Thursday, October 8, 2015

Moving right along

Is it really October already?  More specifically, is my baby already almost 6 months old?

Also. You don't give up hobbies (i.e. blogging)for six month when your baby comes?  Well, you're a better human than I am.

This is the first week where Baby V has gone to bed at a consistent time. She  now has a bedtime of 6:00 p.m., but the process usually lasts until 7:00 p.m.  So my quiet time begins at 7:00 p.m. I can eat dinner, put my feet up, chat with Blake, and now I can write.

I swear my child has a sixth sense about whenever I sit down at the computer to write.  That, and when I try to take a shower.  Both result in a grumpy sourpuss baby in record time.  Generally speaking, she's a very happy and easy baby, but I think maybe she just gets lonely when I'm concentrating on something else?

I've resulted to laying her on a towel outside the shower while I sing silly songs to her and check on her every few seconds.  I realize that this probably won't be ideal once she's able to crawl or pull up on the tub, but for now it gives me a few moments to attend to my hygiene.    And now I have this lovely time in the evening to bore you all with my ramblings.

After six months of successfully keeping a baby alive, I can now attest to two things:

1.  I stand in awe of all the mothers out there who have multiple children, or who go it alone.  I never appreciated what a sacrifice that must be and how tired those mothers probably are.  You have my everlasting respect.

2.  The constant sickness through fertility medications, IVF, pregnancy, and then dealing with the miserable was all worth it.  Our baby is the best.  The best, I tell you!

Virginia laughs at Bear constantly (and only at him, never at Blake or me no matter how silly a face we make or crazy a noise we make), gives big cheesy grins, almost sits up by herself, loves baths, thinks it hilarious when she burps or toots, and generally is just a big bundle of love.

We almost never call her Virginia, actually.  Usually it's BooBoo.  The first sounds she made were "boo" and for months she'd end every coo and gurgle with "a boo!"  So there, you go.  We're hoping she's a golfer because it would be an excellent golf name.  Also, women's golf scholarships are maybe the easiest sport scholarships to get, so we're pursuing that angle.

On that note, it's hard to believe she'll ever be old enough for college.  Heck, it's hard to believe she'll ever be old enough for kindergarten, but I've found that time has a way of speeding up (even the fussy days go by entirely too quickly), so I'm sure I'll be lamenting her leaving home before I know it.

Bear continues to be a lovable pest.  Sometimes I wish he could go on vacation alone for a few days to give me a break from the mud and barking, but then he walks into the room and BooBoo squeals with delight and I decide it's all worth it.  But talk to me tomorrow when my floors are a mess again and I may be singing a different tune.  Every day is an adventure (and a circus) with those two.

Well, with that rambling post as my first step back into blogging, I'm going to say goodnight and try to catch up on some sleep while the going is good.  

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Making Her Debut

For the first two weeks of her life, Virginia had a lot of trouble gaining weight.  We were at the doctor and/or the hospital almost every day.  We met with a lactation consultant and bought herbal remedies with strange names.  I learned that I had more dignity to lose when I spent hours a day hooked up to a pump like a jersey cow with a hands-free bra that made me feel like Lady Gaga.  And we all (my mom included - she was our saving grace for the first two weeks) were exhausted from round the clock feeding and pumping.

Thankfully little V is doing great now and has chunked up to the 50th percentile for weight.  We are so grateful for all the help - medical and otherwise- we received.  Who would have ever thought it would be so darn hard to keep one tiny person alive?

So without further ado, I 'd like to joyfully introduce you to our beautiful little girl: Virginia Ashton.  She's named after Blake's maternal grandmother, Virginia, and my best friend from growing up, Ashton.  We love that she shares the names of two incredibly strong and loving women who mean so much to us.

2:05 PM
7 pounds 9 ounces, 20 inches long







Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Baby V

It's hard to believe that little Virginia joined us six weeks ago (time flies!).  I've been meaning to sit down to catch up with the world for quite some time now, but of course every time I sit down at the computer, Baby V has other plans for me.

V had her six-week appointment today and got several shots, so she's still sleeping it off and I'm taking the opportunity to get the laundry done, the dishes unloaded, and some words on the screen.  It's been a whirlwind the last six weeks, and I feel like I'm just starting to get a handle on life with a baby.  She's now sleeping 10 pm - 5 am, so I feel much less haggard all the time (though recent photos would argue that I'm still looking haggard).

As I previously mentioned, baby girl remained stubbornly transverse until the end, so we went ahead with the scheduled c-section.  I had mostly come to terms with the idea, so I tried to enjoy the fact that there was no tedious waiting game.  My mom flew in the night before, and I took a leisurely approach to the morning of: I slept in, took a long shower, and even dried my hair.  I had Blake take a before picture of my enormous stomach, and then had my Mom take a before picture of our family of three.  Yes, three.  We count Bear.

Our check-in time was 10:45, so at 10:40 we got in the car and drove the approximately 2 minutes to the hospital and waddled in with our bags.  I'm glad I wasn't in labor, because the check-in process took a while (I guess it was a big day for babies?).

We spent the next several hours in the labor and delivery room where I was hooked up to monitors and IVs, watched my feet and legs slowly swell to epic proportions, and Blake had a grand old time in his fancy doctor scrubs.  The surgery was scheduled for 12:45 p.m., but I guess our nurses decided to take a long lunch or something because we didn't walk down to the OR until about 2:00.

It was surreal to walk into an operating theater with the bright lights, sterile everything, and Black Eyed Peas playing over the speaker system.  Not really the way anyone expects to give birth, right?

I'll spare you all the gory details, but in a nutshell: the spinal didn't work the way it was supposed to, so I felt quite a lot of what was going on (the horror! the horror!), something went wrong with my organs at one point, leading to me losing lots of blood (lots of which I could see splattering up on the sheet separating me from the surgery. Again, the horror! the horror!), and I basically spent the entire 45 minutes crying and wishing I could get up and run away while Blake held my hand and tried not to look panicked.

Also, I hope V is happy being an only child. No more c-sections for me, thank-you-very-much.

But in the end, it was worth it.  Because that little squish on the right, came out of that big squish (me - check out those chins!) on the left.

Little V cried for about two seconds when the wiped her off, then as soon as they gave her to Blake, she quieted right down and stared at him.  She peacefully stared at her daddy for the rest of the surgery, which was probably the sweetest thing I've ever seen.

 I'll also spare you the tedious details of our three day hospital stay, but by the time we left I think I'd gained more weight than I walked in with.  Those IV fluids really stuck with me for about a week after I came home.  For your viewing pleasure - or displeasure- here's our first photo as a family of four.  Makeup-less and swollen to epic proportions, but happy as can be to be home with our darling baby girl.  All those years of work, doctors, and medicines were worth it.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

In Full Bloom

It really is pathetic how slow I've been to record any recent events in my life.  All I can say is that I'm very slow, very waddle, and it's taken a very long time to get my house somewhat recovered from the bathroom renovations.  I have a new a profound dislike of drywall dust.  That stuff gets in every crevice and demands to be scrubbed off rather than simply dusted.  I'm convinced I'll be finding the stuff hiding in corners for the next three years.

But I digress.

A couple of weeks ago, my friends threw me the loveliest baby shower (my Mother-in-Law hosted it at her house).  The theme was "In Full Bloom," which was perfect for the first sunny day we'd had in weeks.  Adrienne is an interior designer and Tiffany is a party planner, so as you can imagine, it was a gorgeous shower and I felt incredibly lucky to be celebrating Maybe Baby's arrival.

One of my favorite blogs is a hilarious but also terrible place on the internet called GOMI (Get Off My Internets) where people go to snark on other people's blogs.  It can be quite cruel, but it's often extremely funny.  My favorite is when snarkers begin calling bloggers "Cara de Pan."  For the longest time, I thought it was a reference to a specific fashion blogger, but then I finally realized that it's a translation of "Bread Face."  Well, look at these photos and call me Cara.  I'm positively puffy.

Also, I make the funniest faces when left to my own devices/when I don't realize I'm being photographed.  I've spared you most of my funny faces, but just believe me when I tell you there were quite a few pictures that had me giggling to myself as I flipped through them.  This is all proving to me the underlying/subconscious reason I don't "remember" to take many photos with me in them.  Oh well.  There's a certain charm to being able to remember oneself just as puffy as one actually was during month nine of pregnancy.

Back to the main event: as I said, the shower was beautiful.  The food was amazing. I have the most talented friends who can bake and cook with the best of them.  There were dark chocolate coconut macaroons, fruit tarts, turkey and brie sandwiches, raspberry french macarons, Italian sodas... I'm getting hungry just thinking about all of the delicious food I ate that morning.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I have the most generous friends.  Maybe Baby will be the best dressed and most well-read baby around.  A lot of the women at the shower were members of my book group and it was fun that so many of them brought their favorite baby books to add to Maybe's collection.  It's fun to have old favorites that I remember from my childhood, and so many new others that I hadn't read before.  I can tell I'm going to have lots of fun reading to her every day (or to myself at the beginning?).

It's hard to believe (but extremely exciting) that we'll be meeting her in less than a week!

Thursday, March 26, 2015


Well hello nearly defunct blog.  It's been a while.

Mostly it's been a while because every time I sit down and write I end up complaining about something.  And really, my life is quite cushy and I have no reasons to complain, so therein lies the conundrum of personal blogging.

Objectively, I look at the past few weeks and things have been pretty awesome:

Maybe Baby is almost here.
Maybe Baby is healthy.
We're getting a brand new bathroom and fixing other issues in our house that have long been on our list.

I'll admit, we're pretty spoiled.

But then there are the little things like our renovations dragging out a week later than expected because of the awful March ice storms we've had, and the cabinetry orders getting messed up and costing us more time and money.

And the bigger things, like this baby being stubbornly transverse.  I had no idea that was even a thing until the ultrasound tech told us that baby girl is laying with her head on my left, her bum on my right, and her feet dangling down and around "like a little doughnut."  Her positioning makes things fairly uncomfortable for me (my ribs feel like a hot poker is being pushed up against them at all times..hooray!), but mostly what it means is an automatic c-section.

We're crossing our fingers that she'll surprise us and flip into position, but we've scheduled a date just in case she is just as stubborn as I am.  It was surreal to schedule with the hospital the exact date and time for baby's arrival (April 15th at 12:45 p.m. in case you're wondering - Best tax day ever!).

I know it's ridiculous to complain about not getting the birth experience I was hoping for when the baby is healthy and c-sections are so safe, but it's been a hard mental/emotional adjustment to make.  I think what's been hardest is that the entire pregnancy process has been so, for lack of a better word, medicalized.

A doctor created the baby in a petri dish.  A doctor put the baby in me.  A doctor is going to cut the baby out of me.

Some good friends of ours used to joke that they were working on a new invention called the "Incu-baby" that would gestate a baby for you so that you didn't have to be pregnant.  A sort of gestational carrier that you could set up in your living room and dump feed into every once in a while like a fish tank.  Well, I've been joking with them lately that the Incubaby (TM) already exists.  It's me!  Put an embryo in.  Feed it anti-nausea pills and the occasional milkshake.  Take the baby out when it's ready.   Voila!

All joking aside, I've been surprised at how difficult it has been emotionally.  To feel like a gestational carrier instead of a mother.  I'm sure that'll change the moment the baby makes her debut, but man, am I ready to have that day come.

I vow to get my writing mojo back soon so that I can share all about the fabulous baby shower that my friends put on for us last weekend, and the finished product bathroom (if it ever gets to that point), but until then, this is the Incubaby (TM) signing off.  I need a nap. And maybe a milkshake.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Six Years

Blake and I celebrated our six year anniversary this past Saturday.  It's hard to believe that it's been six years since we got married, and over seven years since we started dating.  Time truly does fly.

Before I regale you with tales of our anniversary celebration, let me was mushy for just a moment.  Blake is a truly wonderful human being.  Anyone who knows him will heartily agree that he is one of the nicest people they've ever met.  You know how some people have resting grumpy face (always with a frown)?, well, Blake has resting happy face. There are very few times when I've ever seen him without a smile.  He is incredibly socially gifted and is able to talk with anyone and make them feel at ease.  He makes up for my awkwardness (and all my other shortcomings) in spades and has helped temper my anxious nature.  He puts up with my constant projects and odd ideas and the fact that I never laugh out loud (I only shake and occasionally giggle/snort).  He gallantly survived the past couple years when my hormones would have made most people head for the hills.  In short: he's the best.  There's no denying it.  He's just the best.

But before I bore you all with more declarations of my affections...

Because I'm rarely making it past 9 p.m. these days and because Blake was recovering from a cold, we decided to do our celebrating during the day rather than the evening.  Neither of us had done much adventuring in National Harbor, so we made reservations at Redstone American Grill and had a late lunch.  The food was good (our favorite was the complimentary "morning bread" that they bring you, which was more like an entire blueberry poundcake with frosting - yum!), the service was great, and it was right on the water, so the view was beautiful.  It was a gray and icy day, but that made it all the more peaceful to look out at the boats and the snow in the marina.

After lunch we rode the Capital Wheel, from which you can see more of Alexandria and the Potomac than you can of the Capital...but it was still fun.  Of course the only picture we took together that day was the promotional one that the folks at the Capital Wheels try to make you buy for some outlandish price.  Let me tell you, that was not our best photo.  Not even close.  Needless to say, we did not purchase it.

So here's a photo of us from this fall where we are not bundled up to the gills, and where we actually look somewhat normal.  I further resolve to take more photos this year - I'm hoping that once Maybe arrives we'll have more of an incentive to document our lives and I'll worry less about how un-photogenic I am.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Abominable Snow Dog

DC is pretty much at a standstill today because of the massive snow storm we're getting.  The Federal Government is closed (exceptionally bad timing seeing as Blake is down in Texas for work and doesn't get to take the time off), schools are out, and no one is on the roads.

I've taken bear on a couple of off-leash walks today and let him play with all his muppet friends in the park.  Each time we come back inside he has to spend 20 minutes thawing out in the bath (the snowballs he collects on his legs and stomach are outrageous with this heavy, wet snow!) and then another 20 minutes drying off, but it's worth it.  He is just so darn happy outside exploring and romping with his neighborhood pals.

Off-leash walks are really lovely for me right now, too, as I'm fairly slow and cumbersome in the snow.  Bear runs circles around me and checks back every few feet to make sure I'm coming, so he gets even more exercise than I'd be able to give him on a normal walk.  And I get to waddle along at my own pace.  It's a win-win.

Our neighbors have been ridiculously nice to us all winter - shoveling our walks, clearing our car, helping us lift heavy things.  What with my carry restrictions and Blake's back being on the fritz, we've been like a couple of 85 year olds around here.  I've been baking lots of cookies and delivering lots of flowers to say thank you, but I'm still feeling guilty.   All of our direct neighbors are quite a bit older than we are, so I feel like we should be the ones helping with their walks (and most years we do).  Let's just add this to the list of many reasons why I'm excited to almost be done with pregnancy. Only six weeks left!

We're probably going to come down to the wire time-wise with our bathroom renovation.  The horrible weather (ice and snow storms for the past week and a half) have made the progress on our bathroom slow and it looks like our timeline will be pushed back a week.

Unless Maybe is born super early, that should work out fine.  I'm just ready to be living without the dust...and without a bathtub hanging out in the study.  Though, if those are the worst of my worries, it's fairly obvious that life is pretty darn good right now.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Getting there

At almost 33 weeks along, I'm getting to the point in my pregnancy where I want to schedule my doctors appointments for first thing in the morning, wear my lightest clothing, and make sure to shave my legs. All of this in preparation, of course, for stepping on that scary metal scale.  While the nurse keeps moving the balance further and further to the right, my eyes get bigger and bigger.

I've never considered myself an incredibly vain person, but the bi-weekly weigh-ins have made it fairly clear that I'm a little more prideful than I thought.  

I'll tell myself that it's just Maybe's gigantic head (thanks Blake...) but it's probably my diet of grapefruit, cheese, triscuts, and cookies. 


I'm also at the point in my pregnancy where I've apparently decided that it's a good idea to take on big home projects.  Right now there's a crew jack hammering the bejeebers out of our upstairs bathroom while I wear a surgical mask and earplugs and hide out in the family room.  Did you know that in 1951 bathroom tile is securely fastened in about three inches of pure concrete (both the walls, the shower and the floor)?  That's a whole lot of concrete...a whole lots of dust...and a whole lot of extra weight that our trusty floors won't have to hold up anymore.  

Blake and I have spent the past two weeks stewing over finishes and seeing the dollar signs fly as we've ordered all of the supplies.  The UPS guy and I have become quite close (he has generously carried things into the house for me since I can't lift them from the porch and Blake is still recovering from a back injury).  Our living room looks like a Home Depot exploded and there is a tub filling up the majority of our study.  Like Blake says, it's like we are camping in our own home.  It's awesome...and awesomely hilarious.

We have been dreaming of this bathroom renovation for years and finally felt like we should pull the trigger before Maybe gets here.  It's madness to be sure, but at least it's fun madness and it comes with an end date.  

I can't wait to post the before and after photos.  No more five by five bathroom!  No more knees touching the tub when you're on the toilet.  Such luxury! 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Year of the Sheep(adoodle)

Oh, Mr. Bear.  How I love thee. Let me count the ways.

Oh, Baby Bear.  How I get frustrated with thee. Let me multiply the ways.

My goal for the past several months has been to keep Bear mat-free so that we can keep his fur long.  We prefer the sheepdog look to the poodle look, but his dense fur is pretty high maintenance, so it takes eom real doing. 

Blake built me a laundry/craft table in the unfinished portion of our basement and I've found that it works really well as a grooming table.  It's high enough that when I put Bear on it he doesn't try to jump off.  In fact, he just stands there in utter dejection while I brush him and tell him what a good dog he is.  It makes me feel bad that he's scared to be up so high, but it's the only way to brush him without him thinking it's a game. Everything is a game to this little guy.

I gave myself a big pat on the back when I picked Bear up at the groomer a week ago.  He came out looking great and had maintained most of his fluff.  This is a first.  Usually he has to get a short cut because his matting is out of control. But this time. This time was different.  This time he came out with a serious swagger to his fluffy walk.

Blake and I marked the occasion by pulling out the nice camera and getting some glamour shots of our main man.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I felt like squealing "it's so fluffy I'm going to die!" every few seconds.  Yes, he's a soft as he looks.

Lest you think he's all fluff and sweetness. Here are some other Bear anecdotes for your comedic enjoyment:

1.  A couple days before he was groomed, there was a day where I had to give Bear three baths. Twice because he had been playing in the snow and was covered in snowballs (dingleberries, we like to call them), and once because he had a stow-away cling-on.

I'm usually pretty good at spotting cling-ons.  In fact, I'm usually meticulous about keeping his "poop-shoot" shaved (oh the ways your dignity leaves you when you get a puppy).  But this one he got past me.  Well, he got it past me until he decided to jump up on the couch and drag his bum across my lap, leaving a very unpleasant-smelling skid mark in his wake.

Needless to say, bath number three included the use of surgical gloves and a plethora of gagging.

2.  I made the mistake of letting Bear run around on the neighborhood tennis court with his friends for over an hour.  The poor guy ran down his paw pads and got blisters.  I felt like the worst dog-owner in history as Bear spent the next day carefully licking his paws.  Uhg.  The poor guy didn't understand why he wasn't allowed to go on walks the next couple days.

When I finally took him out on a short walk, he made it three blocks before he sat down and refused to go any further.

Of course this was the one time I'd forgotten to bring my phone, so I couldn't call Blake to come pick us up.

Three blocks doesn't sound like much, but I'm 7 months pregnant, waddly in the extreme, and not supposed to pick up things over 25 pounds (Bear weighs in at a heafty 32 pounds).  But I couldn't let the poor guy suffer and didn't want to drag him home on his sore feet.

So I picked him up.  And he was in so much pain that he started head butting me and crying.  And I started the heavy, stuttery breathing that precedes crying.  I waddled three blocks home with a head-butting dog and a determination not to have a breakdown before entering my home.

I made it through the door, but just barely...I started crying so hard I almost fell over.  Blake, who was on a conference call on the couch, looked at me with panic in his eyes.  Hormones. I tell ya.  They make a girl do the strangest things.

Alls well that ends well, though.  Bear's paws are just fine.  And I used enough crying power to get me through the next year.  Go team.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Bag it all

In high school I worked as a grocery bagger at the neighborhood family-owned market.

I made $5.25 an hour (a 10 cent raise from minimum! go me!), wore the uniform of terrible men's polo shirts that were several sizes too large, "faced" the aisles, re-stocked the Shasta soda machine out front, went on cart-return missions no matter the weather, directed customers where to find the pre-made pizza dough, and made sure to put the bread and eggs in a separate bag from the heavy stuff.  To sum it up, I was the world's best and also the world's scrawniest bagger.

Ugly uniform aside, there were some great perks to the job.  My co-workers were great. They were mostly college kids and other high school kids working part time, and the management did a great job of hiring friendly, personable people.  Those of us in High School would work either a 3pm - 7 pm shift or the 7pm - 11 pm shift on weekdays and a 4 or 8 hour shift on Saturdays.

I dreaded the 7pm - 11 pm shifts because (and Blake will confirm this) I've always needed a full night's sleep. And by full night's sleep, I mean at least 9 hours.  I love sleep.

The only thing that I looked forward to on those late nights was when, twice a week, I was on bakery clean up duty.  Now, we weren't technically allowed to take home the day-old bakery goods, but it seemed such a waste to just throw them in the dumpster.  So, often, the other bagger and I would triple bag the doughnuts etc., take them out back, and place them next to the dumpster instead of in it.  That way, at the end of our shifts, we could sneak back around the building and take the bounteous and slightly stale freebies home.

Now that I think about it, maybe this is where my illustrious career in dumpster diving began?

I also prided myself in being an excellent bagger.  I kept the meats with the meats because meat juice in with the produce is disgusting.  I kept the frozen goods together to self-insulate.  I put the bread on top and the eggs in a separate bag.  Maybe it's because I was only 16 and trying to prove my worth, but I really took my job seriously.

This brings me to the important point of this jog down memory lane.

Bad baggers.  There's always that one bad bagger at the grocery store that you try to avoid.

There's one at our local Giant and I will reverse my cart mid-line just to get away.  He puts the bread on the bottom and slams the eggs around.  He lets the produce roll out of the produce bags and then practically throws it into whatever bag is nearest.  Yes, I know I'm picky, but I specifically choose non-bruised apples...

Last week I thought I was home free.  I had loaded all of my groceries onto the conveyor belt and had just answered the checker "doing well, how are you?" when my bagging nemesis showed up at the end of the counter and started pulling out my re-useable bags.

I looked at my groceries - breads, produce, meats, eggs- and back at him with an internal wince.

Each week when I grocery shop, I bring two large reusable bags.  They don't fit everything, but I like to get a few disposable plastic bags because I use them as kitchen garbage bags.

I asked Bad Bagger to not overload the re-usable bags and then to use plastic for whatever didn't fit.  Then I chatted with the checker while I saw the total rise and rise (I hate how expensive food is...).  The next time I looked over at Bad Bagger, he had tried to stuff everything into the two bags.  Cans, bread, eggs, produce. All squashed.  The bags entirely too heavy.  I asked him again if he could use plastic for whatever didn't easily fit into the two bags because I'm not allowed to lift anything super heavy right now.  He just stared at me and kept putting cans in the already overloaded bags.

I had to ask for/pay for several extra plastic bags and re-bag the groceries myself in the parking lot so that they were light enough for me to lift into the car.  By that time, my bread was flat, my apples bruised, my grapes squished, and, well, you get the picture.

Take some pride in your job, man. But until that time, I'll be requesting that I bag my own groceries. Because a good bagger, much like an elephant, never forgets.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Bonjour Bebe

Two important questions before I get into things:

1.  Why did I think that horizontal stripes would be a good look for pregnant-me on a night where there would be photographic evidence?

2.  How in the world do I always forget to take photos?

Now that that's out of the way...

Ashton (far left) and Meg (just to my right) threw me the loveliest baby shower while I was out in Utah.  Meg has a three year old and is due with her second daughter in a couple weeks, and Ashton has two little boys at home, so I was impressed and honored that they'd had the energy and wherewithal to plan and execute such a wonderful party.

Note: Rachel F. (far right) is pregnant with her 4th (!!) and is due in May.  Don't I have the most beautiful friends? Also, her husband surprised her at Christmas with tickets to come out to Utah the week of the shower, which was the most glorious gift to me.

While we ate the delicious food that Ashton and Meg has prepared (Dainty lemon cookies! An assortment of cheeses! Fruits, crackers, candies!  Be still my heart!), we spent the evening reminiscing about old times and telling funny stories from growing up.  I've known Ashton and Rachel since 4th grade and Meg since 9th grade, so there are all sorts of awkward and hilarious anecdotes we remember about each other.

I wish I had thought to get a picture with the whole group, but as I mentioned above, I just plain forgot. I'd like to blame it on the influence sudafed and antibiotics, or even pregnancy brain, but I think it's more just that I never remember such things.

The entire group was quite large and was comprised of friends from growing up, college roommates, friends from Paris study abroad, friends from DC who now live in Utah, my mom and aunt and grandmother, and the mothers of my childhood friends.

Not to be trite, but I felt so loved that evening.  It was wonderful to have all of the important women in my life there to celebrate with me.

I opened an almost embarrassing amount of gifts and was near tears all night from the overwhelming generosity of my friends and family.  I was proud of myself for keeping my emotions in check.  Maybe Baby is one lucky (not to mention, incredibly spoiled) little girl.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


A couple weeks after Christmas, Blake and I flew out to Utah to visit my family.  My little brother, Reese (who is actually not so little anymore - 20!), had just gotten back from serving a mission in Berlin for our church and we wanted to be there to welcome him home.  He has spent the past two years doing service in Germany, and though we've emailed back and forth a lot, it was so fun to see him in person.

Blake stayed for a week - it was a miracle he could get that much time during such a busy case- and I stayed on for an extra five days.  Unfortunately, I got my second (?!@*#) sinus infection in a month and spent a lot of the extra days in bed.  Fortunately, I was prescribed another Z-Pak and was able to get out of bed and enjoy the last couple days I was there.

True to form, I forgot to take any pictures of actual interest, but I did get a lot of the beautiful snowy mountains. Oh, and a picture of a picture from a family photo session back in college.  Notice how happy my two tallest brothers look to be there?  Frankly, it was probably a miracle that they even agreed to be photographed, so I'll count it as a win.

Blake and I went up to Sundance a couple times, and although we didn't end up skiing, it was as beautiful and peaceful there as always.  Also, in all the time I lived in Utah, I'd never eaten at the Foundry Grill, so we treated ourselves to a long lunch by the fire while a blizzard raged outside.  It was glorious.  There is nothing prettier than a winter snow storm in Utah.

Monday, January 5, 2015

2014: A Year in (Book) Review - Nonfiction Edition

My last post was getting far too wordy, so I thought it would be best to split it up into fiction and non-fiction.  I guess I just enjoyed a lot of books this year.  Sure there were a few bombs, but for the most part I had pretty good luck.

I try not to let myself by too many books until I've finished the previously-purchased stack.  It's so hard, though, because when I head up to the library book sale and beautiful hard-bound books are only 50 cents each, I invariably want to carry out a whole box full.  I know, I know, there are worse problems to have.

Before I run the risk of a second excessively wordy post, here are my top nonfiction reads for 2014 (again, in no particular order):

1.  They Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown.
    Wow. Just wow.  I never would have thought that reading about crew/rowing would be exciting, but I found myself gripping my kindle with sweaty palms during much of the book.  That's the mark of a great story-teller and a well-researched subject.  I would recommend reading this in conjunction with Unbroken.  It has some overlap with the cast of characters, but is much less depressing and stressful.

2.  Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman.
   I'll recommend this with a disclaimer.  There is some language and explicit content, but it's pretty tame.  I barely made it through one episode of the Netflix series, but the book was SO MUCH BETTER.  It was a great look at the inside of the women's prison system.  I really had no idea how things worked in prison and it was a fascinating read.  I laughed, I flinched, I was grossed out.  Unsurprisingly, it made me want to learn more about prison reform.  

3.  Flash Boys by Michael Lewis.
   I'm never disappointed by Michael Lewis.  I enjoyed/was terrified by this look at investment and the stock market.  I'm also fairly certain that maybe I need to just hide all my money under my mattress.

4. Marley and Me by John Grogan.
    I knew going into this that it would make me cry - nay bawl my eyes out.  And it delivered.  Grogran does a great job of describing life with a dog.  Also, he's a pretty engaging writer, which is a definite plus.  Read if you need a good therapeutic cry.

5.  Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan.
   Susannah Cahalan was a young journalist working in NYC when she started having a series of strange medical woes.  Think Exorcist type terror.  It turns out to be an autoimmune disease that is attacking her brain, but it takes ages and teams of doctors to figure out what is wrong.  I loved that it was a memoir told first-person.  Sure, that means its through a filtered lens, but she does a great job of researching the disease and looking at it all subjectively.

6.  Mao's Last Dancer by Li Cunxin.
   Having never learned much about Chairman Mao's reign in China, I was shocked by the information in this memoir.  In western schools we learn so much about WWII and problems in Europe, but almost nothing about China (or Asia) in general.  This wasn't the most beautifully written memoir, but what it lacked in literary genius, it made up for in fascinating information.

 7.  The Black Count by Tom Reiss.
    There were portions of this book that I found fairly boring, but as a lover of French history, it was mostly a page-turner.  I hadn't realized how much of Alexandre Dumas' novels were somewhat biographical (using stories from his father's life).  Also, I loved learning about slavery and black history in France.  I had no idea how progressive France was prior to Napoleon's reign.  Tons of great information that appealed to my love of random facts.

8.  On Writing by Stephen King.
    I haven't read much Stephen King (I'm not a huge fan of scary stories), but I adored this book.  It was fun to get inside the mind of such a successful writer and made me excited to sit down and write on my own.  That, my friends, is quite a feat.

Friday, January 2, 2015

2014: A Year in (Book) Review - Fiction Edition

Goodreads is one of my most favorite websites.  I think I've mentioned it before, but it wholly appeals to my love of lists and books - two of my very favorite things.  Also, with as bad as my memory has become lately (I'm blaming it on pregnancy...which has become my scapegoat as of late) it's great to keep track of how much I liked a particular book and why.

2014 was a year full of both good and bad reads.  I kept up with my trend of devouring Young Adult novels and tried to divert my attention to more non-fiction so as to actually improve my mind.

So, it is without further ado that I give you my favorite fiction reads of 2014.

In no particular order.

Young Adult Fiction
1. On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta.
    Before this year I hadn't really ventured into Australian-authored YA literature, but I've got to say that it's obvious that I've been missing out.  This one started out feeling a bit like a combination of Lord of the Flies and A Separate Peace (both favorites of mine), but took a turn into a more southern gothic feel.  I can't explain it, but it was so beautifully written and so poignant, that I wanted to re-read it immediately after finishing it.

2.  Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey.
    Another Australian author who now has my heart.  Think Huckleberry Finn meets Little Rascals meets To Kill A Mockingbird...and you still don't quite have it.  Impressive doesn't even begin to describe it.  It's another one going on my re-read list.

3.  Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool.
    I think this one may be making an appearance as one of my top-10 favorite books.  Ms. Vanderpool is a relatively new author, but she is absolutely magnificent.  The story takes place in a boys' prep school in Maine just following the Second World War.  It's heartbreaking and thought-provoking and I'll be reading it again and again.

4.  Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner.
    One of my goals this year was to read through as many of the Printz Award winners and honorees as possible.  This one and the previous three listed are all from that list and it's no surprise why.  Maggot Moon is haunting in a 1984/The Handmaid's Tale sort of way and the ending was not at all what I was expecting.  Although it's YA, I wouldn't recommend it for the younger-end readers as its really quite disturbing.

5.  The Fault in our Stars by John Green.
    I probably don't need to go on about this one as everyone on earth has either sobbed through the book or bawled through the movie.  I almost hated how much I loved it.

6.   Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler.
    Daniel Handler, better known as Lemony Snickett, surprised me with how well he captured the teenage voice.  I felt like I was re-living high school and found myself laughing out loud at parts. I listened to this as an audio book, which made it particularly entertaining as the reader was so much fun.

7.  Airborn by Kenneth Oppel.
   This felt so much like the swashbuckling adventures of classic literature and I loved every second of it.  I was initially turned off by the cover (I know! How dare I judge a book by its cover?) but five pages in, I was hooked.

Adult Fiction
1.  The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.
    Long and full of language and despicable characters, but also Boris.  Boris is one of the most compelling characters I've ever read.  I may have wanted to throw the book across the room halfway through, but those Boris monologues towards the end made it all worth it.

2.  Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan.
   This fun mystery perfectly captures the tech generation.  I loved every second of it and hardly a week goes by where I'm not recommending it to someone.

3.  Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple.
   I listed to this on audio book and absolutely adored the narration.  It was so cleverly told and so spot-on in its descriptions of suburban life that I wanted to listen to it straight through with nary a break.  Bernadette, will you be my best friend?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Christmas 2014

Here we are a week after Christmas and I'm finally starting to catch up.  Blake woke up on Christmas with a cold and it's gotten worse from there: a sinus infection to end all sinus infections.

I've successfully avoided it this time around thanks to self-quarantine and lots of vitamins.  Poor Blake has had a go of it, though, and is getting very ready to be done with blowing his nose and steaming over boiling pots of water.

Christmas itself was wonderful.  We spent Christmas Eve at Blake's parents' house and enjoyed the usual festivities. The kids put on a nativity program and also take turns performing on whatever instruments they're currently learning.  A couple recited poems like this one:

Yesterday is history. Tomorrow's a mystery. But today is a gift. That's why it's called the present.

I love 8 year olds.

Luckily this year we were spared any renditions of current Taylor Swift songs.  In years past those have been the hardest to keep a straight face through.

My 11 year old niece, Coco, and I played a duet on cello and violin.  She, of course, played perfectly. And I, of course, messed her up.  My fingers are so out of shape.  Also, I'm blaming my staggering stage fright.  Sigh.

Iya and Papa (that's Blake's parents to their grandkids) organized a treasure hunt for the kids to find their gifts.  It was definitely a highlight.  It's so fun to see all 8 of them running around holding clues and looking like they might explode with excitement.  It's one of my favorite parts of Christmas.  Kids make everything more magical.

The rest of the evening was spent feasting on enchiladas and sides (we've all decided that Mexican food should be our new Christmas Eve tradition) and making ourselves sick by eating too many treats.  A good 'eve was had by all.

Because we're getting really old, Christmas morning started out around 7:00 with a long walk for the Bear followed by a leisurely morning in our pajamas while we opened gifts.  Blake and I did a mostly hand-made Christmas for our parents and we had so much fun.  I crocheted afghans for both sets of parents, and Blake printed out a couple of beautiful photos on canvas of loons from the lake this past summer.  It was a hit.  I love doing handmade gifts.  It makes me feel like I'm celebrating Christmas for a lot longer as I'm taking the time to work on the gifts so much earlier than I would have otherwise.

Also, because we're getting old, when our parents asked what we had on our Christmas lists it was all baby-related.  My parents generously bought us our dream stroller and Blake's parents spoiled us with a beautiful high chair and a video baby monitor.  We're getting close to being all set up and I can hardly believe it.  How strange it is that we'll have an 8 month old by next Christmas!