Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dead Reckoning

Originating with Linda at All & Sundry.

Here are mine from years past: 2006, 2007, 2008.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before? Got myself good and knocked up.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Pfffft. As soon as I got pregnant, I pretty much forgot about my goals for 2009. But looking back at them, I guess I did okay. #1 was "develop better eating habits," and I definitely did that. Until I got derailed by the holidays, I ate better this year than I have in my adult life. Breakfast every day, healthy snacks, almost no soda, and -- for quite some time -- barely any sweets. I knocked #3 out in February and got two photographs accepted into a show. I managed to clear out quite a bit of clutter (#4) for our yard sale in October. We're in the midst of #6, redecorating one room in the house for the baby.

For 2010, I'm keeping it simple. I just want to be the best wife, mother, and friend I can be.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Several of my good friends had babies this year!

4. Did anyone close to you die? One of my uncles passed away, but we definitely were not close.

5. What countries did you visit? We didn't travel at all this year, actually.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009? It's not really a lack, but in 2010 I'd love to have the happy, healthy, on-the-outside baby that we've spent almost all of 2009 hoping and preparing for.

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? May 1 - positive pregnancy test; June 24 - had our first ultrasound and saw our baby kicking and kicking and kicking its tiny feet; August 19 - found out we'd be having a boy!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? The entire month of November was consumed by a huge programming blitz at work, and I have to brag a bit and say that I totally pulled it out. I had a lot of help from coworkers and volunteers, and we kicked ass. Those dates will stick in my mind, too.

9. What was your biggest failure? My time management skills are still not what they should be, I fear.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Nope! I am one of the lucky assholes who didn't even get morning sickness. Wait, except I did maybe have swine flu, but luckily not for long.

11. What was the best thing you bought? I finally got my new camera this month!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? MB continued to rock.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? I can't really think of anyone who was that disappointing this year.

14. Where did most of your money go? We got new windows, had the house painted, and got new insulation put in the attic this year.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

16. What song will always remind you of 2009? I spent weeks listening to the Decemberists' Hazards of Love, so I think that album will stick out in my memories of this year.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer? Happier, way fatter, and poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? I suppose I should have worked harder to get the house decluttered and organized before the baby's arrival became imminent.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? I think I watched way too much television, even if most of it was nerd TV.

20. How did you spend Christmas? We had Christmas Eve dinner with my mom's extended family, went to my parents' house to open presents with them and my sister after that, and spent Christmas Day in our pajamas at home. We also had a fantastic Thanksmas Eve gathering this year, had another get-together with friends the night after Christmas, and had a chance to have dinner with some college friends who now live in Nepal.

21. Did you fall in love in 2009? Here comes the cheese -- I fell more in love with MB this year.

22. What was your favorite TV program? There aren't any shows that I'd be absolutely crushed if I couldn't watch, but I liked Deadliest Catch and Top Chef quite a lot this year.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? Nope!

24. What was the best book you read? I really enjoyed most of the books I read this year, but I think Tamora Pierce's Terrier and Bloodhound might've been my favorites.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? I'm still really digging the Decemberists.

26. What did you want and get? The new camera

27. What did you want and not get? It would have been nice to get a few more small renovations done on the house.

28. What was your favorite film of this year? 500 Days of Summer

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? For my 28th birthday, we went for a really great hike, about a month late due to weather.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Winning the lottery or receiving a fat inheritance sure would've been nice.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009? Thanks to a huge box of really kickass maternity hand-me-downs from my awesome friend Rachel, I was actually better-dressed this year than any other year I can recall.

32. What kept you sane? MB, walks with Indy, time to relax, talking with friends

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I can't really think of anyone who really caught my eye this year.

34. What political issue stirred you the most? I continue to be disappointed by discrimination against same-sex couples.

35. Who did you miss? Friends who live far away

36. Who was the best new person you met? I didn't meet her this year, but I got to know my work friend Julia in 2009, and she rocks.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009. Managing to stay Zen throughout my pregnancy in spite of my normal Type A tendencies has been fantastic. I hope it will serve me well after the baby is born.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. During the time we started trying for a baby, I was listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Californication, and the line "Do you carry the Moon in your womb?" from the song Porcelain stuck with me for several weeks. I suspect it'll always remind me of those days of hope and nerves and constant wondering what was going to happen.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


It seems impossible to me that Indy has only been with us for just over a year and a half, but the calendar does not lie. It has been a good year, simultaneously long and passing by with impossible speed. At the end of January, the city got hit with a huge snow and ice storm. Indy had seen snow before, but not like this. We had quite a bit of fun playing in the backyard and walking along the nearby boulevard, and really it was a grand adventure until our power went out and we ended up taking Indy and staying with my parents for over a week. That turned out to be an okay little adventure, too. I got a lot of reading done and Indy had playtime every day with my parents' dog Maggie.

Early in the year, Indy became a totally free-range dog. We started by letting him remain out of his crate in our bedroom at night, with a pet gate at the top of the stairs to keep him from roaming too far without supervision. That went so well that he was quickly allowed to stay uncrated during the days while we worked, too, and we've never had to go back. I think crate-training him as a puppy was one of the best decisions we could have made, and feel that it allowed him to learn good house-habits from an early age. Of course, we can't take full credit since he was nearly fully crate-trained and housebroken when we brought him home, but still.

In April we passed our first anniversary of adopting him, which happened to coincide with a really great hike we took to celebrate my birthday. That hike turned out to be our big adventure for 2009, since we never got the chance to camp at MB's friend's property this year. We planned to take Indy on our group camping trip in October, but changed our minds when the weekend turned rainy. Perhaps we'll have another Indy-friendly camping trip in 2010...I certainly hope so!

In May I took a pregnancy test and got a positive result, which shaped our whole year. We stayed home more, didn't travel at all, and generally took it easier than usual. Indy still got his almost-daily walks, though, and I think the responsibility of walking him kept me more active than I would have been otherwise, which in turn probably helped make my pregnancy so easy. So far it doesn't seem that Indy is really aware of what's going on, though he has watched our baby preparations with great interest. In fact, Indy has proven to be a diligent supervisor of all kinds of household tasks.

He supervises landscaping projects:

He oversees gardening projects:

He presides over baking, dish washing, wallpaper removal, painting, and even yard sale preparation:

Most of his puppy sass has passed, though he still definitely has strong opinions about things. He's not a perfect dog, but he is often a dog I am proud to be seen with, a dog I am happy to introduce as mine. People are still impressed by his repertoire of tricks and occasionally people we see on our morning walk will compliment his behavior. He still likes to play a lot, though he has also proven to be a champion napper. I came across a quote somewhere that said "Dogs sleep so much because they love so hard," and Indy sure fits the bill:

In 2009, Indy went from being the youngest "child" of two to being the only one, and will soon be the oldest of two. We may look back on this year as a time of peace between things, as 2008 was the year of Baby Indy, and 2010 will be the year of baby + Indy. I am hoping, of course, for an easy transition and that MB and I will both remember to do our best to make sure Indy still gets the attention and activity that he needs. We knew we wanted kids in the near future when we adopted Indy, and we discussed the importance of keeping his routine as intact as possible. It won't be easy, but he deserves our best effort and that's what we're planning to give.

We are so lucky to have a dog so full of joy and goodness, and I'm grateful every day that he's in our lives.

Indy Bones, this month you turned two. It was a fantastic year, hopefully one of many, many, many more to come. Sometimes you can be immensely frustrating, but mostly you're just wonderful. Our mornings are more cheerful with you in them, and nothing, nothing at all, beats your butt-wagging paw-prancing greeting at the end of the work day. Your daily welcome-home scratch-and-snuggle with MB makes my heart grow three sizes every time I see it. The fact that you're still surprised each time mail comes flying in through the slot in the door makes me laugh. I love how you'll pounce on toys like a large and somewhat clumsy cat, even though half the time you lose them under the furniture soon after the initial pounce. It's hilarious how quickly you materialize in the kitchen when I open a can of tuna, and how precisely and perfectly you sit at attention trying to earn a bit of it to eat. It's vastly amusing that you share MB's undying love for cheesecake, and that you're learning the proper way to earn bits of that, too.

Thanks for being you, and for putting up with us even when we give you silly nicknames and serenade you with ridiculous songs. Thanks for teaching us how to see the world simply and how to love a little bit harder. And thanks for just generally being the kind of dog we always hoped for but never thought we'd be lucky enough to get. We love you, buddy.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Photo Friday

This was a gift from KC Casey, my friend currently living in Nepal, and I believe she said it was
handmade from reused wrappers and packaging in a co-op where women can earn a living wage sustainably.

View the entire Photo Friday collection on Flickr.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Then how the reindeer loved him

I got some good suggestions back in November when I asked for Christmas ornament suggestions, but I ended up going with these:

I saw the idea in a craft catalog and since I already had a bunch of wine corks I'd been saving in case I figured out a use for them, I ran with it. These are actually really easy to make, and I got 13 done in about an hour and a half. I thought it might be fun to post the directions, since when I looked online last month for easy Christmas ornament ideas, I would've appreciated seeing a simple project like this.

Here's the original ornament:

First, the supplies. Of course you'll need corks. As I mentioned, I'd been saving ours for quite some time, but you can order them from Oriental Trading or possibly even buy them at a craft store. You'll also want googly eyes, pom poms for noses (red or brown / black if you don't want Rudolphs), brown pipe cleaners, brown felt, ribbon to make hanging loops, scissors, small-headed pins, wire snips, a skinny Phillips screwdriver or ice pick, and tacky glue. You can try other kinds of glue if you wish, but in my experience, tacky glue is the best when working with oddball materials like cork and plastic.

1. Decide approximately where on the cork you want to put your reindeer's face. Based on that, use the screwdriver or ice pick to make two shallow holes in the top of the cork for the antlers. You don't have to go really far down into the cork -- you just want your antlers to have a little bit of stability. It's hard to control exactly how the antlers will be positioned, so put them on before you put the face on, or you may end up with a lopsided reindeer.

2. Tie a piece of ribbon into a hanging loop and use a pin to attach it in between the antler holes. I had inch-long pins and found they were hard to get into the cork without bending the pin in half, so I used the wire snips to cut half the length off before using them.

3. Cut four ~2" pieces of pipe cleaner with the snips (not the scissors) and make the antlers. Put a dab of glue on the end of each antler before pushing them into the holes.

4. Re-evaluate face placement if necessary. Glue on eyes.

5. Cut two tear-drop shaped pieces of felt for ears. I made a template from a little piece of cardboard and cut around it for each ear, which was actually the most difficult / annoying part of the whole process. After some trial and error (mostly error), I discovered that it's best to glue the ears on before the nose, because it's really easy to knock the nose off while attaching the ears. Glue the ears on the back side of the cork, where you think they look best.

6. Glue on a pom pom for a nose. Et voilĂ ! All done.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

{W}: Lunch Box

I was recently invited to join a new group devoted to bringing writing back to blogging.

Each week, participants are given a writing prompt and a list of links to all the others who are taking the challenge. We aren't required to write every week, just when and as well as we can. Sounds perfect to me. Anytime you see a title with a {W} in front of it, that post will be one inspired by the {W}rite-of-Passage challenge of the week.

This week's prompt is the Lunch Box Essay:  Take fifteen minutes to write about your elementary school lunch. Describe. Remember. Smell. Touch. Who is there? Where are you? What are you eating?

My clearest elementary lunch memories seem to be from the second grade, the last year that my best friend the bibliophile attended my school. That year we were close friends with another girl, Brandi. Brandi was an only child, and I suspect she was living a much more privileged life than either of us. All three of us took our lunches to school in classic plastic lunchboxes (I think this is pretty close to the one I had), and I remember we went through a phase of emptying our lunch boxes and setting them up on the table on their sides, open as if they were books, and "hiding" behind them to eat. Why? Who knows. We were eight.

My mom packed me lunches of a sandwich (probably peanut butter and jelly, though I don't remember the sandwich), some kind of canned fruit, a small baggie of chips or cheese curls (which my cousins and I inexplicably called "cornies"), and a dessert of either two flat cookies or one sandwich cookie. Brandi's mom usually sent her to school with the most luxurious dessert I had ever seen:  an entire Hostess fruit pie. I don't know if it happened often, or just this once, but I remember as clear as a bell the three of us sharing one of those fruit pies.

Brandi ate what she wanted, then passed it to whichever of us was next to her, and then that kid ate some and passed it on. And yeah, those fruit pies are sort of horrible, but I can remember how delicious it was, both the pie and having a close friend share it with me. To this day, on the rare occasion I eat one of those pies, I think of that day (or days) of sharing one in the cafeteria at school. And even though I haven't spoken to Brandi in years, it's a good memory, one that brings back the sound and smell and particular light of the school cafeteria where I ate lunch for eight years, one that brings back that feeling of a simple but somehow incredibly complex friendship, the kind that young girls seem born to form and break and reform and evolve with.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

In which MB saves the day (or at least the dessert)

Last night I was making a cheesecake for the neighborhood Christmas potluck this Saturday, and I guess I got overconfident. Or maybe just stupid. I was reflecting pleasantly on how easy the process is now that I've made a few cheesecakes. As I was adding the third egg of four, I dropped half of the shell into the bowl, while the mixer was still on, of course. And before I could reach in and snatch it, it got sucked under the beaters. Imagining my batter to now be full of tiny bits of eggshell shrapnel, I did the only thing I could do. I wailed loudly.

MB came in to check on me and found me fishing blindly in the bowl with a fork, desperately hoping I'd be able to find and remove all the shell fragments. Because he is much cleverer than I am, he suggested pouring the batter through our pan strainer instead. And wouldn't you know it? Worked like a charm. I'm pretty relieved that we won't be playing cheesecake roulette on Saturday, waiting to see who finds eggshell in their slice. Though I guess that would have livened things up a bit.

Reading:  A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

Playing:  Christmas music, of course

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Time to open the betting pool

I can hardly believe it, but our baby is due in one month. One! Month! Excuse me while I hyperventilate for a moment.

I've officially reached the point in my pregnancy where people have started speculating on the date of the Big Day. MB's aunt and uncle are convinced the kid will be here between December 15th and Christmas. The other day my boss said I'd be having the baby in one lunar month, which would place his debut at December 28th. My work friend Julia is predicting a New Year's Eve baby.

Does anyone else want to make a prediction? I'm not sure there will actually be a prize for correctly guessing the date of arrival, but I guess "mad bragging rights" is a prize of a sort.

In other baby news, we're slowly but steadily chipping away at the list of things still left on our registries to buy for the brachiopod's care and feeding, trying to take advantage of sales and coupons as they come our way. I had the day off on Friday and spent the first half of the day running errands. While I was out, I went by Once Upon a Child and found the last piece of furniture we were looking for, a changing table, for only $45 including the pad (which would've cost about $20 to buy separately at Babies R Us). Win! And then last night, Mom and I went and bought a vintage wooden high chair that someone was selling in the paper for only $20. Once we finish restoring the high chair I got from freecycle last year, the child will be able to sleep and eat in two houses!

Because I'm not allowed to roll vacation time over from one calendar year to the next, I saved my remaining vacation days for the very end of the year. My reasoning was, why waste my vacation sitting at home by myself in October (because MB didn't have any time to take off and we couldn't afford for me to go anywhere) when there was some chance the baby would be born in December, allowing me to use some of my 2009 vacation to get paid for my otherwise-unpaid maternity leave. And so, with vacation days + personal days (which also don't roll over) + a little bit of comp time, I am going to be off work from December 17 - 31. I figure that'll give me plenty of time to wash all the baby's clothes and read some books and get some things done around the house.

I've been looking forward to my vacation since I set it up a few months ago, but now that I'm in the last 11-day stretch it's starting to sink in that this may be my last eleven days of work before I have a baby. If he's born before January 4th, I'll go straight into maternity leave and won't be back at work until March or April. I spend half my time feeling slightly freaked out that I only have eleven days left to finish all the work I need to have done before I go on leave and the other half trying not to spaz out about having an actual human baby to raise OMGHALP. I ran into an old acquaintance at the grocery the other night who has a son, and when I told her about how I'm excited but also freaked out, she said, "You feel like a pregnant teenager, don't you?" And she was exactly right. How is it possible that I'm even remotely grown-up enough for this?

Saturday, December 05, 2009

About seven kinds of awesome

Some random but fabulous stuff from the internet today:

(from The 50 Best Protest Signs of 2009, via various retweets, possibly originating at GOOD

Lolcats do New Moon via Her Bad Mother

(via Maggie Mason's "twitter advent")

And finally, these were sent to me by my dear friend the Untamed Shrew, she of impeccable taste in baby gifts:

How rad are these? Our kid is going to be dressed in style, for sure. They came from the PAWLING print studio on Etsy. (They have a blog, too.)

Reading:  A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

Playing:  this and that

Friday, December 04, 2009