3 Pieces of Art

Lately I've been really into buying art. Not fancy pants stuff but stuff I just love. Today I was looking through the coffee table book of Steve McCurry photographs (his Afghani girl with green eyes photo is perhaps one of the most well known photos ever) and was just amazed at how I can like many photos, can appreciate the technique and value of others and then there are just a few that almost made my head buzz I like them so much.

Last summer I walked around the Bellevue Arts fair, which takes up the mall parking garage for a long weekend every summer and came away with two strong emotions: first, I just want my life to be full of beautiful things. And second, a sort of desperation at how expensive it can be. (Side note: I wonder if modern tools and technology have made making really wonderful art more accessible and affordable. I imagine so. There's just so much crap out there too)

There's this feeling when you find a piece of art you love that honestly feels like love. It may sound overly dramatic but it really is true. It doesn't happen often, but when it does there's this feeling of completeness, if only for a moment. I'm sure there's some quote from the Goldfinch about it, which I read recently, something about how you see this beautiful thing and get lost in it. It makes you happy or sad or confused or whatever. I get back to reality pretty quick, but that moment is memorable.

Purchases of late:

1. Rising by Robert Tandecki
This was one I saw at the Bellevue Arts Fair last year. Loved it. Knew Porter would love it, and talked myself out of buying it. I thought about it enough times that I tracked down the guy down and bought it from his house in Sumner. Felt very shady, even though it wasn't.

The orca is Porter's spirit animal. The mountains are his inspiration. And he lives for the sea. And it sure does look nice.

2. Pancakes by Pascal Campion
I follow Pascal's daily sketches on Instagram (as should everyone, I say). He is a genius with color and depicting moments, usually around family life and cities that are entirely relatable. Some of my favorites show a kid staring up at the sky, a series of activity in a kitchen, and a potty training celebration.

I bought this one because one, Pascal was having an Instagram followers sale where I saved like four bucks, and two, this is so me and Porter. The light. The energy. The smiles that match Porter's and mine when I just want to kiss him hard and he's in the middle of doing something productive.

Pancakes by PascalCampion

3. Melancholy by Edward Degas
I saw this at a museum once, I can't remember where, but I remember it was on a dark blue wall and I kept coming back to it. Melancholy, I think, is one of the most potent emotions. Even though the way I experience it, it almost feels like a non-emotion. Difficult to articulate but it is easy to identify. I can track emotional times in my life by memorable bouts of melancholy.

So I loved it like I haven't many pieces of art hanging in museums and I think about it sometimes even when not feeling melancholy, there's something so familiar about her expression. So I bought it. And now I own it. And I can look at it whenever I want.

Melancholy - Edgar Degas


3 Things that made Jamie's night

Tonight the kid woke up at 10 pm ready to PARTY. Apparently what I thought sad goodnight til morning was just s power nap, saving energy for:

1. Split Jerk

No joke. It's a crossfit move: Jump, lift up arms (or a barbell if you are doing it for real), land in a lunge. Don't think I get it of shy people do it, but I asked Porter about arm workouts and was showing me the move and Jamie just about lost it! He hasn't laughed much yet. Lots of smiling (and I mean lots), with a few mini giggles here and there. Usually if he's really getting a kick out of something he does that silent laugh where you don't breathe. It's cute, but unsettling (not unlike hid tendency for panting when he's excited and wheezing for fun). But man, a split squat thing and he was in stitches? Of course now I'm sure Jamie is destined for Crossfit competitions.

2. My baggy camo sleep shirt
Jamie's been doing this thing lately where he grabs something tight, holds it out and up, and ... Growls. Grunts? It's a bit like Tim the Toolman Taylor but longer, more animal-like, and the sentiment more reminiscent of man's celebration of making fire. It's primal joy, I guess. Tonight my shirt brought out the caveman, which was nice for the copious amounts of spit-up that followed the late night mania.

3. Porter's German accent
Let's get real, my husband has a mildly impressive repertoire of accents from around the world, varying in accuracy and his ability to stay in character without getting weird. His German guy is pretty great, and tonight probably prompted by Jamie's future as a Crossfit heckler. He's all Arnold a la Kindergarten Cop, which is my favorite Arnold, mostly because I've never seen the Terminator, I don't live in California, and I have a vague notion from checkout stand magazines that he cheated on Maria Shriver and fathered kid out of wedlock but he kept it a secret for years. Kind of like Caleb and the redhead girl in the OC.

Tangent! Jamie loved the accent. As do I, so we both had a good time tonight.


3 Things I Don't Feel Bad About

As it turns out, the world of motherhood is rife with guilt. There's a lot of hoo ha talk about how moms need to let other moms make their own decisions, but even still, there's a giant economic machine of baby crap to buy and forums full of anonymous posters and parents themselves who are looking for validation for their own decisions because, as it turns out, no one really knows what the crap they are doing.

More on that, I'm sure.

But there are three things I feel pretty great about (most of the time) and no amount of smug, passive-aggressive or well-meaning commentary can make me feel bad.

1. I will breastfeed where I need to.

No, I will not strip down and flash my boob, nor will I throw a tantrum if it looks like I'm making someone uncomfortable. I will make accommodations for situations where it may be less appropriate for the flash of nipple that's bound to make an appearance to be inappropriate or a distraction. I will be as discreet as I can be while not making myself or my baby inordinately uncomfortable. And I will nurse where I am. This includes, but is not limited to the dinner table, a sitting room, an airplane seat, a public bench, a public beach, among a group of friends, with a group of acquaintances, amidst a group of strangers. I can and will excuse myself quietly when I am uncomfortable nursing in a given situation. I don't need fanfare, sympathy, or an approving nod. 

2. I will sit and snuggle

Best advice I received about the first bit (especially coming off a fairly hectic schedule, and having sit around and do nothing guilt to begin with) is to soak it up. Soak up the tiny body, the tiny sounds, and the fleeting time your baby weighs less than a bowling ball. I will not feel guilty for not cleaning, walking visitors to the door, doing something productive, getting starting on getting back the pre-baby bod (barf!). I will not even feel guilty for not getting out and enjoying sunshine or tending to personal hygiene. 

I see it in the wistful eyes of every stranger who I pass, so many of whom comment, almost painfully nostalgic, 'OH, I remember those days. The way my baby just curled into my chest, and stretched, and yawned, and stared, and grew. Breathe him in.' 

3. I want to work... but not that much.

I struggle most with not feeling bad about this conflict, even though I've read a number of studies that confirm that most women feel this way, but so many women evangelize staying home as if it is the only life to strive for. And women who work full time defend it to the point of pushiness, as if not working full time is turning back the clock on women's rights.

But I love working. I love my job. I love the time away from my baby and the socialization that comes with it. I'm good at what I do and want to get better. But it's not my life. And I want to be home. To not be harried and to not need to plan the minutes of my day so carefully. 

I don't begrudge those who work more or less than me (unless they make me feel bad for my own balance). I'm lucky to get to have what I feel like is the best of both worlds, and until that luck runs out, I'll take advantage. 

Snuggle photo dump!


3 things my baby has fallen off of

1. My legs
2. His changing table
3. The bed



3 things I don't love about my baby right now.

Who said it was all roses, right?

Actually no one. Quite the opposite, everyone loves telling expecting mom how miserable it will all be. I won't go as far as misery, but here are, at 5 months old, some things I'm not crazy about:

1. Claws
Baby nails grow so fast! And crooked! And sharp! And they are hard to cut! Porter is on fingernail duty (and quite adept at it), so I've actually only done it a few times, but it's hard too! He scratches my face, he scratches his face, it's obnoxious!

2. Spit-up
I was sure we had dodged the spit-up bullet when after about 2 months I had only seen a few dribbles. Boy was I wrong. So much spit up. Copious amounts of half-digested milk. Sometimes coming up with a burp, sometimes a surprise attack. Usually with a guilty grin after, but always disgusting.

3. Squawking
I'm really not sure of the etiquette here. I can tend to a crying baby in public, but what do I do with a squawker? When it's so loud you can't keep conversation going? I don't mind the sound itself, necessarily as I mind the uncertainty of whether or not it's OK for the squawking to be disrupting whatever social setting I may be in, or how best to handle it. He's such a cute little bird, I'm loathe to stop him, but sometimes it really is inappropriate!


3 Reactions to Baby

I've got this accessory now that goes with me everywhere. It's a conversation-starter at the very least and catalyst for fast stranger friendship at its best. As a social person who has a secret love of interacting with strangers, it's really the best. Only one person I've interacted with in the last three months has had zero reaction to the baby. Not even a glance, a passing mention or anything. It was bizarre, and actually the prompt for this post, because it was so out of line with my other experience. I didn't need him to react, but fact is, everyone else on the planet does.

The three most common reactions are:

1. "Awwww" or the non-verbal face that matches it
The most common, for obvious reasons. Not everyone has the luxury of interacting with me and my tiny human. Most often I am walking in public and, like a sea parting, strangers make a little melty face and just sigh at the show-stopper that is a brand new tiny baby.

2. Lots of questions and opinions
The least common, mostly because I don't usually engage, unless I'm really in the mood to be chatty. It's amazing, though, how quickly people can get from zero to advice giving. Or story recounting. I've had some spectacularly heartwarming conversations with people in the park and at the grocery store (it's not like I go so many places). And I'm pretty good at the smile and 'that's great' canned response for anything out of left field.

3. "My baby is ___"
My favorite, sometimes coupled with one of the other responses, but frequent and special enough to warrant its own line item. 'My baby is 1' 'My baby is 10' 'My baby just turned 55.' Maybe it's because all babies really do look alike. There's probably also some hormonal/genetic thing that responds to tiny babies. But I love it. To me it is the most genuine connection. We may have zero in common in our regular lives, but we both have had this shared experience of the first few months - of snuggles, of unknowns and guessing, of this deep, life-changing love that feels fresh and unmottled by bad behavior and negative relationships. And someday when Jamie is big or annoying or mad at me I will look at someone with a brand new one and remember.


The danger of expecations

Usually I would admit that I hold myself to too high of expectations for myself. I went to a therapist for a minute (I highly recommend it!) and the vast majority of our conversations centered on my self-perception of all the grand things I am and could do, and thus should do-- and the emotional repercussions of holding myself to grand things when shortcomings and reality come to bear. The long and short of it is that you feel bad.

I'd argue with the therapist that lowering expectations was not the answer. That you need a high bar even if you feel bad when you miss it. This isn't to say that I have a high bar in all areas of my life. I'm happy to call myself average in a number of areas of my life: messiness, handwriting, ability to care about local news, to name a few. But the height of ones expectations for a certain experience or performance or ability or whatever it is shouldn't necessarily stay where it subconsciously lands. Meaning, sometimes we place the bar too high- we expect too much out of ourselves or others. And sometimes it's too low. At least in my crazy brain, a big part of life is making sure I'm measuring myself against a bar that I find fair. Making sure I'm conscientious about how I'm counting myself successful.

I've entered mommyland now, which is, by all accounts, a highly emotional world of comparison, advice, and constant threat of regret or failure. And I'm articulating it now I guess as a reminder to myself to set my bar where I want it. No reason to push for things I don't actually find important. All the reason to push for things that I do find important, even if no one else does.


Loving Parents, three ways

Today Jamie was blessed at church. It was an occasion I worried more about than I probably need to have. Not much good comes from trying to make a special occasion any more special than it is inherently. You'd think I'd know that by now. Porter blessed Jamie with good things- that he'll feel love all his life, follow Christ's example of compassion, find truth and beauty wherever he can. And that he'll be a good boy.

The words were wonderful, as I'd hoped and expected. What was just as wonderful but took me by surprise though was the overwhelming sense of love I felt linking generations. Throughout the church meeting after the blessing my mom sat beside me rubbing my arm the way she does when she's feeling emotional and proud. Porter's mom sat beside him with her arm around his shoulder. And Porter and I sat holding Jamie, affectionate as ever. There was no expressions of I Love You's or profound words about parenthood (until now with these such profound words), but I couldn't help but feel like five people on our little five foot wide span of church pew were a little pocket of wonderful, set apart from the rest of the world.

Family for the win.


30. A Grown-up time list

How this list came to be: I'd been planning on writing a 30 Thing I Know at Thirty, much like I did at 25, but in thinking about it over the last several months, only a few Thing I Know really felt as right and real as I wanted them to (and I apparently take lists like this very seriously). Then I was going to do a 30th Year Bucket List. I had made one for Porter and it was a great reminder for us to go and do all the things we wanted to. Then last month I read this article about a woman who approached 50 with an outright plan to conquer her fears. She was quick to point out that it's not a bucket list, and it most definitely can't have anything to do with others' responses to her items [“I’ve done every one of your things,” some bragged, as if the fact they had faced her fears was somehow meaningful.]. So I started thinking about fears. My mom is turning 60 this year and I started brainstorming with her. But fears didn't really feel right at this point in my life, nor did a bucket list. Most of the items I had started jotting down all came with a common theme: "I should totally be better at this by my age." So it's time to grow up.

It's not that I feel particularly juvenile, it's just that there are a handful of things (at least thirty, though I had to really think long and hard about some of them) that I feel genuinely embarrassed about being bad at or not knowing how to do at my age.

Making the list has been an interesting exercise over the last month, shape-shifting as I've moved through things that seemed cool but turns out aren't actually important to me, and I'm sure it would continue to do so if I spent more time curating. The category most notably missing is my professional life, which is, as it should be, not so much on my mind right now.

I didn't brainstorm them by category, but they fall well enough into 8 categories. I've starred the ones that I have already started making progress on, just from having the list. Yay for progress.

30 Ways I'll Grow Up This Year

Interpersonal - I'm terrible at making friends. Friendly as I am and as genuinely interested in people as I am, I have always had a very difficult time making the transition from 'Hey you, I know you,' to 'Let's hang out' to 'We are actually friends and I would keep in touch with you even if we lived far apart and there wasn't Facebook.' It's tough!
*1. Cultivate a friendship from an acquaintance
*2. Cultivate a set of couple friends
3. Cultivate friends in my stage of life (new mom, maybe working mom)
4. Host a dinner party with mixed company (friends that don't know each other, I have a weird complex about it)

Beauty-related - I have limited control over my personal beauty and am overwhelmed by options to contain it. While I really have made strides in the 'have control over what you look like' department, good looking hair or makeup that works I'd say is generally a fluke. Moreover, beauty magazines and most beauty departments make me want to puke. If I, as a reasonably confident person feel as bad about myself as magazines make me feel, they are BAD NEWS.

5. Know how to curl my hair in loose curls (consistently)
*6. Have a skin care regimen for my skin type and skin needs
7. Find a brand of jeans that consistently fits my body

Cooking meals - I don't do "meals." I nibble. Which is fine for me, but let's get real, there are times when slices of deli meat, olives or pickled beets out of the jar, and bites of whatever veggies, fruit, or leftovers are sitting around just isn't appropriate.

8. Have a go-to Fancy Dinner Meal
9. Have a go-to Give Away to Someone Else Meal
10. Have a go-to Quick Meal (quesadillas don't count)

Owning? - Not sure what to call this category, but I hate buying things. Shouldn't I already just own everything and have it organized?

11. Have a well-stocked First Aid/Emergency Kit
*12. Have a well-stocked Medicine Cabinet
*13. Have a well-stocked Game Cupboard
14. Have a basic sewing kit and know how to use it

Food in general - Food is soooo boring. The grocery store and the kitchen are my husband's forte, not mine. He's an enabler in this regard, and I love him for it. All the same, it's probably time to get real.
15. Be confident in buying meat - cut, price, health benefit, use
16. Have a baseline grocery list. Know when we have the items, when we're out, and be good at buying their replacement
17. Cook a great steak
*18. Make frosting that tastes good

General interests - I'm interested in things and don't spend time on them. Or, put differently, I think I'm more interesting than I spend time being.
*21. Learn to play at least one song on the guitar well
22. Have a go-to karaoke song
23. Have a cause or organization that I support with my time and money
24. Have a reservoir of Seattle tourist attractions and itinerary suggestions for visitors
*25. Actually start on and launch one of my side project ideas
26. Pick stocks for investment

Health - Health is not usually a high priority for me. Can't quite call it the curse of being a petite girl, because everyone hates when little people complain about being little. But I have very little discipline when it comes to diet or activity.
26. Have go-to 25 minute workout routine
*27. Not be ruled by my addiction to sugar

Personal - And because not everything is public, 28-30 are personal enough I'm not floating them on the internet, but they are sex and spirituality related. That's two categories, not one.

So it's time to get movin, right?


Adventures in breastfeeding

In a total turn of life events, I spend a lot of my days lately sitting with a baby at my breast. Yes, I talk about breasts now, like it's no big deal. A lifelong small chested girl, I haven't spent this much time thinking about breasts ever. Amazing how quickly that transitioned. No surprise. Or still somewhat of a surprise- I had been worried about breastfeeding prior to actually having done it. I know so many women who have had trouble breastfeeding and it's a really emotional process- feeling like your kid isn't getting enough to eat, feeling like your body isn't doing what it should, feeling like a failure at motherhood right out the gate. I had emotionally prepared myself for the possibility that Jamie wouldn't take to breastfeeding and was pre-emptively giving myself the 'forget those Breast is Best nazis, formula-fed babies turn out normal!' pep-talk. While I whole-heartedly still believe this and feel angry at mommy media that make bottle feeders feel less than, it hasn't yet been a problem for me.

Turn out, like his dad, he's a great eater. So, again, I spend a lot of my day breastfeeding. It has been an experience of fascination, love, some marginal discomfort (I had also emotionally prepared myself for some major discomfort in the form of cracking and bleeding, and thankfully haven't had issues outside of tenderness and occasional biting... yet), and I've been surprised out how much I enjoy it. I sometimes feel like I can feel oxytocin (the bonding hormone) flood my brain when he's eating, neurons all fired up on the love drug as I ogle my baby, and see my boobs, perhaps for the first time as something functional.

Three breastfeeding modes it turns out I love:

1. The angry face, furiously feeding like he's angry about it, or angry about something. He's not crying, but his eyebrows say 'don't mess with me man, I'm in the middle of something!' He looks like a muppet- the serious bald eagle one, totally ridiculous.
2. Distracted feeding, when he looks all around, or, once a bit milk-drunk, lolls about, not quite done eating, but not quite with it enough to get his mouth back to where it needs to be.There is often headbutting involved. Bizarre and entertaining.
3. Bonding time, when he looks straight at me like we're having an eye contact conversation. One hand either grabbing my neck or shirt collar, or dragging his fingers along my rib cage absent-mindedly. Sweetest feeling in the world.


You are never the right age for anything.

I have a post coming down the line about turning 30, which I did last week, and all the things I am planning on figuring out this year to be a grown up for real. But while formulating my plans, I stumbled on this gem [link], which could come right out of my subconscious. I'm the queen of talking myself out of things, not always for the reasons listed below, but for reasons as mundane and dream-crushing. Funny how we have a tendency to give ourselves outs for our dreams and goals. If we can talk ourselves out of starting, there's no failing, right? No looking stupid or regretting things done.

"Don't be silly" "Focus on X, not Y" "You're too young. Too old. Too unfocused. Too dignified." Why bother starting a new career or hobby? What bother bettering yourself, you were born that way.

Defeating self-talk is what it is. Pick your poison!

You are never the right age for anything.
  • 5: You’re too small.
  • 10: You’re too big. You were so cute when you were 5.
  • 12: People would laugh
  • 15: Focus on school. You can do that when you’re 25.
  • 20: Focus on graduating college. Don’t dally, just get it out the way. You were so cute when you were 10. But now…
  • 25: Focus on starting your career. You can do that when you’re settled.
  • 30: Shoulda started in college. If you really wanted to, you would have. You were so cute when you were 20. But now…
  • 35: You should start a family. Stop being silly.
  • 40: Shouldn’t have started a family. You have responsibilities now. You were so cute when you were 30. But now…
  • 45: Pay off the house first. You can do all that weird stuff when you’re retired.
  • 50: Your body aches. Lose weight first.
  • 55: Look, just grow the f### up. Stop with the midlife crisis and childish dreams. Take a trip to Vegas, drink it up and cop a feel with a stripper like a normal person. Then put your nose to the grindstone and focus on retirement, after which you can do all that crazy stuff; I promise.
  • 60: Maybe ten years ago, when you were 50 this would have made sense. You were so sharp-looking when you were 40. But now…
  • 65: Focus on the grandkids. Don’t be selfish. It’s ugly to be selfish when you’re old. It’s endearing in young people, but on you, it just makes you look like you’re a jerk.
  • 75: People would laugh. You’re old now. You should a started when you were 45. In your prime. But that was 30 years ago, you coulda had 30 years of practice under your belt by now.
  • 85: What’s the point anyway? You were still so cute when you were 50. But now…
  • 90: Be dignified and act your age! It’s unseemly trying to be young! Get a cane and a limp like a normal person!


3 Best Meals I Had During Pregnancy

Contrary to what I expected, and what everyone incessantly asked about, I didn't have any bizarre food cravings during pregnancy. Maybe it's because I crave weird things outside pregnancy and don't feel bad about acting on them that it didn't feel much different.

What did change, however, was the sense of satisfaction after eating. After being ravenously hungry (seriously. never in my life have I ever been so panicked at the idea of not eating all of the sudden), an incredible peace came from eating.

Three times in particular, what I ate felt life-changing, and I can still, a year or so later, remember the sheer elation of my meal.

1. Som Tam

Apparently I've got a Thai baby, because I ate spicy food without consequence and the smell of jasmine rice could almost bring me to my knees. But one weekend, Porter was out of town and I had been in the mood for Thai papaya salad. I walked down to one of the Thai restaurants in town and did the whole song and dance about me speaking Thai and how I wanted any food to be legit Thai, not American Thai. All I really wanted was som tam, but they didn't have it, so I had to politely excuse myself and make my way to the other Thai restaurant in town (owned by the same family, it turns out).

After another little I Speak Thai intro, I ordered my som tam (thai thae) and spent the next hour eating it bite by bite, all by myself. I was the only person in the whole restaurant the entire time I was there. I think I had brought a book with me, but it was all about the papaya salad. I walked home in a daze like I had just left an hour long massage and didn't stop talking about the meal for a week. The word 'life-changing' was used, and I meant it.

2. Big Mac

I'm generally an order off the dollar menu kind of girl, so I don't usually do any of the 'Real' burgers at fast food places, but I must have seen one of McDonald's million billboards or flashy trucks because I had Big Mac on the brain. After a few days of thinking about it but sold on eating healthy, I was in a yoga class and decided that health-be-damned, I was getting a Big Mac. You hear sometimes about how serial killers get off on picturing their crime before it happens. My Big Mac was like that. Yoga classes are over an hour freaking long and Gentle Yoga is a total snooze, so I absolutely fantasized about my burger for well over 30 minutes. Even more creepy was that I got it drive-through, drove into a random neighborhood and ate it in my car. Ravenous pregnant woman on the side of road absolutely destroying a Big Mac.

3. Dr Pepper

Work was pretty stressful the last half of my pregnancy and I frequently fueled up on DP. You can always count on DP. There was one particular time, though. It was Christmas time, which means Year-End giving in the nonprofit world, and we were gearing up for a sprint toward our Luncheon just after New Year. It must have been one of the first times I really realized how busy the next 4 months would be. I don't remember what happened on the day, but I know which gas station it was from and which attendant was at the register. It was a magical soda and I'll never forget it.


3 Favorite things about Jamie... so far

We've had this little dude for just over 2 weeks now. Long enough to be considered experts on all things parenting and baby. For sure.

What amazes me is how I just can't stop looking at him. Sometimes I'm wistful, already picturing him at 20 and hopefully an awesome human being; or in awe and almost crippled by the magnitude of this thing they call motherhood- how my life is officially turned upside down now and how it's true what everyone says about never being the same again from the moment after that final push and first cry. Mostly, though, I'm just plain pleased. Delighted. Tickled. I've got the little zippidy doo dah bird on my shoulder while I watch this tiny little thing that came out of nowhere (out of ME!) just sitting there, looking around, trying to figure out how to be alive. 17 days of watching and here's my favorite things to watch for:

1. Sounds. Little woodland creature sounds. Mouth clicks, whimpers, and breathing patterns that make you wonder if he has to actively focus on how to breathe in and out like a normal person. Satisfied gasps for air after a long feed I can identify with (like the deep breath after a perfectly refreshing glass of cold water). Even farts and belches are hilarious (such indelicate sounds from such a tiny thing, hah!).

2. Faces. Grumpy face... gassy face... wide-eyed filled with horror or confusion faces. Inklings of smiles. He does a mean Sloth from the Goonies impression. The biggest yawn relative to a face I've ever seen. They are all adorable, hilarious, or downright pitiful. I presume that these only get better as vision improves and he can actually react to things outside his own body.

3. Mornings. While I can't yet complain even the slightest about Jamie's nights (we got a sleeper, wahoooo!!), every night still is an adjustment in figuring our where he should sleep, how long should I make him feed, when to get Porter up and involved (he's always willing, I just don't really see the point in him being awake if I already am up and on top of it). So it's always a bit of a relief when it's morning, Porter gets up to go work out and I can just snuggle in bed with my little man. He's usually alert, happy, and without the red face he often gets later on in the day. Pretty much perfect.

This is the closest I can get to capturing morning magic, complements of Google's Auto Awesome. Hardly does it justice.


3 Unexpectedly Strong Feelings I Had During Labor

They prepare you for pain, they tell you all about hormones, they tell you every second they can about the moment your baby is born, but three moments I was not expecting were:

1. Rage.

Not like in the movies ('yooooou did this to meeeeeee' [I never got that]) but in a very slow moment, when we finally were on our way to the hospital and, even though I had asked Porter some 6 hours earlier when I figured we'd be headed to the hospital before morning to put the car seat into the car, he had not put the car seat into the car. It's for sure the only time I've every dropped the F word at anyone, maybe the only time I've ever sworn at Porter.

2. Panic.

When we arrived at the hospital it was like 5 am, so the main doors weren't open. Even though I'd been to the hospital plenty, and been told there was a door anyone could access just to the left of the main door, we didn't see it right away and I'm not even kidding I didn't think we were going to find a way into the building. At one point I saw two people at a front desk through a window and still was sure we were going to have to drive another lap around the building and find a random door.

3. Boredom.

After I got the epidural. What a trick! I took a much needed nap eventually, but for the first 20 or so minutes post-epidural, there was some very literal thumb twiddling going on.


3 types of homes on Mercer Island

We moved from Mercer Island last week [Frowny Face], prompting in me a renewed fascination with the place I called home for 18 months. It was the perfect home for the time we were there. A great little apartment with a lot of light and a little view. So close to everything (it will be hard to give up being able to go from jumping up from my pillow [late] to downtown in 10 minutes [including dress and basic primp time]). Moreover, I've been impressed over and over at the hospitality and kindness of Mercer Islanders, both at church with people I grew to know and strangers at the grocery store or the park. I guess being surrounded by water makes it easier to inspire that innate sense of community support, I guess. Islanders may be perceived as snobs to the rest of Seattle, but they do take care of their own.

That's three things I've loved about Mercer Island on its own (1. My apartment 2. Proximity to pretty much anywhere I needed to go 3. The people)

But outside my own experience, here's some other observations.

I took a wrong turn coming home from the JCC a while back (for the brief minute I had a Jewish Community Center membership)- a turn that took me halfway down the east side of Mercer Island (because heaven forbid there be through streets more than every 2 miles). It was a sparkly blue day and I caught more than I ever had the seriously beautiful architecture scattered throughout the island. The kind of home that is featured in architecture magazines, and interior-design magazines, and magazines about wealthy people where they feature them in their stately, ornate, or otherwise impressive home.

The fact that I was surprised to see these homes hit me as ironic, because these are the exact types of homes I pictured everyone living in before I moved to the island, and they are the exact type of home I see people assuming I live in when I tell them I live in/on Mercer Island - something in their eyes that is matching me as wife or daughter to one of those magazine folk, maybe guessing by my outfit (certainly not by my car) which brand of Mercer Island millionaire I am.

Funny thing is, it's all a sham. One I know most Islanders are totally over (except the ones that relish it, which I'll admit I do, only every once in a while when I feel out of my league and am trying to round up in grace, looks, and polished standing).

After finally making it halfway down the island and cutting through to the normal old houses, I realized that this is the real Mercer Island. Normal-sized houses with decor bought to just not look bad. Then I got home

1. Magazine homes

As described above. They're here, usually around the perimeter of the island, and scattered throughout the hills of the interior (view not required but certainly works for the magazine photoshoot). Proportionally fewer of these homes than any other style. But I guess it only takes a few to make a reputation.

2. Normal homes
This home recently sold for $850K! Waa waaaaa
Surprise, surprise, most Islanders live in totally average, if not less fancy than average fancy homes due to the cost of land itself. There don't seem to be many dumpy houses; most are well-kept, some with fabulous landscaping, most with, you know, a lawn and a few standard hedge plants. All are outrageously priced. But maybe weren't always??

3. Apartment homes
These fall into two categories themselves: older, average homes and brand spanking new "high rise" apartments (8 floors, with a pool, gym, etc). Some of the new high rise style apartments are pretentious and overpriced, but most apartments are- shocker- totally average and nothing sparkly.

Here, I made a map:
Made by facts and Microsoft Paint spray paint feature

Three Types of Baby Kicks

Baby kicks are perhaps the most delightful surprise of pregnancy. I'm sure I'd felt a pregnant belly before my own, but most often you put your hand on a belly and wonder if you missed something. No magic moment or anything.

But having a baby in me has been an entirely different experience. From the first little whirrrrs of movement that I wasn't sure were the baby to now that I can physically see the thing moving through my skin, it's like this little secret I have. I'll be in the middle of a meeting or conversation and I've got this party going on in my belly no one knows about but me. Like having terrifying food poisoning gurgles without any fear of diarrhea. Also it's a real live being inside me throwing the party so it's better than food poisoning by a hundred fold. 

Less than six weeks to go and I've identified three main kicks. 

1. The drum solo
The ones best for getting Porter (or anyone else) in on the party. Certain times of day are a straight up explosion of movement. Usually for me it's late morning and right when I lay down for bed at night. Sometimes if I've been on the move or dehydrated and I sit for a minute or drink a bunch of water, the drum solo will start, and sometimes it's random times of day, but it's the type of movement that makes people call them baby kicks. It feels like there should be cartoon onomatopoeia coming out of my belly. WHAM! BOOM! KAPOWWW! 

2. The lava bubbles
The most common feeling, and the one I'm least sure anyone else will feel but me. Early on it was like slow bubbling water, now that baby is bigger, it's more like lava or chocolate or something thick and oozy with slow bubbles popping at the surface. It's not actually liquid, I can tell (and, obviously), but that's the best way I can describe it. It's an indescribable sensation feeling these mini bumps in body parts that don't usually have things bumping into them (ovaries, bladder, stomach...). Who knew even organs can feel little kicks?

3. The alien crawl
NO ONE told me about the bizarre feeling of an arm or leg or, I don't know, shoulder (?) not just bumping into the belly that surrounds it, but slowly grazing the surface like an alien trying to find an exit. It is borderline creepy and would probably gross me out if it didn't feel so attached to my body. THERE IS A LIVING THING INSIDE MY BODY AND IT WON'T BE THERE FOREVER! 


3 Observations from church in/on Maui

Made it to church on the island everyone calls paradise. The parking lot- less paradisaical. More like crowded. But I found one of the last un-double-parked spots and slipped in the back.

A few thoughts in passing:

1. There's just 300 songs in the LDS Hymnbook. How is it possible there are still SO MANY I've never heard? Every ward/congregation has it's favorites, yes. And there are hymns that are go-to's everywhere (I Stand All Amazed, The Spirit of God). But love hymns. Consider myself well-educated about hymns. And I've been in the wards where whoever selects the hymns seems to be on a mission to educate the ward on the more obscure hymns and still am astounded at the times I straight up double-take from confusion (Truth Reflects Upon Our Senses, anyone?)

2. As someone who has never passed the Sacrament, I thoroughly enjoy when the logistics get messy and the Deacons get all stressed about keeping up with short rows, or the one guy who somehow has two trays. Services where attendance is constantly in flux (like a ward in one of the most touristy cities in the world, with close proximity to rich, west coast Mormons [a new gang I like to think exists underground]) it is, I'm sure particularly challenging. No less fun to watch!

3. Tourist wards are fascinating. It's a whole game in and of itself to play Who is FROM here, Who LIVES here, Who is VISITING? Tourists aren't hard to spot (usually more pink than tan). Locals aren't tough (especially if they are Islanders). It's the lives here group that are the wild card. Maybe they moved to Hawaii because they wanted to wear sandals to church, it's not that they didn't pack full church attire. Maybe they have that beachy feel because they're from California or Florida. Some people just love muumuus, no matter the occasion or location.


Christie: An Ode in Three Parts

Together in Prague Christmas 2005
Not actually an ode in the elaborately structured poem sense, but three things I just absolutely love about my cousin Christie, my almost sister:
Stylish in Vegas 
1. She's a guaranteed good time
Not in the Jenny- 'for a good time, call' sense, but that you can count the fact that you do anything with Christie and know it will be enjoyable. We pretty much giggled across Prague and London when we went there almost a decade ago, and she was fresh off a broken engagement - well within her rights to be miserable.

Heading into or Girl's Trip I'm pretty sure I was 25% excited to see Justin Timberlake and 70% excited to just hang out with Christie and feed off her energy for life (that leaves 5% for just being excited to go anywhere, a traveler's reserve). Whether cajoling our 'too-old' concert neighbors into getting up and dancing or selling me on some seriously awesome lightning-shaped dollar store earrings, she's just plain fun.
Rockin in London 2005
Ready for Justin Timberlake

2. She's real
Check her Facebook for proof: there's no sugar coating her moments of parental angst. Talk to her on the phone and she'll be honest about the good and bad in her life (no taming excitement on the good, no downplaying the bad for the sake of being tough).

One of the things I often lament in my moments of hating on the world is how easy it is to have superficial connections with people. I'm pretty great at maintaining acquaintances, but it takes real energy to truly connect with someone in a meaningful way. Christie is an inspiration in being genuine. A couple years ago she called me in a flurry because she had met a woman in the WalMart parking lot who she wanted to help. She had offered to watch this woman's kids so she could go to work and wanted to brainstorm long-term solutions for people like her. Not in a patronizing save-the-world kind of way (the way I'm prone to and self-conscious of) but in the way that she had connected with this random woman literally on the side of the road and wanted to improve her life to the same degree that she wants happiness for her closest friends and family.

After a long day playing

3. She's got depth
Sometimes I pick my brainiest, nerdiest, most conundrummy questions and save them up for Christie because I know she can take it. There's no pretense of knowing all the answers, but there's also no question too big or faux pas she's not willing to stew on or opine. She's well-read, actively feeds her brain, is thoughtful and careful about her spiritual and political convictions- treading the fine balance of believing something with enough fervor that it means something and questioning it enough that it's not all-consuming.

I keep trying to convince her and her husband to move right next door to me so I can see her every day, but it hasn't worked yet. Boo.

And an adorable babe to boot, right?


2 of 3 Trimesters - DONE

I'm 28 weeks pregnant - that's about 7 months for normal people out there who don't count everything weeks. That's right into the third trimester, which from a Dr's POV (and that of a retired neo-natal NICU nurse Mother-in-law), is considered the 'if your baby comes now, not only will it not die, it is not likely to have any serious lifelong medical impairments' marker. Read: Great news for just in case I don't make it another 12 weeks.

Porter and I have been late bloomers in most regards when it comes to talking about the pregnancy/baby. People keep saying I should be talking about it more, or announcing it, or something, but I am very much at a loss for what that even means. I've never been great at announcements. We didn't take a pregnancy test until I'm pretty sure I was almost 2 months pregnant (8 weeks in pregnant-speak). Didn't tell anyone until 11 or so, not because of the dreaded 12 week 'you probably won't miscarry' marker, it just didn't seem to come up. It felt like conversation hijacking or something. We finally told family at 18 weeks, my work at something like 20, Facebook at 24 weeks and now the blog at 28. Yay for full disclosure in, on, and around the internet!

What not telling people did to me is it made all sorts of thoughts I had along the way have no context. I couldn't say them out loud without announcing I was pregnant. I couldn't announce I'm pregnant without some sort of mandatory mini-celebration. No need to go into the discomfort I have celebrating my fertility with acquaintances (and even friends), fact is, now it's out. So here's some of the thought I've had, as I've had them, some time in the last 7 months, in semi-chronological order, as I remembered to write it in my 'Thoughts I've had' notepad on my cell phone:
  • No way is it possible to pee in a cup without peeing on myself, or at least the container
  • The Time Traveler's Wife movie trailer should not make me cry
  • Damn everybody and their opinions. Everyone thinks they did it right. Their way or the highway. LAME!
  • Why won't everyone give me their advice? It's so vague!
  • Was that a kick? Feels like an eye twitch.
  • Round ligements are the worst ligaments
  • I am starving
  • Work is overrated. No way I'm coming back after.
  • I love my job! I Will learn to juggle. Imma gonna be SUPERMOM!
  • What if I can't handle the pain? What if labor is really truly the worst thing ever?
  • Porter is WAY more excited about this than me
  • Why doesn't Porter care about what stroller we use? 
  • Gender, no gender. Gender, no gender. That is the question
  • I hope it's a boy. He will be just like his dad.
  • I hope it's not a boy. Baby penises are gross
  • I am starving!!!!
  • I am getting fat! I have never been fat before. I hate that I hate that I feel fat!
  • Maternity tops are cute!
  • Helllooo ThredUP Maternity!
  • I am definitely not on top of life enough to be in charge of anything/anyone
  • Pregnancy is going to be fundraising gold!
  • Please no crazy acne. Please no gross acne.
  • My boobs are huge. 
  • I need to find a baby to hold. Anyone will do. Who has a baby? Surely someone I know has a baby.
  • My friends are such good moms.
  • My sister and sisters in law are such good moms
  • Awww a dad with a papoose and bottle!
  • What if my child is AWFUL.
  • Turns out sports bras DO have a purpose...
  • I don't crave fast food more but the satisfaction I get from it is expontially higher
  • I could die without ever hearing the phrase 'you just wait' ever again
  • There is so. Much. Stuff. To. Buy. Scratch that. There is so much stuff to choose from.
  • God bless hand-me-downs
  • I need to unsubscribe from this email list. It's giving me anxiety.
  • Holding my nephew, I just can't wait for my own baby to fall into me like he does his mom
  • At the Women of Influence Awards, women kick BUTT!
  • There is really NO WAY to not pee all over yourself when leaving a urine sample.
  • Food. I need food. Food food food food
And plenty more