Friday, August 31, 2012

What I am into this month (August).

Hot and dry at the end of July.
So I maxed out my Picasa web albums and can't add any more pictures. And due to some strange photo-voodoo, spending all morning with their clunky interface deleting fifty pictures allows me to upload exactly three new ones.

Which means a number of posts that relied on images have been completely scrapped, and I have an irritating backlog of posts for the cooking blog to go up. If I can't sort this out, I'll have to go back to that irritating wired method of loading photos and, ugh, that's why I quit food blogging the first time. -_-

All that to say, I don't have an end-of-the-month view from my window picture for you. It's raining, which is good.

ANYWAY. After July completely disappeared with no warning, August sort of dragged on and on and on. Or at least this week has dragged on and on and on. I've been a day ahead of myself all week, but finally it is Friday and so if I can just get through today I get a three-day weekend. Huzzah!

Here's the monthly roundup:

On My Nightstand: I've been perusing cookbooks a lot lately. I only ever got a little less than halfway through Ratio because I kept stopping to experiment--which is a good sign for a cookbook! It's due back for realz now we mean it at the library today, but I think it's going on my Christmas list.

I've also begun scanning through On Food and Cooking, and it is proving to be enlightening, as well.

Want to Read: I am getting closer to the end of the Luther biography. The problem is that I take it with me places to read and then lose it. Oops.

Also a slew of young adult fantasy novels just came in for me at the library. Because I'm very highbrow like that.

TV Show Worth Watching: We're on the sixth and final season of Little Mosque, a strange and entertaining comedy about a group of Muslims in the Canadian equivalent of Podunk, Kansas. It's not exactly high art, but it's entertaining and endearing and Hulu has the whole thing up for free and that's pretty much the only kind of thing we watch.

Movies I've Seen (in or out of a theater): Hmm. I don't think I actually watched any movies at all all month. Interesting.

In My Ears: My Mumford & Sons Pandora station seems to have gotten some new life in it. I'm enjoying the selections from M&S's new album, and whatever else is on there. My ears are still oddly sensitive.

What I'm looking forward to next month: Progress on all things baby. Fall weather. Pumpkin spice lattes and sweaters (though will my overheated pregnant body need sweaters? Unlikely). Finishing the nursery (one can hope). Fall decorating!!! September should be a good month.

Goal Progress: I posted some goals for the new year, and I figured these monthly wrap-up posts would be a good chance to check my progress throughout 2012.

The Budget: I officially paid off my car this month, which means we now own both of them free and clear. Huzzah! And the DDH just paid off the last of the credit card debt from when he was unemployed last year. So. Things are actually on track and okay, even with T-Rex. Double huzzah!

The Garden: Our sunflowers are very nice. That is all. Oops.

Food: I've been baking far too many cookies lately. In general I'm having fun in the kitchen, though I noticed last night that some of my heat/standing intolerance that plagued me in the first trimester might be back. It doesn't help that the DDH absconded with the stool I keep in the kitchen and I don't know where it is. Turns out I really relied on that thing.

The Craft Room: Is still in the same almost-but-not-quite-complete state it was in at the beginning of the month. And the office is still in the complete-disaster-area state it was in. Perhaps that could be a project for this three-day weekend.

How was your August? What are you looking forward to in September?
Imagine a picture of the courtyard and fountain when it's raining here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I am dressed (don't ask much more of me)!

It's been a few weeks since I did a What I Wore post, so I have a backlog of pictures. But something is messed up on my phone or Picasa or something, because it's not letting me upload more recent pictures. Grr.

Anyway. T-Rex is pretty obvious now (especially considering the most recent of these is from ten days ago!).

Shirts: Old Navy; belt: Goodwill; pants: Kohl's.
I'm actually starting to wear fewer belts now because they barely fasten even at my narrowest point. Sigh. But for awhile I was wearing them every day.
I love this blue shirt and yesterday noticed that it's starting to look a little...icky...around the armpits. *sob* I need to find a new one, I guess. The color is so cheerful.
Shirts: Old Navy; belt: Goodwill;
skirt: Old Navy.
I wore the shirt and belt with the pants above for work and with this miniskirt that evening. Maybe I'm starting to be at the age/life stage where I can't wear miniskirts anymore. But this one is so comfortable. And why not go for it for as long as I can, amirite?

Everything Old Navy.
This is from the last gasp of super summer heat. Knit tank, knit skirt. Cool and comfy all around.

I love that skirt, by the way. It's so soft and comfy. If it had pockets, it would be perfect.

Top: borrowed; pants: Kohl's.
Now for something different! I borrowed some maternity clothes (mostly tops and some dresses) from a friend of mine who had a baby last October. I really like this grey one, as it's cool and comfortable but still looks nice. I'm not really sure what the point is of the strip of fabric hanging down the front (it feels like there ought to be another so you can tie them in a bow or something, but there isn't), but it works, I guess.

Top: borrowed; pants: Kohl's.
Another borrowed maternity top. I do like that purple color, and ruffles are fun. My friend has good taste. I should have her buy my clothes.

Everything Old Navy.
Perhaps this was actually the last gasp of summer heat...the same skirt as above, but a different tank. I have mixed feelings about this tank. I almost got rid of it before I got pregnant, because it's an empire waist and very loose around the belly, which I have finally realized is a terrible look for normal me. But obviously it's quite appropriate for me now. ^_^

Unfortunately, the top part still fits weirdly. I can't figure out if it's too small or too big or what. The line tends to ride up over my boobs instead of under them, but if I loosen the straps they fall off my shoulders. I don't know. I should probably still get rid of it because it ends up being uncomfortable and unflattering.

Top: Gap; belt: Loft (stolen from a dress);
capris: Kohl's.
Purple on purple with my much-worn maternity capri cargo pants. The tie actually goes to a dress I picked up at Loft a couple years ago for less than twenty dollars, but I thought it was cute tied in front like a maternity top.

I wore this outfit to a ladies' lock-in at my church (where yes, I stayed up most of the night and slept a few hours on the floor in a sleeping bag). Purple is the organization's colors, and now that I remember that this outfit exists, I think I may wear it again to our conference next month. ^_^

Dress: borrowed; belt: Target.
I borrowed this dress, as well, and love it. I'm contemplating stealing it forever.

Dress: Old Navy; belt: Target.
Am I the only woman in the world who hates maxi dresses? This is the only one I own. I's comfortable, but not any more so than any knit dress or skirt, and less so in that it's strapless and has a tendency to...pull down a bit over the course of the wear. And I don't think they're particularly flattering. But maybe that's because I have nice long (if ghostly pale) legs and like showing them off? I just think maxi dresses make people look like tree trunks--all one thick cylinder. Bleh.

I do like that bright blue color though, don't I? ^_^

That's what I've been wearing!

What trends or popular pieces do you dislike or find unflattering, on yourself or everyone?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I am dressing the baby.

This weekend managed to be both restful and productive, which was what I needed.

Baby updates!

I don't have a What I Wore Wednesday post, but here's some pictures of cute baby clothes for you instead.

We went to the local Just Between Friends sale Saturday night and picked up:
  • a spare playpen (for downstairs, since we plan to use the one we requested on our registry as a bassinet upstairs).
  • a breast pump with all the little accessories (including a car charger) that appears to have never been used. Or maybe used once. For fifty dollars. Which is pretty much nothing.
  • two diaper bags (don't worry, Jessi, yours will be the favorite! but the DDH wanted a manly black one, and I got a nice one so I'd have two--the heir and the spare, if you will).
  • some random toddler-proofing items.
  • a ring-sling. I plan to practice slinging my stuffed koala bear, Croc, in hopes I can get this skillset down before the actual, more breakable baby comes along.
  • a lovely stash of cloth diapers (mostly Green Bees pocket diapers, but there are a couple of small FuzziBunz in there and two Thirsties covers as well as a pile of prefolds and lots of inserts).
Mostly Green Bees one-size pockets, but also two Thirsties
wraps and a stack of prefolds.
  • adorable tiny baby clothing. The first baby clothing we've purchased. I was telling the DDH that I didn't necessarily understand the appeal of baby clothing, that all the gadgets were much more interesting, but we walked down the Infant Boys aisle anyway. And there were fluffy dinosaur sleep sacks and tiny dinosaur footie pajamas and a matching puppy outfit of long-sleeved onesie, bib, and hat. The end.
I caught Kaylee trying to eat the foot off the sweatpants on
the left...not sure what to make of that.

Puppies and dinosaurs!
  • a stuffed dinosaur.

I washed all the clothings and diapers and have stocked the drawer in the living room where I plan to have our impromptu changing station with the diapers. Now if only I had a dresser to put the clothes in. Or a closet. Or even a room....

But! There has been progress on that front, too. The DDH finished all the sanding:

And we cleaned up the walls, ceiling, windows, etc. of all the sawdust:

Clean me!


Cleaned and holes filled.
And filled in the holes in the floor and spackled the walls.

Next step I think is to tack the floor (which is apparently using these special sticky cloths to pick up all the sawdust that the broom and shopvac left behind), then we can stain! And stain some more. And sand more. And seal. And sand more. And eventually we'll be able to paint the walls (we're doing the floors first just in case the brown we picked for the walls ends up clashing with the stain color) and at some point there might even be some furniture to go in there. Miracles happen.

Still. Progress!

Oh, and then I went back to that sale yesterday and found this:

Dinosaur hat.

And best of all, this:

Dinosaur diaper.
That kid will be themed from head to butt.

He's going to hate dinosaurs so much.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I am confusing as well as confused.

Sometimes answering someone's questions just confuses everyone more.

We're hiring at my work, and one of the applicants listed Sister So-and-So as a reference on her application.

My Chinese coworker wanted to know if Sister was the lady's name, because that was a pretty funny name. So I explained, no, at least in this case, she was a nun. Nuns are called sisters as a title.

Obviously she concluded that a male nun would be called a brother.

I explained I was pretty sure that monks, aka male nuns, were usually called father. Or friar, which, that's pretty much just brother in Latin or French or something, so she was kind of right, I guess (I left that part out of my explanation).

"I think you call monks father, but I'm not really sure, because you never see monks anymore. There are lots of nuns, but very few monks. I think if you're male and you want to be a monk, you just go be a priest instead," I explained. Which probably shows how much I know about the Catholic church, but for real. I know lots of nuns, but no monks.

Anyway. Then she wanted to confirm that nuns and monks couldn't marry each other. "No, you can't marry anybody if you're a nun or a monk." Pretty sure that's still true.

"But," said Chinese coworker (I need to give her a codename. Let's use Lucy), "if you're a priest you can marry."

"No, priests can't marry. Well, Catholic priests can't. Anglican ones can, maybe? And Protestant pastors can. But they're not priests. Mostly."

Lucy's eyes sort of glazed over. She had no idea what I meant by Protestants versus Catholics. And I really shouldn't have introduced Anglicans, because I'm not sure they're Protestant or Catholic.

Lucy switched tactics.

"At the university, there is a church," she said. "What kind of church is it?"

I explained it's a Methodist church, which is a kind of Protestant church. This took rather longer than it sounds like it ought to have taken.

"So can that priest marry?"

"Probably. Most Protestant pastors can marry. Let's look him up." I looked up the pastor's biography on the church's website. Somehow I missed the part where he talked about his wife and just saw the bit about building forts with his kids.

"He has kids," I said, "so he must be married. I'm pretty sure you can't be a pastor and have kids and not be married."

"Unless they're adopted," she pointed out.

I admitted that could be, but then found the part about his wife and told Lucy that he was in fact married.

"So that building, it's a Catholic church?" she asked, circling back to our earlier confusion.

"Methodist." I countered.

"What's that?"

"It's a Protestant church. So there's Catholics, and then there's Protestants, but Protestants include all kinds of churches, like Methodists and Presbyterians and Lutherans and Baptists and all kinds."

I clearly was not making any sense to her. She sort of smiled and nodded and quickly escaped across the hall to the bathroom.

Our other coworker chimed in, "Wait, one of the job applicants is a nun?"

I give up.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I am running out of steam.

No outfit post this week. Again. I've been terrible at taking pictures lately.

Do you know that feeling of having a lot going on, and yet never seeming to get anything done?

That's where I am now.

I seem to have appointments or meetings or events every day of the week. Multiple activities per day, even. I'm always checking something off some to-do list or another.

And yet.

The nursery still looks like this.

More sanding yet to do before staining and sealing.
And it would be nice to paint the walls at some point.
And move furniture in.
Which means the room across from it still looks like this.

And honestly, much of the rest of the house doesn't look much better. Every time one place gets cleaned up and improved, something happens and a different place explodes. We still have carpet and carpet padding on the front porch, because the DDH can't figure out what to do with it. He promised he would take it to the dumpster Sunday, and so I emptied out the back of my now there's carpet on the front porch and my trunk organizer and spare grocery bags in the living room. Yay.

And of course the house is being inspected on Friday and the inspector has to take pictures of it inside and out. How he's supposed to do that when he can't even walk into one of the rooms and about half the doors in the house are off their hinges, I'm not entirely sure.

I have epic plans but I'm running out of time and energy to complete them. Work has been stressful and busy and I come home exhausted.

How, exactly, am I supposed to do all this and manage a baby, too?

Admittedly a lot of what I'm doing right now is organizing things so life will be easier once T-Rex is here.

Still, I do not understand how people work when they have baby-sized children. I am dreading it, and the dreading and anxiety and fear are draining me. I am throwing an incessant internal temper tantrum about The Way Life Is and can't seem to find peace about any of it.


On the other hand, I did the little orientation tour at the hospital on Monday and saw the Labor and Delivery Ward, the delivery rooms and post-partum rooms. It's a small hospital in a new building. All the nurses seemed friendly; the rooms were large and clean and not too hospital-y.

You're allowed to move around and use the shower and they have birthing balls for you (all assuming a lack of other complications and the permission of your doctor, of course). They let you hold the critter before weighing and testing him (in the room) and then give him right back for skin-to-skin and nursing. There are lactation consultants you're welcome to use as much as you like. They do rooming-in unless he needs to be NICUified so you can chill together and nurse on demand.

It seems like a good environment, though what do I know, really. The DDH and I have their childbirth class next month and breastfeeding classes in October.

November is starting to feel awfully close.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

I am sharing my two cents.

It seems that every time someone goes on a shooting spree, one of the first questions journalists ask is if the killer's girlfriend recently left him.

We saw it back with the guy* in the Arizona shootings during which Representative Giffords was injured. We saw it in Colorado a couple weeks ago, and again this weekend in Wisconsin.

Always there's some reporter saying, "There's speculation that so-and-so's girlfriend recently left him and this might be one motive behind his rampage."

What sort of message does this send to girls (or guys) dating creepy crazy men (or women)? That if you leave this guy who is obviously nutso and no good for you, he might go off and kill a dozen people in a movie theater? That you'd better stay with this creep or you'll be responsible for the crimes he commits when you leave?

The people who commit these crimes are not stable, normal people who suddenly turn murderous because their girlfriends dumped them. Life with them is not sunshine and daisies until suddenly BOOM. They have underlying mental issues. I wouldn't want to be dating them. I wouldn't want my daughter dating them. I'm sure all these girlfriends had much better reasons for dumping these guys than they probably had for dating them in the first place.

We should be cheering for these girlfriends who got out before these guys could kill them. Not subtly blaming them for triggering mass murder.

Far too many people, men and women alike, stay in abusive relationships. They explain away the crazy, enabling their partners who need professional help.

Maybe if these criminals' girlfriends had stayed with them, they would never have gone on these horrific shooting sprees. Maybe. Maybe these women could have saved dozens at the expense of their own lives and the lives of any of their eventual children.

Because do you know where these relationships end up? They end up on the other side of the courtroom from my husband, in a situation where the best case scenario is that the children will be taken away from these parents and turned over to strangers.

People in abusive relationships or relationships with unstable people don't have a responsibility to the people that might get hurt if they leave.

They have a responsibility to themselves. They have a responsibility to their children, existing and hypothetical.

We should be glad these women got out and stop implying that their courage caused these calamities.

Because the only ones responsible for those murders are the ones who committed them.

*I refuse to name these people not because I can't go look up their names. I know that would make the post less confusing. But I'm loathe to give any more specific attention to these evil people than they already get.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

I am having a Dragon baby.

One of my coworkers is Chinese. As in, came-from-a-Beijing-suburb-to-Tulsa-for-grad-school, is-applying-for-her-permanent-visa-while-working-with-us Chinese.

Before her, we had a different Chinese student working for us. I've learned a lot of interesting things from them, such as:
  1. You don't have outgoing mailboxes at home in China. If you want to mail something, you have to take it to the post office. The old worker wanted to know what the flags on mailboxes were for and was fascinated that you could just drop something in there and the postman would take it away for you.
  2. If you are an only child, and your husband is an only child, then you can apply to the government for permission to have two children. But you have to submit all kinds of paperwork to prove that each of you has no siblings and it's a long, complicated process.
  3. KFC is more popular than McDonald's in China because they have more successfully adapted their menu to Chinese tastes.
  4. Pizza Hut is a fancy restaurant in China--the sort of place you would take a girl for a nice date.
Completely unrelated picture. Though it makes me think I
should ask about nurseries and Chinese baby sleeping
I've really been enjoying our conversations about pregnancy, babies, and child-rearing. We both like seeing how our cultures do things differently.

Yesterday we talked about the foods you should eat during pregnancy. My coworker says that her mom ate lots of apples while she was pregnant, and that's why my friend has such white skin. I don't know about white skin, but eating lots of apples sounds like a good idea--fiber, you know. ;-)

She also said it was interesting because in China, you're supposed to eat lots of fish while pregnant because it's good for baby brains, but here, they tell you to avoid fish because of mercury and other contaminants. I bet fish really is a good food for pregnancy, and it's unfortunate we have to worry about the contaminants now.

Both the Chinese and Americans say you should eat nuts to develop baby brains, but in China it's pecans and America it's walnuts.

Beyond food, she told me that she and her husband would really like to have a dog because they both love dogs, but they're not allowed to because you can't have a dog and a baby in the house at the same time, and of course their parents would like them to have babies (the plural is one reason she wants to stay in the States) sometime in the near future. In China you only get a dog after the child is seven or eight. She's jealous that we have not one but two dogs and wanted to know what our mothers thought about that. When I told her that our parents all had dogs when we were babies, so they certainly don't care, and in fact a lot of people think it's good to have dogs because they help watch and protect the babies (obviously, lots of Westerners take the Chinese line on this topic, but think Nana in Peter Pan), she thought that was pretty much the coolest. I sense a rebellion fomenting. ^_^

And here is an interesting cultural take on the breastfeeding vs. formula debate: Here, of course, it's quite the debate, but even formula companies pretend to be breastfeeding advocates, because there's an assumption that "breast is best." Certainly the online community I frequent loudly advocates breastfeeding. Well. My friend has some friends in China with a baby, and for the past several months, my friend has been going to Target, buying American baby formula, boxing it up, and shipping it to China. Her friends want to give their baby the absolute best, and the absolute best, to them, is American baby formula. It's thought to be much superior to formula sold in China, and her friends are willing to pay American prices PLUS shipping to feed it to their baby. I haven't yet asked her what the Chinese think about breastfeeding; I'm hoping it will come up in the next few months.

She did point out that of course, if you're only having one baby, you are willing to spend a lot to make sure it has the best. You don't have to worry about spreading your money out over two or three or four kids.

My friend is also super excited that T-Rex will be a Dragon baby (which I will admit I think is cool too ^_^). Apparently Chinese couples plan to, as much as possible, have a baby in a lucky year like Dragon or Pig. She was reading on a Chinese website that the big hospital in Beijing has already had more births this year than in all of last year, and since they usually see more births in the last half of the year anyway, they expect this year's birthrate to be more than twice the normal. Her...aunt, maybe? a Kindergarten-equivalent teacher, and she told my friend that this year, instead of about twenty children entering Kindergarten at their school, there are forty-four--because all those lucky Pig babies born in 2008 are starting school this year. Correspondingly, many fewer kids are born in less lucky years, like Sheep.

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the one perspective (or two violently dueling perspectives) I get on all this baby stuff, that I forget just how myopic this view is. I vaguely remember noting differences between the German and American approaches to children when I lived there, but it was all very distant and theoretical at the time. Now I'm learning about things the Chinese do (or at least things that the upper middle class, suburban Chinese do) right when I'm making those same decisions for T-Rex.

I love hearing about the things my friend takes for granted, because it helps me see the things that I take for granted, too. And even if I'm not going to be giving up my dogs or importing formula, it's good to know that others do those things--and why.

What things cause you to question your own assumptions about different topics?
Do you have any other fun cross-cultural baby trivia for me?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I am dressed (don't ask much more of me)!

I got a new phone (a long saga that involves the DDH taking his phone on a float trip, buying a nicer one to replace it, and me getting childishly jealous until he got me one, too), and I think there's a gap between pictures I took on my old phone but never uploaded to the intArwebz, and photos from my new phone.

But! Here's some of what I've been wearing:

Top: Old Navy; necklace: Stein Mart;
skirt: Target.
You can definitely tell the clothing stretches out more than it did when I used to wear this outfit (at one point, the skirt was so loose on me it was practically falling off--no longer!), but tucking in the shirt and cutting my midsection with the line of the skirt does create a slimmer sillhouette.

I suppose I should put in a disclaimer about what I'm doing when I talk about whether things make me look skinny or fat. Obviously I'm not in any way upset about gaining weight right now--that's the whole idea, when you're pregnant. ^_^ I am trying to keep it in a healthy range, but it's certainly not a problem.

Nor, really, am I trying to engage in any sort of fat-shaming in general. I work hard at working out and eating right so that I can feel a certain way, and for my body at this point in my life, that does also mean that I'm usually fairly slim. It helps that I'm tall and have ridiculously long legs--150 pounds looks much different on me than on someone who's 5'5". My goal isn't to be skinny, to in any way insult people who aren't, or to imply that having a certain body type makes you a better person, because it doesn't.

That said, I am genuinely interested in how you can alter your appearance with clothing. It's amazing to me how different I look just because I add or take away a belt, tuck in a shirt or leave it loose, or wear the same piece of clothing in a different size. It's just interesting, and I like to play around with these effects to achieve the looks I want.

Anyway. Onward with clothes!

Top: Goodwill; belt: Target; pants: Kohl's.
Most of my belts no longer go across my waist. I have to wear them around the bottom of my ribcage, right underneath my boobs. But I think they look cute that way! I'm still loving belts in order to pinch in and define some sort of waist, and because I think it looks nicer to break up my increasing bulk with some sort of contrasting accessory.

Plus, I stand by the statement that belts turn clothing into outfits. ^_^

For perspective, here's almost the same outfit from back in May, at about fourteen and a half weeks:

Shirt: Goodwill; belt and pants: Target.

It's a different belt and non-maternity pants, but the same top. Obviously a change!

Top: Loft; belt: Target; skirt: thrifted.
I do like this skirt a lot. Here it is dressed up with a niceish shirt and--of course!--a belt.

Tops: Old Navy; belt: Goodwill; pants: Kohl's.
It is officially too hot for me to wear tanks and shirts layered like this anymore. It makes three layers with the belly panel on the maternity pants and it's just too much. These outfits will be back in the fall though, I'm sure. They're just so cute!

And for reference: The last two pictures are from July 20 (23.5 weeks), the first is from July 22 (just shy of 24 weeks), and the second from July 24 (24 weeks, 1 day). T-Rex seems to have had a growth spurt, but you can also see just what I mean about how much clothes influence how you look.

It's Wednesday, and that's what I've been wearing.
How about you? How do you use clothing to create different effects?