Friday, December 19, 2014

The 2014 Ugly Christmas Sweater Party

Blake has been hosting an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party for as long as I've known him (and I think all the way through college, so maybe 13-14 years?).  It's become one of our favorite Christmas traditions and we look forward to it every year.

It gives us the excuse to decorate the house and to make all of our favorite holiday treats that we couldn't otherwise justify having in the house (I have been known to eat a whole batch of cookies on my own...).

Bear is still at the "I will jump all over you, lick you, and steal your food" stage, so he spent the party in his crate, but had no shortage of friends petting him and sneaking him snacks through the openings.  I'm hoping that next year he'll be grown up enough to wander around the party un-watched.  But maybe that's wishful thinking.

The ugly Christmas sweater that my mom sent to me last year was looking perilously short after covering my growing bump (and love handles), so I had to wear a long undershirt so as not to flash our guests with any unexpected skin.

If I were better at remembering such things, I would have taken pictures during the actual party, but I'm sure it's not really that surprising that I didn't make it that far.  Frankly, after spending the day cooking and setting up, it's a miracle that was even awake through the party.  My bedtime has been no later than 10:00 lately, so staying up 'til all hours socializing was a welcome change.

I'm having a hard time believing that Christmas is less than a week away.  Is it just me, or does the Christmas season fly by faster and fast each year?  It's one of those times of the year when I wish things would slow down, but they always get so jam packed with fun activities that they proceed at a neck breaking pace.

We've got a handful of fun Christmassy outings planned for this coming week (along with another ultrasound - yippee!) and then on to the main event.  Bear's getting a new elk antler from Santa Paws, and I bought myself some luxuriously large Christmas jammies, so everyone around here is looking forward to the big day.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

It's the Holiday season

You know, I thought that I'd be much more prolific with my blogging when I quit my desk job.  But, it turns out that sitting at a desk 9-10 hours a day is actually helpful in the blogging department.  Now my days are filled with other projects (and the eternal morning sickness that just sucks all my energy and will to be productive), and I do a lot of my writing by hand or away from the intrigues of the internet.  So, sitting down for some quality blogging time seems to happen less than I'd like.

The holidays always seem to be an especially busy time of year.  And is it just me, or does the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas seem shorter every year?  There's just so much to do, and so little time in which to do it.

So, in the interest of brevity, and due to my recent sniffly temperament, here's what we've been up to since I checked in last:

1.  Pregnancy has made my sinuses stuffy in the general sense, so when I started getting stuffier last Sunday, I tried to play it off as a pregnancy symptom plus maybe a small cold.  A couple days later I was at the Urgent Care at the request of my OB.  Turns out I had a double ear infection and a sinus infection.  That, coupled with nausea and nosebleeds made for a very interesting week where I did little else but sniff Vicks Vap-o-Rub and blow my nose.  All I can say is thank goodness for antibiotics!

2.  Bear and Blake were troopers throughout my self-imposed quarantine.  Blake woke up extra early before work every day to take Bear on a long walk, and then took him on a long walk again (in the pitch black) when he got home.  Bear, for his part, was very sweet to me all week, and spent most of his time in bed with me resting his chin on my feet.

3.  I re-watched a couple of seasons of Gilmore Girls between nose blows.  It made me nostalgic for college (when I watched the show the first time, Rory and I were at the same time of life and I felt a special kindred with her).  Embarrassingly, Bear seemed to recognize the theme song by the end of the week.  I swear he was rolling his eyes at me every time a new episode started.  He's a cultured dog, but I guess he doesn't appreciate quality cinematic entertainment when he sees it.

4.  We've started in on our traditional Christmas movie marathon.  Every year we start with Love Actually on Thanksgiving, and proceed with Home Alone 1 & 2, Elf, Christmas Vacation, Fred Claus, and The Santa Clause (if I get my way - Blake hates that one).  Blake also makes a list of all the good Christmas shows on TV and we set them up to record so we always have something Christmassy to watch.  We're serious about our holiday entertainment around here.

5.  We're working hard to get our house decorated in time for our annual Ugly Sweater Christmas party this weekend.  Blake has held this party every year for 13 (or maybe 14?) years and it's one of our favorite Christmas traditions.  Everyone seems to have a great time each year, and it's always a hoot explaining to half our friends that we- as boring Mormons- aren't going to have alcohol at the party.  It's like a rite of passage for them, I think, surviving a Mormon party.  Ha.

Add in laundry, keeping the house mud-free with a Bear on the lose, and attempting to keep our sanity through this hellish experience called pregnancy, and that just about sums it up.   Here's to a happy and healthy holiday season filled with blogging and cheer.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Dignity - of which I have none left

Last Tuesday I lay in bed trying to get to sleep.  As I tried to finagle my pregnancy pillow into a comfortable position, I thought about how grateful I was for that very (uncomfortable) moment.  Blake was asleep next to me, dead to the world, Bear was curled up at my feet - snoring and acting like a portable heater.  I felt so lucky that IVF worked for us and that things were going so well (aside from the ever-present nausea. yuck).

I fell asleep happy.  And then I woke up to a nosebleed.  Not just any nose bleed, but the most horrific blood faucet I've ever had.  I spent the next 45 minutes hunched over in the bathroom, pinching my nose and trying to get it under control while Bear paced and whined next to me.  Poor guy is very sensitive to when we're not feeling well and he was not pleased with the situation.  Either that, or he was antsy about postponing his morning walk.

Thankfully, I got the nosebleed under control in time to walk over to my dentist appointment.

I brought some spare tissues in my pocket, just in case, but didn't seem to need them on the walk over.  However, right after I signed in at the front desk, I felt the familiar rush.

[Warning, graphic descriptions ahead. Proceed at your own risk.]

Before I could even grab the box of tissues on the counter, my coat, hands, and the bottom half of my face were covered in blood.  I mumbled an apology to the receptionist and took a seat in the corner of the waiting room, hoping that it would stop quickly.

No such luck.

The old ladies trickling in for their appointments looked ill at the sight of a someone dripping so much blood all over the place.  Pretty soon, the entire staff of the dentist's office was crowded around me trying to help.

My dentist, who is probably the world's coolest dentist, had the distinct privilege of helping me change the packing and seeing huge, slimy clots dangle out the end of my nose in between tissues.

They moved me to my own room to "bleed privately," and brought me ice packs, tissues, gauze, and a slew of packing materials that look suspiciously like tampons with the string cut off.

Half an hour later the blood had dried up...along with what remained of my dignity.  I mean, I thought I'd lost all dignity being sick from IVF and then being sick from pregnancy (being sick in public is just soooooo fun!), but here I was going deeply into the red (pun!) in the dentist's office.  Oy.

Here's hoping that the holidays this year will be more green and white...and less red.

Before I go and leave you with the image of gooey blood clots lingering in your mind, here are some darling picture of the Bear.  We bought Maybe Baby a small stuffed animal that looks just like him, but now he thinks it is his.  Sigh. Sibling rivalry already?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Family Photos

We've had the most glorious fall weather this year.  In fact, until a couple days ago, it hardly even felt like November.  The leaves have been gorgeous.  The sky has been blue.  The sun has been shining.  The rain has been kept at bay.  Basically, DC is really spoiling us.

A couple weeks ago we took advantage of the weather and headed downtown to do family photos for our Christmas card.  Last year we got super lucky with a photo we had a random tourist take of us, but this year we decided to move a step up and buy a tripod.

The only drawback to having the camera on a tripod instead of held by an actual person was getting Bear to turn and look at the camera.  The little guy was being quite obedient, and would sit when we told him to (the promise of peanut butter will make him do anything), but he kept sitting facing us with his fluffy bum toward the camera.  In fact, I think the only reason he turned around for this one was due to a well-timed squirrel appearance.  He's very vigilant when it comes to squirrels.

The best part about taking family photos in late October is that we're completely done with the designing and ordering portion of our Christmas card venture...and all with the bonus of some great coupons.  I feel like once November hits, it's all a blur until the New Year.  Things get busy.  The thought of doing Christmas cards gets shunted aside.  Now I can indulge myself in the gluttony of Thanksgiving and the joy of Christmas movies with very little hanging over my head.

But back to Bear (no surprise, right?) Blake and I have pinky sworn that we won't share the actual Christmas card photo until we send out the cards, but I couldn't help myself with this outtake.  Bear's fluffy, over-the-shoulder smirk is just too good.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Grand Cayman

Blake spent 8 weeks this past summer living in a hotel in Brooklyn for a trial.  I spent those same two months at home doing daily doctor visits and injecting myself with ungodly amounts of hormones.  Basically, I'm just proud that we both survived.

At the beginning of the summer we'd made a deal with ourselves that if we could get through the summer and also be securely pregnant, we'd take an awesome babymoon vacation to celebrate.

We wanted to go somewhere relaxing and also somewhere neither of us had been before.  We started looking at places in the Caribbean and narrowed it down by where there were nice Starwood hotels.  Blake earned approximately one billion (that's a rough estimate...) Starwood points from the summer, so we were able to get five nights at the Westin Seven Mile Beach for free.  We used credit card points for our flights, so it ended up being a five star trip for next to nothing.

Neither of us knew much about the Caymans before we got there, so we were expecting something a little more like the Bahamas in terms of the feel.  We were pleasantly surprised when it surpassed our expectations.

The water is crystal clear and about 85 degrees, so you can stay in all day long (even if you're a wimp like me).  The snorkeling right off the beach was amazing, too.  We rented snorkel equipment and spent all day out on the water.   We'd swim out about 50 yards from the hotel and there was a great reef with an amazing amount of colorful fish.  I think it was my favorite snorkeling since the Great Barrier Reef when I was 16.  We saw rays, puffer fish, squid, tons of colorful fish, sea urchins and all sorts of great coral.

The only thing we ended up not liking were the fish called Bermuda Chubs.  I guess they are used to being fed by tourists, so they swarm you when you are snorkeling.  At one point I looked over because Blake had yelped and he was surrounded by about a hundred of them swirling in a circle and darting in to inspect him.  One bit him on the elbow really hard and made him bleed.  Who knew that fish could be so aggressive?

From that point on, whenever we saw the Chubs coming we'd hurry and paddle in the other direction.  I wasn't about to get bloody fish marks all over my arms.  Scary Chubs.

In between snorkeling and hanging out at the beach, we ate some truly fabulous food.  Our favorite places ended up being the ones right across the street from the hotel: Eats Cafe, and the Sunshine Grille.  I think I gained five pounds in five days. Nothing completes a fabulous trip quite like gluttony.

Before I drown you in photos...probably our favorite thing we did while we were there was to take a catamaran out to Stingray City.  It's a series of shallow sandbars out in the middle of the bay where you can touch and hold stingrays.  The rays have been coming to the spot for years because they know they'll be fed there, so they've become as docile as house pets.

Some of them are quite large - 4 feet across, so it's a bit unnerving to have one swim up to you and give you a sucking kiss or slide its wings past your arms and legs.  Nervous factor aside, they are SO COOL.  We got to hold and a pregnant one and the guide had me feel where she was carrying her pups. I felt a bloated kinship with the thing (though I'm glad I'm only carrying one as opposed to 3-5 like she was).  Their skin is very soft and silky.

Also, did you know you get seven years of good luck if you kiss one?  All I know is that I will do anything for some extra luck, so I took the kissing very seriously.  Really.  The look on my face in the photos below shows the seriousness with which I approached the situation.

I'm hoping that the seven years of good luck includes being able to go back to the Caymans again soon.  We're already trying to figure out when we'll be able to go next.  Forget real life.  If you need me, I'll be in the Caymans.

Monday, November 3, 2014


So here we are in November already...and I wish I could tell you that blogging is the only thing I'm behind at in my life.

Alas. I'm behind at practically everything.  Except my laundry.  I'll count that as a win.

We've had lots of lovely things going on lately, but our biggest news is that Maybe Baby is now Surely.  We're having a baby girl and she's due on April 17th.

The best part of all of this is that, at over 16 weeks along, my morning sickness is finally fading to manageable levels.

Cue the choir of angels! Bang the gong!  Celebrate in the streets!

I've had a few people ask me how my pregnancy has been going and how I would compare it to how I imagined it would be.  Well, it took me three years to get pregnant (and I desperately wanted to be pregnant), so I was hoping that I would adore it.


Let me tell you. This whole pregnancy this is highly overrated.  IVF was no picnic, but I was hoping that I'd get a break from some of the less fun symptoms.  No dice.  From six weeks on it has been one big party centered around crackers, string cheese, and the porcelain throne.  I've had vertigo, whooshing in the ears, hot flashes, restless legs, bloody noses, stuffy name it.  Set me in front of a teen audience with my zits and cellulite (no glow here!) and those suckers would never have sex again.

I feel silly for how useless I've been the past couple of months.  Looking at screens of any kind gave me headaches, so I avoided the computer and the TV like the plague.  A couple loads of laundry would take me all day (with naps in between folding sessions) and cooking has been practically non-existent in our home (the smells! the horrible smells!).  Whoever named it "morning sickness" was horribly mistaken.  Try all day/all night sickness.  Blech.  I'm so glad to be over the worst of it.

Now that I'm starting to see straight again, am able to eat salad, and am no longer cursing the heavens during every waking moment, I'm looking around in awe at all of my friends and family that have birthed multiple children. I've got a whole new respect for the women in my life.  I've also got a long list of questions as to how/why they had more than one child.  Women are tough cookies.

(As I'm reading over what I've written so far, I'm thinking I'm sounding a little hard-done-by.  I'm not.  Life is good.  I've had it fairly easy.  I'm just grateful that the worst of it is coming to an end.)

Switching from complaints to SCIENCE...fertility science is THE COOLEST.  The more I learn about pregnancy and the human body, the more I think WHAAAA? and WOWWWW!

I have a picture of my "baby" at five days old.  It's 150 cells and looks more like a biology class slide presentation than what will become a baby, but it's pretty much the neatest thing ever.  Also, we found out the gender at 10 weeks!  10 weeks, people!  From a vial of blood drawn from the crook of my arm!

The day after we found out that Maybe is a girl, we celebrated by buying a couple baby dresses (Janie and Jack will probably take the majority of our bank account from now on. yikes!) and building some shelves in her room.  We've been working on other projects off-and-on as the whim strikes, and the room is really coming together.

Check out the shelves and the dresser we bought for $25 at a yard sale (and painstakingly refurbished)...and my favorite thing: the stuffed animal that looks like a mini copy of Mr. Bear.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

September was real

A question for the universe: if you didn't blog for the month of September, did the month of September actually exist?

As it so happens, I spent most of the first half of the month sick in bed avoiding back-lit screens of any kind, and most of the second half of the month on vacation in New Hampshire.  We typically spend a week each summer up in New Hampshire at Lake Winnipesaukee and then a week out in Pebble Beach with my family.  This summer a couple of obstacles (IVF, Blake's trial) kept us from our normal vacation schedule, so we decided to take a fall trip once Blake passed his deadline.

So, Blake filed with the court on Thursday night and we started the 9 hour drive up the coast on Friday morning.  Between the snacks and, the conversation, and the audio book we brought (In the Kingdom of Ice) the drive went by quickly and without any noteworthy incident.

It was fairly fall-like and chilly for a lot of the time we were at the lake, but we got a few glorious 80 degree days where we took full advantage of the water.  It was so nice to finally have a break from the doctors appointments and crazy trial schedule we'd been dealing with all summer.  We read books, kayaked, took boat trips across the lake, laughed while Bear did zoomies around the house-yard-beach-dock-water, ate out, gorged ourselves on ice cream, and watched old Cary Grant movies.  Basically, it was the perfect way to relax.

There's nothing quite like fall in New England.  The bright leaves.  The misty mornings.  The crisp air.  The blue skies. Sigh.  In fact, we even got engaged on a fall trip to New Hampshire back in the day.  Needless to say, it's a great place to be in October.

Well, without further ado and endless paragraphs, here are some photos of our trip before I get back to my regularly scheduled posting.  Enjoy all the gratuitous Bear shots.  Yes, I am fully aware that we have an unhealthy obsession with our dog.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Shopping DC: Mid-Century Furniture

I'm not quite sure where this week went, but here were are at the holiday weekend already!  Blake is out golfing (I opted out of that one...), I'm lounging around the house reading and writing, and we've got fun plans for the evening that include furniture/building materials shopping (here and here) and eating at Busboys and Poets, one of our favorite local places.

So in honor of what is probably my favorite furniture store in the DC area, today's post is about where to find the best mid-century furniture (best being fact. not opinion ;))

1.  Peg Leg Vintage
Peg Leg is located in College Park, MD, just inside the beltway.  It's along Baltimore Avenue, only a couple miles from IKEA, so anytime I have to go to IKEA, I reward myself with a trip to Peg Leg afterward.  It's a great bribe.

The couple that owns the shop are just the coolest people. Every time I go in, I end up talking furniture with them for 45 minutes, and wishing I could stay longer.  Oh boy. I'm that customer.  They'll answer any questions you have about the pieces and even give you ideas for how to style it.  They'll encourage you to lounge on a chair you're eyeing - just to make sure it meets your comfort needs - and will even move other furniture around so you can get the full effect of putting your feet out on the ottoman while completely reclined in a Mister chair.  Do I sound like I speak from experience?

It's not a huge store, but their inventory is constantly changing.  Also, the owners said they always have 10-15 storage units packed full with other furniture, so if you're looking for something specific, let them know and they'll search for it for you.  Last time I was in they mentioned that they were on the lookout for a warehouse space so that they could display all their furniture at once for monthly warehouse sales.  I'm hoping that happens soon.

One of my favorite things about Peg Leg is that they don't spend time re-doing the furniture.  They just buy good stuff.  That way, they don't charge you an arm and a (peg) leg for anything.  I've been pleasantly surprised about how good the prices are.  I know it's off the beaten path, but I think their location also allows them to price things fairly.

2.  Modern Mobler
If you want to see some absolutely gorgeous restored mid century furniture, look no further than Modern Mobler.  They have locations on Georgia Avenue in NW Washington DC and in Kensington, MD along antique row.

Unlike Peg Leg Vintage, Modern Mobler's prices are not low, but I would venture to say that they're fair.  Each piece they display has been expertly restored to look like new.  They have a full-time restorationist employed for their two stores and you can tell that he puts love and attention into each piece.

So, you might not be able to go in and pick up a few items on a whim, but you'll be blown away by the eye candy.  The employees also know a ton about the furniture and are happy to answer questions.  It's almost a museum experience.

3.  Miss Pixie's
Miss Pixie's is located on 14th Street in a newly revitalized area of DC.  It's not strictly mid-century, so you'll probably see it pop up on other lists, but it usually has some great mid-century pieces.

Some pros to Miss Pixie's:  It's a large space and they have a great revolving inventory of fun pieces.  It's also pretty moderately priced.
Some cons to Miss Pixie's:  It's right in the heart of hipster-ville and things that are "fairly priced" maybe listed a bit higher than they otherwise would be.  That said, it is great fun to people-watch in this area and I love over-hearing people in the store talking about what they're going to do with a particular piece.  Lots of great ideas!

After you're done getting lost in Miss Pixie's, there are a ton of other great furniture stores in the area to busy yourself in for the rest of the day.  And if you need a break from all the inspiration?  I recommend treating yourself to a Peanut Butter Bacon Burger and a milkshake (while taking in whatever black and white film they're showing on the wall) at the new 14th Street Ted's Bulletin location.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sneakadoodle Bear

I'm no dummy.  I know why most people read this blog.  It's not my writing and it's certainly not the beautiful photography (ahem).

I know Bear is my best feature.

And so I heretofore resolve to have more posts specifically dedicated to him.  He's an entertaining and slightly crazy pup, so I'm sure there will never be a shortage of content.

Bear got a hair cut about a week ago and he's been extra sassy every since.  I'm pretty sure it's because he can see better without all the fluff in his eyes, but maybe he just knows he looks dapper with his fluffy new 'do.

After a matting disaster a few moths ago, Bear no longer wears a collar.  I put his tags on his harness, so he wears them when we go out, but when he's at home he's a barbarian with no accoutrements to speak of.  Voila. No more super-mats on his neck.  I've also been making a habit of brushing him every single day, which is probably the most significant change in keeping the mats at bay.

Basically, I'll do anything to keep him out of the groomer on a regular basis.  We take him to get groomed every three or four months.  It costs twice as much as one of my haircuts, so it nearly kills me every time.  Good thing he's cute, right?

But enough about his grooming habits, here are four recent pictures of the little fluff ball (clockwise from top left):

1.  We were trying to put new sheets on the bed and Bear kept popping up to play in them.  We finally just put the quilt over the top of him and he popped his head out like "hi!!!!"  Sneakadoodle.  (What would we do without iPhones to capture these random moments?)

2.  We picked Blake up after his meetings at church on Sunday and Bear was over-the-moon about having an extra car ride with the windows down.

3.  When the groomer blow dries Bear's hair, it fluffs up in a big bouffant on his head.  It's hilarious and we always end up calling him "fluff head" for the first few days until it's under control again.

4.  This is Bear's "I don't trust you" face.  He jumped up on the couch next to me while I was reading, so I gave him some rubs, but I think he could tell that I was about to leave him to go do something without him.  He kept giving me the side-eye to show his disapproval.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Shopping DC: Books

Lately (while Blake was up in NYC) I've been eating all sorts of random things for dinner, so I've edged off the meal planning for a while.  I don't think my smorgasbord dinners would be all that interesting...and they certainly wouldn't contain links to great recipes.

Basically it's been like this:

Monday:  Chips and salsa and pickles.

Tuesday: Pita and hummus and raspberries.

Wednesday: Frozen enchiladas from my frozen meal stash.

Thursday:  More frozen enchiladas as leftovers.

Yes. It's been a classy affair over here.

So as I've been slacking on the meal planning posts, I thought I'd start on another series.  I love DC.  I enjoy shopping.  I adore lists.  Add those together and I give you "Shopping DC."

Mostly this is for my own good so that I keep it all organized.  Like I said, I love lists.

Where do you go in DC to buy books and enjoy the experience?  Well, in the spirit of lists and DC adventures, here is my first foray into "Shopping DC."

1.  Friends of the Library, Montgomery County Book Sale.
I've mentioned this place before (probably as the Wheaton Library Book Sale) because I visit it all the time.  I'm probably there at least twice a month and I leave with a stack of books every single time.

The Book Sale takes in donations from all over Montgomery County and organizes them into category and then by author last name.  It's as big as a Barnes and Nobel, but resides in the basement of the Wheaton Regional Library.  They've got a great kids section (with board books that look like they've never been used) and a fantastic young adult section (I got a whole set of hardcover Harry Potter books for $15.00) and a classics section with beautiful leather-bound goes on and on.

Most books are between 25 cents and a dollar.  So, whether you're looking for beautiful books for decorating purposes, or to build up your own library, or to purchase your book club books on the cheap, this is the place to do it.

2.  Capital Hill Books
Blake thinks of this more as Capital Claustrophobia Books (I sort of agree), but it's a great place to visit.  It's a used bookstore located right by Eastern Market and you feel like you're being transported through time when you walk through the door.

The best way I can describe it is 1 part hoarders episode, 1 part Harry Potter's experience at the wand shop on Diagon Alley, and 1 part Shakespeare and Company in Paris (minus the cats and the transient writers living in it).

It's worth checking out just for the experience and the great photo-ops.  Also, it doesn't hurt that it's across the street from the delicious breakfast options at Eastern Market.

Photo from here

3.  Politics & Prose.  Arguably DC's most famous bookstore...and the only non-used bookstore on my list.  Politics & Prose is a great store by itself, but my favorite thing about them is that they schedule so many events and author talks that you can keep endlessly busy satisfying your bibliophile needs.

They offer writing classes and support local authors.  They put together book signings and help sponsor the National Book Festival.  I've been to a number of their events at various locations throughout the city (my favorite was seeing Khaled Hosseini at the Historic 6th Street Synagogue) and am always impressed.  Don't forget to sign up for their email lists so you don't miss out on any of the events or interesting classes.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


I studied Linguistics in college.  Languages have always interested me, and I loved being able to study something that was also my hobby (and now I am qualified to flip a burger in three languages, yippee!).  I've had a niggling feeling lately that I've fallen off the proverbial academic bus, so I'm looking for ways to stay up on my linguistics research.

Which brings me to my first question for the void: does anyone out there have recommendations for interesting reads in the realm of linguistics or language?  It's sometimes so hard to get a sense of what's good from Goodreads, so I'll leave the recommendations to anyone out there who happens to have an opinion or recommendation.  Help?

But anyway.  I've been thinking for the past couple of days about a study I read back in the day about English language and violence.  I can't remember the name of the study, so don't quote me on anything, but the gist was this: language, and specifically slang, tells you a lot about the culture in which it is spoken.  More narrowly, English speakers use a variety of violent and/or war-like slang words...and what does that say about our culture?

For example:

"I bombed that test."

"Knock 'em dead!"

"That class totally kicked my butt."

"I'm so mad, I'm going to kill him!"

"I'm so tired, I feel like I got hit by a bus."

"That oral exam? I killed it!"


There are a ton of other examples that I can't think of right now (because it's Sunday night and my brain has been off for some hours), but it's a pretty interesting concept, don't you think?  Frankly, you've only got to turn on the news to see how violent a society we live in.

I speak French (but not well enough at this point to compare idioms) and elementary Arabic (heavens, I basically only speak "TV/24 Terrorist" Arabic...), but I'd be interested to hear how much of this exists in other languages.  Would a peaceful/pacifist country like, say, Sweden, have far fewer violent slang words in their language?  Would German speakers use more violent language than English speakers?

[These are gross over-generalizations about these two cultures, but there you are.]

AND. At what point does language start influencing culture rather than the other way around?  Can it?  Does it?  If we started speaking in less violent terms, would that make us a more peaceful people?  I doubt it.  But it's an interesting thought.

More often language evolves as the culture changes.  It's like the words we use to describe the internet (blog, web, etc.) or mass-produced items (fast fashion, McMansion, etc.) that only recently came onto the scene.  I think if Shakespeare visited suburban DC tomorrow, he'd be hard-pressed to understand what anyone was blabbering on about.  Then again, put me back in Elizabethan England and I'm sure I'd have just as much trouble understanding The Bard.

Now there's a thought.  How much violent language does Shakespeare use as description?  Has the language culture shifted that much since his time?

But, that's a study for another day...when my brain is on again.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


While my Mom was here last week, we worked some more on Maybe's nursery.  I had to do a lot of sitting, so my Mom graciously did most of the hammering, arranging, hole-filling, and curtain hemming.  And I sat.  (Thanks, Mom!)

Maybe's (the someday maybe baby) room has been a really fun project for me so far.  It's basically a storage room right now...when I find things for free that I like, I store them up in Maybe's room while I figure out if a. I want to keep it and b. if I'm going to fix it up.  The things I don't end up keeping I either sell on Craigslist or give to friends.

All of this has made for an extremely cheap nursery.  I figure that if I keep collecting until Maybe decides to join us, I'll have saved a bundle of money and can splurge on a few things like my ideal crib and a nice, plush rug.

A couple weeks ago I picked up a Pottery Barn Anywhere Chair in denim from a neighbor.  I washed the slip cover and it looks almost brand new (I always wanted one of those as a kid, so I'm sorta geeking out about that find).  I also got a brand new changing pad from someone at church.  Sure, changing pads aren't that expensive in the first place, but I'm happy to save money on the boring stuff so I can spend it on the fun stuff.

I think Maybe's room is my favorite room in the house.  It's towards the front of the house and has big south-facing windows that look out over our cherry tree.  It also has small east-facing windows (pictured below) in a little nook off the main room.  The room is always light and bright...and it's big enough to be a bedroom and a playroom in one.  Actually, there is a playroom built off the main room in the attic portion over our addition, but it needs to be re-insulated and sheet rocked before it's functioning for all four seasons.

Our upstairs bathroom shares a wall with this nook (pictured below) and we're hoping to expand it sometime soon.  So, when we do that, we'll be doubling the size of the bathroom (it's about 5" by 5" right now, so doubling won't make it huge, but it'll make it much more functional), but we'll lose this cool nook in the nursery.  It's not a totally necessary space in the nursery, so I'm not too sad to give it up someday.  For now I've put the small table and chairs that I re-did, a painting of a barn, my framed dress notecards, and a toy/blanket storage thing.  The best part?  Everything you see here was either found in the garbage or purchased at a yard sale (except for the framed dresses, which were gifts).

The barn picture was in a pile at the side of the road.  I cleaned up the glass and painted the frame teal.  The table and chairs were also from the side of the road.  I fixed their wobbly legs and painted them in high gloss for easy wipe-ability.  The organizer was also a side-of-the-road find (I'm thinking of painting the iron a fun color at some point).  I made the baby blanket hanging over it from yarn I inherited from my neighbor.  Blake made the wood sail boat from some scrap lumber we had laying around in the basement.  The books are from the Montgomery County Library Book Sale (also known as my idea of heaven on earth) for 25 cents each.

Progress, folks, it feels so good!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Dumbarton Oaks

It was an eventful week IVF-wise, so my Mom came out to help while I was out of commission.  It turned out to be the perfect week for her to be out here in more ways than one:

-I was on partial bed rest for part of the week, so she generously did my cooking, cleaning, shopping, dog walking, and house project-doing. My house and yard have never looked so good.  Bear has never been happier to pal around with someone, or sadder to see someone leave.

-We ate like kings (reference Mom's cooking, above).

-The weather was glorious, so on the days that I was able to be up and about, we spent a lot of time outside.  We even had a couple days in the low 70's - which is pretty unheard of in July in DC.  I couldn't help but gush every few minutes about "what a gorgeous day" we were having.

-Blake happened to be home sick all week (not part of the great things), so my Mom was able to take care of both of us...which was perfect because otherwise the two of us would have been a disaster all week.  I'm picturing take-out boxes strewn about a super gritty un-vacuumed floor, with Bear terrorizing us and tearing up the rugs.

-I've been dying to visit Dumbarton Oaks for ages, so my Mom and I spent a 72-degree afternoon there touring the gardens.  I'll tell you what - I'm pretty sure I was supposed to be fabulously wealthy.  I mean, I could get used to waking up every day to 16 acres in the middle of the city with terraced gardens, a huge swimming pool, deco wrought iron gates, climbing vines, outdoor amphitheaters, and my very own orangerie.  Yes. That is the life for me.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Standish Treadwell

It's one of those days where I don't really have anything interesting to say.  That isn't to say I don't have a lot to talk about.  It's just that none of it is particularly interesting.

I'm nearing the end of my stimulation medications for my 2nd IVF cycle...which means I'm feeling bloated, bruised, and inclined to only wear waist-less clothing.  But honestly, I don't have a lot to complain about it.  I haven't been as nauseated this time around, which as been life-saving.  I've had much more energy to enjoy my days, so I've been trying to take advantage before the retrieval comes along on Friday and totally wipes me out.

Blake's been up in New York for the past three weeks, but he did get to come home last weekend. It was SO NICE to have him home.  We mostly laid low - swimming, watching movies, eating out - but it was just what we both needed.  He's coming home again on Friday for the retrieval, which makes the whole thing much easier to look forward to.

Also, my Mom is coming out on Friday to stay for a week to keep me company and help me out on my not-allowed-to-drive and too-sick-to-drive days.  I'm incredibly grateful that she'll be here for so long and it also feel like a great reward for making it through the next few days.

By the time the evening hits, I'm usually too tired to do much, so I've been doing a lot of reading and some seriously Netflix-ing.  Dawson's Creek, man.  It's so terrible! (But also strangely addicting).  Mostly I'm just watching it until I can't hold out any longer and end up purchasing season 2 of Orphan Black.  We'll see how long I last.

As far as reading goes, I've got a new goal to read all of the Printz Award winners and honorees.  I've made myself a chart on google docs to keep track of what I've read so far.  This, of course, appeals both to my love of charts and to my love of well-written YA literature.

I read Maggot Moon earlier this week.  It's a 2014 honoree and boy, it did not disappoint.  I'd characterize it somewhat as a mixture of 1984, Wonder, and a WWII holocaust bio.  I can't stop thinking about it.  It's told in 100 short chapters (some as short as a paragraph) by a 15 year old dyslexic boy named Standish Treadwell.  "Can't read. Can't write. Standish Treadwell isn't bright."  But he is bright.  And he changes the world.  And it's heartbreaking.  And fantastic. And fantastically creepy.  And I cried.

It's books like this that make me simultaneously excited to write, but panicked because nothing I write will ever be that good.

The sparse prose.  The perfect alliteration and use of metaphor.  The characters you want to jump in and save.  The characters you hate.  A story that makes you feel.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Shopping the House

We moved into our house from a 583 square foot apartment.  So we only had 583 square feet worth of stuff - a couch, a chair, a small IKEA table, a bed, and a couple of book cases.

The woman that was moving out of our house was moving into an assisted living center and was downsizing considerably.  When she asked us if we'd like her to leave some of her furniture, we jumped at the chance.

It wasn't the most beautiful of furniture, but it was functional and it has saved us stacks of cash.  A lot of what she left was modular furniture that could be combined into desks, long dressers, cupboards etc.  There was lots of it.  And it was all a mustard yellow.  Not a nice mustard yellow, either, but a really old, dingy mustard yellow.

So a couple months after moving in (when I took on the daunting task of painting the basement) I painted the dressers quickly with what I had on hand.  The black and white looked fine, but it never really sang to my soul (like any truly good piece of furniture should).

For the past couple of years we've had an IKEA Expedit shelving unit in our guest room for storage.  It wasn't beautiful, but it was functional and it fit the space.  But the more I looked at it, the less I liked it.  It blocked the sight line from the doorway out the window, making the room feel darker and smaller than it is.  It's a small room as it is, so that really wasn't helping.

Originally I wanted to purchase a new dresser for the room.  Something wood, with maybe more curving lines.  I scoured craigslist and the local flea markets, but nothing was really doing it for me.  Also, there was some sticker shock involved.  Ever since this whole IVF thing entered our lives, I've been feeling pretty cheap with all other aspects of my life.  But that's neither here nor there...

After wandering the house trying to find a free solution, I stopped and stared at the modular dresser stored and unused in our basement.

I'd always hated how low and chunky it felt, but an idea finally came to me.  A couple weeks earlier I'd fallen in love with a great Eames bachelor dresser at Peg Leg Vintage.  The price tag scared me away, but I hadn't been able to stop thinking about it.

So I set out to make my own.  Blake and I flipped the dresser over, removed the chunky trim from the bottom, and separated the two pieces.  Then, I ordered some Eames hairpin legs from a man on Ebay and screwed them on to the bottom.  They're 8-inch legs, so they gave the dresser a bit more height and solved the visual weight problem.  I also painted it in Benjamin Moore's Grey Timberwolf (because I already had it on hand).

It feels much lighter now and the low-ness (yes, it's a word) of the dresser allows a lot more sunlight to come in through the window.

And if I know one thing to be true, it's that one garbage find deserves another.  I moved up from the basement the mock wingback chair that my mom and I had reupholstered and called it a day.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Lunar Eclipses of the Apocalypse

So here's a story that has kept me laughing all morning.

Bear and I were out for our morning jog today when we came across a woman sweeping the sidewalk in front of her house.  I detoured into the street so little Bear wouldn't try to cover her with kisses (which is what he'd do if he had his way), and smiled and said good morning.

She started talking to me immediately, like we were already acquainted and in the middle of a conversation.

"So, have I ever told you about DayStar TV?"

Playing along because maybe she is just lonely?  "No, I haven't"

"It's this great TV provider with over 100 channels and lots of good news programs with great announcers.  And you can pick and choose what you like.  And you will like everything.  It's great.  It's called DayStar.  There are programs about everything.  You can find anything you like on there.

"Oh, that sounds nice."

"Yes. It's DayStar and it is so much better than other TV.  You can even call them today to have it set up.  You can call them anytime and change things, too."

Who is this all-encompasing "them"?

"Well, thanks. That's good to know."  Starting to walk down the street to get away from where this crazy conversation is going.  "Have a good morning!"

"I mean, on DayStar they've been talking about all of the stuff happening in Israel and how terrible it is.  Biblical stuff! Terrible stuff!  That part of the world is going to affect and take down the United States"

Still trying to gracefully exit the situation by slowly walking away.  "Well, thanks for telling me.  Have a good one!"

"Also, have you heard about the four lunar eclipses?  Those are signs of the apocalypse!  This is Biblical stuff.  All of the happenings in the heavens and the Middle East.  It's mentioned in the Bible. It's all signs!"

I decided to pick up the pace and not look back to continue the conversation, but she did still continue to call out to me all the way down the street about the impending apocalypse and the necessity of having DayStar TV.

Because apparently DayStar is actually a real thing?  What would I do without Google?

I feel like writing to DayStar to tell them that they need to get spokespeople who sound a little less crazy.  It's not great for credibility.  It's also not great for a peaceful morning jog.

But it is great for a story, so there's that.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

45 minutes and some paint

Summer is a great time for garbage hunting in the neighborhood.  Maybe it's when State Department folks most often get transferred.  Maybe it's when leases are up on rentals.  Whatever it is, it makes for great DIY opportunities.

A Couple weeks ago while Bear and I were walking with Blake to the metro, I passed this huge faux-guilded frame on the side of the road.  It was about 5 feet tall and two-and-a-half feet wide (and quite ugly).  What really intrigued me was that the backing was particle board instead of cardboard.  Plus, you know me; I can't stand knowing that something perfectly useful is going to end up in a landfill somewhere.  So, I spent the next few minutes of our walk contemplating what I could use it for, and by the time we'd dropped Blake at the metro and gotten back to the frame I'd figured it out: a chalkboard.

The whole project took maybe 45 minutes.  I primed the frame with oil-based primer, painted two coats of chalkboard paint on the interior portion, then did a light and patchy coat of white oil-based paint over the primer.  There were so many niches and crevices on the frame that I didn't want to take the time (and go insane using a tiny paintbrush) to make it perfect, so I went for a more distressed look.

It turned out better than I'd expected (forgive the terrible and dark photos from my iPhone) and I had it listed on Craigslist that afternoon and sold the next day.  I would have kept it myself, but I didn't see a true need for it.  Now it's happily sitting in a play room for a darn cute three year old.  Easy peasy.