Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Celebrating My Third Wedding Anniversary

Today is my third wedding anniversary. I really love being married. It is still the best decision I ever made in my life, hands down. While I don't think you have to be married to be happy (I never imagined I'd get married), for me, it has added so much joy to my life.

Because Chuk had to work today and has class tonight, we began our anniversary celebrations over the weekend. Saturday morning, we went out to brunch and had full Irish breakfasts. We had planned to do it for St. Patrick's Day, but I was too sick then, so we postponed a week and it was even better. We celebrated our first wedding anniversary with a second honeymoon (our first honeymoon was a bit of a train wreck) in Ireland, so the brunch brought back a bunch of wonderful memories.

After brunch, we took a one-hour cherry blossom cruise around the Potomac and Anacostia rivers. It was a Groupon deal I bought a while back and didn't go exactly according to plan. It was cold, overcast and rainy, and because the weather has been so weird, the blooms had already started to fade. We were able to ignore all that though and just make the best out of being on a romantic boat ride.

After the cruise, we drove around the Tidal Basin for a quick look at the remaining cherry blossoms. I love how the petals look like pink and white confetti all over the ground. So pretty!

We got out of the car for about two minutes to take some quick pictures. (It was still raining.) I still can't get over how big I am. I think this baby is going to be a giant.

On Sunday, we decided to use up a coffee gift card Chuk had. I hadn't been to Starbucks in eleven months and I had forgotten how much I liked it. (The last time I went to Starbucks was when we were in Seattle for our second anniversary on our way to our Alaskan cruise.) We drank our iced coffees in the car on the way to a play. We saw a matinee of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Neither of us had seen it before and we both liked it. During intermission, we got chocolate cupcakes, which added to the experience.

And now that it's our actual anniversary, we're going to go out to a little creperie we've never tried before for dinner once Chuk gets out of class.

I'm so thankful we get to spend this much quality time together before the baby comes. I know we celebrate our anniversary more elaborately than a lot of other couples, but to me, it's an investment in our relationship, so it's worth it. These are the memories we talk about again and again.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Due Dates Annoy Me

Bear with me while I go on a crabby rampage, OK? Pretty much everyone's favorite question to ask me is when my due date is. It's understandable in some respects: I've been pregnant for the better part of a year and it looks like I'm smuggling a very large watermelon under my clothes. However, it irritates me when people don't accept my answer or continuously ask me the question again and again as if my answer is magically going to change.

Here's the thing about due dates that people fail to recognize: They're really called ESTIMATED due dates. No one knows when a baby is going to come. No one. Even if you're being induced, you don't know that the baby isn't going to come early.

Generally, estimated due dates (EDD) are calculated by adding 40 weeks to the first day of your last period. What this fails to take into account though is that all women and all babies are different. If your menstrual cycle is longer or shorter than 28 days, the 40 weeks is already off.

Secondly, even though ultrasounds seem like they're super accurate because you're told you're "X weeks and # days", after the 12 week of pregnancy ultrasounds aren't very accurate at dating pregnancies because fetuses develop at different rates after that point. (Think about how some babies walk at 10 months and others walk at 13 months. It's the same type of thing when they're still in the uterus.) The EDD from ultrasounds also seem to be a moving target since almost everyone I know who has had more than one ultrasound has had her due date changed, which is always funny to me since the conception date didn't change.

In addition to your cycle and your baby's development, the 40 weeks is just an average too. A baby is considered full term if it comes anytime between 37 and 42 weeks. So basically, your baby is normal if it comes anytime within a one month time frame. My birth instructor told us that on average, first babies come ten days after the EDD and one of the books I'm reading says that the chance of a woman delivering on her "due date" is only around 5%.

So when people ask me when I'm due, I tell them "in April", which is about as accurate as I can be. I'm not a psychic. These nosy parkers never accept that answer though. More than one person, most often a Facebook "friend" I haven't seen in 10+ years, has gone on to insist, "No, when is your exact due date? I want to write it in my calendar." Hell no. If you found out about my pregnancy on Facebook, you can find out when I have my baby on Facebook. I don't need you emailing me to ask if I've "popped" yet. (Incidentally, this is my least favorite phrase ever. Do they think the imagery of popping or exploding is pleasant to a woman facing imminent labor? Really? Think before you speak, Dummy.) Multiply the same mildly annoying question by every single person I know and some random strangers who decide they have a right to be up in my business and you get one irritated mama-to-be.

The icing on the cake of irritation is my father-in-law who asks weekly if we have a more precise due date yet. We have explained to him numerous times all the above information about how EDD are just guesses and there is no way anyone could be certain, but he refuses to accept it and just keeps asking. It's enough to make me want to bang my head (or his?) against the wall.

Now, when Chuk or I get an insistent due date questioner, we quip, "It's a baby, not a library book." If we can get a giggle, usually it's enough time for us to change the subject. Phew.

Since you readers are all nice and I have gotten one respectful question about this issue, I will tell you I have two EDDs. I was told by one midwife that I'm due April 8, which was simply based on 40 weeks after the first day of my last period. My current midwife has my EDD as April 20, which she calculated according to my freakishly long menstrual cycle.

Personally, I'm really hoping to either have the baby April 18 because 18 is a special number to me (I think this baby was conceived on July 18; Chuk proposed on August 18; my dad's birthday was September 18; and my birthday is October 18) or April 25 because that was my grandma's birthday. (I've written about her here, here, and here.) I would also be happy with April 8 because Easter is my favorite holiday.

The absolute worst day for me to have this baby is April 15 because Chuk has a second round Jeopardy audition that day, which cannot be rescheduled. Because I want him to fulfill his life dreams, I've told him he's going to the audition no matter what, but he insists he wouldn't go if I was in labor. Obviously, this means I'm going to have the baby on April 15 or 16 because that's just how the universe works. I would appreciate it if you kept your fingers crossed that I'm not in labor April 14-16 anyway though. (And although it's secondary to a healthy baby, if you want, you can also keep your fingers crossed that he makes it onto the show because that would be so fun and make him so happy.)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Curtains in the Nursery

We're still plugging away at getting this baby's room ready for it. In a closet I had a pair of curtains from the room I rented when I moved to DC eight years ago. They're just cheap-y white cotton curtains from Ikea, but I have always liked the texture of them; they look and feel like linen.

They were an awkward length for the window, neither floor length nor cafe length. Though I generally prefer floor length curtains, I think shorter curtains are safer in a baby's room (so they can't be tugged on.) I sewed a big hem on the both panels and then added some ball fringe to the bottom to make them a little more fun. I love the way the ball fringe looks with the Jenny Lind crib we have.

I had the curtain rods and finials from that same Ikea shopping trip eight years ago. Chuk kindly hung them so I wouldn't have to stand on a chair with my big belly.

Other than the cost of four yards of ball fringe, which I think cost around $13 (and I still have some left over) the curtain project was free. It only took an afternoon and turned out better than I imagined it.

P.S. Try not to be too jealous that four out of the five windows in our apartment look out onto an alley with a cinder block wall adorned with peeling paint.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lighting the Nursery

Apparently, the nesting instinct skipped our house. So when it finally dawned on us "This baby is coming soon" we decided we needed to kick it into high gear and get our former office/guest room ready to become a nursery. We had sort of been working on it for months, but our efforts were more along the lines of brainstorming ideas and decluttering and rehoming nearly everything that had been in that room. It was a big job in and of itself, but it has left little time for the fun, "prettifying" part of it.

While "prettification" is all well and good, we're still working with a budget which is best described as "the closer to zero the better". I had the lamp pictured above for at least seven years. No joke, I have a thing for acrylic furniture and accessories and it matched my feminine, single girl bedroom back in the day. It does not match our gender-neutral nursery though.

With no overhead lighting in that room and no desire to buy a new lamp when I already had a functional one, a lamp makeover was in order.

Two quick coats of silver spray paint and a new lampshade later, it looks like a new lamp. We already had the lamp and spray paint, so I'm counting those costs as $0. The lampshade was $7.99. Less than $10 for a "new" lamp, nice.

Linking to 320 Sycamore.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Restaurant Sweet Tea

It's been 80 degrees in DC all this week. Considering I'm a northern California native (anything over 65 is hot to me), I'm pregnant, and the heat is still on in my building, we're sweltering. We've been mainlining iced tea at our place.

A lot of times when I have others' homemade iced tea it's either too sweet or too bitter or (when my husband makes it) it just tastes like sweet water. Yuck. Here's how I make restaurant quality iced tea. (Taught to me by my mom who grew up in southern Louisiana, where they know their sweet tea.)

Steep six tea bags in four cups of recently boiled water for at least twenty minutes. (You can heat your water in the microwave if it's too hot to turn the stove on for the kettle.) The longer you steep the tea, the better. I think most people don't steep their tea long enough. Pour the four cups of tea into a pitcher with 1/2 cup of sugar (or Splenda, as we've been doing recently) and stir vigorously until sweetener is completely dissolved. Add enough ice to make 2 quarts. Refrigerate and enjoy.

Now, if you're like me, you'll be tempted to use the cheapest store brand tea, but don't do it. Tea quality makes a big difference to your final outcome. My preferred brands are Community (which is hard to find outside of the South), Luzianne, and good ol' Lipton. (Sadly, no one paid me to write my opinion on any of those.)

We've been going through tea so quickly that as soon as I get a pitcher made, I start steeping tea for the next batch, or as in the picture above, the next two batches.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pi Day

I've never celebrated Pi Day before, but it was blowing up on Facebook, so I decided to make a turtle pie. When Chuk got home and saw my pie he decided we needed a pizza pie too (especially since we had a 50% off coupon) so he got a take away pizza.

And that's how we celebrated what is possibly the nerdiest "holiday" ever invented. But really it was just an excuse to eat pizza and pudding pie. Yum.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I'm the Nice One

My father-in-law came up for a visit over the weekend and told us a story about how he took my niece (his granddaughter) to his doctor's appointment with him on Friday. The woman at the front desk, who had long blonde hair, blew up a helium balloon for my niece and gave it to her. Like most two year olds, she loves balloons. So she went around for the rest of the day telling everybody "Meghan gave me a balloon. This Meghan balloon." Apparently any blonde who is nice to her is me. I'll take it!

The story of the above picture: two weeks ago when this same niece was visiting for the baby shower she got stuck in our cat house when she crawled in to retrieve an acorn she had thrown in there. She was fussing and on the verge of tears, so naturally I starting laughing and grabbed my phone and took pictures of her predicament. Chuk ran across the room and rescued her. So it's a little bit miraculous that she still thinks of me as nice. (Hopefully, Chuk's willingness to forgo good photo opportunities for the wellbeing of a child means no one will have to call CPS on us when our own child arrives in a few weeks.)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Fewer Books, More Library

Do you watch that show Hoarders? Chuk and I usually watch every week. Though we both enjoy having a clean home, neither of us has that innate drive to clean that some people have. Though we aren't hoarders, Hoarders the show is motivation to declutter and clean like nothing else.

We watched last week's episode on Friday (they air on Monday though.) The program featured a couple who had more than half a million books in their home. I've always been pretty good about not keeping too many books, but this show sent me straight to my bookshelves to see if there were any more I could get rid of. I found ten I was willing to part with and Chuk decided to get rid of four of his books.

My philosophy on books had been to only keep the ones I wanted to read again. This go around I shifted my thinking little and got rid of books that I could easily get again at the library. No need for me to store them if the library is willing to store them for me, right?

The other tip that has kept my bookshelves from ever getting too overcrowded is that I don't buy books. I enjoy reading, but I find that between the library, what friends lend me and gifts, I'm never at a shortage for reading material. With this newest round of giveaways, I emailed a list of the books we are getting rid of to my reading friends and gave them right of first refusal. Paying it forward like this (and always returning their books) is what keeps people lending to me, I think. The books they don't want will be donated to the library or thrift store.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Not the Brightest Bulb

I had a prenatal appointment today and the midwife began it by asking me some questions one of which was, "Have you started having contractions yet?" I responded that I didn't think so. I never got the tightening sensation, but I had been getting crampy in the evenings and at night but that I wasn't sure if it was just part of my normal aches and pains or something more. She said it could be Braxton Hicks, but wasn't necessarily so.

Later, as she was doing my abdominal exam, she said, "You're having a contraction right now. Do you feel how hard it is there?"

I said, "I thought that was just the baby pushing against the wall of my stomach."

She said, "No, those are contractions."

I started laughing and said, "Well, in that case, yes, I have contractions all the time."

What a dummy! Who doesn't know they're having contractions? Hopefully this means an easy labor.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Pregnancy Makes Me Clingy

When I hear other pregnant women talk about what they're afraid of it always seems to be pain in labor or something being wrong with their baby or that they won't be a good mother, but I'm not really afraid of any of those things. However, in the last month or so I've become absolutely terrified that this baby is going to change my marriage for the worse.

Chuk and I are in such a good place in our relationship that whenever I someone tells me "A baby changes everything" (and people say crap like that a lot because apparently people love to try and freak you out) my heart starts to pound. I don't want anything about my marriage to change. Yet, it inevitably will change; we'll have less time for each other, less money and more stress.

I think part of this stems from my own parents, who were happily married for seven years before having three kids in four years. Their marriage started deteriorating not long after and they eventually divorced. While neither of them ever blamed (or even insinuated) kids had anything to do with their split, the chain of events seems pretty apparent to me. Additionally, the happiest couples I know are childless couples.

The manifestation of my fear is that I've gone from being a sane individual to the clingiest person that has ever walked the face of the earth. I don't want to hang out with anyone other than Chuk. If I could just stay home and cuddle with him on the couch while we watch TV all day and all night I would be a happy, happy woman. Despite how much I hate being pregnant, I find myself hoping that this baby is late because I think, "These are the last few weeks we have left as just the two of us for the next 18-25 years."

Even though we planned for this baby, and it was not a decision either of us rushed into or took lightly, I never anticipated feeling this way. Chuk and I talk openly about my fear. He tries to reassure me, but sometimes I think I'm not ready to have a baby. (Too late to decide that now!) Realistically, I know the only way to get over this feeling is to get through it, and I will, but I think it's important to put it out there because maybe someone else is going through the same thing. I don't know anyone who has this particular anxiety during pregnancy, but surely I can't be the only one. I think it's important that we're honest about our feelings (for better or worse) so that we can support one another.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

My Post-Pregnancy Fantasy

While I consider myself a girly girl, I don't go in for a whole lot of pampering. Sure, I like it, but at this point in my life, it's not really worth the expense to me. I haven't had a manicure since my wedding day and I've never had my eyebrows shaped.

I like the girl on the right's hair, but I wonder if I should try to be more daring.

Generally, this low maintainance lifestyle works for me, but for most of this miserable pregnancy I've had one dream that keeps me going (you know, besides getting a cute little baby at the end) I want to go to a fancy pants salon and get my hair done. I have no idea why this is my fantasy and not something more predictable like a vacation or a massage, but it is.

Normally, I either get a $20 haircut from one of those chain places or have my husband just give me a trim. I've gotten more expensive haircuts before (never more than like $60 or $80) but I have boring hair and the cheap cuts end up looking like the expensive ones, so I just don't bother.

I have long, straight, dirty blonde hair with a cowlick in the front and I'm not willing to invest any time into it on a daily basis. I'm hoping a fancy salon will be able to take this information and give me an actual STYLE that looks good and will suit this new phase of my life. I want to look pulled together and chic, but still youthful. I'm guessing a cut and highlights are going to cost in the neighborhood of $2oo, which kind of makes me want to throw up, but the heart wants what the heart wants.

Feel free to send me pictures of cute hairstyles.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Baby Shower

While this Saturday finds Chuk and me sitting at home blowing our noses and whinging about our colds, last Saturday we were having a great time at our baby shower. We did a little craft of painting onesies and opened gifts and played just one little game guessing how many candies were in a baby bottle, but we mostly just hung out, ate snacks and laughed.

I'm always inspired by my friends' entertaining styles. None of them read lifestyle blogs so there is very little emphasis on making things Pinterest-perfect, but a lot of emphasis on making sure everyone is having fun. There was no theme, no color scheme, just a few little snack options (a cheese plate, veggies and dip, and some store-bought desserts) and they didn't even clean off their fireplace mantel, yet no one cared. I think there's a lesson in there for me.