On Halloween, Lennon Joseph made his way into the world. It was the most bizarre and amazing day of my life.
I started to go into labor some time on Friday or Saturday. Early labor is pretty easy going. Lots of little contractions, not a lot of progress. By Saturday afternoon I was having regular contractions every 4-7 minutes with growing pain and tightness in my back. That went on for about three hours and we weren't really sure what to do. I wasn't in any pain, I was just contracting a lot. We called the nurse line and she recommended we come in and get checked out. We packed up the car without any real anticipation that we'd be coming back home with a baby. We figured we were jumping the gun and they'd send us home to continue with the contractions.
Turns out, we were right. Kind of. I got checked into a room, handed over various samples of my bodily fluids and got hooked up to a monitor. The world's sexiest obstetrician checked me out and told me that I wasn't dilated enough to be admitted. However, my blood pressure was totally jacked (like 150/100) and I had protein in my urine so I needed to be watched for preeclampsia. (Pregnancy-induced hypertension.) This involved me collecting all my urine in a bucket for 24 hours, storing it in my fridge, and returning it to the hospital the next day. Sweet. So, we took my pee collection kit and we left, hoping to return soon in actual labor. We got about five minutes away from the hospital when a less sexy OB called me and asked me to come back. They decided they weren't comfortable letting me go home with such high blood pressure and they'd go ahead and induce me that night since I was a day away from 40 weeks.
We went back and Dr. Sexy told me that they'd let me labor on my own for a while and see if I made any progress. It was now around 7:30pm. They checked me periodically but nothing was happening. Around 3:30am on Sunday they broke my water. Umm, wow. Gross is all I can say about that. I pray if I ever get pregnant again that my water does not break on it's own. Everyone is all, "Just wear a maxi pad around your due date." Right, I don't think an entire package of maxi pads would do any good in that situation. Long story short, I had baby poo in my amniotic fluid which meant Lennon was at risk to inhale it on his way out. Baby poo in the lungs = bad. (I learned that watching 16 and Pregnant.) A pediatrics team would be in the room when I delivered to check him out and make sure everything was okay.
Fast forward another four hours and my damn cervix hadn't budged. I was having some crazy back pain because Lennon was flipped around backwards so I was already cracking and looking for someone to hook me up with drugs. Then Dr. Sexy dropped by to tell me it was time to hit the pitocin to try and move things along. I now happily consented to an epidural. Best. Decision. Ever. I got that around 9:00, got the pitocin shortly afterwards, and was ready to push by 11:45. The epidural never completely took so I had most of my feeling in my left side. Feeling quickly started to return to my right side, so by the time baby was ready to make his exit, I could feel everything. GOOD GOD I FELT EVERYTHING. I felt myself pooping in front of a room full of strangers. I felt things that required stitches to fix. I felt my baby getting stuck on his way out. I couldn't get him out fast enough and he started to stress. His heart rate dropped and he took a big gulp of that poo fluid so the vacuum made it's appearance. The fastest way to get a stuck baby out of the birth canal is to suck it out. So that's what they did. But before the vacuum can come out with a baby attached to it, it needs to go in. Ya, not something I realized before that moment. I certainly felt that too. Most of the pushing phase is a big blur but I remember screaming like an animal some time around here.
The vacuum had his head out in about .5 seconds. His body slipped out with one more push. And there he was. Lennon. I got one brief look at him before he was taken by peds to be checked over. At this point, I have no idea what's happening. The nicest nurse in the world was hugging me and telling me I did great. Everyone else is assessing the damage and doing whatever it was they were there to do. Then someone came in and told me that about 10 minutes after delivery Lennon started struggling to breath on his own and he quickly started loosing color and movement. He was now on oxygen and in an incubator and needed to be taken to NICU immediately. I freaked the fuck out. All I could think was that I just brought him into the world and he was going to die before I could even hold him. I can't think about it without crying still. It was the most terrifying thing I've ever experienced.
An hour or so later, someone came and told me and my family that by the time they got him down to NICU he had already started breathing strongly and had really perked up. It was likely just a case of him being too tired from delivery and needing a little help getting going on his own. I finally got wheeled down to NICU and he was hooked up to a bunch of machines, wires and IVs all over the place. I didn't feel like he was my baby. I was just staring at some child, crying my eyes out, not knowing why. Someone finally pulled him out of his little incubator and let me hold him. I got to look at him, study him, kiss him. He looked a lot like me, which I couldn't believe. It was like, "Ok, ya. I guess this is my baby after all." It was such a relief.
The next couple of days are blurry. I didn't really sleep at all in the hospital. I just sat in my bed and watched hours and hours of TBS. Whenever I wanted to see Lennon, I had to walk down to the NICU. It sucked. I just wanted him with me, beside my bed where I could see him. Technically, he was fine and didn't need to be in NICU but since he was on an IV to prevent infection from breathing in the poo he had to stay down there. No infection ever developed so he got to come home with us when I was discharged. We were afraid he was going to have to stay an extra day but the kiddo checked out just fine at his 48 hour tests and was sent packing.
So, now we're parents. We're in love with our baby. And we're tired.
I'm sure there's a lot more to the story that I could share, but my brain is running at half speed right now. Taking care of a newborn is friggin exhausting. I'm sure I'll write little stories here and there that fill in more details. But for now, that's about as coherent as I can be. :)
I noticed a long time ago that I have two reactions to stress.
1. Eating (okay, drinking too) 2. I completely and utterly shut down
I have this terrible habit of doing absolutely nothing when I feel overwhelmed. Like, lay in bed with Bravo and a beer for hours on end. That sort of "nothing." It is just about the stupidest reaction in the world but it's my go-to coping mechanism. It usually lasts about a week and then the panic really sets in. At that point I end up making a list of all the things overwhelming me and start checking them off one by one as I clear them out of the way. You'd think it would make more sense to just skip the slacking and drinking and head straight to the list, wouldn't you?
As you can maybe imagine, the entire month of October has been a nightmare. Minus booze. So like, a complete and utter terror from which there is no waking. I got so far behind on my business, added on to that a crap load of baby stress and the stress of finishing up a million projects at my 8-5 job. I spent the first two weeks of the month gently rocking myself in a corner and the last two weeks busting my ass. Looking back on it, it's probably not a route I would take twice but I'm almost done digging my way out. I still have an entire wedding to edit before giving birth AT ANY MOMENT and a stack of stuff to mail out, then I'm dunzo. All that's left after that is birthing and caring for another human being for the next eighteen years. Piece of fucking cake.
Okay, this shit is starting to get old. I really wish I could take the next two weeks off from everything and spend 14 days in bed, in Matt's pajamas. (Mine don't exactly fit anymore.) Aside from the unimaginable excitement to meet my baby, there is absolutely nothing fun about being a full-term pregnant woman.
It takes an 8 point maneuver to get out of bed to pee (3 times) in the middle of the night. I have to grab a hold of my pant leg at the ankle to hoist my leg up in order to put on my shoes. I then usually need Matt's help taking my shoes back off. My belly is so low now that I can't cross my legs or even put my knees together. Therefore, I waddle. Um what else... I sweat a lot. My skin is always dry. 60% of my day is spent in a Braxton Hicks contraction, which doesn't hurt by the way but does seriously test your bladder control. I won't tell you any of the gross stuff... I'll let you all experience that out for yourselves when that time comes.
But on a good note, I have yet to develop a single stretch mark and my boobs are ginormous and perky. Too bad they're not at all sexy right now. A great rack attached to a 9 months pregnant woman just doesn't pack the same punch anymore. It's a shame, really. Women pay good money for boobs the size of mine right now.
Matt came home today from a 10 day tour. I tried my hardest to be lazy while he was gone. I was afraid of nesting too hard and giving the baby some false sense of well-being in the outside world. I wanted him to continue thinking it was a disaster out here so he'd stay put until Matt was within a 20 minute range from me. And now that he's home I am a mad frenzy of babyness. I washed and sterilized bottles, pacifiers, anything that goes in a baby's mouth. I laundered all the cloth diapers. I put sheets on the crib. I lined the changing table with shelf paper. Oh god, how I love shelf paper. I want to cover my entire house in it.
We're pretty much ready to go! Well, except for not having a hospital bag packed and not having the car seat safely secured in the car. So obviously I don't mean "ready to go" in the literal sense. We are literally not ready to go to the hospital to have a baby. But we are more or less prepared in the event that that happens sometime prior to our given due date. What do I really need for the hospital anyway? Pajamas, a toothbrush and my iPad. Bamm, done packing the bag. And we can just chuck the car seat in the trunk and figure it out in the parking garage when they release us.
I'm a little anti-diaperbag. No offense to diaper bags and the folks who carry them but I prefer something a little flashier, a little less practical. A little more, "Hey, look at me and my ridiculous bag!"
Here are a few giant satchels I found that I really love. They range in price from $2900 to $70.
Yes. That is correct.
The top left is a $2900 Nancy Somethingorother from Berdorf's and the top right is a $1400 Prada. They are gorgeous. But areyoufreakingkiddingme? Are they lined with hundred dollar bills? Besides, if I bought a Prada bag and carried it with a head-to-toe Target outfit people would assume it's fake. I might as well save myself $1350 and buy a $50 fake Prada on ebay if I'm going that route. (Major Sex and the City flashback right there.)
I'm leaning heavily toward the dotted one in the middle. It's completely insane looking but I really like it. Plus it's gigantic and I could probably fit everything I need into it, including my baby.
We're pretty much done getting all the actual baby stuff we need. Now I'm just buying fun stuff because I'm excited for this kid to get here already. And then once he's here I'll say to myself, "Why did I think I would ever leave the house again after giving birth? I should have saved that bag money for diapers and booze."
I wanted to share a photo from a wedding I shot last weekend. The setup was the idea of the bride and her maid-of-honor and at first I thought, "Whoa, holy cheese city." But the photo turned out pretty damn cute. But most importantly, I took this photo in a bar bathroom, with no light, with a flash and it actually looks good! A year ago, there's no way I could have pulled that off!
Today is our second anniversary. It kind of feels like two years, and it kind of doesn't. Our marriage has been pretty easy going so far. We don't fight over things that aren't worth fighting over and we honestly love each other more now than when we got married. I'm also completely smitten with the fact that we're creating a miniature version of ourselves mashed into one body. It's so bizarre and so sweet at the same time. :)
Photo by Tim Tab - Taken at our Colorado workshop a few weeks ago
Sometimes when my stomach bubbles and lurches involuntarily, I forget that I'm pregnant and I think it's a raging case of intestinal distress. I think, "WTF did I eat for lunch?" and then remember that it's not something I ate, it's something I'm growing. Although if it were something I ate, it would probably be a lot easier to get out.
And that brings us to...
Less than eight weeks left until my due date, but probably more than eight weeks left until I actually give birth. I've been reading a lot lately, and it turns out that due dates are pretty unscientific. The most accurate dates are the ones guessed at within 6 to 7 weeks of conception. (So my actual due date might be closer to November 3rd.) The accuracy dwindles from there. Supposedly, labor is started by your baby when his lungs are done developing. He releases a hormone that initiates labor. Technically, this doesn't take 40 weeks. It can take anywhere from 37 to 42. So, when your doctor pinpoints your 40 week due date, you can go anywhere from three weeks early to two weeks late and still have a normal term pregnancy. Isn't that great news!
I swear that there should be some sort of post-high school health class for women. This pregnancy thing is such a damn mystery in our culture. We're all taught to believe that birth is on par with having your appendix removed. You make an appointment, go to the hospital, and the doctors fix you. Our active role in labor and delivery has been removed. We're taught to be patients and not women giving birth. It seems so wrong. Women should be given more respect than that. Whether you give birth without any drugs at all, or you have a c-section, there are still so many things you can do to advocate for yourself and your baby to have a great experience. It's okay for you to be in control. I wish women were told that at some point in their lives. Instead, we get movies and TV shows that portray women giving birth who are wild with terror and franticly rushing through hospital corridors, pleading for a doctor to dope them up, yelling at their partners for having penises, etc.
I am now officially more than 75% done gestating. I am looking forward to Starbucks and a beer. I've already researched how to safely integrate caffeine and booze back into my diet while breastfeeding.
And that's the end of the breastfeeding talk on this blog. Talking about it creeps me out.
My midsection is freakishly huge. Week by week I have fewer clothes that can cover it. I think I'm down to 6 shirts, 3 skirts, 2 pairs of pants and maybe 4 dresses. 40 years ago that would be an entire wardrobe, but today it's a dire situation. A crisis. Especially since 1/2 of the clothes make me look like a fat fatty and I hate wearing them. I was complaining to my parents about it and I said that I don't want to buy anymore giant clothes to get through the rest of my pregnancy since I only have 10 weeks left. My dad so kindly pointed out, "Well, it's unlikely that you're going to get any smaller between now and then." True, Dad. Very true.
So I start looking for more clothes that fit. And I come across a few maternity things that I can live with, but wait. What's that? Oh crap it's a really awesome leather jacket on clearance that might fit me again by the time we hit 2011. Should I spend $60 on maternity clothes or $60 on a clearance leather jacket that was $300?? The leather jacket will last me a lot longer than 10 weeks.
And now I own a leather jacket.
These are not the actions of a woman who should be preparing for the eminent arrival of a money sucking baby. The price of daycare alone is enough to give me the vapors. But this is the last time in my life that I don't have to put someone else's needs and wellbeing ahead of my own. I have eighteen years of my child's expenses on the horizon so you damn well better believe I bought the jacket.
Speaking of spending money on stuff I shouldn't...
2011 is shaping up to be a really good year for my photography business. I have seven weddings booked and five more contracts out waiting to be signed. The summer is going to be completely chaotic but having real live money in my pocket for the first time since buying a house is going to be great. We might actually have the funds to replace our crapalicious windows and maybe, just maybe, turn the world's scariest laundry room toilet into an honest to goodness bathroom. Oh how I dream...
I finally hit my groove with weddings. They don't completely terrify me anymore. Stressful, yes. Terrifying, no. My skill level has improved a lot over the last four or five too. The biggest thing I had to teach myself was that I am hired by the wedding couple to do a job. I shouldn't worry about whose way I might be in. I was always so preoccupied with being inconspicuous throughout the whole day that I wasn't getting the best shots. Now, I'm not afraid to walk up to the head table and snap a couple photos during toasts. I'll step out on the dance floor during the first dance and get a nice closeup. I'm certainly more confident with what I'm doing. It's made a huge difference.
My dream is still to be able to book an entire year, maybe 25 weddings, and be able to quit my office job. It's going to be tough but I really love doing this. I think I have the ability to make it within the next couple of years. I would love nothing more than to be able to stay home with my kid during the week and still have an awesome, creative career. And then when my kid is old enough to go to school I can hang out all day in my pajamas drinking coffee.
...Pop me in half and there's a smaller version of me hiding inside.
I'm trying to give up caffeine again and it's killing me. I have had no energy at all. When we were on vacation, I got into the habit of having half a cup of coffee in the morning. Bad idea. All it took was five days and now I'm sufferin. I've had one Diet Coke this week and I feel like a slug. The peak of my patheticness came Wednesday night when I picked up Chinese food after work and we ate dinner in bed. I ate, put my take-out container on the nightstand, rolled over and fell asleep. Seriously. It has not bothered this kid at all though. He's still freaking out like usual. There is a Russian folk dance happening inside my uterus this morning. You know what I'm talking about:
My birthday is next week and I'm going to be 27. By the end of the year I'm going to be 27, married for two years, and someone's mother. When did all this start happening?
It officially feels like summer. It's freaking hot, I feel incredibly lazy, we just went on vacation… We went to Estes Park with a side trip to Denver. Word of advice: when the weather is forecasting the hottest day of the year in Denver, you should believe them and not go to Denver. Hello, 102°. Other than that, vacation was awesome. We saw "Body Worlds: The Original Exhibition WE SWEAR" at the Denver science museum. The exhibit was awesome. (And yes, I know I'm about four years late to the party on this.) My favorite parts were seeing what a smoker's lung really looks like and pointing to all the penises. I may be pregnant but that doesn't mean I have to act like someone's mom all the time.
Back in Estes we did the usual stuff. Visited Rocky Mountain National Park (hooray for me not having a panic attack in the car!), toured The Stanley Hotel and fed wild, voracious animals (squirrels) with our bare hands on top of a mountain. I also experienced what it's like to be pregnant at 7500 feet. My hands and feet swelled up like sausages. I was pretty out of breath when we "hiked" the flat ground around a lake at RMNP. It was awesome. I am so happy to be back in an un-elevated city.
Can I get judgey for a minute? When we were in Estes, we walked by a woman on the sidewalk changing her kid's diaper. But wait. Her family was sitting outside the DQ on the window bench enjoying their ice cream. And right next to them on the same bench, in front of people on the street and other people inside the DQ, this woman was cleaning shit off her baby's butt. There was a public bathroom with a changing table about 30 feet away. WTF is up with that? I also saw a family who believed the Huggies commercial when they said that jean diapers double as pants. WHY DO THOSE THINGS EXIST!?!
So, here we are back in Omaha, finishing up July and my fifth month of gestation. I feel huge, like I look way more pregnant than I really am. I'm about 75% sure that's not really the case but still. It's hard not to feel self-conscious when there's a child hanging off your frontside. One thing getting me though all of this, though? Bravo TV. Bethanny Getting Married? has been my saving grace this summer. No matter how neurotic and overwhelmed I feel, I'm the picture of maternal grace compared to that woman. God love her for it, though. She cracks me up. I'm also really proud of her for making it through a whole lot of delivery without any birth classes or yelling and screaming. She made it though something like 12+ hours of labor with just yoga breathing exercises. Good for her!
I've made a couple baby related purchases lately. There was that stroller I got such a good deal on. I put it together and oh lordy - the thing is huge. HUGE! I could probably fit inside it. I also picked out some orange Flor tiles that were on clearance for $4.99 a square. And then we (mainly I) finally decided on a crib and ordered that. I don't know why I put up such a psychotic fit about buying the absolute perfect crib but I did. And then I ended up buying something pretty unspectacular because it matched the bedroom furniture we already own. Eh, story of my life. Freak out for months over something completely inconsequential and then in the end just give up and buy whatever is most convenient/cheapest.
I've gotten into the habit of checking all these kid and baby deal-a-day websites, even subscribing to some via twitter, and it's ruining my life. More specifically, it's ruining the low balance on my credit card. I was doing really good and I only bought some diapers off of one but then today I lost my shit and I spent $325 on a stroller set. But to my credit it was an amazing deal. It's a fancy stroller and infant carrier that is usually $650. (Yes, people spend that kind of money on little buggies to push their toddlers around in.)
Just last night I was looking at some Vivienne Westwood boots online and I said to myself, "$425 is an insane amount of money to spend on boots, even if they were originally $899." Then, BAMM! I spend $325 on a stroller because it's 50% off. It's still an insane amount of money to be spent on anything really, but at least now I'll be one of the trendy moms with the nice stroller when I go out to Village Pointe.
But damn if I wouldn't be the hottest, trendiest mom ever with my fancy stroller and Vivienne Westwood boots.
Hey there, week 22! I have officially made it to five months. Hallelujah. I can't wait for this kid to be here already. We found out last week that we're having a boy. We weren't at all surprised. It felt like one of those things that we'd always known. But since now we had medical confirmation of our hunch we went and registered for some baby stuff.
OMG everyone... Babies R Us will suck your soul dry. I'm warning you now. Of course I had been to a Toys R Us before, but not a Babies R Us. (Commonly referred to as BRU by moms in the know.) That store is aisle after aisle of pastel colored baby garbage. I turned to Matt and asked, "This stuff is gross. Where's the hipster baby aisle?" After a few minutes of stunned, overwhelmed wandering he finally pointed out that we're registering for things for a baby, not ourselves. The baby isn't going to care what his crib sheets look like. Yes. Point taken. Still though, we registered for the tuxedo bib and the peace sign sleep sack. The baby might not care, but I still have to be the one seen in public with him. I don't want him embarrassing me with his lack of style.
And then we have to deal with the nursery... It started to get cleaned out, then it filled back up with random furniture and junk. So, we've made pretty much no progress on it. Our initial goal was to have it empty and ready for decorating by Memorial Day. Now our goal is 4th of July weekend. And if that doesn't happen, then our next goal is early August when we have a shower at our house.
And if that doesn't happen, my parents will be finishing the nursery while I'm delivering at the hospital.
We had our sushi trial run with friends last night and it was awesome! My expectations weren't too high for our first attempt but it was surprisingly easy.
First up, we had to locate a bunch of Asian cooking items. We were thinking about taking our chances at a regular grocery store but then I found an Asian market literally a few blocks from our house. The market was... an experience? It smelled like poo inside the store and the lady at the front counter was eating food and licking her fingers. I kept repeating to myself, "It's all prepackaged. It's all prepackaged. It's all prepackaged." A few minutes and a few squirts of hand sanitizer later, we were ready to rock. While it was a completely disgusting place to shop, it was worth the trip. We spent $13 and got:
2 packs of seaweed wrappers Rice paper Rice vermicelli noodles Rice vinegar chop sticks 2 sushi rollers
First up, we made shrimp spring rolls.
We made ours with rice noodles, carrots, bean sprouts, cilantro and shrimp. Pile all of your ingredients up and roll the rice paper like a little tiny burrito. I also made a peanut sauce for dipping these. Without the sauce they might have been a little boring but these were one of my favorite things we made.
Next we started the sushi rolls. Sushi rice is really, really sticky. It was strange stuff. Also, you don't realize how much rice goes on a roll until you make it yourself. We used close to a cup of rice for every roll. So word to the wise for everyone: Make lots of rice. Lots. We ended up making a second batch and used over 6 cups of cooked rice. (Hope no one has to weigh in today!)
Here are our first two: shrimp rolls and veggie rolls.
The veggie rolls have spicey mayo (mayo and Sriracha sauce), carrots, avocado, bean sprouts and cilantro. The shrimp rolls have spicey mayo, shrimp, avocado and green onions. I suppose these were *close* to real sushi. They tasted like real sushi anyway.
We also made a shredded BBQ pork and coleslaw roll that was just stupid it was so good. I somehow didn't end up with a picture of that one. I also tried an orange chicken roll but it failed. Matt then one upped me with a chicken bacon roll. I didn't try that one but I hear it was good. I was seriously riced out at the end of the night. I hit my limit. But that doesn't mean there wasn't room for...
Crab rangoon rolls!
Dude. Crab rangoon stuffing, smeared on seaweed, and dipped in tempura batter. And then fried. It was so good. No need to say anymore.
Earlier this year, Matt and I went to California with some friends for a little vacation before the guys went on a tour. We were in the throws of our experimental vegetarian period so a trip to San Francisco and outlying cities was perfect. Everything restaurant had vegetarian items on the menu - and not just "vegetarian" items like spaghetti hold the meatballs. We're talkin real California hippy vegetarian cuisine.
We ended up in Sacramento one night to meet up with a group flying in from Omaha. We were in town so we stopped at Guy Fieri's restaurant, Tex Wasabi. Tex Wasabi is a sushi/BBQ fusion weirdo restaurant. If you've ever watched a show starring Guy Fieri you probably know that the dude is not a fan of vegetarian food. But I thought, it's a sushi joint (kind of) so we should be okay.
I was only kind of wrong.
The thing that Tex Wasabi is known for is it's really strange sushi rolls. Like, BBQ beef and french fries shoved in a roll. Everyone at the table ordered these kinds of rolls and ended up saying it was one of the best meals they had on the trip. I ordered an Asian slaw appetizer thing and a veggie roll. They. Were. Both. Terrible. My only regret from that trip is that I didn't eat meat at that dinner.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when we went to a party and the host made a platter of sushi for everyone. It was kind of late, maybe 11:00, so everyone but me was a wee bit on the drunk side. I sat in front of Keith (host) and watched him make sushi for probably close to an hour. He explained everything to me and made it sound relatively simple. I tried a few bites (Yes, I'm pregnant and I ate 2 bites of raw fish. Someone call social services.) and it tasted better than the run of the mill sushi restaurants dotted here and there all over Omaha. Which isn't saying a whole lot, really. In my opinion there's only one really good sushi place in Omaha that's worth dropping $75 at. Aside from special recipe items that most other places have, it is all the same. And it's all overpriced. But I digress.
The point here is that I got to thinking about my cooking lesson and Tex Wasabi and I'm pretty sure I can do this at home. Matt and I are going to make our own faux sushi dinner Friday night. No raw fish consumption this time though. I'll wait until I'm not pregnant to give myself food poisoning. Here's the proposed menu:
shrimp spring rolls crab rangoon rolls spicy veggie rolls BBQ pork and slaw rolls orange chicken teriyaki rolls
I'm guessing there's going to be a lot of leftovers...
It's been exceptionally nice out lately and I'm itching to spend more time outside. However, our bare concrete patio and rickety deck/lawsuit-in-the-making are less than inviting on a sunny Saturday afternoon. My dissatisfaction with our outdoor living area is only compounded when I find dozens of photos like these in my blog reader:
Don't you want to be wherever it is that patio exists?
Prior to buying our house I couldn't have cared less about finding a home with outdoor living space. But now? After living in this house longer than I've lived anywhere other than my parent's place, I can't stop thinking, What were we thinking buying a house without a covered patio space! What fools we are!
It's so funny that owning a house makes me want to own a better house. It's beyond counterintuitive. Matt and I bust our asses to be able to pay the mortgage every month, but for some reason this house just isn't good enough. I want more. I want a better house with a higher mortgage! I want something in excess of what I need simply because I want it! I'm such a... what's the word... Oh, right. I'm such an American.
Way back in good old 2007, Matt and I were living in a crap hole rental with two other guys. (Only one of the four of us ever cleaned. I'll let you guess who that was.) We ended up engaged and really wanted to put our renting days behind us. We lived in mid-town and had high hopes of staying in the area. Little did we realize that our budget would only afford us a different crap hole if we stayed in the neighborhood. These houses we looked at were bad. The decent looking ones were tiny, and the sizable ones were just all around icky. Since we were already at the top of our budget, there was no money left for renovations if we bought one of the baddies. We found one that we liked that was cheaper than cheap at $95K. It was really cute, but it was parked right next to four shady apartment buildings. Bummer.
(Keep in mind all this was happening about six months prior to the bottom falling out of the housing market. If we'd held off for a year we could have bought a nice house in the neighborhood for less than our budget.)
After about 30 houses we ended up looking at places out of our desired area, gradually easing our way west until we hit 90th street. One day I just happened to see a house posted that was within our budget and that was newly remodeled on the inside. At this point our list of priorities was:
1. Three bedrooms 2. Clean and updated 3. No large brick buildings next door 4. Will we be able to resell it
We bought it and we love it. Not very many people make their first home their "forever home" and we daydream about what we want next time around. The list is extensive. And it keeps getting longer. In the last six months we've gone from family of two to family of three, plus an in-home studio for work. "More than enough space," has been reduced to "Adequate for the next three or four years." It's kind of scary that life is happening this fast.
As if swimsuit shopping wasn't horrible enough already, I have now entered the world of maternity swimwear. And maternity swimwear is hilariously bad. It's either just a basic bikini or a giant spandex monstrosity. You get the option of letting it all hang out (and pray you don't get stretch marks) -or- cover it up with some sort of black old-timey bathing suit like your grandma wore in 1930. You know, because black is slimming when you're packing an extra 35 pounds.
And then I found this:
I am a huge fan of this swimsuit. It's really just a big giant top that looks like a dress with some bikini bottoms hidden underneath, but it covers some key areas of concern for me:
-Won't make me look like I'm 45 -Will cover my tummy -Will cover my non-tannable, chubby "with child" bottom from public view
I just need to order this, do about 10,000 lunges and then I'll be all set for summer.
Week 18 is here. My list of pregnancy complaints has been whittled down to one large and serious complaint:
Three day holiday weekends without booze are boring. (Although the lack of hangovers is kind of nice.)
But on the upside, this last week I discovered a really awesome pregnancy perk. Everyone I know has been telling me how cute I look pregnant! I don't think it's so much a reflection of the way I really look, because I'm dressing myself and doing my hair and makeup the same way I always do. (Which is sloppy and in a constant rush.) I think it's more of a reflection of the way people view pregnant women. Like, "OMG you're not fat and sloppy! You look SO GOOD!"
I went to a small party Friday night and a friend I don't see too often was essentially saying that he thinks it's great that I'm not "letting myself go" during pregnancy. He didn't use those exact words, he's much more tactful than that. But that was the paraphrased version of the compliment. Someone else said that I'm taking a very "European" approach to pregnancy. Chic dresses, heels, going out at night.
WTF are these people talking about?
I'm putting approximately 2% more effort into getting ready everyday. That's it. I'm not following some magical pregnant lady routine to keep myself fresh and cheery while carrying around a fetus. This is essentially the way I always look (minus pants because I can't fit into any of mine), however, never before have I received so many compliments. This leads me to the conclusion that the effort I put into my pre-knockedup appearance is considered subpar for a non-pregnant woman and is thus completely unremarkable.
I'm hoping that the transition from "pregnant" to "new mom" garners me as many compliments. In theory, it should. If the bar is lowered from non-pregnant to pregnant, then it should be lowered to the floor for new moms. If I can slap on some mascara and put on a bra every morning it will hopefully blow peoples' minds into telling me how amazing I look for just having a baby. If all goes well, I can hopefully ride that wave of illusion into age 30, at which point people will be astounded that I'm the mother of a toddler.
Can I keep this going until my child is in high school? Maybe even for the rest of my life?
But what if the reverse happens and my normal sloppy morning routine is now seen as an indication that I completely lost my shit as a mother? Instead of "OMG, SO GOOD!" will I now look like a haggard soccer mom? Crap. I'm going to have to get extensions and start hitting up the MAC counter, aren't I?
I went to the last maternity store in Omaha to look for clothes. And by "last" I mean "second of two." It was a failure. Everything was cute but so expensive. Tank tops were $60 and the cheapest pair of jeans was $105.
But then last night I found where all the cute, affordable maternity clothes are hiding.
I came across the UK clothing website ASOS and wouldn't ya know, they sell maternity clothes. Plus, they have an online clearance outlet with clothes starting at $5! I bought three tops and after shipping only spent $46.
Overstock.com also has some pretty affordable maternity clothes. They have jeans and tops starting at $20. I grabbed a green dress, capris and a pair of jeans that were originally $180! Who on earth besides a Spice Girl would spend $180 on maternity jeans? That's insane.
Assuming everything fits, I think I might be set for the second trimester. Which is a good feeling. I think Matt is getting tired of seeing me in pajama pants and Rolling Stone t-shirts every day.
I feel that as a woman, I'm pretty maternal and caring. I'm looking forward to bath times, bedtime stories, baking, art and crafts... But oh my god, pregnancy kinda sucks. I am officially not a fan. I really can't wait to finish growing this baby and meet who it is and start living our lives together. But I also cannot wait to be able to reclaim my body as my own.
It's week 16, let's recap what's happening in my exciting life:
I am dying for a drink. Beer, margarita, wine, $6 jug of vodka... whatever. I want it.
I am also dying for a runny plate of eggs benedict with a side of sushi.
I tried to buy a cheap pair of "outgrow em in 8 weeks" jeans from a junior's department but failed. I got up to a size 11 and still couldn't get them to button. Teenagers are bastards.
For the life of me I can't stay up late enough to watch an entire episode of Top Chef. Ahem, Top Chef is on at 9:00.
WHY IS MY ASS GETTING SO BIG!
GIVE ME NACHOS! (Oh, that's why...)
I have to get up twice a night to pee.
One night I dreamt that I put my baby in a kitchen cabinet so I could go to work. I came home and it was completely covered in poop and starving. I kind of had an "Oh, riiiiiight," moment where I remembered that you can't store your baby in the kitchen while you work.
But on the plus side...
There is a teeny tiny person living inside of me and I can feel it moving around! And I get to find out the sex some time in the next four weeks. So it's not all bad, despite the complaining.
I am a money panic worry freak spaz. Money, bills and budgeting scares the shit out of me. I worry about it constantly and I'm not even sure why. We pay all our bills every month. I have some money in a savings account. Our credit card balance is pretty low. Yet, I break into a cold sweat every month when I have to pay bills.
In 2009 we paid off a loan Matt had out and at the end of 2010 our credit cards will be paid off. In all respects we're better off financially now than we've since we got married. We have money to eat out once a week and money to take trips to Target, so we're certainly not struggling. But I don't feel that we have that financial cushion beneath us that we should have at this point. (And by "this point" I mean "FUUUUUCK I'M 4 MONTHS PREGNANT!!!") We don't end up with an extra $200 or $300 in our checking accounts at the end of each month. But does anyone really?
We're pretty sure that 2011 is going to be better financially, yet again. Matt is probably going to get booked more with his show and might be hired on as a bass player for a second touring show. I already have a handful of weddings booked next Spring guaranteeing me a second income for part of the year. Pretty much all of the money I made off of photography this year went back into the business to pay off my gear. Next year I don't foresee any big expenses like that so hopefully I'll be able to make actual income off my weddings. Realistically, I shouldn't be panicking about this stuff. I can't stop myself from it though. It's compulsive and I'm guessing hereditary. This family is chalk full of folks with stress disorders.
I keep looking ahead to having a baby and it seriously scares the financial shit out of me. I'm incredibly lucky to work for a company that has a pediatric health division so all pediatric care is free for my child if I use company doctors. Which I fully intend to. Okay, deep breath there. That makes me feel a little better. Formula is super expensive so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my already giant boobs will serve their purpose (not the purpose of being there for my husband to stare at) for a few months and willfully feed my baby. Another deep breath right there.
Then there's the mountain of diapers that we're going to have to buy. There's no way that I know of to stop your kid from peeing and pooping so diapers are a nonnegotiable. I broached the topic of cloth diapers to Matt as a means to save money but he wasn't having it. Plus, I don't understand the mechanics behind (1) how they don't leak everywhere and (2) how you wash them without getting fecal reside inside your washing machine and (3) what you do when your kid poops in a public place. I mean seriously, you're supposed to put the poopy diaper inside a baggie and carry it around until you get home? Is that a joke? So, maybe $100 a month for diapers. Not the end of the world.
That leaves daycare to figure out. If bookings go well for Matt he could potentially quit his 8-5 job and just tour one or two weeks a month. Instead of full-time daycare we would have to find part-time daycare which is likely even more expensive if that makes any sense. I don't even know how to FIND part-time daycare. I'm guessing it's going to run at least $200 a week for an infant though. $200 a week to feed and change a lump of baby that doesn't move. Does it make sense? No. Do I still have to pay for it? Yes.
It all boils down to one of the biggest stressors I feel, which is not having enough in savings. I wish I could turn back time and live at home for my first year post college and save that $20,000 salary. It would feel so amazing to have a large sum of money like that in savings, just sitting there. I think that would alleviate a lot of my fears regarding unexpected expenses and emergencies.
I guess the bottom line is that I worry about money. All. The. Time. When perhaps I shouldn't. We survived a job loss, a pay cut, 2 busted wheels and 5 new tires, and a vacation to California and came out the other side without any problems. I'm sure we will be just fine.
Our bathroom sink drain is always backing up. Usually one of us will buy a jug of Draino and get the job done. I'm a little afraid of Draino these days though. I'd rather not breathe in whatever harmful baby poison that crap is made of. So, I made some myself. And it worked!!!
Dump 1/2 a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by 1/2 a cup of white vinegar. Once the vinegar is done fizzing, follow it up with hot water. It dissolves the soap buildup and (in my case) released the giant hair clog that was caught in the soap and pushed it up and out of the drain. It was... gross. But now I have a clear drain. And I didn't poison myself in the process.
I don't think this will work on completely clogged drains, but it apparently works great as a preventative drain cleaner.
Welcome to pregnancy, week 15. It is much like pregnancy weeks 12-14, but with a slightly bigger ass. My weight hasn't really changed since I was 18. Sure, there was that period freshman year of college where Smirnoff Ice and Runza took it's temporary toll, but other than that I haven't gained this much weight... ever.
Yes, I'm pregnant. Yes, this is supposed to be happening. But my god it is bizarre. I think I've gained somewhere between 6 and 8 pounds so far. (I didn't have a scale pre-pregnancy so I'm just guessing based on what I *think* I weighed before.) According to baby charts that's pretty on track with what I should be gaining... but it's still weird. I put on an old pair of jeans and a tee yesterday for lunch with my husband's family and I looked like a sausage about to burst from it's casing.
Jeans are officially sidelined for the time being.
The strangest thing about pregnancy weight-gain is (obviously) that it's not evenly dispersed. It all piles up in certain areas. The butt is a little bigger, the tummy is bulging, and the boobs have no place left to go.
Obvious statement of the year: Pregnancy makes you feel so round!
In other news, we had some bedroom furniture delivered this weekend and the bedroom looks so fucking nice now! It looks like mature, responsible adults live in it. Unfortunately though, the nursery is still an office, and the studio is still a room full of crap. Those rooms are a package deal though. They both need to be emptied and rearranged at the same time. And that time was not this past weekend. Hopefully we can manage to get it done this week because my studio gear is being delivered today and I can't wait to get it set up and find some babies to photograph!
I'm trying to make some effort to be a little greener around the house. I do some small things like buying CFLs for open fixtures. I placed a big bowl of dish towels on the counter to reach for before the paper towels. This really works by the way. We've cut down immensely on the number of paper towels we use in the house. I bought some Mrs. Meyers last time I needed cleaning supplies. (I know it's better to just make my own but I like the fancy stuff that comes in the pretty packaging. And I'm lazy.)
I know that my efforts aren't noble and I'm certainly not saving the planet single handedly, but even the little gestures count, right? Right. Which is why this product completely blows my mind: Kleenex Hand Towels.
Is Kleenex really advocating that we use paper towel dispensers in our homes? I find that so... against the grain, even for a company that only makes disposable products. It wreaks of an attempt to grab attention and a slipping market away from the green alternatives that are popping up everywhere. Couldn't they have come up with something a little more clever and useful than a paper towel dispenser?
Finding clothes to wear is becoming an everyday challenge. My pants do not button so I'm rockin a belly band. My skirts all make my growing ass look a little too bodacious. Most of my dresses require that I have a waistline. My regular tees are now belly tees (and not the sexy kind of belly tees either).
I've only bought a few new things so far. A couple cheapo tops and then a nice Anthro dress and some Gap boyfriend jeans that are a size too big. The dress is awesome because it has an extra little V of fabric in the front that expands and the jeans are awesome because they're jeans and they button. I had them on last weekend with a pair of fancy heels, a ruffled tank and a long pearl necklace and the only thing I could think about while looking at my outfit was the Sex and the City movie. Then I went and changed. But my point is that both the dress and the jeans will still be nice to have once I'm done gestating this kid, therefore I didn't worry about spending money on them.
But that brings me to my major beef with maternity stores. They're way overpriced and a lot of the stuff they sell is... not in good taste. (Someone please fucking shoot me.) A Pea in the Pod has nice stuff, but if I wasn't going to pay $279 for a pair or jeans before, I'm sure as hell not going to now. So I thought to myself, where do the broke chicks on 16 and Pregnant shop for maternity clothes? Ahh, Forever 21! They have good stuff there! I checked it out online and where better to buy tunics and big butt skirts I'll never want to look at again after October? I can get an entire 2nd trimester wardrobe from that store for like $99!
I'm going out of order here, but you know what else is really funny about 16 and Pregnant other than the entire concept of that show? The fact that these girls claim to their baby daddies that they couldn't work for nine months because they were pregnant. Really? Are you serious? You couldn't stand behind a McDonald's counter for the last nine months because OMG you were pregnant and couldn't remain vertical for three hours after school? Whatever. If there's anything positive to say about teen pregnancy it's that those girls' bodies are prime for carrying babies. I doubt a lot of them really have issues with being able to work typical teenage jobs. Plus none of them get that fat and then they're all hot again six weeks postpartum.
I had a bit of a nesting freak out this past weekend.
I think I turned the corner into the second trimester. My morning sickness is gone. (Hooray for not wanting to die every day!) I'm not nearly as tired as I was at the beginning. And what I think can be described as "nesting" is in full force. But maybe after you see these pictures of my secret bedrooms you'll just think that I finally snapped and couldn't stand living in a hoarder house anymore.
There are two rooms in our house that are off limits to anyone besides me and my husband... for very good reason. Behold, my office and the spare bedroom:
This is the reality of our home. Even Ringo is disappointed with us!
The office needed to be cleaned out for the baby's room, and the spare needed to be cleaned out for my new studio/workspace. We're having new bedroom furniture delivered on May 8th (for us not the baby - we're selfish like that) so the goal is to have all the rooms cleaned out and in order by that time. Then, we'll have a space to start stocking up the baby's stuff and I'll have my little studio in order for Spring and Summer baby sessions.
So, whether you call it nesting or just cleaning, I went to work. I cannot stand junk and nicknacks and stacks of papers. They drive me insane. I had to purge, purge, purge our house. We have three full trash cans and an enormous pile of Goodwill stuff in the garage. I'm not completely done yet, maybe about 80% of the way there. Those rooms look so much better than they do in the photos above though.
The best part of all though, is that I feel so much lighter. It's amazing how physical crap can weigh you down like that! I dream of having a well organized and spacious home. I want to make the most of the space we have available and I wasn't doing that by allowing a decade's worth of garbage to fill up our spare living space. I don't want to be ashamed to let people see my office! I don't want to be ashamed to let a guest open my coat closet! I want serenity and a light, airy home. Until we have the baby at least.
Is $798 too much to pay for a silver pleather headboard? Or perhaps a better question would be, is any amount of money too much for a silver pleather headboard? Because I think it's priceless.
I'm beginning to have a bit of an issue with the fact that I'm going to buy a $400 crib for my baby yet Matt and I, two grown adults, have never invested in a bed for ourselves. Sure, we have a mattress set but it's currently sitting on a $30 metal bed frame. And even that is an upgrade from my mattress-on-the-floor single living situation.
Mattress on the floor = A safer distance to fall when you're drunk
But is a nice bed really something we need? Or is it like the Kindle, 40 inch TV and patio loungers? Completely unnecessary but brings me expensively acquired joy. It just feels like something we should have. Parents sleep on real beds. They don't sleep on dorm furniture. Unless they're actually in college. In which case, good luck with that.
While I decide what I want to eat for lunch (Pepperjax is in the lead), here are some links to things that I'm lusting over today.
An Italian Grilled Cheese Sandwich from Tasty Kitchen. I think this might be my dinner. I'm all about sandwiches right now. I eat at least one a day, sometimes three. Give me a break, they're small. I like to eat cold chicken and turkey on dinner rolls. It reminds me of Thanksgiving leftovers.
Apartment Therapy - Fitting a Home Office in Your Small Space. I'm especially loving the first one with the desk in the closet. Matt and I are facing the task of cleaning out a lot of crap in our house to make room for another person. I love cute, easily DIY ideas like tucking an office into a closet. I could definitely reduce my entire office to a couple shelves, a filing cabinet and my Mac - leaving lots of play room for this child that I will eventually give birth to.
And I'm IN LOVE with these two Victor dressers from Hayneedle. But at $1000+ they'll probably stay in the "lust" not "own" department of my life. Especially since, OH RIGHT, I'm having a baby and babies are expensive. Right, right. I keep forgetting that. I can't spend that $1000 on a dresser because I need that money to buy lots of diapers for my kid to poop in.
Pregnant Christine and Non-meat Eating Christine could not exist together in one body. I caved into meat (specifically bacon) around week six into the baby growing process.
What started out as a 4 week experiment turned into a 128 day lifestyle challenge. And it was going great.
Until the "morning" sickness hit.
During week four I was feeling great, tempting fate, and believing that superior baby-carrying genes from my mother (a woman who should teach classes on being a Midwestern super mom) made me impervious to morning sickness. In fact, I didn't totally believe in morning sickness. I started to think it was some crazy rumor that women perpetuated for access to unlimited spousal sympathy and ungodly amounts of ice cream. But oh, how I was mistaken.
Before getting knocked up my meal favorites were always beans, green things and eggs. Matt was out of town so I went to the grocery store and stocked up on all my favorites. YUMMY! About two days after buying it all, my hormones lurched into overdrive and even opening the fridge made me gag. LITERALLY. The smell of leafy greens is, at this point in my life, the worst smell in the world. I had bags of lettuce, celery, spinach, spinach dip and spinach wraps. Opening the fridge released it all into the kitchen and made me want to barf. And lets not talk about the beans and eggs. My throat closes up at the thought of it all.
It all went into the trash, untouched. There was no time to feel guilty over throwing out all that fresh, perfectly fine food. It. Needed. To. Go.
In the meantime, I couldn't stop thinking about fried chicken. None of this was looking good for the non-meaty challenge. For a week all I ate was some combination of cheese and carbs.
Mac and cheese Cheese bread Cheese quesadilla Cheese pizza
Meat needed to come back. I neeeeeeeeeded it. I completely understand that it is possible for ladies to have wonderful, healthy pregnancies on vegetarian diets. But I'm not one of those ladies. I needed bacon, chicken and hotdogs. And now that I'm eating it again I feel like I'm having an easier time balancing my meals. Not having those gag-inducing items at the center of my plate makes it easier to stomach them. I still have a major issue with leafy green things but I'm finding other vegetables that I can stand.
I still think that animal production is bad the the environment and bad for our health. I still think the way meat is processed is alarming and disgusting. I feel bad about eating it, but I'm eating it. You can judge accordingly.
It has been FOREVER since I wrote on here for one very specific reason. The one and only complete thought that I have been capable of mustering for the past month is: Holy hell, I'm pregnant. But I wasn't sure if I wanted to blog about it. I am becoming less and less a fan of blogging. I love other people's blogs, I'm just tired of my own. Plus, after almost two years of doing this I'm not famous yet, so really, what's the point of continuing?
I decided though that I might as well write about it. If nothing else, it gives me an outlet where people can voluntarily read about the ongoing state of my uterus. I have an issue with posting constant ute updates on Facebook. No one cares. No one. I'm a pregnant woman and I don't even care about other random preggos' fetus updates. If I'm not a prime audience for that, then who is? I like the idea of putting it all in one place where people can see it, or not. Their choice.
So far I think my pregnancy is pretty typical. I've had a couple doctor's appointments so far and it all looks normal. The fetus was a grey blob last time I saw it, roughly the shape of a kidney bean. It had a flickering little heartbeat. Weird. I don't like calling it a baby yet. Because it's not. It's a kidney bean with a heartbeat, not a baby. We've nicknamed it Huckleberry Hound or sometimes just Hound for short. Much like the way we refer to the dog. (I already feel bad for the ways we are going to mentally damage this child.) We tell Ringo, "There's a new hound on the way, better get used to it." But I don't think he fully grasps the baby concept yet. What did I really expect from a creature who eats his own poop for snacks?
So far this process is at once extremely exciting and extremely terrifying. The pregnancy was a little, shall we say... unexpected. Turns out when you're drunk and you tell your husband, "I'm 99.9% sure I'm not going to get pregnant on this particular day, so go ahead and hit it without a condom," it is very unlikely that he will argue with you. And P.S. you can be very wrong about those odds.
Matt and I have been on a movie binge the last couple of weeks. Chalk it up to the weather, being completely bored, and completely tired of going out and spending money. We have watched:
(500) Days of Summer Paranormal Activity It Might Get Loud Dexter Season 1 (about half way through) March of the Penguins Pan's Labyrinth
I would recommend all of the above, except maybe Paranormal Activity. It's a great movie if you love being so creeped out by your house that you force your husband to stand outside the bathroom door while you pee. But if that's not your style, I would suggest skipping it.
(500) Days of Summer is definitely one of my new favorite movies. Can we talk for a minute about how adorable Zooey Deschanel is? She is my style crush. Her wardrobes are worth committing crimes for. The blue coat she wore in Yes Man was ahhhhmazing.
I wish I could have a focused sense of style like that. Jen and I were discussing the topic a couple of weeks ago. Most days I struggle to make it out of the house on time and I don't think about what I'm wearing. I also work in the basement of an office building with 40 IT guys, so I don't think any effort I make would be noticed. (Some chick from upstairs did call me "The Girl With The Cute Hair" one day so that made me feel good especially considering I'm seven weeks out from my last hair cut and dye job.)
But back to the movies... after looking at coats, everyone should go look up It Might Get Loud. Great movie. Technically, it's a documentary. But please, don't let that scare you.
This was easy and cheap. I used a $2 straw wreath from Hobby Lobby (shrink wrap still on) and wrapped it up with some houndtooth Christmas ribbon. I hot-glued on some Princess Lasertron inspired felt flowers, hung up with a piece of thin ribbon, and bam! A wreath! I already had the stuff for flowers so I think I invested a total of $6 into this project.
I love buying books. But after a while it starts to be a problem...
Both of my book cases are full and I don't exactly have room for a third.
Books are your friend until you need to move. I've moved my books to three different homes and the thought of moving them again in the future is terrifying. Last time they took up an entire car load on their own.
Some of them I bought in high school when my tastes in literature were a little... experimental.
I tell myself that I'll read them more than once but in 10 years I've never found the time to reread anything.
I want a Kindle but they're expensive. Selling books is a good way to fund one. :) Have you seen these things? I was soooo against them until about a week ago. I thought that digital books were a sin. But then I saw my sister-in-law's and I fell in love with it. The screen doesn't look like a regular screen. The "pages" look like scanned in book pages so they're easy on the eyes. There's also no glare on them.
Matt and I did the same thing with our CD collections a couple years ago. We saved our favorites then dumped everything into iTunes and sold the discs to Homer's. It was such a good decision. Getting rid of such a huge pile of stuff is freeing. I'm very anti-stuff these days. I like to decorate and furnish my home, but the collections and closets and drawers full of junk is so annoying. Purge! Purge I say!
A couple of weeks ago I visited California with Matt and some friends/family. We also visited 1600 miles of I-80 along the way. Holy. Hell. Four of the five people I went out there with are in a show that was touring California, thus the reason for the trip. And thus the reason for driving.
Have I ever mentioned that I get car sick? Because I do. Right around hour 16 I thought I was going to lose my mind. I didn't take friends' advice and get a motion sick arm band thingy before we left. It turned out to be a big mistake. Driving through the mountains was incredible though, despite the head spinning and gut churning. It is so very beautiful. The complete opposite of what I see on a daily basis at home in Nebraska.
Our first stop in California was San Francisco. We did a lot of the usual stuff. We ate at Taqueria La Cumbre, home of the Mission style burrito. I gorged myself on seafood. I drank so much coffee I returned home with my caffeine addiction at Threat Level: Orange.
We visited Haight-Ashbury, which was a less than wise decision. There are some really great stores in that neighborhood. I found an awesome t-shirt boutique, Loyal Army, where I bought several things. I also had my husband buy me a ridiculously overpriced belated Christmas present. Everybody, I'd like to introduce you to my Orla Kiely purse. Orla Kiely purse, this is everybody.
It rained a lot which sort of sucked. Considering it was -27° in Omaha the week before we left, a little rain was tolerable.
We also decided to go out to Alcatraz. So, after two days in a car, then two days of driving around a freakin hilly city in the back of a Tahoe, I got on a boat. I have never in my life put so much effort into not puking. I was looking at some pictures I took from the ferry and just thinking about it again made me nauseous.
But it was pretty once we got there.
I'll continue the post tomorrow... Too much bloggy for one day.
Some friends and I were baking around the holidays, got a little high off the sugar, and started using a cookie press to ice cupcakes. It started out as a joke... but got picked up by Cupcakes Take the Cake.
Also, some of my wedding photos got picked up over at Bride Tide. Apparently, I was on to something with the plaid wedding dress. Who would have known? I'd like to take credit for being a trendy bride, but really my dress designer found the fabric on the clearance table for $2 a yard. We both liked it and went for it since she needed a bazillion yards to make the skirt.
I took a class at Whole Foods about "vegetarian cooking for the former meat-lover." It was fun and informative. And full of serious protein which may or may not be a good thing, depending on how you look at it.
I learned how to cook seitan. Seitan is basically pure wheat gluten. You wash a hank of flour dough until all the starch disappears and you're left with a hunk of gluten. Yummy, no? We made mock Asian BBQ beef. It was really, really good. Seitan is a pretty convincing faux meat. But easy does it - all that protein, remember?
I also learned pointers on cooking tofu. Tofu in restaurants is always good but at home I've never been able to make it taste good. Because I was cooking it wrong, come to find out. If you're going to fry it or sauté it or marinate it you first need to soak out all the excess water. Sort of like eggplant. (Something else that never tastes good at home.)
The third main dish we made was a little... different. We made meatloaf out of lentils. I love meatloaf but I did not love the "meatloaf" we made in the class. I understand the basic concept behind making it and I think I could come up with my own recipe for it.
All in all, it was extremely informative and well worth the $25 registration fee. I would recommend it to anyone, not just folks who don't eat meat.
Warning: There's a little bit of a high horse in this post. And I am up on it.
A very wonderful friend gave me the photography book Annie Leibovitz: American Music for Christmas and it is probably my most favorite gift I received this year. (I feel like a jerk though because she was like, "Hey here's your incredibly thoughtful Christmas gift - a book of photography by one of your all time favorite artists," and I was all, "Thanks, I bought you a small purse because I know you like small purses.")
So, I love this book. I practically cry over it. I study it. I carry it around the house with me and flip through it when I have spare minutes. It's ridiculous. I'm so in love.
I read a lot of photography blogs and forums. I've bookmarked things that are inspiring, different, simply freaking amazing. Lots of things that make me go, "HOW THE HELL DO THEY DO THAT!!!" Then there are a few forums that discuss some topics relevant to new photographers. A lot of it is informative, but some of it is not. And it's not only not informative, but it's unhelpful to the point of being downright destructive. I think we're all aware that people aren't particularly nice on the internet when they're shrouded behind the veil of anonymous commenting. Under the ruse of "constructive criticism" people can be harsh. Frequently, these forums all start to elicit a specific aesthetic and work not fitting the aesthetic gets commented on rather unfairly. I don't really understand the point of that. Dozens of people who want to stand out yet want their work to look like everyone else's?
While flipping through my book, you know what I noticed? A lot of the photos in the book aren't really "technically perfect" by the standards that some of these forums uphold in their criticisms. The focus isn't always on the eyes, the backgrounds are messy, the faces are underexposed... I mean, dozens and dozens of these photographers in forums are so worried about OMG TECHNICAL JARGON DON'T SHOOT IN AUTO OR YOU WILL DIE that I think they're missing the point. Is your photo engaging? Is it beautiful? Do the people who matter, like it? Okay, then who gives a fuck if it's 100% technically dead on.
Great artists and respected innovators don't draw the attention of the masses by following the rules. They don't accomplish something groundbreaking by fear of doing something wrong. You get what I'm saying?
If a photographer is constantly worried about the opinions of 120 other photographers, how will they ever develop a style and vision that is truly their own? You don't get anywhere in life by wanting to impress people. That's just vanity and vanity is hardly ever motivation enough.
I read an article once about exercise that pertains to this line of thought. A personal trainer said that people always come to him and say that they want the body of a dancer. And he tells them that dancers look like that because they're really dancers. They devote their lives to a craft and their physical condition is a result of that. They didn't wake up one day thinking, "I want a hot body. I should become a dancer." They're just dancers, that's who they are.
I feel that way about what I'm doing. I didn't set out with the thought that I want my photos to look like a professional's photos. I thought, "I want to be a professional photographer." There's a distinction. Maybe I didn't convey it clearly in text but hopefully you understand what I'm saying. Wanting something that someone else has isn't going to get it for you. You have to get past the vanity or the envy or the greed and really find your motivation as to why you want to accomplish something for yourself and no one else. I want to work, I want to grow, I want to make mistakes in this life. I'm willing to put in the work because my soul is telling me there's no other option for me. This is it. I need to have it.
I think Ms. Leibovitz felt that way too. She must have because you can feel it in the photos. (She must have felt like she needed a LOT of things because I think she's bankrupt right now despite earning millions. Ooops.)
Goal #4 - Unsubscribe to all the crap emails I get.
I think I have successfully given the old heave-ho to about 90% of my junk email. I used to wake up with 20 new emails every morning but lately I've only been getting about two.
I obviously started with the easiest goal on the list, but hey. Still counts. I have to work my way up to some of the bigger ones.
Today was my first workday of 2010 and it did not start off on a good note. My car wouldn't start. Then there was a flipped truck blocking the on-ramp to the express way. I was 30 minutes late. Matt was 45. I'm convinced that I somehow pulled a muscle in my sternum while shoveling. Either that or I'm dying of extreme heartburn.
Oh ya, the snow. Let's not forget to mention the most recent snow fall. I'm seriously running out of space to pile up the snow. It's about four feet deep all the way around the driveway and lining the sidewalks. I thought I was just being a pussy complaining about all the snow but it turns out that we're currently buried under more snow than we've had in 60 years. Way to go, Nebraska. Every morning Matt and I wake up, take a look outside, turn to each other and say, "Why are we still living here?" I am greatly looking forward to an upcoming trip to California. I am going to hug the ground when I see it. I haven't seen mine in 6 weeks.
And just so you don't think this is a complete Negative Nelly post, I did rock my weekend by watching Lord of the Rings parts one and two. Best seven hours of my Sunday. Part three is waiting for me on the DVR. I am so in love with those movies. And as if that wasn't enough, I also watched the newest Harry Potter on bluray bitches! It was pretty great. I swear.