Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 in Review

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before? Birthed a child. Had major surgery in order to birth said child. Nursed said child. Fell head over heels in love with said child. Went to Cincinnati, and promptly wanted to move there. Took a Zumba class. Cooked new foods like quinoa and bulghur.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I don't really think I made any last year. For 2012 I think I'll go on record to say I'd like to be a better friend. I don't think it always comes naturally to me, so I need to try harder. I'd also like to make more friends. Maybe more mommy friends for play dates. And losing this baby belly pooch would be pretty awesome too, but I'm not going to aim too high.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Me! And a friend had a baby boy a few weeks after me.

4. Did anyone close to you die? Jeff's grandfather died in early March.

5. What countries did you visit? I think it will be a long time before I'm visiting any foreign countries.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011? More caffeine! I gave up coffee because it seemed to be affecting Mia's sleep, and I miss it so. This spring, when I finish breastfeeding, I am going to be an incredibly caffeinated woman!

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? March 28th - Mia's birthday. Every other date pales in comparison.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Aside from carrying, birthing and keeping Mia alive, I would say it was breastfeeding. It was so hard for us at first. I thought about quitting many times, but I'm so so glad I didn't.

9. What was your biggest failure? Not making sure Mia took a bottle. It's not so bad now that she only nurses 4 times a day, but it sure would have meant a lot more freedom a few months ago.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Injury in the sense that I had a c-section, and it really fucking hurt. I did not heal as well or as quickly as I would have liked. I was essentially bed ridden for about 2 weeks, and in quite a bit of pain for 6 weeks.

11. What was the best thing you bought? A new car to replace Jeff's 11 year-old Nissan. I was the one driving it at the end and Lord, was I embarrassed by it. It sounded like a diesel truck, the power windows and locks were broken, it made a loud knocking sound with every sharp left turn etc, etc, etc. Second best thing we bought was a new washer and dryer to replace those that I believe may have been original to our house. Which was built in 1954.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Jeff's. During the 2 weeks after Mia was born he had to take care of all 3 of us, and he just... DID IT. I don't think I changed a single diaper for the first several days. In the hospital while he brushed and blow dried my hair for me, and I thought, "This is love."

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Jerry Sandusky & Bernie Fine

14. Where did most of your money go? The mortgage.

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

16. What song will always remind you of 2011? probably Adele - Someone Like You or Chris Brown - Look at Me Now or Florence & The Machine's Dog Days Are Done. We listened to those songs a lot in our house.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? Happier! Oh so happy.
b) thinner or fatter? Thinner.
c) richer or poorer? Richer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? The only thing I can think to say is "sleep," but what difference would it make to me now if I had slept more? Maybe I wish I'd exercised more?

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? I guess I wish I'd nagged less.

20. How did you spend Christmas? In Buffalo with Jeff's family.

21. Did you fall in love in 2011? I fell so in love with my girl, and so much more in love with her amazing dad.

22. What was your favorite TV program? Probably The Good Wife. It's the one I am most excited to watch every week, and one of the few that Jeff and I both enjoy. But, let's be honest, I'm also excited when there's a new episode of The Real Housewives of Wherever in my DVR. And Top Chef, I love Top Chef.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? No, can't say that I do.

24. What was the best book you read? I burned through The Hunger Games series. I also loved Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones. And Bossypants was hilarious.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? I knew of Adele before this year, but her music had never moved me the way her new album has.

26. What did you want and get? A healthy, fiesty little girl.

27. What did you want and not get? I wanted my stomach to magically shrink back to how it looked when I was 16 and for my stretch marks to disappear overnight. I'm still waiting.

28. What was your favorite film of this year? I think I watched like 3 movies this whole year. We cancelled out Netflix account because we were basically donating $15 dollars to them every month, and we haven't seen a movie in the theaters all year.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 29. We went out to dinner at my favorite Italian restaurant. Then the following weekend my family came, and we had cupcakes and Thai food.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Hmm... Maybe if Mia had slept through the night from day one? It's been pretty damn satisfying other than the lack of sleep.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011? Yoga pants, sweat pants, and pajama pants, all covered in spit up.

32. What kept you sane? Jeff.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Josh Charles

34. What political issue stirred you the most? The legalization of gay marriage in New York state. (Stirred in a good way)

35. Who did you miss? I miss my family so so so much. They aren't that far away (and obviously I saw them tons this year), but I yearn to live close to them. I daydream of living so close that we could just pop over for a random weeknight dinner or have my mom babysit anytime we want. Someday?

36. Who was the best new person you met? Mia.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011. I learned that I am a lot stronger and a lot more patient than I thought I was.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
I can't come up with one, and I don't feel like putting off posting this until I do.

Monday, December 19, 2011

On Having One's Head up One's Own Ass

Forgive me for being crass, but is anyone else's husband's head lodged up their own rectum like mine is?

The other night he came home from work late where I was sitting on the couch with a glass of wine watching House Hunters. It was the last part of the show where they reveal which house the people chose, and there's really no point in watching the show unless you get to see those last 4 minutes. Jeff sits down and says, "Is there anything to watch? Anything DVRed? Was there a new episode of -" Um, I am sitting here actively WATCHING something. THIS is what's on. Just because you worked late doesn't mean I sit here in silence with the TV off waiting for you to come home to begin having any fun.

Then later I got in bed while he was in the bathroom brushing his teeth, washing his face, resolving the national debt (I don't know what he does in there for so long). He comes in to the bedroom where I've got the covers pulled up to my head. I yawn and say "I'm so tired," when he decides now would be a good time to launch into a story about work. One of those stories where he has to explain each character and each technical term he's using "You know, Dave? The one I told you about yesterday with the thing and the stuff. You know! Dave! He's tall and -". No, I don't know Dave, and unless Dave has just died and left his millions to you, this story can wait until tomorrow. I'm going to sleep. He said "well, your light was on." Yes, I left the light on so that you wouldn't have to blindly stumble to bed in the dark. Wasn't that nice of me?

Why do men seem to have such a hard time reading pretty blatant social clues sometimes? I remember thinking that all the time in college. When a guy would like me and I wouldn't want to hurt his feelings, so I'd just ignore him (uh, because THAT never hurts anyone's feelings), but he would just KEEP at it... But come to think of it, I kind of did that with Jeff, and look where that got him, so this point is clearly going nowhere.

But then I remembered why I put up with it this morning while watching the news about someone who was trapped in an elevator for 41 hours.

Me: 41 hours?!??

Him: That's like your dream come true. You'd come out of there after 41 hours the most well-rested woman in the world. People would be asking "How did you stay in there for 41 hours?" and you'd say "How did you stay out HERE for 41 hours?"

Me: True. I'd probably be passed out in the floor after 5 minutes.

He knows me too well. Sometimes solitary confinement sounds like heaven.

Friday, December 16, 2011

What's Cookin': Holiday Treats

Here is where I am about to publish a super secret family recipe (it's not really secret, I'm pretty sure it's just that no one has ever asked). Every Christmas my family makes chocolate covered cherries. These are not your gross, goopy boxed cherry cordials from Rite-Aid. And they are not the maraschino cherries just dipped in melted chocolate some lazy people like to pass off as chocolate covered cherries (I mean, I guess those ARE technically chocolate covered cherries too, they're just not really worth putting in your mouth after you've had these). These are the real deal. They are out of this world, and probably 3000 calories just for one little bite, but that's how every good holiday treat should be, right?

Chocolate Covered Cherries

2 16 oz. jars of maraschino cherries with stems

For the filling:
1/3 c. butter, softened
7 1/2 oz. jar of Marshmallow Fluff
3 - 3 1/2 c. powdered sugar

For the chocolate coating:
2 - 3 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 T. shortening

Cream the butter in an electric mixer. Add in Fluff and beat until combined. Gradually add in powdered sugar until the dough is stiff and sticky. You may have to hand knead it to get all the sugar integrated into the dough. Refrigerate 1 hour.

Drain cherries. I set up two cookie sheets covered with wax paper to put the cherries on after they are covered. Break off small balls of dough, flatten with fingers and wrap around cherry. You may want to dip your fingers in powdered sugar between cherries if the dough starts to get too sticky to work with.

Once I've filled a cookie sheet I'll pop it in the fridge to keep the dough stiff. If it gets too warm it will fall right off the cherries when you go to dip them in the chocolate.

Melt the chocolate and shortening in a double boiler over simmering water. Coat cherries in chocolate. I use a big spoon, take a scoop of melted chocolate, then roll the cherry around in it and repeat. (I couldn't get a picture of this because it takes two hands and Jeff was at work).

Pop back in the refrigerator until the chocolate is hardened. Then blow co-workers and neighbors away with your talent in the kitchen. (Keep refrigerated).

Secondly: Spinach Artichoke Dip or The Best Damn Dip in All the Land. Seriously, this dip is crack. My family asks me to make it for every occasion. Lord, I can't even express how good it is.

The recipe is here. It is from Cooking Light, but I doubt it is really all that light. I mean, there are 2 bricks of cream cheese in it. I don't care if one of them is 1/3 less fat, that can't be good for you. The only modifications I make are that I use the whole package of spinach, not half, mainly because I didn't catch that part the first time I made it and dumped the whole thing in, and it worked, so I just do that every time. And I mix all the cheese in with the dip. I don't save any to sprinkle on top, because I found that it just makes an impenetrable layer on top that breaks your chips and crackers. No one wants that.

I also did some baking this week. I made this Eggnog Pound Cake, which was easy and good and used up the rest of a quart of egg nog I had tempting me from the fridge.

Then I made these Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies which I thought would be a party in my mouth, but they were a bit bitter, even for me, someone who loves dark chocolate. If I were going to make them again I would still use the bittersweet melted chocolate in the dough, but I think I'd use semi-sweet chips for that extra 1/2 c. that gets added at the end.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Craftiness

I like DIY home improvement projects, but I don't really think of myself as particularly crafty. The idea of scrapbooking or making my own Christmas ornaments or anything small scale like that appeals to my DIY/artistic side, but when I get right down to it, it's not for me. I run out of patience and the craft never comes out looking like it should. It always ends up looking like a kindergartner with unmedicated ADD did it.

I bought Christmas stockings for myself and Jeff a few years ago with our initials on them, but when I went back to buy another one, they no longer had the same ones. I really wanted them all to be the same, and I like fairly plain stockings, no animals or angels or glitter. Of course I couldn't find anything like that. So I came across this picture on pinterest (which came from Cottage Instincts)(Gah, that mantel is gorgeous!) and I thought, duh, I could make my own personalized stockings with some cheap plain stockings and some wooden letters.

So I did.

Cheap plain stockings, which ended up not being that cheap,
because I really wanted white or beige and apparently that's unheard of!

Not-so-cheap plain stockings with wooden letter (both from JoAnn Fabrics) which I spray painted silver

I decided to just glue the letters on with hot glue because figuring out a way to attach them, as cute as it looks, might be above my level of craftiness, and I feared would end up looking, quite frankly, like shit.

Then Jeff thought they were TOO plain and suggested adding some snowflakes. (Look at him being more crafty than me!)

So I did.

And I'm really happy with how they turned out, even if from across the room the snowflakes look a bit like the Star of David. We're multicultural up in this house.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


This guy turns 28 today.

27 has always been his lucky number. He declared that 27 would be his year.

On his birthday last year he won $300 on a lottery ticket from his parents.

I would say that's a good start.

Between December 7, 2010 and today he finished his master's degree, had his first child, and started a new job with a significant increase in pay. This year he got a new car, two new bikes and won several bike races. I don't know that it can get more monumental than that. I mean, having Mia was enough to make this the best year of MY life, forget all the other stuff.

Hopefully it's not all downhill from here!

Happy birthday to the most patient, hardworking, handsome guy I know and the only guy who will put up with my shit. May 28 be just as awesome as 27!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What's Cookin': Chicken Souvlaki Salad

This a recipe loosely based on one from Cooking Light. Very loosely based. Maybe "inspired by" would be more appropriate. It's a good one to make when Jeff is working late because it's good cold, so I don't have to reheat anything when he gets home, and the leftovers are good too.

The original recipe is here.

  • 2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cubed
  • 1/2 cup vertically sliced red onion
  • 1-2 cubed peeled cucumbers
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 pound)
  • 1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dill
  • 1 package whole wheat pita


  • Combine first 7 ingredients (garlic through chicken breast) in a large zip-top plastic bag. Seal the bag and shake to coat. Allow to marinate for a few hours.
  • Remove chicken from the bag, saute in a pan on medium-high heat until opaque.
  • Add onion to the pan and cook until chicken is done.
  • Combine chicken and onions, cubed cucumber, feta and tomatoes in a large bowl.
  • Combine yogurt and remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over chicken mixture; toss well.
  • Cut pitas in half and fill with salad.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dear Mia: Part 4

You are 8 months old today, and oh Mia, what can I say? You are... Well, you are you. You are having an explosion of personality and letting us know exactly what we are in for. I have a feeling I can look back on this post in 5, 10, 20 years and think, yup, that's Mia.

You? Are a firecracker. You are volatile and loud. You are opinionated and goofy. You are stubborn and tenacious. To be honest, I feel strange putting you in frilly, girly outfits. As much as I want to, it just totally doesn't fit your personality. You aren't "boyish," but you are spunky and tough. You are no princess. You never, ever stop moving. From the moment your eyes open in the morning to when they close at night you are going. You don't even slow down for nursing or diaper changes. I am surprised you have not mastered crawling yet, with your constant on-to-go-ness, but you find other ways to get from here to there. You want to touch everything and taste everything. You go from 0 to 60 and 60 to 0. One moment you are whining, the next you are shrieking with laughter and the very next you are asleep.

Speaking of sleep...

That's all I've got.

I'm too tired to finish that thought. Someday when your daughter is laying in your arms at 2am looking up at you with tired eyes and you have rocked and shushed and lullabied for what feels like an eternity and yet she still won't just close her eyes and go to sleep. Do not call me. Instead, imagine me sleeping on a cloud of fairy's wings in a soundless vacuum under the influence of many Ambien. Imagine me sleeping the delicious sleep of the childless. And be jealous.

Here is, I believe the crux of who you are at the very core: if you do not want to do something you will not do it. If you do not want to sleep you will just not sleep for as long as you deem appropriate to illustrate your willpower. You do what you want when you want, and if you are unable or not allowed you protest loudly until your desires are met. Right now - and I'm sure for years to come - this trait is so very frustrating for me, but please don't ever change.

I said last time that you don't like strangers. It would be more accurate to say you actively abhor any one but your dad and me. Sometimes Grandma and Auntie Sarah are okay, but everyone else is met with suspicious stares and then wails of discontent. Someday? Maybe? You will like other people. Otherwise you will have to take your dad to prom, and that might be awkward.

You are becoming a little parrot. When I cough you do a little fake cough with your tiny tongue sticking out. If I make a kissy noise, you smack your lips together. If I say "Ho Ho Ho," you parrot back "Huh Huh Huh." For the first time I feel like we are communicating with each other, and it thrills me to no end. The other day as you rode in your carseat I asked you, "Mia, can you say 'Hi?'" and you waved to me. I about died. It was as close to a conversation as we've come, and I can't wait for more.

Your love for cats runs hard and deep. You stop everything you are doing the moment a cat enters the room, and then you set out to get to them. They are so good with you too, but it just encourages you to grab onto their tails with all your might. When we look at your pictures books, you always pause and giggle at the pictures of the cats. It is so awesome to see how your little mind works.

People always say you look like your dad, then they inevitably pause and say, "But she's got mommy's eyes." It's true, you have your dad's smile and chin, but my eyes (the jury's still out on who's nose you have). It is surreal and strangely familiar to look into those eyes every day. Those eyes that are mine, but filled with promise I'll never know.

Mia, I am so excited for Christmas this year. Obviously, I know you don't understand it yet, but I just love the Christmas season so much, this year is only the beginning of the excitement to come. Two Christmases ago I sat at Aunt Amy's house and thought, "next Christmas I want to be pregnant." that was really the moment I knew I was ready for a baby. I was so sure in that moment that even when I later questioned whether I was really ready to get pregnant I could remind myself of that feeling and be reassured. Then last Christmas we all imagined what this year would be like with you here. And I can't believe my dreams have come true. Here you are, and it's better than I could have imagined.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Love List

In honor of Thanksgiving, it's good to put energy into thinking about what makes me happy and thankful.

I love baked goods and hot showers and eating out. I love reading a good book and watching bad reality TV equally. I love weekends.

I love new shoes. I love a good deal. I love shopping with my mom. I love white wine and gin & tonics. I love having a clean house and sleeping on clean sheets. I love a perfectly ripe cantaloupe. I love movie theater popcorn drenched in butter. I love long walks and road trips. I love book stores and libraries.

I love fall leaves crunching under my shoes. I love the smell of spring rain. I love listening to the cicadas on a hot summer night, and as much as I hate to admit it, I love the first snowfall of the year.

I love the ocean. I love crashing into oncoming waves and letting them swallow me up. I love the sun sizzling on saltwater soaked skin and the exhaustion that follows a day at the beach.

I love the Christmas season. I love the bustle of the mall and the warmth of watching holiday movies wrapped in a blanket on my couch. I love baking Christmas cookies, white lights and crowding in with family on Christmas day.

I love Mia's pizza dough belly, her soft, dimply hands and her high-pitched giggle. I also love the first moments after she goes to bed at night when I feel myself unclench and relax for the first time all day.

I love the way good music washes over me and through me. I love cats. I love MY cats. I love taking pictures and the thrill of uploading them to my computer to see what I've captured.

I love my family. Dear God, I love my family.

I love weddings and babies. I love picking out and giving the perfect gift. I love to check out my husband when he's not paying attention. I love filling out forms and writing lists and doing puzzles. I love appetizers. I love a good coffee buzz. I love Diet Coke. I love board games.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

What's Cookin'

Jeff and I have been trying out some vegetarian dinners lately. I've always liked vegetarian food. I think it's more flavorful, it's cheaper and it's obviously healthier. Not that I don't enjoy a burger now and then, but I've never loved the flavor of meat. I've also been looking for good quinoa recipes. I wish I had tried quinoa years ago when a friend educated me on it, but I thought it sounded too healthy to be good. Now I'm hooked. So, when I saw this on pinterest I had to try it.

Quinoa Stuffed Red Bell Peppers
. So, so good. The only modifications I made were omitting the celery - I just don't really like the texture of celery hidden in things - and I used chicken broth I had leftover from another recipe instead of water (I know, I know, this was no longer a vegetarian recipe).

This recipe will definitely go into the rotation in our house, and next time I'll try it with vegetable broth instead of chicken to make it a true vegetarian meal.

I've also been baking some.

First, I tried this Pumpkin Coffee Cake to bring to a party. It was so good I kind of didn't want to bring it to the party. I wanted to be alone with it and savor every crumb.

Then I read somewhere about making pumpkin muffins using just a can of puréed pumpkin and a spice cake mix. Meh. Maybe if I had added walnuts or chocolate chips or something they would have been better, but they were kind of spongy and definitely not very pretty. I don't think I'd make these again.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dear Mia: Part 3

You are about 6 1/2 months now, and every day gets better and better.

Last week you got your first cold, and it broke my heart. You were a champ about it, except when it was time to sleep. The other night you wouldn't sleep longer than an hour at a stretch. Your dad and I didn't know how we were going to survive the night. At one point I sat in the chair in your room with you sleeping on my chest. It seemed to be the only way you were willing to sleep. I thought about how much I wanted to be in my own bed at that moment, face down with the covers pulled over my head. Then I had to remind myself that one day I might look back on this moment fondly. One day you might be a surly teenager with a broken heart and I won't be able to make it all better simply by vowing to sit up with you all night listening to you sniffle into my shirt. Or you might move far away and I will long to just hold you in my arms and watch the clock tick from 11:30 to 12:00 to 12:30.

Then I started to cry, not because of those far off ideas, but because, Mia, I would do ANYTHING for you. We are just scraping the surface of discomforts I would face for you, and that is a heavy heavy thing.

You are changing every day. Your grandma tells me "tell Mia to slow down!" but I don't even want you to. I love watching you learn and evolve. I want more, more, more. The last few days you have figured out how to drink from a sippy cup and how to turn the pages of your board books. You are working on pulling up to standing on things, but haven't quite figured out how to get your legs under you yet. Regardless, all you want to do it stand right now. You stand at the coffee table to slap your tiny hands on the surface. You stand at the little Fisher Price table I bought you and navigate yourself around it.

You also eat everything we put in front of you. You especially love peaches. I put a few cut up pieces in a mesh feeder that you munch and suck on. You moan in delight while you're eating it, and it keeps you occupied while your dad and I eat dinner. When it's almost gone you bang it on the highchair tray and look at it from every angle as if you're trying to figure out how to get the last drops from it.

We are still working on your sleeping. More often than not you'll sleep 10-11 hours straight a night, but some nights you wake up and just can't get back to sleep. Even if I try to rock you, you might lay awake for a few hours. Those nights are really rough on me. I'm sorry to say that I just do not deal well with being awake in the middle of the night. Something happens to me when it gets dark outside, and I seem to lose all ability to cope or problem solve. I'm working on it, because I know insomnia, and I always wanted my mom when I couldn't sleep.

We're also still working on you getting used to "strangers." I put that in quotes because we obviously don't just hand you off to strangers, but you think anyone other than your dad and me are strangers. Grandma and Grandpa came a few weekends ago and it took you almost a full 24 hours before you would even sit next to Grandpa on the couch without crying.

You love to grab people's faces and hair. Sometimes you put your little face nose-to-nose with me and just smile and it kills me dead. Then you open your mouth wide and put it to my cheek in what I imagine is your idea of a kiss, and I die all over again. That moment, even if all of the other moments in the whole day suck fantastically, that moment makes it all worth it.

Halloween is coming up, and following that we get to experience our first holidays with you. I just can't wait. Watching you interact with the world is probably the most amazing thing I've ever experienced, and as I said before, it just keeps getting better and better.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

(Second &) Third Time's the Charm?

Now that Mia and I are into somewhat of a routine I've been getting a major itch to do some projects around the house. But it seems I have lost a bit of my DIY mojo somewhere along the way.

The first project I've been thinking about for about a year now: painting the front door. I even went so far as so try out a dark gray color I already had about a year ago, but I didn't like it. So since then our front door has been light blue with a little swatch of gray paint. Lovely.

I always hated the color scheme of the outside of our house (as seen here). The light gray siding with light blue shutters, and until last year the trim around the windows was two-tone blue and gray (which looked really dingy). Jeff painted the trim white last year and removed the shutters from around the kitchen window (because one was broken), so the only light blue we're left with is the shutters around the bedroom window and the front door.

Oh hey, look how fugly our front door was when we first moved in!

and this is after trying a few different paint colors I already had on hand
(the storm door was replaced a few years ago via Craigslist)

I turned to Pinterest for inspiration for the front door color. I wanted to do something bold and splashy. I thought about yellow (but I considered that when the door is open into the entryway it might clash with the yellowish paint in the walls there), eggplant (worried about resale), charcoal (not enough of a splash), poppy red (too much of a splash?), and finally settled on green after seeing this picture:

obviously from Blueprint magazine

I thought the color scheme seemed preppy and cute.

Not so on my house...

It was just okay from the outside, but truly hideous when the door was open, which it is a lot of the time as we get evening sunlight through the storm door.

So I had wasted $10 on a quart of paint, and I went back to my gut feeling which was to paint the door a rich, dark, charcoal gray. I like it. Is it splashy? Not really. Was it a risk? No. But it no longer looks like an elementary school. So that's something!

next up, I need to replace the ugly blue mailbox

Onto my second project which actually took 3 tries to get just right: hanging curtains in Mia's room.

I had some curtains that I loved from our old apartment, but they did not look good in our existing living room, and since the afternoon sunlight has been creeping into Mia's room through the side of the blinds and right onto her sleeping face, I decided they would work in her room.

On my first attempt I bought curtain rods and spray painted the finials aqua, but as Jeff was hanging them I realized the rods were too short. Ugh. If only I hadn't painted them, they could have been returned. Measure twice, hang once, right? Right. So another $10 wasted.

I ran out and bought longer rods. I learned my lesson and didn't paint them first. Jeff hung (hanged?) them. At first we only did one curtain panel on each window because they are small windows. It worked fine on the window in the corner, but the other window just looked lopsided.

So, on my 3rd try I finally got it right and moved the curtain rod out a few inches on either side and added another curtain panel.


I think it actually warms the room up considerably.

And since I have no other way to wrap up this post; Look! It's Mia as a penguin!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What I'm Into

It's my birthday today so in honor of me, I want to start a little feature here of things I am digging right at this moment. I think it will be fun to see how trends and my own personal preferences change over time (or how much they stay the same). A little bit like Oprah's favorite things, but without all the free shit.

Here's what's floating my boat right now:
Big Brother (I am not proud of this), The Hunger Games series, wrist tattoos (thinking of getting one), hearing Mia's laugh, (duh), double stuft Oreos, "Look at me Now," - Chris Brown, Eggplant (the vegetable), Chobani yogurt, buying Mia clothes (I can't stop!), Amy's frozen meals, XXX Vitamin Water, Bath & Body Works Sweet Pea shower gel (one of my favorite scents ever), cooler temperatures, my Kindle, Sabra hummus

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dear Mia: Part 2

Obviously I started writing this 4 months ago... having a 5 month old is a time-suck, who would have thought?

1 month old

Mia Jane, you are here. You are present in our lives now, in every way. I don't even know where to start this, or where it will end, or how far I will get in one sitting as you are strapped to my chest right now in the baby carrier because today you will not let me put you down.

1 month ago your dad and I walked into the maternity ward at approximately 8 in the morning and said at the front desk, "we are here to have a baby." It was the most surreal experience to be driving among rush hour traffic on our way to a most life-changing event, while everyone else was simply heading to work as if it were any other Monday.

We were ushered us into a small room where we waited for a nurse, a nurse who listened to your heartbeat and told us "I don't want to jinx anything, but her heartbeat is awfully low on your belly for a breech baby." I almost screamed, "I DON'T CARE. You are not sending me home without a baby!" I kept my cool and spent the longest 10 minutes of my life waiting for the doctor to come in and do an ultrasound to confirm that you were still upside down when it comes to birthing.

We spent the next hour or so talking to several other doctors and anesthesiologists about my health history and the risks of the surgery. Before we knew it your dad was given hospital scrubs to put on, and I was whisked away to the operating room. It was the most surreal and scary moments of my whole life. Your dad couldn't come with me, so I was alone in a sterile room full of strangers in nothing but a hospital gown. I was made to hunch over the side of the bed so they could put a spinal block in my back. They told me it would burn. It felt like a million tiny bees stinging my back. Everyone tried to be jovial and make small talk. Who can make small talk on the cusp of an event like this? They asked if I was alright. I was terrified. I've watched all of the baby shows on TV that show a woman about to have a c-section laying on the table like it's no big deal. They smile expectantly, maybe shed a tear. I'm here to tell you, I was probably white as a sheet and giving everyone blank stares. The only thing going through my mind was that I did not believe the anesthesia would work. I would have bet millions of dollars that they were about to cut me open and I was going to feel every single slice. I told myself that even if I could feel it, I could speak up and tell them, but that somehow wasn't enough. It wasn't enough when they pricked me up and down my body to ensure that I was numb. It wasn't enough when I tried to move my feet and couldn't. I was certain that I would end up suing the hospital because my spinal block did not work!

Finally they brought your dad in. He sat next to my head and the doctors began working. He talked to me softly about the beach. He told me to picture myself in the Outer Banks. It felt like eternity. It felt like they must be digging a hole to China to get to you. All this time you were "right there," I could see your feet kicking from the inside, so why was it taking them so long to get you out?

Then a nurse shouted "Oh, I see a baby butt!" and someone tapped your dad's arm and he looked up and jumped off of his stool shouting "Oh my God!" I heard you cry. And, oh how you cried, a loud raspy wail. And suddenly you were being held over the curtain. It was only a second, but I memorized your face in that second. I'm certain I could draw an accurate portrait from that moment. It's amazing how much information a brain can process in a split second.

You looked perfect, not like a swollen, goopy newborn at all. You had a perfectly round head and a pink face. I noticed your head of dark hair. I was so sure you'd be bald, but there you were with hair darker than mine. I noticed the dimple in your chin and wondered where on earth that came from.

And then you were gone. They took you away to weigh you and clean you up, out of my line of vision. I told your dad to go with you. I could hear him talking to you, telling you we were so excited to meet you. You laid with your skinny breech legs sticking straight up into the air and grabbed onto your daddy's finger.

An anesthesiologist came and held my hand while I went through a roller coaster of physical ailments. I felt like a might throw up, so they adjusted some medication somewhere. Then I suddenly felt like I couldn't keep my eyes open. I felt silly that I had waited for your for so long and been so excited I couldn't sleep, and now I felt like I might just fall asleep before I even got to hold you for the first time. Then I felt like there was a weight on my chest, like I couldn't breath. Someone pointed out that there WAS a weight on my chest. Apparently there was a pan sitting on my chest where the doctors were putting my (your?) placenta (ew).

Finally you were brought over to me. The only thing I could say to you was "hi," over and over.

When they were done stitching me up I could finally hold you for the first time and we were wheeled into a recovery room.

The rest of the hospital stay seems blurry to me now. I was on pain killers and was in so much pain I couldn't get out of bed. Your dad took over and took care of both of us.

On the second night we were told you were losing too much weight, and your dad and I found out quickly that we were the only ones who had your best interests at heart and we had to make decisions for you regardless of everyone else's opinion. You didn't take to breastfeeding at the beginning because it was just too much work for you. We had to give you some formula to get your weight back up, and it broke my heart the way you chugged from the bottle like we had been starving you.

The doctors and nurses called you feisty, because you clearly had your own opinions on what you wanted to eat. I have a feeling that because of those first few days I will forever be concerned with whether you are getting enough to eat. I'm sorry in advance.

We still have to work at the breastfeeding, because sometimes you are just so hungry you can't be bothered to go through all of that effort. But I am trying to do what's best for you and I know breastfeeding is it, as hard as it is.

I can't believe a month has gone by already. The first few days home from the hospital were a rude awakening. Your dad got sick of me moaning and groaning every time you cried in the middle of the night. If it is any indication of how far we've come, this morning at 3:30 I fed you and just stared at your sweet face thinking about how lucky I am. I smiled while I stroked your chubby legs and watched your tiny toes curl up.

I fall in love with you a million times a day. I swear, I look away for just a second and when I look back at you I've already forgotten how beautiful you are and I am bowled over all over again.

You make the strangest little animal sounds. Sometimes you are braying like a tiny horse or mewing like a kitten. You squeal while you are falling asleep like the brakes on a car. I might just record it and play it on blast when you are sleeping too late when you're 16, to remind you that you once kept me up all night with your array of barnyard noises.

I love to watch your hands. Sometimes you clasp them to your chest, or you let them float up into the air like tiny birds. You have long fingers that looked like talons when you were born, and funny little thumbs that are as long as your other fingers. The sensation of your hands on mine is one of the best in the world, they are so soft, like tiny feathers brushing my skin.

(Almost) 5 months old
Mia Jane, I read back what I wrote 4 months ago, and I know some of it was sugar-coated. There's no doubt I was heart-breakingly in love with you, but lord, those first 6 weeks were HARD! And over the last 4 months my love for you has multiplied in ways I could not fathom. The idea that tomorrow I will love you more than I do today makes me think my heart will burst. How can it contain this much love?

Some women give birth and the clouds part and the angels sing and they are just simply smitten with their newborn. I am sorry, but I was not one of those women. I loved you, yes. I would have thrown my body in front of a moving bus for you, yes, but I fell in love slowly, just like I did with your dad. You were a stranger to me until you were about 6 weeks old. A very demanding, exhausting stranger. Then one day during that 6th week I was laying on the couch with you snoozing in my arms, and I put my face against your little head and look a long breath of you, and I thought, "What would I do without this? I could not go on living if anything happened to you." And that was the moment you had your momma wrapped around your finger for life.

Following this there were a few weeks were I became a little obsessed with your well-being as the thought of losing you nearly crippled me, but things have leveled off now. I enjoy you. I try to absorb as much of your babyhood as I can. I try to memorize your hands and your smile and all of your facial expressions, but I already can't even comprehend that you are the same baby we brought home 5 months ago, the same baby who did nothing but sleep, eat and poop. Literally, nothing else.

Now you play and you laugh and you babble. You sit up all by yourself. You express opinions and preferences about what you are doing. You love the bath. You suck your thumb. You have a distinct personality. You smile at me every single time I look in your direction, and I die EVERY TIME. It NEVER gets old.

We started you on solid food last week. You hate it, but you tolerate it. I knew it would be a struggle after how long it took you to get breastfeeding down (we are old hands at that now). You take the cereal into your mouth. Sometimes you spit it out, sometimes you swallow it, grunt, gag and kick your leg on the high chair as if you are a contestant on Fear Factor and we are feeding you live crickets and you WILL SWALLOW IT, goddammit, because you are going to WIN at eating solid food!

We've been working on sleep training for a few weeks now, but you are not taking to it very well. I've read a million books and websites. I could probably be an expert on training other people's kids, but mine seems untrainable. All of the books are about how to teach your baby to fall asleep on her own. None of the books discuss what to do when your baby knows HOW to put herself to sleep, she just WON'T. At nap time I put you in your crib and you usually just roll over, suck your thumb, and go to sleep. At bed time you just refuse. You are a willful, stubborn little girl. We're working on it, even though I've just had the realization that this is the first step of you not needing your momma anymore. This is the very first thing you will learn to do on your own.

You play very well by yourself for periods of time. Sometimes your dad and I are right there on the floor with you, but you are in your own little world. You talk to yourself, squeal and toss your toys around and hardly look in our direction. I was like this as a kid, very willing to play all by myself, and it's so strange to start to see myself in you already.

You smile easily at your dad and me, but are very serious for everyone else. You hate to be held by strangers for longer than 30 seconds, even when I am standing in your line of vision, but you love to watch people and especially kids (and you LOVE to watch the cats, you even put your hand out to pet them sometimes).

Strangers often comment on what a content baby you are, and you really really are an easy going girl... as long as momma is close by. At this point in your life, you would rather be with me than anything else in the world, and snuggling you and kissing your neck brings me more joy than anything ever has. I am savoring this time of your life. I had heard, of course, from other parents that as trying as babies are, the payoff is worth it, and I really did not understand that until you. I didn't understand how something so hard and exhausting and emotionally draining could be "worth it." The highs would have to be unbelievably high to outweigh the lows. They are.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dear Mia: In Utero

I started writing this about a year ago, a journal-of-sorts I kept while I was pregnant, and finally had time to read it over and edit it.

6 weeks and 4 days
According to the books I am 6 weeks and 4 days pregnant. It seems like such a blip on the radar of life, but on the other hand the days have been dragging slowly by. I put my hand on my belly, and it feels the same as always. From the outside there is no sign that I am creating a life inside of me.

On the inside it's all I can think about.

I told some friends 2 days ago that I don't think I'll get morning sickness because I rarely throw up. 1 day ago I spent the morning with my head in the toilet. If it is any indication of who you are, I already know I'll like you.

There's the nausea, but there's also the intense fear. Fear that one day when you are 16, you will look at me like I'm a failure, the way I'm sure I probably looked at my mother. Fear that you will wish for things I cannot give you. Fear that there will not be enough money, enough time, enough space. I can only hope that, like my own mother, I will simply have confidence that I am doing what's best for you. Because even at 6 weeks and 4 days I am trying to do what's best for you - including, but not limited to, giving up, cold turkey, my second love in life: Diet Coke.

Some mothers fear that their children will think they are uncool. I don't have to worry about that. I know I am uncool. Your father is in denial about this, however. When we ride in the car together and sing at the top of our lungs, bobbing our heads and waving our hands, I turn to him and say "Our children are going to be so embarrassed of us one day," and he shakes his head and says "Are you kidding? We're going to be the coolest parents ever." I wonder when he will stop kidding himself.

I can't imagine what you will look like. It is so surreal that it, like your gender, is already predetermined, yet unknown. It is destiny. I think you will have blond hair. You're father hopes you have my nose. If you are a boy I hope you have his big, strong hands.

When I told my mother, your grandmother, that I am pregnant, she leapt up for her chair and jumped up and down. This is how much she will love you. Forever. This is how excited she will be when good things happen.

My dad, your grandfather, dreamed of a baby girl after I told him I am pregnant. You will be amazed by how much he just knows.

We haven't told anyone else yet. I think this is a fear that I will probably have for the rest of my life, but I worry I could lose you at any second.

8 weeks and 4 days
Yesterday was my first doctor's appointment. When the doctor told me I could have an ultrasound I nearly died of excitement. I was convinced maybe he would look at me like I was crazy and tell me I wasn't really pregnant, it was all in my head.

The ultrasound technician located you in .5 seconds. You looked like a gummy bear, with a big head and a blinking little heartbeat. When she played your heartbeat aloud your father squirmed in his chair and said "Oh-ho-ho my god!" like you will hear him say a million times in your life. I cried silently.

Until now, you were merely an idea. Now you are a full-blown love affair. I look at your picture 100 times a day, and no matter how grainy or how much you simply look like a kidney bean floating in a bedpan, I think you are perfect. I replay the sound of your heartbeat over and over in my head. I am in love.

Last week I told your father that I don't like being pregnant. I don't know if I could do this more than once. But today I threw up and simply felt at peace that it means you're still there, growing and perfect.

12 weeks, and 6 days
We are moving into the second trimester tomorrow, but I am just ignoring all the baby books that tell me the morning sickness will subside, because I am nauseous from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep at night. It seems to have no plans of stopping. And I am just making myself used to the fact that I may have acid reflux for the rest of my life.

Every morning I look at my belly in the mirror. I wonder when you will begin to make your presence known to the rest of the world. I wonder if that is the beginning of a bump or just the Snickers ice cream bar I ate for dessert.

We saw you on an ultrasound again last week. It was even more surreal than last time. We could see your little face and all the little fingers on your hands. We got a great profile view of you, but as the ultrasound technician went to get some measurements of you, you turned your tiny back on us and refused to budge for the rest of the appointment. Your dad and I could have watched you all day.

My mother and father still maintain that you are a girl. She now calls you "she" and "her." I have no feeling one way or the other.

I have a picture of your dad on a bulletin board over our desk. He is about 2 or 3, standing in his parent's driveway looking right up at the camera with a look on his face that he still makes to this day. I imagine myself at the grocery store, pushing a little boy in a shopping cart who looks just like that, and it makes me want to cry from excitement. Not that I will be disappointed if you are a girl or if you look nothing like your father, but just the idea that you could, that somewhere down the line I will recognize little pieces of your dad and me in you takes my breath away.

16 weeks and 6 days
We are safely in the second trimester now. Everyone says this will be the honeymoon phase. So far, so-so. Although I haven't throw up in over two weeks (fingers crossed), I did get a hellacious cold that is still sitting in my chest. I was never shy about my love for Advil Cold & Sinus, so let's just say this has been a little tough on me with no drugs.

Every morning I look in the mirror to see if I look like I've popped out at all, to see if you have made your presence known to the rest of the world yet. So far you are just making me look fat. Thanks a lot.

A week from today we should be able to find out your sex. I don't know that I've ever been this is excited about something, aside from my wedding day. I imagine both scenarios with equal glee. Actually, I imagine a third scenario where you will not give up the goods, which makes me anything but gleeful. Every one in the family thinks you are a girl. Even your cousin Alex says so. Your dad goes back and forth. I, your mother who should probably have some intuition about these kinds of things, have no feeling one way or the other. I have to admit, at first I hoped for a boy, simply because your dad and I both come from families with first-born boys, and I always loved having a big brother. Then, a few months ago I started hoping you were a girl, mainly because I think your cousin Lorelei might be the coolest kid I know and I wanted one just like her. But also because Lorelei and your cousin Abby will be closest in age to you and I want you all to be friends. I can safely say now that I am happily indifferent. A little girl means dolls and ruffly clothes and watching the special relationship between you and your dad. But a little boy shares something special with his mother, and like I said a few weeks ago, I imagine a little boy who looks just like your dad and it makes me weak in the knees.

Finally last week I started getting over some of my food aversions. I cooked chicken for dinner for the first time in about 10 weeks. Your poor dad has been going without most of his favorite meals because the idea of cooking and then eating raw chicken made me sick to my stomach. I still can't walk by the olive bar in the grocery store without my stomach turning, though.

The other day I was hanging out with my friend Maija (who I think you will get to know very well) and her 6 week old daughter Karley (who will be your best friend, I hope), and when Karley got fussy Maija looked at me and said "Are you sure you want one of these?" and I nodded emphatically and said "Oh yes!" Nothing can deter me from the path I'm on.

The time is slooooowly marching on, even if your dad's mom (your Nana) claims it seems to be flying by.

17 weeks and 6 days
Today we found out you are a girl, just like everyone thought. When the ultrasound technician said "It's a girl," your father and I nodded and thought, "We knew that." I thought I would be stunned either way, but it turns out I really was pretty certain you were/are a girl. Not a single person predicted you to be a boy.

I am beside myself with excitement. I would have been thrilled either way, but this means I get to dress you sweet little girl clothes and fix your hair. I get to pass down the doll cradle my grandfather made for me.

But as I lay on the ultrasound table a dark thought passed over me, "Some day you will hate me." I don't mean that you will one day hate me and never love me again. I mean that some day you will decide I am the most annoying, uncool person on the planet. You will think that I cannot relate to you. You will think that I have failed you. You will think that I have never been where you've been. Maybe the next day you will love me all over again. Maybe it will take months for you to realize I only want what's best for you. But it scares the ever-loving shit out of me that even for one day of your life, you will hate me and wish I wasn't your mother. That's just how it is with girls. Your dad reminded me that we don't have to worry about that until you're a teenager. That's easy for him to say, you'll probably never hate HIM. He's hard to stay mad at.

The ultrasound technician took a 3D image of your face, but you were moving around so much it was hard for her to get a clear picture. You ended up looking like a turtle, or your father thinks a baby dinosaur. Now he is really concerned that you will look like him. He thinks he would make an ugly girl, and while I think he is handsome I tend to agree. Maybe you will be a pretty version of him. I am pretty certain you won't look anything like me. The Polish genes run strong, just look at your cousins Alex and Abby. Hopefully you don't look anything like that 3D image either.

19 weeks and 3 days
We are almost halfway there, but that doesn't change the fact that it feels like it's taking forever.

My belly has popped out, although I'm sure the average stranger still can't tell I'm pregnant, your dad and I notice. It is hard and round.

I feel you moving every day. It wasn't until last week that I was sure that was you and not just gas or muscle spasms. I was reading an online forum that said it feels like popcorn popping in your stomach, and I realized that was exactly what it felt like. I had a hard time imagining what it would feel like to have a baby kicking and moving around inside of me, but now that I feel it, it seems to feel exactly as it should. But every time it takes me by surprise. Every time I think to myself, "Hello, baby."

You seem to be most active around meal times and any time I am sitting upright and slouching. It's like you're telling me I'm squishing you. Sometimes if I get up in the middle of the night (which I do at least twice) to go to the bathroom, when I lay back down I feel you thump-thump-thumping, like I've woken you up and now you have to get comfortable all over again.

We've been talking about what to name you. Before we knew you were a girl I latched on to the name Eve. I had a feeling that you were a girl and that your name should be Eve. But all along I've also had a feeling that if you were a girl your name should start with an "M." So now your dad is calling you Mia. Are you Eve Lubkowski? Are you Mia Lubkowski? Are you someone else entirely? I told him I reserve the right to latch onto several other names before you are born.

22 weeks and 4 days
You continue to swim around like a goldfish in my belly. Last week you had a quiet day that had me worried when I didn't feel you rumbling around as usual. I got into bed and laid still until I felt you again. I've never even seen your face and already I don't know what I'd do if I lost you.

Your dad has felt you move a few times now. Your dad, the most excitable man on the planet, was decidedly unimpressed with feeling you for the first time. He will be mad that I'm mentioning this, but he just shrugged and said, "That's not what I thought it would feel like." As if I was lying to him that it was really you. He must think I have some really powerful gas - which I do, but that's another story, and completely caused by you.

We've started to get a nursery ready for you. We registered for all of the baby gear you'll need. Your dad wanted to register for everything monkey-themed because he says you will be his Monkey.

We're getting ready for Christmas around here, but we can't help but think about how next Christmas you will be here. You will be 8 months old and probably crawling and smiling, and it's so weird to think that's only a year away. Hopefully you will love Christmas as much as I do.

24 weeks and 6 days
Last night I had a dream that I gave birth to you and brought you home and put you to bed in your crib (which as of yet does not exist). I couldn't bear the thought of leaving you in the room alone so I slept in the chair next to your crib. You were tiny with dark hair. In the dream I woke up in the morning to pick you up out of your crib, but realized I was still pregnant and I had actually given birth to a kitten. I tried to carry the kitten around like it was my baby but it just wanted to run and play and explore. I was sad. And I was sad when I really woke up to realize that you are not really here yet and won't be here for a while, but as I told my friend yesterday we're not ready for you yet.

24 weeks is when a baby is technically viable. A baby born at 24 weeks could potentially go on to live a healthy life. But I'd like you to stay in and cook a little bit longer.

We've basically settled on your name, Mia. The more I roll it around in my mind the more it feels right. Short and sweet and girly and solid.

We are cleaning out the room that will be your nursery but is currently our office. I get overwhelmed with all that has to be done and my back starts to hurt, but I can see it now. The end seems to be in sight.

27 weeks
The two worst parts of pregnancy right now are:
1. The boobs. I've always been well endowed, but I prayed that maybe they were enough and wouldn't grow too much with pregnancy. However, they seem to change every day. Dear Baby, I cannot afford any more bras. Every time I think I've found a bra that fits, the very next day it is somehow "off." I've cried about it to your dad and told him I might get a breast reduction after all this is over. They are heavy and uncomfortable and I feel my belly and boobs are in a race to see who can enter a room a full 10 minutes before the rest of me. I think if my boobs would just quit growing I might actually look pregnant, but until then I think I just look kind of chubby.

2. Having a cold and not being able to take my Advil Cold & Sinus. I miss having a cold, taking a few pills and drying up immediately. Right now there is virtually nothing I can take, and I'm miserable. I chug water and orange juice. I gargle with salt water and spray saline up my nose. I lay in bed and drink tea, but none of it helps even a fraction of a percent like taking over-the-counter drugs. I miss my drugs. And if I so much as look at the Tylenol bottle your dad mumbles under his breath about having a retarded baby. So, thanks for that.

But you continue to rumble around in my belly and amaze me every day. I watch my belly twitch and lately I can locate your body with my hand, rock hard curled up next to my hip. Your dad feels it and jumps back and says it freaks him out with my big smile on his face. The other day I could push on that hard lump and feel the rest of you shift clear on the other side of my belly. There is not even a word invented yet for how surreal and weird and amazing this is.

We have all the furniture set up in your nursery now. We both love to stand in the doorway and admire it. It's a pretty little room ready for a pretty little baby.

At Christmas the whole family discussed how next year you will be here, out in the world, celebrating with us. Your Uncle Ben puts his hands on my belly and says "Hi baby." Your cousin Lorelei insists SHE has a baby in HER belly named Molly, then she runs up to me and points at my belly and says "Auntie Hope, that's YOUR baby." Gabe thinks we should name you Susannah or Sophia. Your grandma tickles my belly and says "Wake up for Grandma." I told your Aunt Sarah what we are going to name you because I can't keep it to myself, but I swore her to secrecy.

I dreamed last night that you were a toddler and your grandma was supposed to be watching you, but you ran out into the street. I ran after you screaming your name, "Mia! Mia!" It was the first time I've heard myself use it without hesitation, even if it was just in a dream. You were safe in the dream, but I'm sure it was just indicative of how much I will worry about you in the future.

29 weeks and 4 days
I am nearly 30 weeks pregnant, which seems REALLY and legitimately pregnant.

I am getting pretty physically uncomfortable as of late. I don't think I look all that huge, but I feel like a lumbering whale walking upright. Everyone LOVES to remind me that I still have a ways to go, and I LOVE to imagine punching them in the face when they say it. How is that helpful? I'm not sure. Just because I will be MORE uncomfortable in a few weeks does not take away the discomfort now. If you tell me you are hungry and I tell you there are starving children in Africa, does that ease your hunger? No, it's just annoying.

Clearly I am also irritable.

The worst part at the moment is that I am having crippling back pain at night. I wake up around 4 in the morning unable to go back to sleep because my back hurts so bad. I sleep part of the night sitting straight up because it's the only position that is remotely comfortable. The idea that this could go on for 10+ more weeks does not excite me. Mama wants to go back to sleeping on her stomach soooo bad.

But don't let the complaining fool you. I also love this. The past few days I can poke around my belly and fell your whole body. It seems like your head is down, and yesterday you spent the day kicking me in the ribs (in the most adorable way possible). I feel you hiccup occasionally like a little pulse next to my hip bone. I try to picture you all curled up in my belly, and it is still so surreal to me.

We've pretty much finished your nursery. It is your dad's and my favorite room in the house now. We open the door and just look in at it, imagining you there. Tesla likes to sleep on your changing pad in the sunlight. I think you like when the cats curl up on my belly purring, and I hope that means you are are all getting acquainted, but I'm worried Tesla will be terrified by you.

31 weeks and 4 days
Today is February 1st, exactly 2 months away from your due date. Some days I think there is not enough time, but most of the time I am so ready to meet you.

Over the last week you have legitimately run out of room in my belly. I feel every move you make, and it is not always comfortable to have a 3+ pound being pressing on all of your organs. I know, I know, "it will only get worse."

I could be wrong but it seems like your head is usually down near my left hip and your feet are usually lodged up under my right ribs. I feel your butt shift from side to side. If I push on it I feel your whole body press against the other side of my stomach.

You get the hiccups 2-3 times a day now. Usually in the middle of the night if I get up to go to the bathroom I come back to bed only to lay there awake until you've gotten over your hiccups.

33 weeks
I dream about you a lot lately. The other night I dreamed that I had just given birth to you. You looked a lot like your cousin Abby when she was just born, but with a head of dark hair .

I am a little sad when I wake up from these dreams, sad that I can't hold you in my arms just yet and look into your eyes.

Your dad and I started dating 6 years ago this month. If someone had told me then where we would be now I would have probably rolled my eyes and said, "no way." But secretly I would have been thrilled at the prospect.

Your grandma came to visit last weekend and made you a crib skirt and a pillow for your nursery. She is planning a baby shower for you and me for next weekend. Even though it will be small she is going over the top planning it. There is no reigning her in. She is just so excited about you. She felt you kick while she was here too. One little kick was all you would give her even though she sat patiently with her hand on my belly far longer than your dad ever has.

We found out a few weeks ago that your dad's grandfather, Grandpa Hank, has terminal cancer and probably won't live much longer. I hope he gets to meet you. I am so sad that my own granddad didn't get to meet any of his great grandchildren.

34 weeks and 3 days
At my doctor's appointment a few days ago I mentioned to him that I didn't feel like you were moving as much as normal. I wasn't terribly worried. I still felt you, just not as much. He sent me straight to the hospital, though, to get a non-stress test. I freaked your dad out when I called and told him I was in the hospital, but I am so emotional lately, I can't really do anything without crying. At the hospital they put a monitor around my belly to listen to your heartbeat. It sounded like little galloping horses, and I kind of enjoyed listening to it for 20 minutes non-stop. Every time you moved your heart rate would go up, and the nurse said as long as it does that twice in 20 minutes we're good. You moved about 10 times in 20 minutes. I felt silly for worrying, but I'm glad to have the peace of mind.

We had a baby shower yesterday thrown by your grandma. Your great aunt Jean came all the way from Alabama to celebrate you. Everyone was so so generous bringing you gifts, and everyone decorated onesies for you to wear. Jean spent a lot of time painting a giraffe onesie and bib for you because grandma told her how much I love giraffes.

Your dad and I keep a close watch on the state of my belly button. Every day it seems to look sillier and sillier. First it got really tiny, and now it has started to pop out a little.

The stores have started to put out Easter paraphernalia. It blows my mind to think that by Easter you will be here. I just can't believe that within the next 6 weeks I could be holding you in my arms. I think about what it was like when I was only 6 weeks pregnant, and how I never really thought I'd get to this point, and here we are on the verge of meeting. I can't wait, baby girl.

Lately I have become fixated on the fear of "what if you are not a girl?" I didn't have a preference, but now that I have been envisioning you as a girl for so long I think I would be sad if you turned out to be a boy. I think I would feel a sense of loss at the daughter I had imagined.

36 weeks
We are nearing the end and I am so ready to meet you. For some reason the next 4 weeks stretched out before me seem insurmountable. Haven't I waited enough already? The thought of 4 weeks left seems more difficult to swallow than when I was only 6 weeks pregnant with my head in the toilet realizing that I had 34 weeks left to do. 34 weeks of pregnancy was intangible. 4 weeks is real. I can almost taste it, and I want it NOW. I actually felt like crying last night out of pure jealousy over a high school friend who had a baby yesterday. I am just so envious that she is done, that she has gotten to meet her miracle, and I am still here cooking away.

Please come a little early. It would make mama so very happy.

I can't do much anymore without grunting and moaning. You dad had to help me put tights on a few weeks ago and the other night he had to help me out of the bathtub. I had no idea how difficult this would be on my body. I thought "people gain 25-30 pounds all the time and can still roll over in bed without whining. What's the big deal?" Now I know. The belly is a mighty force with a mind of its own.

Your dad's family threw us a baby shower last weekend. So many people came and showered you with gifts. Your dad's family can really drive me crazy sometimes, but they will love you so so much. I spent the next few days washing the folding your tiny little clothes and blankets, imagining you in them. Your nursery is ready for you. I just love going in there and looking around, filled with anticipation.

Grandpa Hank died a few nights ago. I am so sad that he didn't get to meet you. He loved his great grandkids so much.

We get to have another ultrasound next week to see how big you are. I can't wait to see your little face again.

37 weeks and 1 day
Our ultrasound yesterday changed everything. The first thing we were told is that you are breech. Your butt is sitting on the birth canal, your head is currently bruising my right ribs and your feet are straight up in the air (er, amniotic fluid). We couldn't get a good look at your face because you had your hands curled up in front. We couldn't even confirm that you are actually a girl because of the way you are sitting.

We discussed our options with the doctor and decided to schedule a c-section for March 28th. If everything goes according to plan, that will be your birthday. That date will hold importance for the rest of our lives.

However, I wouldn't put it past you to either flip around or for me to go into labor before that date. You are clearly unpredictable and a little bit of a turd.

Last week the doctor dug around in my belly and told me you were head down. He could have been wrong, but I'm fairly certain you flipped around some time on Monday morning. I am blaming it in a Mighty Taco burrito your Aunt Tracy bought me on Sunday which had my insides twisted up in knots. Monday morning you were making me so uncomfortable I spent most of the day in bed.

Little girl, you are already giving us a run for our money.

I can't deny that I am more than a little sad at the prospect of having a c-section. I feel like some of the excitement and mystery has been taken away from me.

You will spend your life watching men attempt to prove their masculinity to the world - buying sports cars, lifting heavy objects, flexing their muscles. Women don't seem to have this same desire. We are generally confident in our femininity, except when it comes to child-bearing. As I'm sure women who suffer from infertility feel stripped off their womanly-purpose, I feel a bit robbed of my chance to prove something (I'm not quite sure what) to the world. I will not be allowed access into the club of women who labored and stretched (literally) their body to its limits. As much as child birth is lauded as being the worst pain one can ever experience, I looked forward to it. I thought it would make me feel more alive and fulfill some purpose my body has not yet experienced. I could never understand why my own mother was saddened by having 3 c-sections until yesterday.

And, as selfish as this is, it kills me to know that when you are born you will not be placed directly on my chest. I will not get to hold you first. I feel like I deserve to hold you first.

On the same token part of me is on cloud nine to know that in just 16 days I will get to meet you. Whether that first meeting is exactly how I had imagined it or not seems insignificant. I will get to meet you either way. I will get answers to all of my questions about what and who you look like. I will get to kiss your cheeks and touch your skin, and I can't wait.

38 weeks and 4 days
6 days, baby girl. The idea that in 6 days I will get to see your face literally suffocates me, and not in a bad way. In my whole life this will be the single most life-changing day ever. Getting married was not as life-changing as everyone makes it out to be, especially if you already live with your spouse. The falling in love and sharing a life happens slowly (usually). And when/if we have another child, it will be life-changing, but we will have already experienced all of this excitement once with you. You are the one who will make your dad and me parents. You are the one who will introduce us to a myriad of entirely new experiences and emotions, ones we could have never imagined. God, I can't wait.

Your granddad says it's like Christmas, and he's so right. It's better than Christmas. It's more excitement than every Christmas and birthday of my whole life combined. It's the thrill of cresting the top of a roller coaster and knowing that I will free-fall and it will be scary and exhilarating and my stomach will feel like it will jump out of my mouth, but that I will be safe in the end, and goddamn, it will be so fun I'll have to throw my arms up just because I've run out of breath. Times a million.

The weather was nice last week so your dad wanted to go on walks to "parade me around the neighborhood." And I sure am the size of a parade float. I finally feel like within the last few weeks that I actually look pregnant. Strangers ask when I'm due without fear that I might just be fat. I've been waiting the whole pregnancy to feel beautiful and glowing and womanly, and in these last few weeks I finally do. I waddle, and my ankles are swollen. My hips hurt, my back aches, and I have gas. My boobs are so big they need their own zipcode, and I have stretchmarks that itch at night. But I feel like when I go out in public I barely have to brush my hair because my big belly makes me beautiful and special.

39 weeks and 3 days
It is just after 4:30 in the morning on March 28, 2011. If all goes as planned today will be your birthday. These are the last hours that you will take up residence in my womb.

I can't sleep. I haven't slept well in days, in anticipation of your arrival. Everyone says "sleep now, you won't once the baby comes," as if there were a way to stock up on sleep and parse it out over the next several months.

I started having mild contractions 3 or 4 days ago. I thought maybe you would decide to make an early appearance, but instead you are just making me more uncomfortable. You are all stuffed over the right side of my belly, so that when a contraction hits it looks all lopsided and pointy.

Over the last few days your dad and I have separately freaked out about your name. We decided to change your middle name, even though the original freak-outs were first-name-related. We've each taken a turn convincing the other that we love Mia. I hope you like it too. I think we finally settled on Jane for your middle name. It was originally going to be Josephine. I have to admit that when I found out you were a girl I was a little sad that you wouldn't get the middle name John after my dad and grandfather, and there is a chance that I will never have a boy and never get to use it, so you get the next closest thing, Jane, to honor two of the best men I've known.

I have been imagining the moment I will see you for the first time for so long that as each hour ticks by it actually seems more unreal. The only way I can think to describe this emotion is like the jitters you get on the first day of school mixed with the excitement of Christmas morning, times a million.

Part of me feels like I should be soaking up this pre-baby time. Life will never be the same again, maybe I should be reveling in the silence and relaxing. I just can't. I have relaxed enough in my life. I have listened to the silence. I am ready for a new challenge. I sit in the silence now, and I can't relax. Telling someone to "enjoy the quiet now" is like telling someone to enjoy black and white TV while they still can, when they know that tomorrow everything will be in technicolor.

Your dad and I look at each other a hundred times a day with wide eyes and say "We're about to have a baby! Like, tomorrow!" We know our lives are about to change in every way, but we have no idea what to expect. Just know that two people were never more excited to meet their child than we are. Know that we've loved you from the moment we saw two lines on the pregnancy test. Know that you were hoped for and worried over and prepared for with all of our power. We cannot wait to meet you. We cannot wait to have our lives rocked in the best possible way.