a way that honors everyone who has difficulty getting pregnant. For the past six years or so, I considered myself to be someone who would have difficulty getting pregnant (because of what a doctor told me a long time ago). Although I remained optimistic and prepared myself for conception as much as possible, I also acknowledged that I might need to resort to fertility interventions or that I might need to eventually adopt.

The last poster made me think of seeing this video recently.


Oh no. According to this song, I am becoming a smug pregnant woman! I used to want a girl, but once I became pregnant I stopped caring.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Building Confidence in Children

Last week, I started working in my classroom to get prepared for the new school year. Luckily, one of my students and her mom came in to help. Since I teach at a public Montessori school and Montessori classroom are multi-age, I teach 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders, and I get to work with each child for three years.

The student asked what she could do to help, so I directed her toward our classroom vacuum cleaner. After she had vacuumed for several minutes, I informed her that she might want to empty the vacuum soon, especially if she noticed that it wasn't picking up as much stuff anymore. She then asked me how to empty the vacuum cleaner. I could have easily told her how to do it, but, instead, I seized the opportunity to emphasize a really important lesson. I said, "You know, when I don't know how to do something, my brain makes a guess and I try it out. If it doesn't work, I come up with another guess and try that one out. Why don't you make a guess and try it out?"

Of course she was able to figure it out after a few different tries. I'm convinced that these kinds of lessons are invaluable, and that we have to consciously teach them to our children in order to cultivate their confidence and their willingness to take risks, make mistakes, and figure things out.

It's so much easier to do things for children. It's often faster and less messy, and it also fills a deep psychological need to be needed. But we don't want our children to be dependent on us to do things for them that they can do for themselves. When they do for themselves, they build their sense of self-worth. They build real confidence. We can't truly build their confidence by telling them they are smart or that they can do anything if they put their mind to it. We have to provide them with opportunities and experiences that allow them to realize those things about themselves.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Possible Miscarriage Update

The good news is that the blood is now brownish, which my midwife says indicates it is old and drying up. The bad news is that she is still "really worried" because I've been experiencing a decrease in my pregnancy symptoms ever since the bleeding started (mainly, less tenderness in my breasts and less queasiness). Matt and I are traveling right now, so there's nothing more I can do except take it easy, be patient, and enjoy our time together as much as possible.

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Annual Adventure Recap




Lake Louise (in Canada)

Ah. [insert sigh of contentment] Matt and I had a fantastic two-week road trip from California to Canada.

First, we flew to L.A. and stayed with our beloved friend Rachel in an awesome house converted into apartments in none other than Beverly Hills. After two delicious meals, lots of good conversation, and a run through the mountains, Matt and I continued on our trip by driving through Big Sur. We stopped frequently to take in the breath-taking vistas. When we finally reached our campsite at the very top of Big Sur, the ranger regretfully informed us that it was full (which we should have anticipated, since it was the Fourth of July).

Instead, we celebrated our holiday with a Subway picnic on our bed at the Comfort Inn. We could see fireworks through our hotel window (and Matt convinced the staff to bake fresh cookies for us!).

The next day, we drove to San Francisco and hiked through the uncrowded part of Muir Woods. We met up with some friends and family for delicious Indian food. The next day, we continued north and camped where the redwoods meet the coast. We had mediocre fettuccine alfredo while sitting in the most beautiful restaurant booth of our lives, overlooking the coast.

The next day, we hit the Oregon coast and stayed at the Sylvia Beach Hotel. We opted for the communal dinner, which was full of good food and good company. Then we climbed to the third floor (overlooking the ocean) and played a game of Scrabble with one of our newly-made friends, late into the night.

The next day we had a $40 lunch from an Indian truck in Portland. ($6 for the meal, $34 for the parking ticket). We continued to Leavenworth to visit with friends. What a quaint town!

The next day, we scared ourselves at the Canadian border but made it to Field, British Columbia. We had fun canoeing and hiking and cooking ravioli and playing Scrabble and reading. After a couple days there, we continued to Vancouver. We ordered pizza and went swimming at another Comfort Inn. Then we had an amazing day of bike riding around the park, walking to the little ferry and getting lunch at the public market. On the way back to our hotel, we walked across a death-defying suspension bridge and hiked down to the base of some waterfalls. Matt had the courage to strip down to his underwear and get in. That night, we went to the movies to see Toy Story 3.

The next day, we hiked before taking off for Seattle. We hotwired a hotel and stayed in a posh hotel downtown. We walked a ways to meet new friends for vegetarian food. The next day, we stopped by Pike’s Fish Market, met an old friend and her new baby for breakfast, and then trekked to Eugene to meet up with more good friends. We pulled potatoes from the ground, chopped things, made dinner, picked raspberries from a community garden and then ate them with ice-cream. Then we high-tailed it to Oakland to cook S’mores with more old friends. The next day, we drove to L.A., swam in our friend's pool, ate Thai take-out, went to the most amazing self-serve yogurt place EVER, and watched Crazy Heart.

It was a crazy-packed itinerary with lots of driving (more than 4,000 miles in two weeks!). At some points, we were regretting our decision to cover so much ground in so little time, but we still very much enjoyed our time together. It's such beautiful territory!

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Monday, August 2, 2010

Possible Miscarriage?

As I was getting ready for bed last night, I realized that I was bleeding. Earlier that day, I had been reading about how miscarriages usually start with bleeding and are then followed by cramping (I thought it would be the other way around). The book said I should call my healthcare provider immediately if I noticed any blood.

I told Matt that I might be having a miscarriage and that I should just go to bed and rest (it was past midnight where my midwife was). I assured him that there was nothing anyone could do to stop it.

I've really been cultivating the ability to contribute to the best "inputs" possible and then relinquish control of the "outputs." For example, through the whole conception process, I did as much as I could to prepare my body, mind, and life for pregnancy, and then I left everything else to the universe, understanding that I couldn't control when conception would actually occur.

It's the same with pregnancy. I can get sufficient rest, take my vitamins, exercise, feed myself, and relax, but I can't do much more beyond that to control the "output" of the pregnancy. I can't stop a miscarriage.

I'm supposing these are valuable lessons to learn for parenthood, too. We can control the inputs (the kind of loving, supportive, nurturing environment we create for our children), but we can't control who our children grow up to be.

I was doing okay as I lay in bed. Then Matt started to shake with tears. So I, too, cried as I fell asleep.

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