Sunday, April 29, 2012

Last Names...Yes, Again

I thought I had completely exhausted the subject of last names too, but then I heard what a soon to be married friend is planning on doing and it triggered a memory of another unique last name solution.

A guy I've known since I was six years old is getting married next month and he and his fiancee have decided to combine their last names in the most awesome way. His last name is Johnson and her last name is Sun, and they are both going to change their last names to Johnsun. How cool is that? I know not all last names combine so neatly, but how perfect when they do.

It reminded me of two professors I knew when I was in college. They both kept their last names when they married, but when they had a child they gave him the father's last name as a first name and the mother's last name as a the child's last name. So the son's name was Walker Herlastname. (She had a unique last name so I don't want to share it.) When they had a second son, they also gave him the mother's last name.

I love it when people find creative ways to combine names.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Moses Basket Alternative

In keeping with our efforts to contain cost and clutter (unintentional alliteration), we haven't bought a bassinet or Moses basket for the baby. Instead, we plan to keep it in a regular basket for the first couple of months.
I've had this basket for years; it was given to me as part of a housewarming gift and held bath towels and melamine kitchenware, but I've seen similar baskets at Ikea and discount stores like TJ Maxx. What I like about this basket is that even though it's made of natural materials it's extremely strong, it's shallow, and it has handles.
To prepare the basket for baby, I simply folded up a towel to the dimensions of the basket and then inserted the towel in a pretty embroidered pillowcase. Remember, you don't want babies sleeping in anything too cushy because it can be a suffocation risk. The towel provides enough padding while still being a firm...and it's easily washable.

Because babies outgrow Moses baskets and bassinets so quickly, they can only use it until they learn to roll over, it just makes sense to re-purpose a regular basket for a few months for baby, and then re-integrate the basket back into home storage when you're done with it.

P.S. I totally don't think you need a Moses basket or bassinet, but because my husband really wants to co-sleep with the baby and there's some increased risk of SIDS with that, a basket seemed like a good way to keep the baby in bed with us without compromising safety or splurging on a co-sleeper.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

40 Weeks

Using my conservative due date, based on my cycle length, I was 40 weeks yesterday. Using my more traditional due date, based on my last period, I will be 42 weeks tomorrow. Physically, I'm ready to be done with this. Emotionally, I don't know if I'll ever be ready.

If you can't get enough of "Baby Watch 2012" be sure to follow me on Instagram. I'll be able to announce the baby there before I'm able to announce it on the blog. (Turns out I'm going to have to have a hospital birth so I won't have internet access for awhile.)

And just for fun, I've set up a little poll over there in the upper right corner where you can register your guess for this baby's sex. I don't have a strong feeling about it, but I have a hunch. However, Chuk has a strong feeling about it and his guess is the opposite of mine.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Seven Quick Takes

1. My mom sent me flowers this week. It was only the second time in my life I've ever had flowers delivered to me. Such a nice treat!

2. I occasionally watch 16 & Pregnant and what strikes me again and again is they all have fake nails, highlighted hair, and eat out all the time, yet they complain about not having money to raise a baby. Obviously, that's not my biggest issue with the show, but it does make me question what some people think are essential expenses nowadays.

3. On Monday, I had an ultrasound (it was only my second) and saw baby's face for the first time. I could see its teeth in its jaw. Weird!

4. On Tuesday, I got two hours of acupuncture to induce labor and it was also weird. I have what I'm calling tacks in ears and ankles that I have to press simultaneously for five minutes a day. (Chuk helps me.) I also have instructions to swish water in my mouth before I drink it and orders to do six sets of squats twelve times a day, but also to rest as much as possible.

5. Chuk did really well at the Jeopardy audition. We'll find out in the next 18 months if he made the show or not, but he's officially in the contestant pool. When I told my grandpa about it over the phone, he got excited and said, "I can't believe we might have a TV star in the family" in his thick Louisiana drawl. It was super cute.

6. My cat's favorite place to sit is normally on my lap, but for the last few months she hasn't been able to sit there because I have virtually no lap. A few days ago, she managed to eek out a little spot for herself on my lap and the baby kicked her relentlessly. The sibling rivalry begins already.

7. My husband's been watching lots of Formula One lately. All I have to say about car racing is that it's absolutely not a sport. (Also, it's super boring.)

Read more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

National Parks Week

National Parks Week begins this Saturday. That means you can get free admission at more than 100 national parks from April 21-29. That's two weekends in a row that you can go for free. To see if the national park closest to you is participating click here.

With the beautiful weather we've been having, I'd love to head out to Shenandoah this weekend, but hopefully I'll be too busy having a baby, and if I'm not, Chuk will have to work. Go and let me live vicariously through you!

Fun fact: my father-in-law is crossing an item off his bucket list this summer by taking a 6-ish week national parks road trip. He's going to drive cross country only stopping at national parks. Fun, right? He's turning 60 next month and he's never been west of the Mississippi River before.

Monday, April 16, 2012

In Which I Don't Brag

Remember yesterday when I got all brag-y about my husband? Well I'm taking it all back now. He's supposedly been in class for the last hour, but I just logged onto Facebook and 22 minutes ago he posted a badge that he got a 40 point word in Words With Friends. WTF, dude???

I'm glad we're paying thousands of dollars a semester for you to keep up with Words With Friends. Who can I talk to about revoking that Outstanding First Year Graduate Student award?

Back in my day, there were no smart phones in grad day being five whole years ago.

More on Last Names: Hyphenating Baby's Name

A couple of years ago, I wrote about some of the reasons I chose not to change my name when I got married. When I wrote it, I was feeling defensive about my decision because family members kept disregarding my choice and were changing my name for me. Every time I re-read that blog post I wish I had spent more time on it and was more articulate because it continues to be one of my most popular posts and I don't think it accurately reflects the nuances of my feelings on the issue. I've meant to revise the post or to do a follow-up (especially since it generated my first and only mean comment in the history of this blog!) but as you know, life gets in the way.

I guess the one thing I would reiterate about that post is that I made the decision that was right for me. As the years have gone on, it has become increasingly clear to me that I made the right decision for me, and I wouldn't (and haven't) changed it. Again, nearly all of my female friends and family members have changed their last names and I think that's great, because they're doing what feels right for them. I'm all about all of us living intentionally and authentically.

The other point I want to make is that, this is not an issue in my marriage. Chuk and I have had approximately two brief conversations about my name (both before we were married) and it was always very clear that he really didn't care whether I changed my name or not. I get the impression from some that they imagine we talk about this, or even fight about it, a lot. We don't. It's a complete non-issue for us.

Except that we're going to have a baby any day now, so this issue has resurfaced. We've had first and middle baby names picked out since before we were even considering having kids (just because it's fun to think of baby names) but we still don't have a last name picked out. I mean, there's a 99% change we'll hyphenate the baby's last name, but we don't know whose name will come first and whose will come second, mostly because neither one of us cares which comes first.
The decision to hyphenate came in the car on the way to Target, of all places. The conversation isn't verbatim, as it was several months ago, but it's pretty darn close.

"I'm getting annoyed that your dad keeps asking about the baby's last name," I said. Seriously, it was the second question he asked us when we told him I was pregnant.

"Sorry. I don't know why he's so fixated on it," Chuk said. "We'll probably just hyphenate it though, right?"

"I assumed so." And end scene. We haven't discussed it since.

I've read some articles about how for couples with different last names choosing to hyphenate their child's last name has been a real struggle. (Read more about it here, here, here, and here.) Honestly, their stress over the issue seems to bounce between silly and controlling to me. The two main issues seem to be that a hyphenated last name would be too long or figuring out what the child will do when he or she gets married.

To the first point, about a hyphenate name being too cumbersome, my argument is, lots of people have long last names so it's not really that different whether there's a hyphen in the middle or not. In our case, if we hyphenate our last names, it will only be three syllables, which I don't think is all that long. Learning to spell your last name is challenging for all kids, no matter the length.

As for the complications that could occur when the child gets married, it just seems like none of my business. I'm responsible for doing what I think is best for this person for the first eighteen years of his or her life, but after that it's up to it to decide what it wants to be called. Worrying about things that far in the future seems controlling to me not only because the "child" will be old enough to decide what he or she wants to do by then, but also because it assumes so many variables. I don't assume my child will get married, or that if it does it will necessarily want to keep its name or that its future spouse will want to keep his or her name, or that they will have children.

Everybody should name their child whatever they want, but my point is that for parents who want to hyphenate their child's name, it doesn't have to be an emotionally wrenching decision. Do what you want to do and don't let others make you second guess yourself.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

In Which I Brag

Right now, Chuk is at his Jeopardy audition. I'm so excited for him getting to take the second big step towards crossing this off his bucket list.

To help him prepare, I gave him a haircut and played a trivia game with him. Notice we're tied in the picture below. I could never be on Jeopardy though because I'm too darn slow in thinking of the answers.

In other husband related happenings, earlier this week, we learned he won one of only four fellowships for Outstanding First Year Graduate Student.

And because I never want to forget this, last Sunday Chuk called out to me from the kitchen, "I think I'm nesting." He was scrubbing the range hood at the time. When he finished, he washed all the cabinet fronts and then wiped the baseboards. Yes, I think he was nesting. He's the cutest and I'm the luckiest.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Gender-Neutral Renters' Nursery

Over the weekend, we finished the baby's room. By "finished" I mean, as good as it's going to get before the baby comes.

Above, you can see the view from the doorway if you're standing in the hall.

If you follow me on Pinterest, you know that initially, I had wanted to do a nautical themed room. Chuk was concerned that a nautical room would look too grown up for an infant and would read as too boyish with so many blue accents. Since we're waiting to find out the sex of our baby, we needed a gender-neutral nursery. Ultimately, we decided to do a room of bright, happy colors with vintage accents, particularly vintage sports accents.

(From all the cords in the corner, you can tell I don't bother to stage photos. Eh, the room doesn't need to be baby-proofed immediately, right? Don't worry, we'll secure them before the baby becomes mobile.)

The main challenge in decorating this room was that, as renters, we can't paint or change the flooring or other fixed elements. Builder beige walls and taupe carpet doesn't really contribute a lot to the idea of "bright, happy colors", but fortunately baby accessories tend to be bright.

In these photos, the room looks significantly larger and better proportioned than it is in reality. Because the rest of our apartment is small too, we need to keep all the baby toys in this room and it has to function as a playroom as well as a bedroom. (It's also my husband's office. His desk and all our files and office supplies, as well as general household storage, is in the closet.) To accommodate all these functions, we tried to keep the furniture against the walls and added storage to the wall, so there would be space to play in the center of the room.

We couldn't afford to spend a lot so we took advantage of gifts, things we already owned, second-hand finds, DIY projects, and generally just made do.

We still need to finish the crib skirt, hang artwork, and decide whether or not we're going to paint the dresser (there's a long story behind it that makes the decision less than straightforward.) I'd like to find an affordable and colorful rug to disguise the carpet too, but so far, we're really happy with the room. It is such a satisfying feeling when your vision materializes the way you imagine it will.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Good Karma with the Alley Gods

Remember how jealous you were when I told you my apartment had a sweet view of a cinder block wall with peeling paint?

Well, apparently the gods of the alleyway read my blog and a few days after I wrote that, they sent out two painters to repaint the wall. (I think the alley gods want to help spruce things up for the baby.)

And just like magic, now I have a view of an alley with a cinder block wall, instead of an alley with a cinder block wall with peeling paint. Fancy! I'm really moving up in the world.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sewing A Changing Pad Cover

I found it shocking to learn that changing pad covers cost more than the actual changing pad for a changing table. As usual, I decided to tackle the project myself to save a little money. I had no idea how to do it, but it wasn't too hard to figure out a "good enough" way.

I simply sewed a hem around the edges of the fabric, then laid the fabric upside down on the changing pad and pinned just the corners, taking up the excess fabric at the corners (like you would when wrapping a present.) Then I sewed a straight line down where I had pinned to form a corner and repeated for all four corners. I turned it right side out and slipped it over the changing pad for a semi-fitted cover. The professional covers have elastic around the bottom (like a fitted sheet) but I find it looks exactly the same if I just tuck the ends under the pad. I was able to make three covers for less than the cost of buying one.