Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ana Sofia Diaz Grill

Here are just a few pictures of dear little Ana Sofia, Miriam and Ben's little girl. Hopefully next time I'll get some better light/learn how to take better photos indoors. I'm still learning the in's and out's of my new camera I received for Christmas from my parents. :)

Ben has set up a blog of his own following their new family. Check it out!

P.S. Birch is going to write a guest blog, I promise. Or rather, he promises. He's still "working on it" in his head. We'll all just have to be patient...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Summer Plans and Projects: The Ambitions of a No-Longer Pregnant Mama

As the days of Basketball Belly draw to a close, I sit dreaming of spring and summer.

As I sat outside on the garden bench today eating strawberries and looking over the many plants growing (lettuce, fennel, cosmos, sugar snap peas, blueberries, artichoke, grapes, sweet broom, and others), my mind wandered the lines of the fence imagining all the ways Birch and I could make our yard into a kind of wonderland with hideaways, various kinds of seating, a barbeque area, perhaps even a small deck. It's by no means a huge yard, but for an apartment it is magical.

Soon, my body will to some extent be my own again. (Hopefully) no more feeling faint even when I'm just sitting up, no more sun headaches, no more needing help to do something as simple as bending down to check the progress of a few chive sprouts. I'll be able to go for walks again and run errands, even when Birch isn't home to take me. I'll be able to wash a whole sink-full of dishes because I'll be able to remain standing for longer than ten minutes. I won't be able to sleep for a reason instead of just lying awake trying to decide if it's truly worth it to go to the bathroom or not from 3:23 a.m. to 3:56 a.m., finally deciding that, "Yes, it's been this long, I should just go to the bathroom." Speaking of which, I'll be able to get out of bed utilizing far fewer steps than the normally required six to eight it takes me now. I'll be able to get to the phone within the required four rings before the machine picks up. I'll be able to remember what it's like to be a real, functioning human being once more.

When that time comes I plan on being ready. My head is bursting with ideas, mostly involving repurposing various objects for garden and home decor, and I can't wait until I can hold a hammer again, move a bookcase, or carry a load of laundry without someone yelling at me that I'm not supposed to be doing that.

I'll "build" the bean teepee first. Roping together bamboo stakes and planting one or two seeds around each one, then watching them grow up towards the sun to form a little shady spot for baby to lay in on a hot, summer morning while I remain close at hand perhaps reading a book or harvesting food for dinner that night.

Then we'll get serious and finally build that outdoor rabbit hutch poor Harlequin has been dreaming of for over a year now. Something like this but with a much larger run and much more protection from the rain.

Next, I’ll start the conquering of the play tent. Keats’ nursery will eventually have a bit of a carnival feel to it and I’d love to sew together a tent for one of the corners of the room. Here are just some of the fabrics I’ll be using:

The "Lantern Bloom" collection by Laura Gunn for Michael Miller Fabrics

I’m so excited for this project. It’ll take me a while to complete as I’m assuming I’ll tackle it in doses. I want it to have four sides with a circus top and to have a quilted appearance, as if made with scraps of found fabric. Each side will be just a flap so that any side can be facing out and used as the entry. Perhaps on especially nice days in summer we can take it outside even. We’ll see. Maybe when Keats is big enough for his very own bed he’ll want to put it inside his tent, who knows? For now, though, it’ll be for a bit of fun and to satisfy my interior design leanings.

Somewhere amidst all of that, I’d like to enlist Birch’s help in building an outdoor daybed for the yard. Country Living featured this daybed made from repurposed headboards. With this in mind as a starting point, I am now on the lookout for cheap headboards (not necessarily matching) ready to be given a good home where they’ll receive a serious uplift into something wonderful. This is an ambitious project, but I think we can do it. Summers are long here in California so I’m hoping we’ll have time. If not, there’s always next year. It may even be worth it to just gather materials this summer and then build next year to make sure that I get everything perfect.

So much of this will be made possible by my wonderful mother, who donated her old sewing machine to me. Thanks, Mom! I love hand-sewing stuffed animals and things, but I think when it comes to these projects a machine will be much more practical and efficient.

As summer turns to fall perhaps I'll start reacquainting myself with knitting, but for now there are far too many sewing projects I'd love to try. Speaking of which, remind me to buy this book:

Birch is going to be throwing his two cents into this blog tomorrow so be looking forward to that! Let's see how similar our hopes for this summer are... should be interesting and goodness knows this blog could use another voice. As Birch and I actually conquer each one of these goals, I'll be sure to document with pictures and post the process here. I can't wait! All my love and hope you are all well on this beautiful, sunny day!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Birch Sold His Car!

Birch sold his 2007 Subaru STI Limited! Six hundred dollars a month to pay off $22,000 worth of debt has now vanished from our lives and it feels amazing. Couldn’t have happened at a better time. Birch loved that car and I am so thankful to him for making the sacrifice to our family.

Apparently he had a conversation with my mom before he and I even got married where he somewhat lamented having bought it in hindsight. Both Birch and I were extremely single on December 18th, 2007 and couldn't have possibly guessed that we'd be married a mere seven months later, let alone meet the person that we'd marry the very next day, but we did and Birch's bachelor-buy would be the only real casualty to speak of. Perhaps someday I'll make it up to his bachelor-self by helping to purchase his other dream in life: a small farm to call his own.

Though it was convenient to have two cars, I think Birch quickly realized that the money that was being put into that car was creating a serious lack of funds each month. As the months wore on he drove it less and less. At first because Olive would get sick every time she was in it (my brother-in-law Asher can attest to a rather sickening incident going over the San Mateo Bridge where she vomited straight down my shirt), and then because he was biking to work everyday. I really didn’t want to be the nagging wife that forces her husband to sell his dream car, so I’m extremely grateful to Birch for coming to the decision all by himself. Come to think of it, that’s one of the reasons why I think we work so well together. For the most part, we agree on the big and the little things in our life together. When I’ve been contemplating something for a few days, say the acquisition of a bookcase, I bring it up with Birch and more often than not he responds with, “I was thinking that, too!” Or something to that effect. This makes life pretty easy, let me tell you.

It’s a little sad now that it’s gone, especially since we realized that I didn’t take any “goodbye” photos of him with it, but a huge weight is gone and we can’t stop thinking of all the things we’ve wanted to save up for but couldn’t, projects we wanted to try, camping and road trips we’ve wanted to go on, and last but certainly not least, being able to better afford this wonderful addition to our family (coming to a maternity ward near you, maybe, before, on, or after March 26th).

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Flurry of Last-Minute Activity

Two weeks left and feeling it. Keats is doing Tai Chi in preparation while Birch and I finish up all those last-minute details and try to ignore the strange last-minute bodily annoyances of a 9-month pregnant lady (of which there are many).

We’ve planted a few more flowers and herbs in the garden and Birch is gearing up for next month when he can finally plant his vegetable seeds and we can put together Keats’ bean tepee. We’ll have summer squashes, beans, peas, tomatoes, peppers, and artichokes this year.

My mom and sister took me to do some last-minute shopping including a new car seat and other things necessary for the week or two after Keats is born. Birch and I took his car to get a thorough cleaning inside and out so that we can sell it and then we snagged some ribs for dinner later. Delicious, by the way. I scarfed them down so fast!

We drove down to Santana Row to try and find some presentable pants for me to wear to our maternity shoot the next morning and I remembered why I hate it there so much. Seriously, that place is pretty much my version of a circle of Hell. Not sure which, but it’s in there and buddy’s flappin’ his wings nearby. Granted, going shopping on a Saturday afternoon was not the smartest idea ever, but that place is pure madness and crawling with some of the most self-involved shoppers ever. I was literally pushed out of the way a couple of times and later stepped in dog poo right outside Urban Outfitters. I mean, seriously? You really didn’t think it was necessary to pick that up? Ick. Oh, and while I was standing in line for the fitting room at Anthropologie a lady behind me asked me flat out why I was wasting my time trying on pants. They “obviously” weren’t going to fit. I was glad Birch was waiting outside. That would not have gone well. So yeah, Santana Row has reaffirmed my love for online clothes shopping.

Sunday was maternity shoot day. The city was beautiful and after our shoot Birch and I walked around the Botanical Gardens for another two hours. Correction: I waddled, Birch walked. We took a short “nap” on a bench in the sun and all was right with the world once again, the stain of Santana Row washed away by magnolia blossoms.

Monday reminded me why I don’t go for long walks anymore. I could barely move around the apartment but that’s why YouTube was developed, right? Poirot, Miss Marple, and Inspector Morse kept me company and I realized once again how much Morse really bothers me. I mean, is there ever an episode where he doesn’t hit on someone? Especially witnesses and even suspects! So unprofessional. Haha.

So, with fifteen days before the due date left, Birch and I still have a few things to do: put together the labor bag, do our taxes, launder the baby things, get my car thoroughly washed, install the car seat, and clean the place up like it’s never been cleaned before. That last one is starting to feel more and more dubious everyday as my energy and physical prowess dwindles with each passing moment, but I’m determined to at least get the bedroom tip-top and the kitchen spotless. If we can do those two things I will be very happy.

I am so excited for the baby to be in my arms. It’s hard to wait now, it’s so close! Birch and I enjoy the contact we have with little Keats, but it just can’t compare with what we know is coming. Once again Miriam and Ben have come to our emotional rescue. Some people still insist on letting us know how hard having a baby is, but Ben and Miriam help us to see what we already know: it’s worth it and it’s better than being pregnant. Pregnancy is a strange thing—it’s a waiting game, a process with a very definite goal in the end. Without that ending, the past nine months seems cruel and pointless. Perhaps not pointless but most decidedly cruel. To feel that baby’s fingers wrap around one of your own, to hear it coo and even scream, to begin to understand the meaning behind its expressions and various noises—all of it is magical and beautiful, no matter how hard life has become because of it. Because “it” was the point. We planned this. We wanted this. We knew it would be hard but we knew with an even greater certainty that we wanted the challenge in order to have the reward—to have the child. We wanted a child and now we are so close to seeing his face. Not with a machine but with nothing but our eyes. How incredible it will all be. How completely worth everything that has and will be hard. How completely complete.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Maternity Shoot

Birch and I went up to the city on Sunday morning for a maternity shoot with Cindy and Seth, two of our wonderful three wedding photographers, at the Botanical Gardens. As usual with these two, the shoot was a breeze and very fun, although Birch and I always feel a bit timid and awkward when we're the center of attention. Hopefully that's not too clear in the photos. I'll post some of the shots once they become available to me, but in the meantime go check out Cindy and Seth's streams on Flickr! Both Cindy and Seth have already posted shots from Sunday and we love them! By the way, isn't Birch so handsome?