A Whiny Pregnancy Update

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People keep asking me how I’m feeling, so I’m here to tell you.  I’ll give you the real scoop, too, like I don’t when asked in person: pregnancy really doesn’t stop sucking.  At least for me.  I’ll try to put a positive spin on it for people I don’t know that well.  But the reality is that I had about a month of thinking this is magical before my symptoms ramped up again.  I’m so uncomfortable that some days I’d really like to have a cathartic cry.

I feel like that’s not seemly for the strong mama I want to be, though, so I’ve been refraining.

First trimester was back pain, bronchitis, and nausea.  The cough never really went away, though it became manageable in trimester 2.  I felt much better (though still not as good as I usually feel as a non-pregnant lady).

I’m 2 weeks away from trimester 3, and I now have insane pelvic pain that makes it hard to walk.  Or stand.  Or turn over in bed. I’m already perfecting the pregnancy waddle even though the kid isn’t that big. The only known cure for the aches and pains?  Birth.  Which is the same as the gestational diabetes they’ve also diagnosed me with.  The few things I could eat while pregnant have narrowed even further.  I can no longer manage stress with sugar (which was probably a bad plan to begin with, but oh so nice). I have to prick my finger four times a day and everything, and it seems like the only way I can keep my numbers on track is a marathon cooking session each week in which I pack all of my meals and snacks for six days out. The amount of protein I’m eating is insane.

I’m torn.  I want this kid to bake as long as possible, but I already feel like I’ve been pregnant for FOREVER and want it to end.  I don’t remember what it feels like to not ache, cough, sleep terribly, contend with acid reflux, or pick food on a menu based on desire and not category.  I keep forgetting that it takes me 5 times as much effort to do things as when I wasn’t pregnant and then I exhaust myself.

As a friend of mine told me (who is also having an unfun pregnancy): you don’t have to enjoy pregnancy to enjoy the baby.  That’s probably my new mantra.

Don’t get me wrong.  I know I’m lucky.  I’m horribly uncomfortable, yes, but the baby is thriving by all measures.  There are moments of magic still, like when Brian and I rocked him to sleep swing dancing, despite the loud band Tuesday night.  He kicks when I put my elbows on my stomach, making my whole arm jump.  He’s always wiggling and seems to like it when I tell him good morning when he kicks me on the way to work.

Still, I feel like we’d have a better time if he was an actual human being in the world that I could kiss, and I didn’t have to put up with all these symptoms.

So, why am I being a complainer even when I know it isn’t exactly kosher?  I’m supposed to love this, right?  Or at least suffer in silence if I can’t…

Basically that’s why.

No one talks about how crappy this can be and I think we should.  Making a human is hard.  Everyone who’s pregnant, or who has been, is so cavalier about it. I get that too, to be honest, because it’s easy to brush the individual symptoms aside. It’s not like some horrible huge thing.  It’s just a bouquet of tiny inconveniences that bloom into huge frustration when added together.

Achy hips take bending down to tie my shoes from discomfort to impossibility.  Knowing I’m going to have to stand up on my legs to make it to the bathroom five times a night takes annoyance into exhaustion as I lay in bed and psych myself up for the trip, and lose more sleep.  If, in a moment of weakness, I take refuge in a pack of skittles? Then I’m doomed to worry about how sick the baby feels in there because his mom couldn’t control herself, or her blood sugar.

The mom guilt starts earlier than you thought it could… This isn’t even my first instance.

If I could throw up my hands and sleep in blissful ignorance until delivery day, I would totally take that option at this point.  I’ll even take having to get up every hour to pee as long as I don’t have to engage with the rest of it.

Now that I’ve thoroughly whined, I also want to say that there IS a part of me that realizes how special this is.  I mean, I already love this kid to pieces and we haven’t even met yet.  I know it’s not his fault that his mom is going nuts.  By all measures at my appointments, he’s a blissfully ignorant camper in there growing beautifully.  It’s those little things that make the rest of it seem possible to endure.  That and the fact that Brian has been such a champ, taking on extra household chores, rubbing my back, and gently teasing me about how VERY pregnant I am.

That’s all the news on the baby front right now.  And if anyone has tips for relieving muscle pain, I’d appreciate it if you forward it along.  I’m already doing exercises (squats, kegels, butterflies, taylor-sitting, and pelvic rocks) sleeping with a super-fancy pregnancy pillow between my legs, and taking Tylenol (when I absolutely have to). I’m also trying to distribute my weight on both feet (instead of one or the other) as much as possible. I’m better for all of that, but I’m not good.

Alright, I’ll stop whining now.  I have mass quantities of diabetic muffins to go make, anyway.  Which should take me ½ hour, but will actually take me 2 and I’ll be exhausted at the end…  Smh.

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On Virginia

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I just don’t even know what to say about Virginia this weekend.  I’m so tired of this stuff that I don’t know what to do at this point, nor do I really feel like doing something is going to help much.

I mean, I live in California.  I donate as much as I can afford to the ACLU.  I’m 100% against Nazism, as is everyone I know.  I don’t have hopes that anything I do will make the president denounce these people, or that by saying something I can make these folks feel ashamed of themselves.  I’m tired.  I just don’t want to do it anymore.

I will also say that I 100% realize that being tired so easily and being able to just give up is a function of my own white privilege.  I’m blonde and blue-eyed.  The Neo-Nazis are gonna leave me alone if I ignore them.  Not everyone can say that.

But I’m still at a loss.  I don’t know what I can do that will make a difference in a world where we have a president that is more outraged by Nordstrom’s refusal to carry his daughter’s handbag line than he is by alt-right terrorism.  I don’t know what to do in a world where that galvanizes his supporter base instead of alienating it. I don’t want that base to be my friends and neighbors, even though it often is.  Whatever we feel about him and his business sense, I would hope that we could at least agree that domestic terrorism isn’t okay.

I wish I had more to offer besides a refusal to be silent despite my strong desire to toss up my hands.  I don’t have any salient points, and I’ll admit it.

The whole episode makes me think of the time when Neo-Nazis protested in Claremont, oh – not quite 10 years ago now.  I read that it was happening in the Courier, and everyone was flummoxed.  There weren’t actually any Neo-Nazi groups in Claremont, but for some reason they had picked the city for their protest.

I’m not even sure if they were actually protesting anything so much as they were trying to be ornery in a city they knew wouldn’t be pleased.  There was an entire corner of counter-protestors that was bigger than the Neo-Nazi group.  I had thought about joining them several days before-hand, but I had to work that morning so that ended the ambivalence.

I did drive through the intersection on my way to work, though.  I was struck by how unhappy the Neo-Nazi’s seemed.  It wasn’t even an angry fervor.  The entire crowd of them had that pissed rebellious-child look that made me think they all REALLY didn’t want to be there.  They stood quietly behind their banner with those insolent looks on their face, using their laminated canvas like a shield, sulking.

It was the counter-protest corner that was alive.  Colorful homemade signs flew above the crowd, and the throng chanted and writhed on their corner, insisting that the Neo-Nazis weren’t welcome and shouting messages of peace.  The vibe was not at all what I would expect.  The Neo-Nazi’s looked back at them in silence, just giving them and the police the stink-eye.

Police directed the traffic through the intersection, and made sure that the two corners across from each other didn’t mingle.

It was non-violent.  I only had that 3-minute glimpse of it all before the policeman waved me through the intersection and I sped to the freeway ramp in the distance. It stuck in my mind, though.  Why would the Neo-Nazi’s purposefully go to a city to make them pissed and then just end up silently pissed themselves?

Like I said, I don’t have anything to offer really.  Just that small memory.

Maybe I should try and get up some patriotic gumption ala West Wing; that this country is remarkable because it seeks to protect even those who would destroy it.  People died, though, and I don’t think I can quite manage it right now.

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2017 Reading List – So Far

Oh man…

I’ve been trying to blog.  Really I have.  There are a million half-finished things on my computer just waiting for the internet.  For some reason, though, I just couldn’t seem to finish anything.

I started a new job about a month ago, my responsibilities much more low-key than the old one.  I didn’t realize how much stress I was under at the old until I wasn’t under it anymore.  I feel like I’ve been handed my life back.  And not just my life, but my pregnancy.  I get to enjoy this time now, instead of being worried that I didn’t quite catch everything I should have, cycling through to-do lists as I try to sleep through baby kicks.

All this is basically to say that I’m terribly behind on this thing.  And I’m so behind that I don’t even really know how behind I am.  The students are talking about returning. I haven’t posted the things I’ve read last semester, let alone over the summer.  All my posts on the baby are super-outdated now.  Everything is a mess.

I’m going to start with the easy thing, which is the reading list this year.  I don’t remember where I left off, so I’m just going to give you the books I’ve read since January 1st, and a quick blurb on what I thought of them.  We’ll worry about the rest of stuff next week.

For those keeping count, I’ve passed the half-way mark until I meet this kid in person, and we’ve reached the first viability marker too.  If he was born today, he has a 1/3 chance of surviving.  Admittedly not great, but at least he has a chance (and so far there’s no evidence he’s not staying baked for a while). He’s still moving around like crazy, but he’s lumping up on my left for some reason, tucking himself in there hard.  Not a big deal until I try and get up to pee in the middle of the night and fall over sideways in my delirious state…  He’s doing well – measuring in the middle of everything like he should.

Alright, here’s the 1st half of 2017 Reading List.  Beware: it’s mostly baby, self-help, and romance.  What can I say?  I’ve needed that comfort reading.

  1. Grin and Beard It, Penny Reid – I love this series by Penny Reid, and this is my second read of it since I found it last year.  A+ for all of it.  The newest book is coming out soon, and I’m so excited.
  2. Beauty and the Mustache, Penny Reid – Part of the same series, and great.
  3. Truth or Beard, Penny Reid – Which could really be said for ALL of these books
  4. The Cold Eye, Laura Anne Gilman – You know, I felt like this book didn’t quite live up to the promise that was the first book.  But I still loved it, and will buy the 3rd as soon as it comes out.  The concept is just too perfect, and Gilman handles it so well.
  5. Beard Science, Penny Reid – More beard books are coming out soon, but not fast enough for me, ever.
  6. Friends with Benefits, Penny Reid – The entire Knitting In the City series is completely unlikely, and hard to buy, this one is no exception.  Despite that, though, it’s kinda fun.  Wouldn’t call it my favorite, but solid if you’re in a dry spell.
  7. Daring Greatly, Brene Brown – Another re-read.  I LOVE Brene Brown.  Her books make me feel okay about being flawed, and that I’m on the right path to connection at least.
  8. Seven Minutes in Heaven, Eloisa James – I was a bit worried about this one, since it supposedly contains a kidnapping.  But it doesn’t really – I should have trusted James completely.  And it was GOOD.  Some of the best of James’ work, which is saying a lot since I love everything she’s ever written.  Bonus points for governess tropes.
  9. Rising Strong, Brene Brown – Another re-read, and probably my favorite Brene Brown book, which is saying something.
  10. The Care and Feeding of Pirates, Jennifer Astley – No, no, and just no.  Not only was it badly written, but I got angry at the absurdity of it all and the stupidness of the heroine.  I don’t think I read past the first chapter, and I was incensed.
  11. What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Heidi Murkoff – The quintessential pregnancy book, and for good reason.  I wish the organization was a little more straight forward since she tries to kinda guess which month you’ll be going through xyz, and puts everything there.  I wish the months were months and the advice was advice, and the two weren’t buried together.  Otherwise a great read, though, and VERY helpful.
  12. Pregnancy Week to Week, Month to Month, Joanna Kendis – I didn’t like this book.  It seemed overly simple to me, and I gave up after the first chapter. Didn’t contain anything that What To Expect didn’t, and it was written much worse.  There were even a few grammar mistakes that made me cringe.
  13. Love Hacked, Penny Reid – I picked up this series in a drought of Beard books, and feel like it was fine, but not amazing.  This one was a little strange, with the guy being inexplicably weird for a while.  Also, no sex until the very end – but worth the wait.
  14. Happily Ever Ninja, Penny Reid – Another book I didn’t quite buy the premise of.  It was good, though, and features an already married couple with a fairly good relationship, though, which is rare in romance novels.
  15. Big Girl, Kelsey Miller – I LOVED this book.  It was a sad memoir in a lot of ways, but this is now the 3rd book I’ve read that tells about the dangers of dieting, and it was told in such a human way.
  16. When a Scot Ties the Knot, Tessa Dare – Good and very solid, with an interesting premise.  Fake guy the heroine has been writing to (and who she killed off) turns out to be real, alive, and on her doorstep.  I ended up thoroughly enjoying it, though he seems a little forceful at times.  Would recommend.
  17. How the Duke was Won, Lenora Bell – I had a hard time jogging my memory on this one, which doesn’t bode well.  However, I do remember enjoying the spunky heroine.  Not amazing, but certainly solid.
  18. The Truth About Lord Stoneville, Sabrina Jeffries – You know, I don’t know why I REALLY enjoyed this series, but I did.  It’s a silly premise, but the characters were so great that I ended up not caring.  This one is a too-unsuitable-to-marry trope, done VERY right.  The Grandmother is epic.
  19. A Hellion In Her Bed, Sabrina Jeffries – I liked this one A LOT, too.  It takes place in a brewery, which is unusual for a romance novel.  The Heroine, who keeps going despite her tough family situation, is my favorite kind.  And smart, too.
  20. How to Woo a Reluctant Lady, Sabrina Jeffries – I enjoyed this book, but not as much as the two before it.  The heroine is hilarious, though.  She takes out an ad for a totally unsuitable husband to piss off her grandmother.  Also, she’s a writer.
  21. Say Yes to the Marquess, Tessa Dare – It was definitely cute, but not one of my favorites.  It was kinda fun to see the hero lavish all these crazy presents on the heroine.
  22. Dating-Ish, Penny Reid – This was one of my favorites of the Knitting In The City books.  Awkward online dates included.  A solid choice, though it still suffers from a bit of the unbelievability of the rest of the series.
  23. To Wed a Wild Lord, Sabrina Jeffries – After a few “meh” books, I returned to the Hellions series.  This one was pretty good, actually.  Up to the old standard again, for sure. The hero was the cause of an accident that killed the heroine’s brother.
  24. A Lady Never Surrenders, Sabrina Jeffries – I never seem to love the books where hero is supposed to pick heroines intended or vice-versa, and this is one of those.  Well done for something I probably wasn’t going to love to begin with.
  25. The Girl With The Make-Believe Husband, Julia Quinn – Oh man, I LOVE ME some Julia Quinn, and this one hit all the right spots for me.  Colonial America, redcoats, unspoken love, Quinn’s great writing.  Yes please, to all of it.  Another favorite romance novel of all time.  I’ll be re-reading this one tons.
  26. Becoming Wise, Krista Tippett – Oh, what a magical book.  If you’re a fan of the On Being podcast, this book is 100% for you.  If you aren’t a fan, you not only need to read this book immediately, but you need to also become a fan.  Tippett is amazing, and gives so many life-changing ideas.  Like knowing the will of God through your own wants, or listening as an act of love, or grief as something humans innately know how to do.
  27. The Whole Brain Child by Daniel Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson – A great, quick book on how you can help your child integrate all parts of their brain as they’re growing, leading to adults with healthy brains.  My favorite parenting book that I’ve read so far.
  28. Parenting from the Inside Out, Daniel Siegel & Mary Hartzell – This seemed to be the adult version of Whole Brain Child, but it got a bit overly technical for me and ultimately didn’t contain much new info.  Stick with Whole Brain Child.
  29. Romancing the Duke, Tessa Dare – I actually found this novel to be hilarious, and awesome.  The heroine’s father’s fans (he’s a writer) are my favorite thing ever.  It’s like if Ren Faire was set in the early 1900s.
  30. Birthing From Within, Pam England – Meh.  It was a little hippy-dippy for me.  I stuck with it over half way to give it a good try, but ultimately I just couldn’t buy its premise that art is necessary for a fearless birth.
  31. Tooth and Claw, Jo Walton – For me? No.  Even though it was award-winning. I thought the premise was interesting in that it was kinda like Jane Austin, if only everyone was a dragon.  But I kept getting turned off when everyone ate their young, and I couldn’t get over it.  Didn’t like, wouldn’t recommend; unless you enjoy the sordid-type Victorian novels like Wuthering Heights.
  32. The Raven Boys, Maggie Stiefvater – The next four books are all a series, and I re-read them.  I’m DYING to read them in Virginia when I go to visit my sister in law, since that’s where they’re set.  But I love them.  So much better and creepier the 2nd time around, and they were GREAT the first time.
  33. The Dream Thieves, Maggie Stiefvater
  34. Blue Lily, Lily Blue, Maggie Stiefvater
  35. The Raven King, Maggie Stiefvater
  36. Strengths Finder, Tom Rath – Interesting, and part of the reason I knew I needed to switch jobs.  All of the stuff I was good at wasn’t at all in my job description.  Basically, if you need me to research something and then explain it to you clearly, I’m your girl.
  37. The Scorpio Races, Maggie Stiefvater – I keep finding these books about topics I’ve been thinking about in my own writing, and seeing that they’re CRAZY well done.  That is basically to say that I’m in love with this book and need to own it so I can re-read it every November.  Kelpies, poverty, Ireland, and a desperate race for life itself.
  38. Goddess of the Hunt, Tessa Dare – You know, I have a very love/hate relationship with Tessa Dare.  In that I often love her work, but just as often I hate it.  This was her first book, and it’s great.  Girl next door marries family friend.  Would recommend.
  39. Surrender of a Siren, Tessa Dare – I feel like I enjoyed this one more than it deserved.  The premise is a little silly and the hero a TOTAL ASS when you first meet him.  It probably should have killed my enjoyment of it, but it totally didn’t.  I don’t know why.
  40. A Lady of Persuasion, Tessa Dare – This one returns to being almost as good as the first one.  I’d recommend as well.  Foreigner turns fancy and gets a rake to commit.  Yay!
  41. Rules for a Proper Gentleman, Jennifer Ashley – I read this before I read the rest of the McKenzie series, and I LOVED it.  A lot.  It’s another one of those that isn’t quite a member of the series, though.  Only very loosely connected.
  42. The Madness of Lord Ian McKenzie by Jennifer Ashley – Okay, caveat that these are dirtier than your normal brand of romance novel.  I still liked it a lot, and found it hawt despite the Asperger’s of the hero.  Good mystery, too, where everyone is trying to protect everyone else and it’s a mess.
  43. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, Ina May Gaskin – This is my favorite book so far on giving birth, and I’m SO glad I found it.  It was incredibly empowering to read, and I would recommend to anyone considering natural birth.  And even if you’re not, it’s still helpful I think.
  44. The Many Sins of Lord Cameron, Jennifer Ashley – The hero has a SUPER tragic past, and it’s a little hard to take at times.  But otherwise I’m in love with this book 100%.  Especially the heroine’s love of cake.
  45. The Duke’s Perfect Wife, Jennifer Ashley – This one is also pretty dirty, but SO well done.  I enjoyed it thoroughly.  In fact, I think I may need to buy this series in hard-copy.  At least the ones with the brothers in them.
  46. The Day of the Duchess, Sarah McLean – McLean is one of the few romance authors I auto-LOVE.  This one was not as good as her previous, though I still enjoyed it.  I think it was more the concept than the writing, and also the context – the Duke of Haven is someone I’m used to loathing, and the plot seemed contrived. Still would recommend.  McLean’s meh is better than others’ best.
  47. Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage, Jennifer Ashley – Oh man, I really loved this book too.  It again hit on some of my favorite things;  debauched painter for a hero needs heroine as his muse.  All those painting sessions spent alone.  So great.
  48. Howl’s Moving Castle, Dianna Wynne Jones – This might be the 5th time I’ve read this novel or so… I love it every time.  Especially Howl and his black slime.  ❤
  49. The Seduction of Eliot McBride, Jennifer Ashley – I have to say that I did like this book, but it was billed as being a McKenzie novel and it really wasn’t.  The folks in the book are maybe mentioned in passing in another one.  Not what I expect from a “sequel” but still pretty enjoyable.  I don’t quite trust Jennifer Ashley with everything yet, but I’m getting closer.
  50. The Wicked Deeds of Daniel McKenzie, Jennifer Ashley – This book hit a bunch of the right notes for me – supernatural mediums, balloon rides, one of my favorite characters as the hero, a very smart heroine.  Would 100% recommend.
  51. Never Seduce a Scot, Maya Banks – Recommended to me by Tumblr, and actually I did enjoy it a lot, though it’s set in a more medieval period than I prefer usually.  The heroine is deaf, (or really, Hard of Hearing), which I’m a sucker for since studying ASL.
  52. A Night to Surrender, Tessa Dare – There’s so much hype around Dare’s Spindle Cove series that I felt I should give it a fair chance.  I wasn’t wild about this book.  Nothing wrong with it per-se, just that I didn’t feel connected to the characters really.
  53. A Week to Be Wicked, Tessa Dare – This is more what I was expecting from the Spindle Cove hype.  Minerva is perfect, crazy-smart, and her beau keeps calling her by the wrong name on purpose for added fun.
  54. A Lady by Midnight, Tessa Dare – I’m not 100% sure I liked this book.  The dog was perfect, but I think I just knew too much about Thorne and his weird ways to make him a convincing hero.  I think I would probably have liked it had I not had context in the prior two books.
  55. Any Duchess Will Do, Tessa Dare – This is a re-read, and I kinda HATED it the first time.  I think reading the rest of the Spindle Cove books made me like it more.  Also, it’s a rarity in romance, with the heroine being totally dirt poor which probably also gave it novelty.  Would read again.
  56. Once More My Darling Rogue, Lorraine Heath – I mean, it’s basically Overboard, if set in the Victorian Era.  I liked it, but didn’t think it was anything special.
  57. When the Duke Was Wicked, Lorraine Heath – I just couldn’t get over the hero’s name to enjoy the book.  Lovingdon?  Really? I probably liked it less than it deserved, but still.
  58. The Happiest Baby on the Block, Harvey Karp – Not a fan of his writing style.  It’s very simple and repeats often.  But the info in here is GREAT.  Must borrow baby and learn to swaddle NOW.
  59. Brain Rules for Baby, John Medina – Love this book.  Medina has a humorous yet smart writing style that pulls you in, and the info in here is AMAZING, although he is fond of weird analogies.  A 100% Must if you’re going to read parenting books.
  60. Seducing Harriet, Mary Ballough – I never like Ballough’s writing, but every once in a while I convince myself I haven’t given it enough of a try, since she’s award-winning and all.  I didn’t like this one either.  I think they’re a little too old fashioned for me, and too full of angsty drama.  I go to romance novels for fun, and Ballough’s are rarely fun unless you find heartbreak fun.
  61. Minx, Julia Quinn: A re-read, because I love this book. The heroine is such a great tomboy, and I love her.  Not to mention the hero, who is kind but definitely alpha.
  62. Three Weeks with Lady X, Eloisa James: Another reread of my favorites. This is my 3rd re-read since I found it a few years ago and it doesn’t get old.  In fact, I laugh more and more about the letters they send each other every time.
  63. Fool For Love, Eloisa James: I forgot how much I just LOVE James’ work, so of course I had to continue… Another re-read.
  64. Beard In Mind, Penny Reid: I really loved this book – bonus points for a heroine with OCD. But I sometimes felt like I needed to reread all of them, since this one happens concurrently with some of the previous and I couldn’t remember the exact stuff she was alluding to.
  65. Meet Me at Willoughby Close: A pretty clean romance, all said and done, but also a great one. Sexy professor hero, a nutty rich neighbor in a manor house, a dog named Marmite, and a great single mom and daughter make this kinda magical.
  66. Positive Discipline, The First 3 Years: LOVED this book, and I’m gonna make Brian read it. It covers everything from discipline, childcare, self-care, and biting, to how to recognize disabilities and problems.

That’s it for right now. As always, happy reading!

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The Latest Yard Project

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Brian and I decided to do major yard projects this weekend.  Frankly, we were done being embarrassed of the patch of grass that wouldn’t grow near our front stoop, and the waist-high weeds on the parking strip between the sidewalk and the street.  I worked so hard on our pretty blue mailbox that matches the front door, and you could hardly see it.  Also, we were officially THOSE neighbors with the dandelions more prolific than the grass.

The easiest course of action, we decided?  Just mulch everything, and put in plants later.  I bought a few to put around the mailbox, but mostly we just put down black plastic weed barrier with red mulch on top.  I wasn’t sold on the red at first when Brian brought it home last year, but it looks great against our yellow house and the green plants, and it also fades to something not quite as technicolor in a few weeks.

The first thing I learned is that I’m a total wimp now that I’m pregnant.  I volunteered to mulch around the front stoop, figuring it would take me MAYBE a couple of hours to dig a quick trench for the edging, and pour the mulch on top.  Then I could go help Brian with the bigger project.

Not so much.

It took me all day, I re-injured my back, and I was generally an unhappy camper.  I ended it all with a headache, and napped on the couch while Brian finished prepping the parking strip and planting my drought-tolerant choices near the mailbox.

I was back at it on Sunday, though. I refused to lift mulch, but was helpful with the plastic and spreading all the wood chips out.  40 bags of mulch later and we’re still not done (we’re on the end of a cul-de-sac and have an epic parking strip).  But we’re really close.  And what’s there looks GOOD. I now have white Yarrow in my yard, which is the butch version of my favorite flower (Queen Anne’s Lace).  It makes me happy every time I see it. I can hardly wait finish it, and fill in the rest in with plants.

All we need now is to mulch around the base of the tree and install our tree swing, and I’m calling the front yard DONE.  We can officially move on to the less-public but worse travesty that is the back yard.  And maybe hire someone to mow what little of the lawn there is left.

Yay!

*

In baby news, this kid can officially hear.  My pregnancy app suggests that I talk to him, but that just feels weird.  I think I’m feeling him move, but I’m not certain if it’s foot flutters or my own digestion. The sensations are faint.  Like someone tapping their fingers lightly against your insides once or twice before stopping.

Talking to him seems as futile as talking to an imaginary friend.  Which I haven’t had since I was, like, four.  He can hear me enough without me talking directly to him, right?  Besides, what does one say to a fetus who has really no frame of reference?  Quick, someone ask Miss Manners for conversation tips…

 

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Second Trimester

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I’m officially in the second trimester and finding it easier.  Kinda.  I don’t know if it’s because my symptoms are better or because I’ve just learned to deal with them better.  But the back problems are now a dull, hardly noticeable ache.  The coughing keeps me awake less than the peeing every two hours (three if I’m REALLY lucky).  I sometimes feel a few minutes of nausea in the morning, but I’ve stopped throwing up.

I’m still at that point where the baby doesn’t feel like he’s real, though.  I’m showing now and looking more like I’m actually pregnant, I’ve put his latest ultrasound picture on my desk.  None of it seems to matter.  I know from my app that his eyes are formed (so he could see if his eyelids weren’t sealed), he can feel in his hands, feet, and face. He can taste.  But he doesn’t start to hear for about another week.  This means that I can only effect his world impersonally.  There is no connection there beyond the biological one of food in, waste out, blood circulating.  I can’t even feel him move.

I just had a birthday, and my family was insistent that they give me stuff for ME, not for the baby.  They know me too well.  I still got some baby stuff, though.  Mostly because my mom’s staff is awesome and sent presents home with her.  A lot of it was books, but there was a blue striped footie sleeper in the mix with a tiger on the stomach and two more on the toes.  Adorable.

We don’t have a spot yet for the baby stuff.  The nursery (which used to be the dump room) is still in clean-out mode.  It’s getting closer every day, but the closet is still full and I need to steam clean the carpet and paint it all before I dare stack anything on the floor.  It also used to house the cats’ litter boxes. This means that most things are collecting on the small table in the entry way.  Stuffed animals, books, and even those footie pajamas.

I don’t know what it is about those pajamas, but they suddenly make things seem real.  I walk in the door after work and smile at the tiger face.  I leave the house, and the bright blue is the last thing I see before I close the door.  There will be a baby in this house.  He will live here.  It’s no longer so theoretical.

I’m hoping it will get even less theoretical over the next few weeks when I know he can hear me, and he starts to move around.  We’ll see.

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A Retirement

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It’s been a milestone year for almost everyone in my family.  One of those milestones is that my mother is retiring, which happens officially tomorrow.  We went to the party last week, at the patio of the Alumni house.  It was this gorgeous Spanish-style courtyard with bright tiles and stucco, plenty of pink bougainvillea, strings of bulb-lights overhead.  A 4-piece combo band played background music, the linens on the round tables were all school-colors, the flower arrangements were supernaturally gorgeous, and the food was divine.  There was even salt water taffy on the tables from Maine – a nod to where my mom plans to spend much of her retirement.  I think it was probably the best retirement party I’ve ever been to.  Certainly the most fashionable.  It felt like a wedding reception; the classy kind.

My sister and I were asked to give a speech.  “We know your mom’s career now, but you’ve seen the whole thing,” her assistant told me on the phone.  So she and I got together and wrote one (Cody, below).  I’m gonna publish it here, because my mom really is great and that should probably be big news.

She’s leaving me soon to go spend most of her summer and fall in Maine (tear).  But she’ll be back before Baby arrives – I’ve told her that’s non-negotiable.

Also, I borrowed the picture above from my mom’s Facebook page, so I’m happy to give credit where credit is due – except I have no idea who took this thing…

Here’s the speech:

Cody: Writing this speech was really hard for us. Because what do you say about a mother who is as great as ours? We had an idyllic childhood, and a lot of that was because she stayed home and made it that way.

Casey: “Don’t you remember that summer feeling?” My husband Brian asked me one day. “You know, where you’re bored out of your mind and there’s nothing to do, and you’re just restless?” I had to tell him No. Kathy made sure we were never bored like that.

Cody: Summers were the best times in our house, pulling out the latest dollhouse and working on it as a family, waking up to the smell of bacon and biscuits cooking on the stove, Simon and Garfunkel playing on the radio as mum puttered. Gardening together, riding around on our bikes.

Casey: And then there was the month in Maine, running on the beach with our cousins and competing to see which of the three of us could get browner. The only year I won was the year I had a head-start at Sea Camp, Kathy was always the champ.

Cody: Hard work was always a value of Mum’s. She taught trombone lessons most of our childhood, and Casey and I would hibernate in the back room until the honking was done. When finances were tight, she taught Music for Young Children classes, wearing silly earrings with faces for the kids and bringing home French horns made of hoses and funnels. Sometimes we would garage-sale for furniture and refinish it together on the weekends. We were always busy, and it was always fun.

Casey: I was in sixth grade when she officially took a “mom job” to get us all health insurance. An 8-3, 9-month position doing the books for Baxter Medical Center, she was home when we were, holidays and summers included. When we were in Junior High, we used to walk to her office after school and play solitaire for 15 minutes or so on her computer until it was time to leave. We were the mascots of the office, and I was thrilled to be able to tell all the nurses about my 9-minute mile in PE Class.

Cody: They loved her as much as we did, and the promotions came rolling in. She was second only to the director by the time she decided to pursue her MBA and a bigger career in the field. We were in high school then, and all three of us did our homework in the evenings, together but separate. Her graduation was in a huge arena in Los Angeles. We cheered loudly when they called her name, and an image of her shaking the president’s hand flashed onto the jumbotron. By this time, she was a single mom. We had both witnessed how hard she worked for her accomplishments, for us and our future, but also to fulfill herself.

Casey: In a lot of ways, she gave us the best of both worlds. Her time was so valuable when we were young. But the lessons she gave to us as we were older were just as important. “You CAN have it all,” she used to say. “Just maybe not all at the same time.”

Cody: Her hard work and ability to bring people together has been an inspiration. Who would have thought that her part-time mom job would end with her overseeing four departments as an Executive Director of Student Wellness? I don’t think any of us did. Which makes us all the prouder.

Casey: Through all of her responsibilities and hard work, she still finds time to support and care for us. I think we can all say that a long rest in Maine is well deserved. We know things will change as you enter this new chapter of your life, but your penchant for hard work and joy, and the love we have for you, never will.

Cody: Congratulations, Mom.

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News

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First of all, I think I’m officially back.  Which is to say, thank you all for bearing with my hiatus.  It was well needed, and I’m now my (mostly) cheery self because of it.  I’ve been feeling like I SHOULD start blogging again for a while.

The problem?  I couldn’t think of anything to talk about.  I’m used to spewing it all out there on this thing, and we had big news we wanted to make sure would stick before we said anything.  The announcement’s been on Facebook, though.  Which means that I feel like I can officially talk about it here. Yay! Are you ready?

Brian and I are expecting.

We’re SUPER excited about it. It’s a boy, and he’s due just after Thanksgiving. Perfect timing, kid.  I can be out on Maternity leave when everyone else is out on holiday break – minimum disruption.

My world has become rapidly baby in such a short span of time that it’s remarkable.  If I’m not planning the nursery, reading about birth and development, and starting the registry, then I’m agonizing over back pain and hoping I don’t throw up whatever meal I just ate and didn’t enjoy, or wondering if I’m getting enough protein.

We had a long and agonizing wait to find out the gender.  It took them almost 3 weeks to get our NIPT test results back (it’s usually 1).  To pass the time and keep myself from going insane, I decided to look up all the old wives tales I could find, and see if I could tell that way.  Here are my results, if you’re interested in that sort of thing:

Ramzi: Girl

Chinese Gender Predictor: Girl

Mayan Gender Predictor: Boy

Biorhythm: Boy

Lunar Calculator: Girl

Baby’s Heartrate: Girl

Ring Test: Girl

Only ____ Names: Girl

Morning Sickness: Boy

Blood Pressure: Boy

Cravings: Girl

Weight Gain: Boy

Sympathy Weight: Boy

Belly: Girl

Complexion: Boy

Diet: Boy

Hair: Boy

Clumsiness: Girl

Sleep Position: Boy

Mom’s Gut Instinct: Girl

Yup, were 10/10. It just goes to show that there really is no telling before-hand.  Also, baby checked out healthy on all other parameters, which we knew he would.

I’m half convinced that this fellow hates me already (I guess the mom guilt starts early). I’m having a hard time remembering to eat every two to three hours, have been taking pregnancy-safe medications I’ve never heard of for my horrible cold that I’ve been told isn’t going away until delivery, and anytime I eat anything the slightest bit dubious (milk products of all kinds, anything with tomato sauce or really any seasoning, pasta, sugar…) this kid has me bending over the toilet.  Add that to the pinched nerve in my back from all the progesterone that’s making my joints loosey-goosey, and I’m a mess. I’ve been pretty lucky so far, though.  I’m nauseous more than I’m throw-uppy, and though I’m exhausted, achy, and phlegmy that seems to be it for my symptoms.  I’ve been on the message boards, so I know.  I could have it SO MUCH worse.  I just hope that my own discomfort isn’t getting through to the kid.  I THINK it’s not…

The baby decided on Friday that he didn’t like to be ultrasounded, too.  As soon as we got his image up on the screen, he started kicking his little legs like crazy, and then when the doctor pressed a little harder he flipped around to avoid the wand. He was wriggling around like crazy.

“Already misbehaving…” said the smiling doctor, who couldn’t get an exact measurement because the kid was moving so much.  It was good to see that he’s healthy, though.  I still can’t feel him at all, and it looks like it’s going to be at least a month (maybe more) until I can.  I’m showing a bit, but I’m at that place where I just look fatter and not actually pregnant unless you already know.  Brian’s been calling him our Food Baby, since he’s due at Thanksgiving, and that’s pretty much what he looks like right now.

I called my mother a few weeks ago, and told her that if her pregnancy sucked this much then my sister and I hadn’t been giving her nearly enough credit.  She laughed and told me I was easy compared to my sister.  So at least I’m the good kid in this scenario (love you, Cody).  I’ll take any consolation prizes I can get.

And any ice cream sent my way.  That seems to be the only dairy product I can eat these days.  Which, I mean… good choice, kid.

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A Hiatus

Hello!

You’ve probably noticed that it has been a WHILE since I’ve posted anything here.  Don’t worry, I’m not dead.  Life has just gotten a little unmanageable at the moment, and the blog was one of the things that gave.  It seemed like it happened overnight, too.

I’m expecting things to stay busy for at least another 6 weeks or so, and maybe for several months.  This is notice that I probably won’t be blogging all that much in that time, or maybe even at all.  It seems to be that I can do regular writing or blog writing and not both right now, and I’m prioritizing the fiction.

I’m on Tumblr and Instagram the most, if you find you miss me.  Otherwise I’ll see you when I get back.

With much love to you all,

~Casey

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Blue Bird

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The area we live in is rural.  It seems like it shouldn’t be because the Trader Joe’s is less than two miles from the house, and the nearest Target only ten minutes by car.  There is a Starbucks down the street.  But our neighborhood is bordered to the south by a fancy drainage ditch dug in the 1820s called the Mill Creek Zanja that is rimmed with eucalyptus.  There’s an empty field beyond.  To the west, we’re bordered by the orange grove side of the University of Redlands campus.  Add that to the manicured but still wild hiking trail, and it’s prime territory for critters.

We had gophers in the yard all last summer until I put chicken wire under the raised beds.  There is a hawk that makes his home in one of the eucalyptus trees nearby.  We had a family of doves try to nest in our tree last spring until they decided they didn’t like how often we used the front door.  Birds both brown and blue hop on our backyard fence. The hiking trail is forever littered with berry-filled coyote scat, and occasionally a white-tailed bunny will hop ahead of you into a bush.  House cats roam the streets. Occasionally you can hear the coyotes hunting one.

When I went out to go to work on Friday, I noticed a feather near the grapevine in our yard.  It was vibrant blue.  In fact, there was a stack of them, a pile of tiny down underneath.  No body, but obviously something got caught and torn to pieces in our yard – a bluebird.

I don’t know if it was a cat or the hawk, and there was no actual body to contend with nor any blood or gore.  But what struck me was how beautiful it was, that blue, blue pile of feathers.  The tips were striped black, and the ridge in the middle was pristine white.  They fluttered just a little in the breeze, scattering out of their neat pile and moving into hieroglyphics across the cement walkway, exposing the gray fluff underneath.

The detritus is still there.  I don’t have the heart to pick it up, and some small part of me likes to see the blue feathers, cheerful and not at the same time.  It makes me realize that even a small and unknown bird can leave something behind after it’s personal end of all things.

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A Bad Week

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This week has been a hard one, and I’m not even quite sure why except for the obvious.  The things that are happening in this country make me sad and worried.

 

Social media isn’t making it any better.  I keep waiting for the world to implode into WWIII or Civil War Part II, and my feed just confirms it all.  Whatever it is you worry about, it’s right there happening.  There are glimmers of hope of course, but not enough of them.

Couple that with my Jury Duty experience, and the world seems extra-bleak right now.

Yup, I had Jury Duty that started last Thursday and went through to today, my first time having to appear at the courthouse. I was placed on a trial almost immediately after arriving with 100 other jurors.  about 40 were excused post-haste since the trial was supposed to last until mid-March and they had conflicts or their work wouldn’t pay that long.  I found out yesterday that it was a double shooting murder charge.  The defendant wasn’t trying to claim he didn’t shoot the guy, either.  He was just claiming it was self-defense.  I ultimately was excused after jury selection was finished – I wasn’t even questioned.  That means I can talk about it.

It was an experience unlike anything else, and very interesting.  The thing I keep thinking about is this:

The prosecutor kept asking the jury panel if they felt sympathy for the defendant, who was sitting right there.  She pointed at him.  He was young and might have been handsome if you could think of him as anything but a giant accusation, in a thick mans-man way.  He had a buzzed haircut and deep bags under his eyes. He wore the same thing all 3 days of the trial, too – khaki pants and a khaki dress shirt, green tie.  And I just kept thinking that the entire panel must have been lying whenever anyone coldly said “no” to her question.

Maybe I didn’t feel sympathy, exactly, but I felt compassion.  This had to be one of the worst days of that guy’s life, and I think it’s maybe even needful that we acknowledge that he’s a human and so were the people who died before we set all that aside and make a cold determination of fault based only on laws and evidence.

It’s probably a good thing I wasn’t questioned…

But it all seems death and destruction right now, between murder and mayhem.  It also seems impossible to pick things up and go to work tomorrow like normal, though I’m sure I’ll find comfort in the routine of it when it arrives.  I would just like something to hope for, I think.  Something that is entirely pure and gleeful, and not the lesser of two bad options.

I’ll just have to keep looking until I find it, I guess.

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