Thursday, July 29, 2010

Week 26 Bump

Here I am at 26 weeks - growing every day!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Waste Not

As I've mentioned before, I waste food.  It's not something I'm proud of and I've consciously tried to cut down on the amount of food wasted at the Swans' nest.  But it seems that we always have something in the fridge that goes bad before we get around to eating it.  So when I ran across an article on this morning about 10 Tips to Reduce Your Food Waste, I was intrigued.

The article had these ten suggestions (followed by my commentary and thoughts):

1. Create—and then stick to—a shopping list.   I have a hard time with this one.  I even created a convenient little shopping list organization sheet (found here), and I used it  for a while but then fell off the wagon.  I think the real tip behind this tip is - PLAN AHEAD.  You can't create a grocery list if you don't know what you'll be eating for the week.

2. Shop a few times a weekI think this can be a good tip, especially if you have a grocery store on your way home from work. By shopping a few times a week (as opposed to one massive shopping trip), you only shop for a few things at once and can reevaluate your grocery stock more often.  Thus, you're less likely to overbuy and can take your actual eating for the week into account. (i.e. if you plan to cook on Tuesday but end up going out for pizza, your whole week isn't totally derailed, whereas if you had bought 7 nights of meals at your one weekly shopping trip, you'll end up with extra food after that one night out.) The problem with this tip is actually taking the extra time to go to the store a few times a week.

3. Stick to a single cuisine, to maximize efficiencyThis would never have occurred to me, but I think its a fabulous idea.  For instance, I made stir fry last week and bought some water chestnuts to throw in for some added crunch.  But I only used half of the can.  A week later, the chestnuts are still sitting in the fridge.  But if I'd planned another pan-Asian meal the next night, less food would've been wasted.  This would also help my pasta sauce dilemma.  With two people, we always have leftover pasta sauce and the jar ends up sitting in the fridge for days/weeks and then I forget if we have any, buy more and before long we end up with three half empty jars in the back of the fridge.  But if we had pasta Monday night, Tuesday we could make pizza and then our whole can of pasta sauce might actually get used.  I think I'll try this tip out next week.  Italian week here we come!

4. Buy food with cash.  Sound tip, but for us, its never going to happen.  The Swans are not a cash based family and I don't see that changing any time soon.  I understand the rationale behind the tip - if you actually see your money in hand, you're more likely to make conscious decisions about spending it and won't overbuy at the store. 

5. Hit the supermarket salad barThis sounds ridiculous to me.  The thought behind this tip was that two people have a difficult time getting through a bag of celery or carrots before the food goes bad, so just buy what you need off the salad bar.  I guess it could work, but I don't trust supermarket salad bars, so I think I'll just stick with big bags and hope for the best.

6. Rein it in at the farmers marketI'm guilty here.  I am easily lured in by kiwis and strawberries and exotic vegetables and never eat them all before they go bad.  Or I buy them and think I'll find a recipe to make using my fun new ingredient and never do.  So for me, this tip could read: just be realistic.
7. Wash and prep fruit and vegetables right awayThis is a great idea and one I've occasionally followed myself.  Especially good for carrots and other snacks that you can cut and divide into individual portions for easy grab and go access.  The only concern here is that veggies and fruit spoil quicker once they're cut, so you may not want to cut everything right away - instead maybe cut what you need for the next three days and then have another prep session on the fourth day.

8. Keep track of what's in your fridge and pantry, with expiration datesAgain this is not something I would ever think of, but its a brilliant idea.  Do you know what you actually have in your fridge and freezer?  I don't.  The other day Mr. Cob found some frozen chicken that I'd planned to use to make chicken stock months ago.  And we honestly have about 7 different kinds of mustard, but realized we were out of ketchup Saturday night when friends were over for burgers.  Inventorying would initially take some time to put together, but once completed, it'd be easy to keep up with on a white board, chalk board or computer.

9. Use the freezer—and use it wiselyI try to use the freezer wisely, but often I fail.  Lately I've been good about throwing browning bananas in the freezer to use at some later date for banana bread.  And if I buy too much chicken or meat at the grocery store I tend to throw half of it in the freezer.  What I'm not good about is packing up the leftovers from a big meal and freezing them - instead they're more likely to end up at the back of our fridge, lost forever.

10. Schedule in your leftoversIf I've planned my weekly meals, I am pretty good about scheduling in leftover nights.  Or we'll scheduled to eat them for lunches during the week.  Sometimes I just forget what we have though.  But this is a great tip, especially if you're just a family of two and always have leftovers after cooking.

So those were some great tips!  And in an effort to put them into action, I'm going to start using my grocery chart lists again and here's my plan for the rest of this week.

Wednesday - use leftover grilled pork loin (from Sunday's dinner) and extra slider buns (from Saturday night's chicken sliders) to make pork sliders with a side of leftover grilled veggies. (tip #10)

Thursday  - pasta with grilled chicken (that is currently frozen in the freezer - TIP #9) and frozen veggies (TIP #9)

Friday - omelets (with eggs that are set to expire June 30th - tip#8) with leftover chicken from Thursday's meal (TIP #10) - side note, am I stretching here?  Is a chicken omelet just gross?  Can you really cook these two together considering the egg comes from the chicken?  Ok, now I've grossed myself out.  Maybe we'll rethink Friday's meal and just have egg and cheese sandwiches.

And we will not go back to the grocery store until we use the food in the fridge!  I'll let you know how it goes...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Why I Write

I keep this blog for a handful of reasons.  For one, I really enjoy writing and have aspirations of being a writer in my spare time.  I've started writing two books but lost interest in both as I think the perfect topic hasn't hit me yet.  I also keep this blog as an outlet for my thoughts and feelings.  I kept a journal or diary from the age of about 7 or 8 (a pink Hello Kitty diary) all the way through college, so writing down my thoughts has always helped me (aside from the one time in high school when my mom found and read my journal, at which point the journal was not so much "helpful"...)

But one of the reasons I've been writing so much lately and what keeps me enthused is the feedback I've been receiving.  People have been reaching out to me and sharing their stories and their response to my posts.  Or just to ask how I'm doing.  A sorority sister who I haven't talked to or seen in probably 7 years sent me an email today about her pregnancy and childbirth experience, and I loved hearing from her and reading about her experience.  It helped reassure me that I'm not alone in all of this.  And a few months back a good friend from high school emailed me and said she'd been reading my blog - we hadn't talked in years either, but it was great to reconnect.  (Liz, we still need to go for that drink...I just have to birth a baby first!)  And friends who I do talk to on a regular basis read and respond and they know what is going on in my life.

So here's to you readers - thanks for reading along and for responding!  Keep the comments and emails coming - I love each and every one of them!  And even you random people out there who don't "know" me personally (though if you've been reading this, you more or less know me, as I'm a pretty open book), I love hearing from y'all too - so don't be shy.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Almost 26 weeks

I am about to begin the last week of my second trimester. Which means the “honeymoon stage” of pregnancy is almost over. From what I’ve read (and heard from friends), the last three months tend to suck.
The “books” tell me that right now: 

  1. The babe weighs about 2 pounds.

  2. I should gain about 1/2 inch in belly/fundal size every WEEK from this point on. So that means I have about 7 inches to grow – that sounds like a lot. This also means that I will gain roughly 2 inches between now and the wedding I am in at the end of August. The big question is whether or not my bridesmaids dress has two inches worth of room to grow. I don’t know the answer to this yet. And I’m a little nervous.

  3. As long as I’ve been following a “nutritious and sensible diet plan” I should have gained between 16-22 pounds. I have instituted a strict rule of only weighing myself at my monthly OB appointment, so I have no idea how much weight I’ve gained thus far. But considering I’d already gained about 21 pounds as of two weeks ago, I’d bet I’m above the 22 pound mark. I just keep telling myself that my mom gained 50 pounds and she lost it all, so maybe I’m just genetically prone to gaining more weight during pregnancy. Or it could be the ice cream floats. Or maybe its the Pad Thai that I just can’t get enough of. Or the newest craving – waffles with peanut butter and honey for breakfast. It’s definitely not from the carbs I’m loving. Couldn’t be the carbs.

  4. I'll be putting on weight at the rate of about 1 pound per week now. This means about 14 more pounds will probably be added to my frame. Lovely.

  5. I may be feeling some rib pain as the baby grows and pushes upward. The pressure may also cause indigestion, heartburn and shortness of breath. I may even be feeling stitch-like pains down the sides of my abdomen as my uterine muscle stretches. Yup. Feeling the side pain. It was so bad this weekend that I was having trouble breathing. I thought my bra might just be too tight, but even after removing that impediment the pain remained. Luckily I haven’t had any heartburn since my random episode back in June and I’m praying it doesn’t strike again. But I do have indigestion. Though I’m not sure I can blame this on the pregnancy. But I will. 
My emotions are still all over the place. For the most part, I’ve kept it together the past few days. I’ve talked to some friends who have already gone through pregnancy and they’ve reassured me that this is normal – it seems that people just don’t always talk about it. Nobody wants to be a downer. But I still think it’s really important for me to be honest and vocal about the emotional rollercoaster. I feel lucky to have such a wonderful support system of friends and family to help when I need them.
Lukas is doing well (as far as I know). I often feel the rhythmic bumps of his hiccups. And I think he must be practicing kicking the soccer ball with my bladder and other organs and boy is he strong. Or maybe I’m just sensitive. Last night I laid in bed and just watched my stomach move up and down as he danced inside – I yelled for Mr. Cob to come see but of course Lukas decided to stop doing the Macarena. I’ve also begun to notice his patterns of wakefulness and sleep and worry a little if I haven’t felt him move in some time.
Some days its hard to believe that we’re already two thirds of the way through and other days it feels like I’ve been pregnant forever. And in all honesty, I don’t think I’ve completely grasped the fact that in about three and a half months I will actually have a baby to take care of. I’m still not sure that will hit me until he’s here.  

Basement Update

After yet another weekend, we are a few steps closer to completing task #1 on our pre-Lukas list.  I don't have pictures because I thought it'd be fun to wait and do one final reveal (and I just forgot to take any pictures this weekend).  But here's where we stand.

The entire room is painted - we went with a lovely blue color called Raindrop from Sherwin Williams.  Although, history has repeated itself and my color picking skills, yet again, were lacking. The color is quite a lot brighter and more aqua than the swatch (or the picture to the left) appeared in the store.  I do like the color, but it was just not what I was expecting.  It gives the room a beachy vibe, which doesn't exactly mesh wiht the rest of the decorating in the house.  But it certainly brightens up the room!

The new floor is also almost entirely laid down.  We went with the Armstrong 12 inch x 12 inch Stylistik II Bodden Bay Terra Cotta Tile from Home Depot.  The tiles were $31/box and we needed 6 boxes for a total cost of $186. And while I helped pick out the tiles Mr. Cob was alone in the installation.  We decided that I shouldn't touch the glue adhesive on the back of the tiles given my pregnant state.  It was difficult to sit back and watch Mr. Cob work without being able to help him - but he did an amazing job!  He wasn't able to finish the entire floor this weekend because he's still figuring out what to do about the cracked concrete and uneven nature of the entry way.  He used a hammer to chip away at the concrete to even out the floor and it has definitely made an improvement.  Tonight he is going to fill the gap with concrete filler and install a threshold underneath the door.  (There is currently a gap underneath the door that allows water to get into the house when it rains, so we're hoping that adding the threshold will seal up this gap.)  Then tomorrow or the next day we/he should be in business to lay the rest of the tiles.

I decided to just buy the basic white plastic mini Blindz from Lowes to cover all the windows.  I thought about putting up nice Roman Shades or Bamboo blinds, but decided our money would be better spent elsewhere in the house since this space will mainly be used as a storage room.  I haven't actually hung the blinds yet, but at least I have them ready to go.  And if I'm feeling the need to jazz up the blinds, I figure I can always beg my mom to whip us up a couple of valances.  (At some point, i really should learn to sew myself.)

We also purchased a storage unit for the room.  My inspiration for this part of the house came from the basement makeover done by the bloggers over at YoungHouseLove.  You can see their basement here.  So I originally thought we would just buy the Ikea cabinets used in their renovation, but then we found a larger cabinet at Lowes and decided to go with that.  It was only $102 and seems to be big enough to meet our needs.  We will have to put it together, which will hopefully be an easy process.  We also were looking into units to store all our sports equipment, but decided to just use a bookshelf we already own and buy some cheap baskets to help organize everything.  Then we need to buy some plastic storage bins for additional storage and organization.  And depending upon how much more stuff we have after filling up the storage cabinet and the bookshelf, we may need to purchase some additional storage.  But first, before buying anything else I think we'll try to use some wire baskets and other random shelves around the house that we already own.

The goal is to have this part of the house completed by next weekend.  I think we can do it!  I'll keep you posted on our progress...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Career Paths

Lately Mr. Cob and I have been talking a bit about law school and lawyering and careers in general.  We have a few friends who are having a rough time in their attorney lives right now and at least one who is considering quitting the practice of law and pursuing an entirely new career path.  Mr. Cob also has a law student interning at his firm for the summer, so he's been telling me about her and how its going.  And my brother, as you know, just recently quit his job as a physical therapist and moved across the country to pursue his dream of working in the field of Ayurveda on a full time level.  And part of keeping this blog, is my desire to be a writer and the only way to do that is, well, to write.

So I've been thinking about how people end up in their chosen careers.  Did you pick your career or did it happen to you?  What caused you to choose this line of work?  Would you do it again if given the opportunity?

All I can offer is from my personal experience of choosing to become an attorney and the path that lead me to this profession.  It was a conscious decision.  I had to take all the required steps in the process (undergraduate degree, LSAT, applications, picking a school, etc.), so I fully knew what I was doing - as in, I knew I was taking all the necessary steps to become a lawyer.  But I was very blind in the process.  Looking back, deciding to be a lawyer feels more like something that happened to me, rather than a choice I made.  It was not, but I wish I had been more informed about law school and what it would be like after law school. 

So here are the top ten things I wish someone had told me before I decided to go to law school (not that it would have necessarily changed my ultimate decision to go had I known these things, but more information is better than less, in my opinion):

1. Unless you go to a top-ranked (as in top 10-15) law school in the nation, you must finish within the top 25% of your class (if not higher) to have a shot at getting a good job. And by good job, I mean one that makes the cost of attending law school worth while and gives you some freedom to practice the type of law you want.  We could debate endlessly whether or not these jobs are actually "good".  My one friend, without a doubt, would at this moment argue that these jobs are not good, as they tend to consume your life and you don't have any time to actually enjoy the money you are making.  But I digress.

2. You should try to get on a law journal, or an advocacy program (moot court and/or mock trail). These hold more weight than any other law school related activity and some employers won't even interview you unless you have one or more of these activities behind you.

3. Law school will not necessarily teach you how to be a lawyer. It will teach you to think critically, but as far as the day to day side of lawyering, there are very few classes that will prepare you, especially if you become a transactional attorney.   If you have a desire to litigate, you should seek out trial prep type courses.  My husband took some of these and while I thought they sounded horrible (and he would have agreed in the midst of a few), they are the classes that do offer practical skills.  You can also take a clinic (or clinical program) which helps you with interviewing, case appraisal and planning, negotiation, dispute resolution, and persuasive oral and written advocacy through hands-on experience and community service.  (However, I didn't even know what a clinic was while I was in law school.  These were never, in my opinion, widely touted or encouraged, although I think they would have be extremely helpful).

4. Law school offers very little in the way of positive reinforcement. It comes in the form of good grades, and you only get those (i.e. grades) once a semester and they aren't always good (at least not for everyone).  This can be very hard for someone (like yours truly) who thrives on positive reinforcement.  I found the entire experience quite self deprecating, but other people (eh hem, Mr. Cob) quite enjoyed law school and all aspects thereof.

5. You are competing against your fellow students. No way around this. In order for you to do well, others must do worse and vice versa.  The outward perception of this competitiveness varies by school.  I was lucky enough to go to a school where people did not hid books or purposely try to make others do bad.

6. Supply far exceeds demand in the legal field. 

7. You will not likely get to choose what type of law you practice (unless you are in the very top of your class, in which case you will probably have your choice of firm, but not necessarily control over what practice group you end up in). So people who go to law school dead set on being an environmental lawyer or entertainment lawyer, will end up stuck as a medical mal practice defense attorney or M&A transactional attorney.

8. Once you have a few years of practice in one area of the law, its not easy to switch to an entirely different area. So #7 is reinforced and you may never practice the type of law you always thought you wanted to.  (For example, a general litigation firm is going to be hesitant to hire someone who has been doing real estate deals for three years.  While you have experience as an attorney, you don't have the experience they're expecting when hiring a fourth year associate.)

9. There is very little way of knowing what type of law you will/would like, as law school doesn't prepare you for actual legal work (see #3). And it's not like you can try workers comp for a few weeks and then have a shot at family law for another few weeks and then decide.  Some summer programs will offer you the opportunity to work in a few different practice groups and this is a great time to learn about various practices.  Also, you can take continuing legal education classes on any type of law to help try to sort this out and the various law school classes will give you a flavor of what you might like, but per #8, it's not always a piece of cake to get hired in these particular fields.

10. Some people really do love law school and being an attorney. I happen to be married to one of them and am friends with others. But I have plenty of friends, myself included, who loved law school for the friendships we made, but had a very difficult time with the actual school part. But whatever group you fall into, there are others who feel like you do. The problem is often finding people to be honest about their feelings. 

So would I do it again?  Probably.  Even with knowing all of the above.  I just may have approached it differently.  Luckily I ended up in a great firm and I met some amazing friends in the process, so the three years was definitely not a waste.  I also met my husband at law school.  So if all else fails, you can try for your MRS along with your JD - I think of it as two for the price of one.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Today, Stu is TWO!

Today our sweet nephew turns TWO years old!  It feels like yesterday that we were all at Piedmont Hospital awaiting his arrival.  I wish I could be with him to sing happy birthday and play today and I'm a little sad that I'm missing his birthday.  But I'm thinking about him and sending him lots of love!  Happy Birthday Stuart!  Auntie Ryry misses you and loves you very, very much!

Here's the latest picture my brother sent me from Cali -

And today is also my friend C's due date.  I wonder if her baby will share a birthday with Stu?!?!  I know she's ready to meet her little one, so here's to hoping the baby is ready to meet her today too!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Week 25 Pictures

Here I am at 25 weeks!  A couple of notes:
1. We were running late this morning (as usual), so we I had to wait to snap these pictures until tonight.
2.  I had not reapplied makeup since first putting it on at 8 a.m.; I had worked a full day and just gotten home from an hour long pregnancy massage (total bliss).  So while I was totally relaxed, I'm not exactly looking my best.
3.  This post can also be filed under "What not to wear".  And you now know my secret - I look semi-cute for work and then I get home and throw on ridiculous outfits to lounge around the house - hence the purple gaucho pants and green tank top.  Do I get points for being colorful?
4.  I don't think I have to worry about not looking pregnant anymore.  Its pretty clear.

Blog Roll

I'm not very computer savvy.  I can type and find my way around the internet, but when it comes to formatting, I'm completely lost.  But I can read directions and attempt to follow them (though if you check with my husband, he'll tell you that I rarely look to directions and instead just go at something willy nilly until I'm completely dumbfounded and then ask for his help, at which point he asks if I've read the directions).  So after some poking around on google, I finally found directions on adding a List of Blogs I follow to my sidebar.  This was much easier than I was making it out to be...

So, check out these blogs - some are blogs of my friends and others are random blogs I've found along the way.  Its always good to have a few extra websites to have on hand when you're having a slow day or are bored and need a break.

I'd love to hear what blogs y'all keep up with!  Is there anything I should check out and add to my blog roll?

The Truth (Continued)

The past few days haven't been much easier than last week and my emotional roller coaster continues.  My face is breaking out again, so perhaps my hormones have gotten all out of whack again.  Or perhaps its just this pregnancy thing in general.

It's hard to describe exactly what I'm feeling and how I'm feeling.  I keep saying to Mr. Cob that I feel like a crazy person.  And I definitely do not feel like "myself."  I go from extremely excited about Lukas to sobbing and feeling helpless and alone in a heartbeat.  And there is usually nothing to tip off this extreme swing in mood.  Hence, my feelings of craziness.

I'm trying my best to not let it get to me, but its hard.  I feel like my life is changing very quickly and before I know it, I'm not going to be me anymore.  Which in many ways is true. 

I'm also feeling extremely overwhelmed.  I feel like there are a million things to do in the next few months and I just don't know how they're all going to get done.  In my head I know we are making progress and will get everything finished in time, but its still a weight that I can't lift right now.  But as my good friend said to me yesterday, all I really need for Lukas' arrival is a crib and some diapers, and I already have that.  So everything else I accomplish beyond that is just a bonus.  I like her way of thinking.

I really just need to take a step back and relax.  The truth is that I get this way before any big life event.  Three years ago I was going through something very similar when I was studying for and getting ready to take the bar exam.  I felt hopeless and miserable - a feeling I often felt before all exams during law school.  I also became extremely overwhelmed and crazy before our wedding and the move into our house.  It's my way of dealing with stress and change.  Perhaps its not the healthiest way of coping, but I've always soldiered through.  And I know this will be no different. 

And in an effort to calm down, I scheduled a pregnancy massage for this evening, and I'm so looking forward to it.  I also had a mini glass of red wine last night (with the doctor's OK), and savored the taste and let all my worries out the window for a while.  I think I need to take some deep breathes and put everything in perspective and realize that it's OK to feel all these emotions, I just can't let them consume me.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Who Will Watch Our Kid?

It's time to ramp up the Childcare Search.  Seeing as how my due date is in 109 days (thanks and my maternity leave is 12 weeks (84 days), we will need childcare in roughly 193 days (yay, math).  This still seems far off, but I'm getting nervous, very nervous. 

Until last week were were still only on one waiting list - The Canterbury School, which I wasn't psyched about after taking the tour.  The tour guide was 15-20 minutes late for our appointment, didn't have any handouts to give us because the printer was broken, promised to send us the handouts but never did, and was generally less than enthusiastic in her demeanor which didn't do much for "selling" the school to us.  I got the vibe that she didn't feel like she needed to impress us because she's well aware that supply does not meet demand for quality childcare in Atlanta, and that parents will take whatever school/daycare has a spot for them at the time.  But, she's partly right and we're keeping our name on the list.  The teachers seemed nice and the school is somewhat close to our house, so it wouldn't be a bad option. 

We then got our sh*t together and applied to the Frazer School, which I'm really excited about, even though I haven't toured the facilities or spoken with any of the staff/teachers.  I like the idea of inclusive education/care giving and think Lukas will benefit from being around all sorts of children.  We've also heard wonderful things about the school from Mr. Cob's co-worker, so it's my #1 choice right now.  Also, the Frazer School has part-time programs, so my mom could watch Lukas for 1-2 days a week if she's up for it.  We're on the waiting list, but we received a letter confirming receipt of our application that more or less said they're inundated with applications and will let us know if our number comes up.  Otherwise, they wish us well in our search.

Today I filled out and mailed in the pre-registration form for the new Primrose School opening up in Midtown this August.  Our name will be placed on their waiting list and we'll be notified if a spot is available for February.  The location is OK, but the price is high - $1340 per MONTH!  And they're only taking full time applications.  So it's not perfect, but it's brand new and I'm sure it would be fine.

And now I feel like I've hit a dead end.  There are some church daycares in the area that we could look into, and some other schools that aren't very clear about their application process.  But it seems with all these "schools", you apply, get put on a waiting list and then simply wait to be notified of an available spot.  So what happens if February rolls around and we don't get a spot anywhere?  We need a backup plan, which I guess is a nanny, but I don't even know how to begin that search.

I'm starting to feel overwhelmed.  Deep breathes.  In. Out. In. Out.  Sigh.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I Really Have No Idea

After writing last week's post on the Ideal Birth, I haven't been able to stopping thinking about the topic.  Why was I believing some random OB/GYN commenting on a blog post over a good friend of mine?  The OB didn't really cite any stronger evidence for her statement than my friend.  And then I realized, I couldn't articulate a good response to either comment because, frankly, I know nothing about birthing a baby.  This realization coupled with the fact that the hypnobirth course I signed up for suggested some pre-course reading materials, has me reading yet another book.  This one about birth.

The book was one of two suggested readings from the HypnoBirth instructor - The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer.  (The other for those wondering was Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin.)  I figured that I'm a "thinking woman" so having a guide to a "better" birth might be helpful.  I bought the book at 9:00 last night and have read 150 pages within 24 hours - you could say I'm completely absorbed in it.  I've now realized that I really don't know anything about labor and birthing a baby and will be armed with a legal sized pad of paper full of questions at my next OB appointment.

I still think that every woman should choose whatever birth suits her best and that we shouldn't judge one another for our selected birth plan. And while I continue to have low expectations about my personal birth (or I should say Lukas' birth - he's the one being birthed, I've already had my birth 29 years ago...), I now have, shall we say, hopes.  Actually, until I talk to my doctor, I now have major question marks and a few concerns, but at least I'm now more informed about all the options out there.

My main questions/concerns now are -

  1. Can I eat and drink once I'm at the hospital?  (I really hope so, because I don't function well on an empty stomach.  I'm also not a pleasant person to be around when I'm hungry and one can only assume I'm not going to be the world's most pleasant person that day, so why make it worse?  Also, I don't stop eating before a half marathon, and I certainly don't stop drinking water, so why should I during labor?  I know, I know, the fear of having to have surgery and having a full stomach - but what about someone who gets in a car crash after having a large meal?  The doctors still proceed with surgery on them and how often do you hear about them dying or having complications due to having food in their bellies?  Mr. Cob, the lawyer that he is, says that the reason doctors won't allow eating or drinking during labor is purely to cover themselves and avoid litigation.  There really are too many lawyers out there...)

  2. Must I deliver lying on my back?  After doing some reading, my friend appears to be on to something when she said this is not the most ideal way to give birth. 

  3. How long can I go past my due date before being scheduled for an induction?  While hopefully this won't be an issue, I'd be comfortable waiting 10 days to 14 days, but ask me again on November 5 if I still feel this way.

  4. Is a C-section absolutely necessary for a breech baby?

  5. Would a doula be helpful?
These are just a few of my questions as of now and I'm sure my list will continue to grow as the weeks continue to tick by.

Here's to be informed.

The Weekend Update

It has been a long, productive weekend for the Swans, which we spent mostly working on the basement.  We removed most of the top layer of the old floor, filled in and then sanded the holes in the walls, framed out a window, replaced lots of rotted wood, cleaned all the walls (vacuumed and then scrubbed down....), primed all the walls and painted all the trim white.  It was hard work, but I'm glad we're making progress.  Next up is painting the walls - I decided on a shade of blue from Sherwin Williams.  Then hopefully next Saturday we can install the new floor and start filling up the space with our stuff (or at least purchasing the storage containers/planning how to most effectively use this room).

As a reminder, here was our BEFORE picture:

And the "DURING" pictures...

And to showcase Mr. Cob's handwork - here was the before picture of the window that was not framed:

And the after - Didn't he do a great job!

And the floor...Mr. Cob did some demo on this section of the floor.  You can't really see in the pictures, but this part of the floor is higher than the rest and quite uneven.  We're not yet sure how to remedy this problem.  We might have to get inventive.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Dead Flowers and Rain

I've always felt that life would be a little bit better if everyone was more honest with each other about their "situation" and how they're feeling.  For instance, I really appreciated when my friend Katie was honest about the first six weeks of her son's life when she told me it was really hard and that she got really depressed and cried just about every day.  Some people would never share this information for fear of it making them look weak, or wanting to keep up the facade that parenting, and all aspects thereof, is always wonderful.  But I really appreciated her honesty and felt comforted that it isn't abnormal to have those feelings in the event I find parenting to be difficult myself.

So I feel its only fair for me to be totally honest on here with all of you about this pregnancy, and how I'm feeling, and especially about how it's not all been Sunshine and Roses.  (I'm also keeping this blog in lieu of a pregnancy journal, so I think it'll be good for me in the future to have a written recollection of this time).

I've said on here before that I've had an "easy pregnancy."  And my rationale for defining it that way is the fact that I've not had morning sickness and have more or less maintained my energy level.  But, the truth is, the past six months have not been without their difficulties. So here's the truth about my pregnancy...

For one thing, my biggest pregnancy side effect is flatulence and it's not pleasant - for me, the husband or the animals.  And nothing really seems to help.

I've started to pee when I sneeze.  Seriously.  Not every time, but about 40%  of all sneezes are accompanied by a little urine.  I had no idea this might happen, but the more I've talked to other pregnant friends, or mothers, this apparently is a common thing during pregnancy.  Supposedly kegel exercises can help - here's to hoping!  In the meantime, pantyliner might be a new staple...

I have zero libido.  I'll leave it at that.

I had a serious breakdown last night about feeling very depressed and not feeling like myself.  This was brought on by a shopping trip to Target where I was trying on some clothes - the dressing rooms have double mirrors so you can see your front and back at the same time...lets just say the florescent lights did not help my body image.  I'm carrying Lukas very "tight" and low, so my stomach doesn't protrude too much, but I feel like the rest of me is just expanding.  Mr. Cob was so sweet and said he honestly hadn't noticed.  And most days I feel OK about my changing body, but some days I just feel like I'm becoming the thunder thighed person a frenemy in college once told me I was.  I know I'm supposed to be gaining this weight for the little guy, and I don't have a problem with the numbers on the scale, but its the way the weight is being distributed that has been hard.  On the plus side, my boobs are bigger than they've ever been, which is great!

Mr. Cob and I are both waiting for this pregnancy to hit him and for him to have a massive freak out.  He doesn't feel too connected to Lukas, which I completely understand.  I'm walking around with him 24 hours a day, and Mr. Cob doesn't have anything tangible yet that screams "You're about to be a dad!"  I wish I knew how to make him feel more included.

I'm worried that I'm going to be a bad mom.  I still get scared when the doorbell rings at night and I'm alone, and I rarely get a good night sleep when Mr. Cob is away.  How the hell am I suddenly going to gain this courage to be this strong, together person that a baby needs?  I worry that the baby will completely change the dynamic of my marriage to Mr. Cob.  And I really like my marriage, so I'm nervous about it changing.  I worry that I'm going to have a really hard time returning to work after maternity leave and feel terrible about leaving Lukas in daycare all day with someone else essentially raising him.  And even worse, I worry that I won't feel those things, but instead will be relieved to go back to work.  In general, I'm just nervous about all the unknowns.

Oh, and I am still craving dirty vodka martinis.  And red wine.  I'm looking forward to my first cocktail post-birth.  It's the truth.  Feel free to judge me.

So that's the truth.  It's not neat and clean, but neither is life.  I do love this baby boy though, that's the one constant.  Actually, there's two constants - I love my husband.  He's been amazing, especially when I've been depressed and upset.  I'm not sure I could do this without him, nor would I ever want to.  He's going to be an incredible father, and the thought of seeing him interact with his son in a few months is one of the things that makes me smile and feel so excited about being pregnant.  The rest of the things, however, I could do without.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

An Ideal Birth?

Childbirth has become a common topic of conversation for me. For one, I’m pregnant. But I also have a few friends who are pregnant (one due next week, and another two weeks later, and we were all three at dinner together last night). I think I’ve gone into this whole pregnancy “thing” with a pretty open mind and low-to-no expectations for how everything would go. So far, I’ve had a completely different pregnancy than I thought I would. I feared that I would be severely sick with morning sickness, and yet I haven’t had any. I feared my energy levels would be so drained that I’d be a couch potato for 9 months, but so far I’m working out a few days a week and still working my 9-5+ job. So you could say I’ve had an easy pregnancy.

And when it comes to the actual labor and delivery, I have zero expectations.  Many fears, but zero expectations. I will deliver in a hospital, with an OB. Aside from that, I’m just going to see how things go. I’m going to attempt to go for a natural childbirth, but I’m not unrealistic. I have an extremely low threshold for pain, so this natural childbirth idea might be immediately thrown out the window at the first sign of contractions. I am taking a HypnoBirthing class, in hopes that I can approach labor without fear (as of right now I have a lot of fear surrounding the actual labor and delivery part). I know HypnoBirthing teaches you how to get through labor naturally, but I’m still not going into the process with this idea that I will be a failure, or any less of a woman for deciding to get pain reduction medication.

However, I have another friend who has very strong views about childbirth and how it is going to go, and she’s all but said that she’ll feel like she’s failed if she can’t have the type of birth she wants. It can be difficult to talk to her about labor/delivery because her views are so strong that they run contrary to some of the things I feel and our talks often make me feel like she’s judging my thoughts and views on the subject. So today, when I ran across an article on The Motherlode about “The Idealized Birth”, it really hit home.  The article discusses whether or not there is such a thing as an ideal birth, or should the mother just be content with a healthy baby.  I started reading through the comments and found one in particular to be interesting. My friend made the comment at dinner last night that you shouldn’t be afraid of childbirth because women everywhere, and even tribal women, have successful, natural births all the time. But according to this particular comment (from an OB/GYN), that’s not exactly true. I have no idea if this comment is accurate, but it makes me question my friend’s comment and feel more confident in my open-minded approach.

I could not agree more that the point is "not to have a 'birth' but a baby." As an ob/gyn, it is frustrating to see women become so mired in the idea that it "should be natural." Why should it be natural? In "nature," childbirth leads to 50% mortality in mothers, usually from postpartum hemorrhage. In "nature," where women do not have access to ORs and cesarean sections, labor continues on until fetal demise occurs and the macerated (soft & mushy) fetal head can deliver, usually leaving behind a traumatized pelvis and future fistulas (a decidedly unnatural connection between the vagina and the bladder or rectum allowing uncontrolled drainage of urine and stool out the vagina). This is actually quite commonplace in parts of Africa. There are entire Fistula Hospitals and Fistula Foundations for this problem alone, let alone the other complications of pregnancy. (Please see Nicholas Kristof's op ed piece from 2009 for more information - Why put your baby and yourself at risk to satisfy some notion that "it should be natural?"

I just thought it was an interesting read and an interesting comment.  I'm all for women's empowerment and women having the choice to have whatever type of labor they choose.  I'd just like people to not judge someone else for choosing a different birth plan/method than their own. 

Paint Colors

Sherwin Williams, my favorite paint store, has this great interactive tool on their website where you can upload a picture of the room you want to paint and then test different paint colors on your actual room to see what you like.  So here are some options I'm considering for the basement.  Keep in mind, the floor is changing and I can always make the floor coordinate with the chosen paint color.  I will also probably repaint all the trim and add new window coverings.  But with a little imagination, you can picture our new room...

Mexican Sand (which we already have in our breakfast nook and have left over paint...)

Green (don't remember the name...)


Cherry Tomato

So what do you think?  What's the winner?  Or do none of these work?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Week 24 Pictures

Everyone says that all women handle pregnancy differently.  We have different body shapes, so its no surprise that different bodies look different during pregnancy.  Well, this pregnant body is just getting wide.  Lukas must be sprawled out rather than curled up like a little ball, because my stomach still isn't looking obviously pregnant (unless I'm derobed or wearing skin tight clothes, which rarely happens outside of the confines of my house...)  It's true, I see people looking at me funny, wondering what's wrong with my stomach.  It just has this bloated appearance.  I can hear the mental conversation going on in a person's head as they pass me...they wonder about my wardrobe choice and lack of flat stomach in these outfits.  I know I should not complain about this, but its just odd.  Before you're pregnant, you wonder how you'll handle it.  And sure enough, I'm gaining weight (or girth, your choice) in my booty and thighs - the place I always put on weight when I fall off the healthy food wagon and exercise bike.  Luckily my face is staying slender and nothing seems to be swelling up yet (fingers crossed they don't).  My rings still fit and are even loose some days.  But my feet, they are growing longer and a tad wider.  My shoe collection is feeling lonely since they are slowly being abandoned.  I may just have to buy them some new friends to keep them company!

On anther note, Mr. Cob totally disagrees with the above statements and noted this morning - "You definitely look pregnant."  So maybe I'm delusional.  It's quite possible.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Basement Rehab

After realizing how long our list was, Mr. Cob and I decided we should hop to it.  So after dinner tonight we tackled the back part of the basement (project #1 on our "Before-Lukas-Arrives List").

Here are some pics to show you what we're dealing with...

These pictures DO NOT show the reality of the situation.  (Must be my amazing camera just makes everything look better....)  There were cobwebs everywhere, dead bugs, alive spiders, dust, dust and mor dust, and lots of boxes and cardboard scraps.  So we threw out the trash, recycled the recycleables, moved the landscaping materials to the garage and cleared out the space.  And then Mr. Cob swept.  Here's what we have after day 1:

And here is a closeup of the floor....

It's just gross.  So Mr. Cob is researching what, if anything, we can do to level out the floor (aside from a new layer of concrete) and deciding whether or not he needs to try to rip up the old flooring before we lay down the new floor.  I think we've decided on vinyl tiles that are backed with self adhesive - not the most high-end materials, but it should work perfectly for our needs.  Then Mr. Cob needs to do some spot repair to certain areas of the walls and windows (two windows need to be sealed).   And I need to buy window blinds or shades, but I haven't decided what route to go yet. I've also decided we should paint the walls - it certainly can't hurt.  Any thoughts on color???

Mr. Cob

Just a quick glimpse into my life.  Here is what Mr. Cob currently has posted on his gmail status:

"leftover lunch :( Chicken salad and tuna salad in one sandwhich. It tasts awful and makes me feel like a pervert."

This made me laugh outloud. 

Time is a Tickin

So this weekend Mr. Cob brought up the fact that we have a lot of things to get done around the house before baby Lukas arrives.  He was a bit worried since he has some trials coming up in September/October as well as some weekend trips (weddings and high school reunion - which I sadly can't go to), etc.  I wasn't concerned because we still have 16 weeks until Lukas is scheduled to arrive (assuming he's an on time kinda fella).  But then I sat down and made out before-Lukas-arrives-TO DO List.  I'm now officially freaking out a bit.

Here's the list (In order of tasks to be done)…

1. Organize/clean back part of basement (probably should put up blinds or some window covering); move tools, bikes, golf clubs, stroller, Christmas decorations, odds and ends/childhood memento boxes, sporting equipment, etc. out to this area so that we can “finish” the big part of the basement. (TIME FRAME: a few nights after work or all weekend– 1st night to clean, 2nd night to hang window coverings, 3rd night to plan organizationally (i.e. put bookshelf, or hang some kind of shelves for storage – maybe buy some tall cabinets from IKEA or Lowes?); 4th night to move everything into this new space) (Do we want to put a cheap laminate flooring in over the existing floor?) - After sharing this list with Mr. Cob, we decided we would in fact replace the flooring in this part of the basement with some sort of vinyl tiles.  I know this doesn't sound glamorous, but considering the current state of this area, vinyl tiles will be a major upgrade.  So Mr. Cob is researching how to tear up the existing mess of a "floor" and we're going to tackle the floor and hopefully the entire area this weekend.)

2. Replace 2 blinds (killed by Ms. Wrigley and her accomplice Lydia) over basement windows (TIME: one night after work).

3. Clean/organize basement bathroom & take clothes to Goodwill (TIME: one night after work) - some explanation: we have a third full, finished bathroom in the basement, which we currently do not use at all.  The reason we never use it, you can't make it in the door.  It's full of "stuff".  I had bagged up a bunch of clothes to donate and left them in the basement and then let Wrigley and Lydia (her best friend) play in basement - well when I came home from work, the girls had torn into the bags and clothes were everywhere.  So in a quick fix, I just threw everything in the bathroom.  Yes, I will wash all the clothes before donating them.

4. Temporarily carpet the basement – need to price carpet tiles. (TIME: weekend project) - about a third of our basement is "finished" - i.e. drywalled.  And with the impending arrival of baby, we need to move all the furniture that is in the soon-to-be nursery to the basement.  I also want to buy a treadmill and put it in the basement with a TV.  So we decided to carpet the basement with carpet tiles so that this area is actually useable space until we fully finish the basement and put in permanent carpeting.

5. Move all the existing furniture from the nursery to the basement. (TIME: weekend morning or night after work)

6. Clean out closet in Lukas’ room and find new homes for its inhabitants (TIME: after work a few nights) -confession: this closet is my junk closet.  Anything that I don't know what to do with goes in this closet.  Is it becoming clear that I'm not exactly the most organized person?  I hide it well (hence my closets and bathrooms you've never seen....)

7. Have door taken out and drywalled. - This is the random door in the nursery that leads to a faux-balcony (I've been told its called a "Romeo and Juliet balcony".  Regardless, its going).  We're getting this professionally done.

8. Steam-vac carpet in Lukas’ room or re-carpet – need to price carpet.

9. Have built ins bookshelves built.  Depending on the quote from our GC, we may have him build these, or Mr. Cob and his father might tackle this project.

10. Pick out bedding for Lukas’ room. Or pick out fabric so grandma Sip Sip can make Lukas' bedding. 
11. Paint Lukas’ room. (Need to pick out the paint color) – (TIME: weekend day project)

12. Buy crib mattress (organic mattress from Costco) (can maybe order online)

13. Put together crib for Lukas (after work one night project – need to get crib from grandma's house- weekend).

14. Remove current contents of dresser, desk and end table from guest room and find new homes (TIME: night after work)

15. Move dresser, desk and end table into nursery. (TIME: after work project)

16. Wash Lukas’ clothes (I have hand-me-downs from Lukas' cousin Stu - lots of clothes!); Box up clothes 9 mos. and up and store; hang or put away rest of clothes in Lukas’ dresser and closet (TIME: night after work)

17. Pick up the "new" furniture for guest room (TIME: weekend day trip – need to rent van and possibly bring friend to help load furniture).

18. Grandma Sip Sip to recover glider and make window treatments.
So as you can see, we have our hands full.  I'll let you know how all these projects go as we start and complete them!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Savannah Wedding Part 2

And now for the second part of our Savannah weekend...the wedding!  Our friend Anthony, a classmate from law school, married his fiance Allison and they had a beautiful wedding.  The ceremony was held at the Trinity United Methodist Church in downtown Savannah.  Located in Telfair Square and built in 1848, Trinity United Methodist is the oldest Methodist Church in Savannah.

Here are a few pictures from the ceremony...
(We were sitting pretty far in the back).

The reception was held at the Hyatt Regency overlooking the Savannah River.  It was a beautiful location.  The food was wonderful and included a mashed potato bar (YUM - a huge hit!), a pasta bar, raw oysters (which sadly I had to pass on given my current "state"), and the best boursin stuffed mushrooms.  We had a great time celebrating Anthony and Allison and spending the evening with great friends. 

We had a wonderful weekend! 

Friday, July 9, 2010

Savannah Wedding Weekend

A few weeks back we traveled to Savannah for a friend from law school's beautiful wedding.  It was my first trip to the coastal Georgia town, and I was not disappointed.  It is a very charming town and reminded me of Charleston, SC, but on a smaller scale.  Here are some highlights from our trip:

STAY:  The Planters Inn on Reynold's SquareWe stayed in a 60 room hotel in historic downtown Savannah that is rumored to be haunted, though after two nights, we didn't see any ghosts (supposedly dressed in "period garb").  The inn was very quaint and we even received a free upgrade to a larger room upon arrival.  Complimentary wine and cheese is served every evening in the lobby and the inn offers a complimentary breakfast each morning.  This was the perfect location to walk to the shopping district, the waterfront and all the restaurants.  I'd definitely recommend it if you're looking for a place in Savannah.

EAT:   Being as it is in the South, Savannah is not lacking in places to eat.  For one, the great Paula Dean is from Savannah and has her own restaurant - The Lady & Sons, but it sells out on a regular basis, so you have to get there early.  We walked along the Savannah River and looked at many menus - most offered some variety of seafood.  They all looked delicious and we had a hard time choosing one.  Luckily, one of the partners in Mr. Cob's firm worked in Savannah for five years, so we asked him where we should have dinner for a special date night Friday evening.  He suggested Vic's on the River, which is located in an old cotton warehouse dating back to 1859 and offers "fine contemporary Southern cuisine."  While we had to wait about thirty-five minutes to be seated, the food was definitely worth the wait.  We shared their award-winning crawfish beignets as an appetizer (they won first place the Taste of Savannah last year).  They were one of the best things I have ever eaten.  For my main course I tried the Jumbo Crab Cake on crab risotto and Mr. Cob had the Pecan Encrusted Grouper - both excellent options. 

DRINK & WATCH SOCCER:  We were in Savannah the Saturday of the World Cup when USA played Ghana, so we had to hunt down the perfect place to watch the game.  Friday afternoon Mr. Cob popped in every restaurant and bar to determine who had the best TV set up.  We settled on Churchills Pub  Restaurant on West Bay Street.  Worried we wouldn't get a good seat, we ended up at the pub two and half hours before game-time, which might have been a bit over precautious, but we got good seats (for 8) up front next to a big screen TV.  Sadly the game didn't turn out as we'd have liked, but it was a great place to watch the game and spend the afternoon with friends.  The food was your typical pub fair, but was decent (especially the onion rings, and the spinach dip).  The virgin bloody mary wasn't the best I've had, but it sufficed. 

Oh, another tid-bit about Savannah.  As long as you have your alcoholic drink in a plastic cup, you can bring it with you wherever.  Mr. Cob even stopped a police officer just to make sure he wasn't violating any laws by drinking his beer while walking along the river.  The cop thought we were the strange ones for asking!  So enjoy the beverages while visiting Savannah - just remember your plastic cup!

SHOP:  River Street is filled with kitschy beach stores where you can get anything from salt-water taffy to Surrender the Booty tee shirts, and anything and everything "Savannah" related or monogrammed.  But if you're looking for boutique type clothing stores, you're best to head to Broughton Street, which is filled with great shops.  I know there is more shopping in Savannah, but these are just the two spots we hit up.

WEDDING...I think I'll save that post for later - it was much to beautiful of a wedding to fit into the end of this post.