Sunday, December 15, 2013

What I Didn't Expect When I Was Expecting

Warning: This is a mommy post. If you aren't into birth stories and such, you may want to skip on by. I suppose I'm feeling reflective considering that the kid's birthday is soon, and I'm still kind of not over it.

I didn't expect a c-section.
I had a textbook pregnancy. I had lots of nausea from week 5 until week 14. I gained 37lbs. I got hemorrhoids somewhere around week 32. I looked pretty good until week 35, when I got all puffy and my Dansko's became tight.

I had a textbook first labor as well. I'd been having contractions on and off for the whole week before the kid was born. On a Saturday in late December, I was on my daily walk/hike up Mt. Tabor when I had a different kind of contraction. I continued having those I-gotta-poop contractions for another 5 hours before I realized that I was in labor. I honestly just thought I was sick.

So I packed a bag, had some dinner and got out the yoga ball. Things were going well until Nate became uncomfortable with the amount of pain I was in and suggested we make our way to the hospital. We went, it was confirmed that I was indeed in labor and I was given a room where I continued to labor throughout the night while Nate snoozed on the couch.

The next morning, after being in labor for 20 hours, I broke down and got an epidural probably incorrectly believing it would relieve me enough to rest up for the final push. I drifted in and out of full-awareness while contractions continued. Finally, six hours later I was fully dilated and ready to push. Two hours after that I was wheeled into surgery for an emergency c-section. All that work for 28 hours just to be slashed open. It totally sucked. I cried the whole time.

My baby girl was born, poked and prodded several times with an IV and then whisked away to the nursery to be monitored without a single touch from the human she was just ripped from. That sucked, too. But it was only temporary, because three hours later we were reunited and most everything was fine.

I didn't expect it to be all boob all the time.
I expected that breastfeeding would be weird and possibly horrendously painful. I expected to breastfeed exclusively for many weeks in order to avoid nipple confusion. I expected that pumping and freezing milk would eventually become normal. I did not expect my baby to refuse a bottle. We tried many times, though I suspect we waited too long with the introduction. So, yeah. I couldn't go very far for very long for two years. We made it work, and it was only temporary

I didn't expect sleep deprivation.
For our family, this has been the biggest challenge. I expected to be tired. I expected difficult nights. I expected an early riser. I also expected that the kid would begin to sleep through the night sometime within her first year. Unfortunately, some kids just do not sleep well and she is one of them.

Her poor sleep and my insomnia were best friends and they hated me. For nearly three years I slept only 4-5 broken hours of sleep each night. Three hours in a row was a luxury. If I add up the lost sleep, it works out that I lost two 7-hour nights of sleep per week for almost three years. That's 300 nights of sleep that I can never get back. Her sleep pattern is now much more manageable, though I wouldn't call it predictable. I try to remind myself that it's only temporary.

I didn't expect to be so happy.
Our daughter was completely planned. All those months of wishing I was pregnant when I wasn't don't matter anymore, because there was only one single chance for this particular child to show up. She is absolutely who I wanted to add to our family. She is funny, kind, sincere, loving, interesting and completely wonderful. And thank goodness she isn't temporary.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Twiggy Star

While the kid was discovering the undeniable pleasures of destroying frozen water, I decided I needed a star made out of twigs. I just had to have one. So I looked around the yard for some twigs, and guess what! I had a pile of lilac branches waiting for spring trellis-making. You snooze you lose lilac branches.
I cut five kind-of-the-same-length sticks. Then I found some wire and wire cutters. Then I made a star. It took about 30 minutes total, including the cutting time and searching for wire time and the monitoring of ice bashing time.

I like it so much. I like it so much that I invited it inside. I took down a painting, and hung up that superstar. But that effer was filthy, and it dirtyfied my wall. Nature, why you gotta be like that? So I put it on the porch to let it think about what it did. It might have cried.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mini-Deck: Finished!


Ages ago, as in more than a year ago, we were having trouble deciding what this set of steps should look like. After many sketches, we did what all good homeowners who can't make a decision do: we started a different project. It was around that time that I saw Jane's back deck and walkway at Modern Jane. I really liked the simplicity of it, and it was inspiration for our much smaller project.

I don't know why the design of this mini-deck was so hard to decide on. I've always like the dichotomy... Balls, I just pulled a brain muscle with that one. I've always like the juxtaposition... What is wrong with me? When did my bag of bullshit get so big? Um, I've always liked the contrast of old and new together. There we go. Nice and simple real-people words.


I didn't even know gutters so ugly existed prior to buying this house. I've hated them since day one: November 15th, 2005. But they were (unfortunately) new, and they worked so I've done my best to ignore them.

After repairing the back hall, i.e. straightened the walls, the old gutters no longer fit. We chose a classic metal gutter that was an easy DIY for Nate. I didn't help at all except for keeping the kid out of his hair. I am amazed at how much better the new gutters look. I'm thinking we may switch over the rest of the house next spring.

Weird Slanty Black Pole

It isn't as intrusive in person as in the photos. I promise. There used to be a fence between the house and the garage, but we took it down a while ago. This post was set in concrete. The concrete was poured under the buried conduit which brings electricity to the garage. So we can't just pull it out. I'm not sure how to break up the concrete without a jackhammer. We might just cut the post off below the ground, cap it and bury it. Here's to hoping it's not still there at the end of next summer.

And for funsies, another before and after. I'm very, very happy with how the deck and gutters turned out. Next up: replacing that exterior light fixture.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Late Summer Harvest

String beans

These pictures were taken about a month ago. Since then I've had a chance to plant the winter crops of lettuce, peas, chard, beets, kale and cauliflower. Winter gardening is new for me. Fall came early to Portland with too much rain too soon. The garden seems to adapt better than I do.

Friday, September 20, 2013

How Did I Get in Your Tummy?

The kid: After you and dad were married how did you get me?
Me: What do you mean?
The kid: After you and dad got married. How did you get me?
Me: You grew in my tummy.
The kid: How did I get in your tummy?
Me: Hmm...that's a good question.
The kid: Probably I grew from your skin in there?
Me: Um. I don't know.
The kid: What's in there right now?
Me: My uterus.
The kid: What's a ute-re-us?
Me: Look! That squirrel is flicking it's tail at us.
The kid: Where!?
Me (silently): Phew.

Although I am 100% on board with giving her a true and age appropriate answer, just what the hell would that be? I'm pretty sure she's not looking for a biology lesson here. We've had lots of conversations lately regarding who is older than her, who she's older than, why is she older and why is she younger.

She's trying to figure out her timeline in relation to everyone else. That is pretty cool for a 3-3/4 year old.

But, honestly, I still don't know what to tell her about conception. We could lie to her or scare the crap out of her. But I'm guessing there's probably something in between that would allow her to just think quietly about it.

Maybe this:

The kid: How did I get in your tummy?
Me: Well, Mama had too much wine and Daddy thought it would be fun if we...look! That squirrel is flicking it's tail at us.

That would be a lie, because that's not even remotely close to her story. How about this:

The kid: How did I get in your tummy?
Me: Do remember the movie Dumbo? Remember all the birds with big long beaks and big long necks who flew and flew and then dropped all the babies off to their mamas? That's how we got you!
The kid: But I thought I grew in your tummy?
Me: Look! That squirrel is flicking it's tail at us.

Lies! All the options are some sort of lie. Last one:

The kid: How did I get in your tummy?
Me: I ate a Jane grape. It grew and grew and grew inside my tummy until I felt like I had to take a giant poop. I went to the hospital and pushed and pushed, but it wouldn't come out. So the doctor cut me in half and removed you.

Yup. I think that would cause some quiet reflection. And possibly some minor trauma.

Monday, September 16, 2013


Just sunflowers that were fun for the kid to plant and watch grow.

Our lives changed a little last week. It might sound really minor to say "my kid started preschool," but I don't handle change gracefully. One day at a time, right?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Kid's Gallery Wall

Some kids have room for all their toys in their bedrooms. Some kids have a separate play room. Some kids have a whole finished basement to keep all their crap. My kid lives in a tiny house. She has no toys in her bedroom. Instead she has a corner of the living room. She doesn't have her own bookshelf. Instead she has the two bottom shelves of our bookshelf. The basement is full of crap for sure, some of which is hers, but it's not a play space.

And we chose to live in this small space with a kid, so it's ok. I don't mind all the kid clutter most of the time. However, this kid is showing some early signs of hoarding, specifically when it comes to her drawings. She truly has a hard time letting them go. Little does she know, we are keeping some of the best ones for a memory book. But she has been taping other works of creativeness all over the place including on the teak television cabinet - eek!

It was time to give her a display space of her own.
I bought the RIKTIG hanging clips from IKEA. They are located in the window covering section, not the picture frame section in case you are looking for them. I didn't buy the wire from IKEA, because I planned to use up some of my yarn stash. I know this isn't a new idea, but our challenge was finding an appropriate wall to use. Again, we have a small house and there isn't space on the kid's bedroom walls that she can reach.
So we decided her art gallery should be on wall! We put those frames up soon after moving in 8 years ago. Although everything there is still important to us, the content could use a refresh. But that's not the point. The point is, the kid now has a place to hang up whatever she wants on those wires.
These pictures show exactly how she hung things up. But here is a confession: I reorganized things and then took another round of pictures. Wrong. So wrong that I deleted every single one of those "staged" photos. I mean, the whole reason we placed the wires low to the ground was so that she'd have control over how things were placed. Bad mommy!

ps. This hallway doesn't photograph well, mostly because I don't know what I'm doing. But also because it is tiny and there is no natural light.

pps. Here are a couple of pinterest links to some much prettier projects with the same end goal as mine: framed wiresframed arthangersIKEA hack

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Kinko's, Blockbuster and Overalls

I was thinking about Kinko's yesterday. I don't know why. Does Kinko's even exist anymore? Wait a minute while I check...

It appears that Kinko's is still a thing, but the stores are within Fed Ex locations? Hmmm...

So I was thinking about how often I went to Kinko's in the late 90's and how today's college kids probably don't even turn in paper anymore. Then I thought about what I must have looked like all those times I went to make copies.

It was the late 90's, so I'm pretty sure I was wearing Doctor Marten's, overalls and flannel. What ever convinced me that wearing overalls was a good idea, I'll never know. But I wore the shit out of those things.

Then I thought about other things that were popular in the late 90's, like Blockbuster and Dido. Why did Blockbusters always smell like feet? And Dido...yeah...

I'm pretty sure the 90's are forgettable, unless that's when you went to high school and college.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

(Teacher) Appreciation Gift

I didn't even know that giving teachers a gift was a thing until pinterest came along. Of course I hated the idea immediately. I just didn't get it. I don't remember ever giving a teacher a gift growing up. My dad is a teacher, and I don't remember him ever getting a gift either. It's entirely probable that I'm wrong and both of those things occurred regularly and I just blocked it out for some reason.

Then about eight minutes after declaring that I hated the idea, I changed my mind. I decided that if my kid has a special connection with a teacher, then I could be on board with a small offering. None of that $25 gift card crap, though. It would have to be something specific and thoughtful.

Then came today.

I gave our "teacher" a gift and a long winded thank you card. I gave it. The kid wrote a bunch of nonsense and drew a flower and then taped two pieces of paper together.

Calling Lynn a teacher doesn't really explain what she does. She's really more of a family mentor. I am beyond grateful for finding her "class" and the other moms who attended. Thank you, ladies, for being a consistent presence in our lives for the past three years. You all have funny, engaging beautiful children whom I will miss and not soon forget.

Oh! And the teacher gift. Lynn likes to cook, so I went to Goodwill to find some sort of baking tin to use as a planter. I found a nice fluted tart pan, but the kid liked this small blue pan better. I especially like that it has a couple of burn marks. We added sempervivum and stonecrop and there you have it!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Porch Light: Before and After

The porch light is nothing special. It's also nothing we would have picked out. Replacing it was very low on the priority list...until I painted the door.

I was all ready to replace the fixture when I found one I liked at the HD. The mounting plate on the fixture was rectangular, and the box for the fixture was circular and stuck off the house by almost 2 inches. I decided to just spray paint our existing fixture with the oil rubbed bronze spray paint we already had.

Little did we know until we were at the other home improvement big box store that we could replace that large circular box with a small circular box that would easily fit inside a new mounting plate whether it be circular or rectangular. And porch lights are pretty inexpensive, so we left the store with a new $20 lamp.

But I had an uneasy feeling. The lamp was nice, but it wasn't what I'd imagined. Nate liked it, but I decided to return it and save the money towards a higher quality replacement sometime down the road. For now, spray paint will work. I decided that the glass would look better if it were cloudy and we couldn't see the light bulb. So I paid $6 for another can of spray paint that gives glass an etched appearance.

Blah, blah, blah, too much talking. Here are the pictures.
Before. Cobwebs and all.
Cleaned and prepped to paint.
Cleaned and ready to paint.
After a couple of thin coats.
Cloudy glass makes a big difference.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

August Bloom Day

Thank you to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Blogger's Bloom Day each month.

The last of the snapdragons. Next year we want the velvety red color.
Cute little moth.
Planted from seed, but I forgot to keep the packet. It must be some type of mallow.
California poppies! I miss SF sometimes. These seemed to be naturalized
along the roadways in the city. Also seemingly naturalized were
cala lilies and nasturtiums. Yeah. I miss SF sometimes.
Calendula from Suzanne, who also taught me the proper pronunciation. I had
only ever seen calendula written, never spoken and I was a bit confused at first.
Now I just laugh at myself about it.
Hip hop hippity hops.
Cantaloupe blossoms. The fruit is growing in the shape of a football!
Marigold from seed. The kid keeps picking them. Chives next door.
Brand new fuschia. These blooms are teeny tiny.
We've been munching on the berries. They are weird, but the kid likes them.
All our strawberry plants were hand-me downs, so I'm happy that
we apparently received an ever-bearing variety!