Sunday, March 31, 2013

How this city kid celebrates Easter

Unfortunately, there was no baby brother in our Easter baskets today.  He missed out on a lot of fun this weekend which is just as well I suppose since if he'd decided to make his appearance, we'd have missed out on this fun as well (though I'm sure we'd have had a totally different kind of fun).

Eric took off work on Friday to hang with Hannah who was off school for Easter break. Their daddy-daughter days are always chock-full of fun and very exhausting. On this one, they spent the first part of the morning at Port Discovery and then trekked down to The Aquarium before returning home half-asleep and happy mid-afternoon.

They rested up and then we brought new meaning to the term stoop sitting. Amy invited us to join in the egg-dying fun with her and Zoe and Nate, and since it was so nice outside, we took it to the sidewalk. It was a terrible spot to try to photograph since everyone was huddled in a very small half-circle facing the house, but we snapped a few, including some that Eric took by hanging out of the upstairs window.

Amy had these neat little no-spill, color coded egg-dying containers that the girls took turns plopping eggs into.

I wish Nate's face were in this one because I'm guessing, based on his hand gesture, that it was a pretty funny face.

Hannah had the official job of catching the eggs in a plastic mitt when they were finished soaking in the dye and then placing them back in the crate.

When nearly all were colored, I asked about polka dots...Nate ran in to get a candle and promptly started polka-dotting eggs in hot wax while Hannah watched mesmerized and continuously asked why it didn't hurt his fingers.

There were a few casualties that were far too cracked to be dyed which Nate and Zoey happily disposed of. Hannah had some bites of one but she's into a "no oak [yolk]" think lately so she left most of the egg-eating up to these two.

I seriously love Zoey's face in this one.

We spent yesterday at the circus (another blog post that I will hopefully get to before baby brother arrives), and then resumed Easter celebrations this morning with a whole-house egg hunt. Eric stashed some coins in some of the eggs, but we otherwise left them empty. As you know, I'm not into candy, even the less craptastic candy options are still unnecessary in my book. I allow the less craptastic options in VERY SMALL DOSES here and there (like a lollipop when we go to Trader Joe's), but I'm definitely not going to buy it and have it in the house. I'm also not into wasting money or house space on a bunch of junky toys just to stuff some eggs, though, quite honestly, if I were someone who shopped a lot and happened to be out and about and happened to come across something kind of fun and inexpensive, I might have given in on that one and purchased some junk. I wasn't going to make a special trip to the store though just to look for something to spend money on. And anyway, Hannah didn't care. She loved the thrill of finding the eggs and although she preferred the ones with change in them, she was happy finding the empty eggs too. As with the other holidays, we try to keep as much of the fun as possible without making more work for ourselves than is necessary. You can call it selfish if you want; I call it setting boundaries to maintain my own sanity. Whatever it is, it works for us so we're sticking to it.

None of the egg-hunting pics really came out, but here's one for posterity's sake.

Happy Easter if you're celebrating any parts of this celebration of spring, fertility, sex, resurrection, or whatever other threads we've woven into it over the centuries!!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Still hibernating...

Today Hannah said, "I'm getting bored of just wandering around with my parents. I want to see my baby brother." I told her she was preaching to the choir.  I know he isn't THAT late, but since his sister broke loose at 38 weeks and since my cycle is shorter than usual (25 days instead of 28), I thought for sure that this little guy would at least be a few days early, if not a few weeks. That his due date came and went 2 days ago is unreal to me.

With Hannah, I kept reading that first babies were always late, and I was counting on that being a fact so when my membranes ruptured 2 weeks early and the house was a mess with nothing ready, I cried. A lot. It is an understatement to say that I was not ready. With this one we've been ready for what feels like eons, and I've been huge and uncomfortable for even longer. I was far more capable with Hannah, and my lifestyle was far less compromised, so I didn't mind being pregnant. This one has changed my whole life and rendered me useless as a member of my former active existence. I have worked hard to make peace with my new couch potato existence, but I am so looking forward to being able to walk without  waddling and run around with Hannah without getting winded and peeing my pants. I am also looking forward to having all that glorious extra space in my abdominal cavity for things like breathing, digesting, and holding my bladder for more than 11 minutes at a time.

How do bears know when to stop hibernating?? Maybe there is a similar message I can send to this little guy to let him know that spring is here, winter is over, and it's time to leave his little den.

I walked down to The Avenue earlier today for some inducing acupuncture. I've been doing pelvic tilts and imitating hula hooping (not sure I could actually hula hoop or I'd have Eric get mine out of the garage). We are doing a few other things purported to encourage labor which I won't mention here. I guess the only thing to do now is just be patient and trust that he will come when he's ready...In the meantime, I'm trying to make peace with the fact that I may end up carrying him to his high school prom in utero.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The closest thing to a snow day in 2013

The rain that took over midday turned our one and only snow day into a bit of mess, but we enjoyed it for a few hours before everything turned into a soggy mess. Hannah and I started our day by building a snowman on the back porch (there was more snow back there than out front).

We came inside to warm up for a bit, and then I took her over to Kylie's house to play in their backyard and build another snowman (and a baby snowman). I went home to sit down and relax my very sore lower back and hips, and Kevin sent me this super cute pic of the ladies and their finished products.

After that it was off to the parking lot of The Rotunda for some city rat sled riding. I suited back up, grabbed the camera, and walked over to meet them. Adrienne stood at the top of the hill and helped the girls onto the sled, and Kevin stood at the bottom and caught them before they tumbled off the curb onto the parking lot, which was just wet and not at all snowy. I was only there for two runs and didn't manage to get any good pics during either, but I'm sharing two anyway.

By this point the falling snow was incredibly wet, and in spite of snow pants and a snow coat, Hannah was soaked through. When the girls got to the bottom of the hill on the second run that I was present for, they all slid slowly over the curb and toppled to one side while Keven struggled to get one hand out of his pocket and catch them. Hannah stood up and said, "I'm fine. Mommy, can we go home now?" So we came home, and she warmed up in the bath tub and then had some grilled cheese and tomato soup.

The snow turned to rain, and the snowman spent the rest of the day drooping and sagging. His button eyes sunk back into his head, and his carrot nose catapulted forward into the ground in front of him. The fun was short-lived, but I think we can say that we sufficiently sucked the marrow out of that snow (half) day bone!

Friday, March 22, 2013

The transformation of Hannah's art gallery

Hannah's art gallery received mixed reviews while it was up. Some raised their eyebrows, plastered on a smile, and said "Oh nice" in a tone that indicated the opposite. Some suggested nicer ways of displaying her art, you know, frames and such. Then there were those who, like me, loved the kitschy chaos of it all.

I'm not much of a decorator. I don't feel like spending the time or money required to print photos, buy art, buy frames, coordinate frames, hang stuff...I paint the walls, hang whatever framed stuff I've inherited over the years, and leave the rest of the space blank. It's not that I don't want there to be something there, it's just that I don't have it in me to prioritize it.

When Hannah started school in the fall, she also started coming home with a new painting every day. I followed the Montessori way and made comments like, "tell me about this" and "I see a lot of dark lines in this corner" and "is that an 'H'?" instead of slathering on the praise with a simple, generic "good job!" I wanted to show that I was proud though, that I admire her work and creativity, and also that art is a broad category inclusive of many different styles and artists and she should feel free to consider herself an artist if she so desired, so we started taping her work to the wall. She loved it, and so did I because that long, bleak blank space in the dining room was finally filling with color, and the only effort required of me was a little tape ripping.

As the wall filled up, it became clear that Eric had joined ranks with the first group mentioned above. To some extent, I knew it was getting a little out of hand, especially since a lot of the earlier stuff was ripped and barely hanging on to the wall, but there was still blank space that needed to be filled! Sure, I'll admit it, my slight OCD had started to take over, and I wanted to see just how far we could take it. I had never intended to leave it up forever, and in spite of my last post in which I admitted to being an obsessed parent, the gallery wasn't some sort of shrine in her honor or anything. I never had any intentions of keeping all the paintings (the vast majority went out the with the recycling this morning); I really just thought it was fun. 

When the only space left on the wall required a ladder to reach, and the piles of new paintings started stacking up on the floor, I took the above pics and agreed it was time for a new decorating scheme. We went to Ikea and picked up five $5 frames. I picked my favorite five paintings, trying to choose one that represented each color phase and also each style phase (she started with blobs of color, then progressed to lines, the letters, then random swirls and lines and blobs combined). I kept a few more favorites too, and I also kept some of the smaller craft projects she did which I don't have frames for yet.

My goal was to create a framed collage on the wall like this or this or any of the ones at this site so that we retained that element of kitschy chaos that I like so much but in a more acceptable manner, but I don't have any idea how to do that. I mean, do you take a methodical approach and measure your wall and then your art and graph it all out using various standard frame sizes and then take that plan to the store to purchase frames? Or do you just buy a random assortment of frames that look good together in various sizes and bring them home and hope you have stuff to fill them? And once you have the frames, how do you decide how to arrange them on the wall? Do you measure then and graph out a game plan or do you just start hammering in nails and hope it looks awesome in the end?

I haven't given up, but I did decide to start small in a manageable way. These frames weigh next to nothing so we used tiny nails and can totally move them around later when we have more frames and a game plan for making the collage thing happen. In the meantime, we went just lined them up horizontally.

So, artsty fartsy friends, who wants to help me create a Hannah art collage on the dining room wall??? Anybody??

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Hannah obsession

There are multiple moments in every day when I look at Hannah and am overwhelmingly enamored with her. Yesterday I was working and she was sitting right next to me on the arm of the couch watching TV, and I kept feeling the need to squeeze and hug and kiss her. She seemed so adorable and grown up all at the same time. Maybe it was the pony tail still in her hair from dance class. Maybe it was the jeans, which she never wears. Either way, I put down the computer and took a picture.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Body art: The prenatal bucket list

With the help of my very awesome therapist, I managed to focus my priorities where I wanted to during the tail end of this pregnancy rather than putting my energy on the things that matter far less in the grand scheme of life and then feeling sad/angry/guilty for not treating this pregnancy like the last pregnancy that it is.

Since this is my last opportunity to experience pregnancy and birth the way that I want, I'm having a home birth, even though it's costing us A LOT more money and I have to drive A LOT farther to my appointments. To compliment that home birth and also to increase the odds of a calm and peaceful birth, one that Hannah can be present for if she chooses to, I read through the Hypnobirthing book for the second time (the first was when Hannah was in utero) and then signed us up for classes. I watched some Hypnobirthing and Hypnobabies videos on YouTube and LOVE how uneventful and boring they are. I am not going for an Oscar on this--bring on the boring!

I intended to focus more on Hypnobirthing with Hannah's birth, but my midwife at the time said that first time moms have a harder time with it and suggested I use The Bradley Method instead. We learned a lot in Bradley classes, but now that I've learned more about Hypnobirthing, I wish I'd stuck with it the first time around. The philosophy is a lot more empowering, and the concept of teaching yourself to go into a deep state of relaxation at the drop of a hat and let your body do its thing seems more useful in this circumstance than an understanding of all the potential drugs and interventions that hospitals use (although a brief understanding of that stuff is useful as well).

Classes accomplished and practice routine set up, I moved on to my next bucket list item: turning my big ol' pregnant body into a work of art by getting a prenatal henna tattoo and some artsy-fartsy, black-and-white, tastefully nude photographs. See, in spite of being incredibly uncomfortable with this extra 35 pounds pulling at me from the front, I am totally amazed by my body right now. It's unreal and amazing to me that it can look like this, and I wanted to capture it so that I never forget. I wanted to be art, if that makes sense.

I really wanted a prenatal henna tattoo when pregnant with Hannah, but I didn't prioritize it, and the one time I was at a festival where I could have gotten one spontaneously, I was wearing a dress...this made access to my belly a little difficult. I did my research and then a photographer fell into my lap  while putzing around Soft and Cozy Baby picking up some prefolds. Jill Mills of Heartlove Photography works there on Sundays and is always incredibly helpful when I have questions, and she's incredibly sweet so when she mentioned that the prints on the wall are hers, I got her business card and we started emailing.  She recommended a henna artist, and I managed to line up appointments for henna, haircuts, and photographs in a 2-day time period last week.

On Thursday, Hannah and I drove to Christalene's house of Crystalooneys Creative Arts and spent the afternoon being decorated by Christalene and hanging out. Hannah's first henna! And mine too! It was a really fun afternoon. These are the pics that Christalene took with her phone after applying the paste.

On Friday afternoon, Hannah and I got our first haircuts since September and then drove to Jill's studio. I haven't seen all of the pics yet, but here's a preview of what she provided:

Pretty cool, right!! She sent me two others that I really love, but they are a bit more revealing, and I know a lot of family members read this blog so I figure I'll share those on an individual basis with people who are not weirded out by nudity/my nudity. I'm thinking I'm going to have them all printed in a book, like a coffee table art book. See, if they were pics of someone else, I'd want to decorate with them, but since they're me, it seems a little conceited...and also, it would really freak out my brother, so for his sake, I'll keep the nipple shots in a book.

Jill also took some straight-forward belly shots for Christalene to use in her portfolio and to print in a magazine that she has advertising space in. Here's what the henna looks like now that the paste is off:  

And there it is--I checked off everything from my to do list, I tackled my bucket list, and I blogged about both! Bring on the baby!!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Making space for baby: Bookshelves and a home birth center

Although I'm not sure I'll ever be ready ready for the potential chaos of a growing family, technically speaking, we're actually pretty ready. Not that it matters--as we discovered with Hannah, babies need surprisingly little. Since we were remodeling the house while I was pregnant with her, her room had become a stash-it spot for all sorts of random stuff (and it remained a stash-it spot for at least a year). In the last couple of weeks of Hannah's time in utero, Eric ripped out the upstairs bathroom, meaning that in the middle of the night, when my super squashed bladder complained about the three drops of urine it held, I had to hobble up and down two flights of steps to the newly finished bathroom in the basement.  I didn't even have all the stuff off the registry that we needed (like diapers--not a popular gift to receive at a baby shower in spite of it being pretty much the only thing you need other than a working set of boobs).

This time around we needed far less stuff so the to-do list mostly consisted of pulling things out of storage, wiping off the dust, and washing covers when applicable. Check.

Making space for Hannah was a challenge. It took us a couple of years to realize that she was going to be around for a while and that she had stuff that we needed to make room for. We started out small and bought a six-cube organizing shelf thing from Target to keep things in the dining room. In spite of never having any big birthday parties for her, she accumulated stuff out the wazoo and in no time, the organizing shelf was overflowing. I tried culling down, but...most of it is arts and crafts stuff that we use.  So I did what any reasonable person would do and begged my husband to build me some sky-high shelves. It's a row home; we've gotta go vertical baby!

Lucky for us, Joel was around for a while over the holidays and was happy to have a wood-working project to keep him busy. He spent a couple of days putting it together and I wasted no time moving stuff into it. Eric still needs to add the trim and stain the shelves so they match the kitchen cabinets, but it could be a while before that happens, and there's no room for all that stuff to just sit around in the meantime. 

I love having the space to spread out and be organized and love it that Hannah can access all her stuff more easily because now that she can see it, she actually plays with it. It's a very Montessori set up.

Prior to the shelves, I went to town on Hannah's room, making room for baby brother. We'll be kicking it old-school style up in here and having the kids share a room. The only other option is to stash one of them in the basement, but as I learned while pregnant with Hannah, schlepping up and down those stairs in the middle of the night is incredibly un-fun.

So I moved Hannah's clothes out of her dresser and into her closet. We added a few more shelves to make organizing possible, and the end result is that all of her clothes are now in one place which I think makes it easier for her to get dressed, AND she has an easier time finding clothes on shelves than she did rooting through deep dresser drawers.

After emptying out the dresser, I busied myself filling it up with baby clothes. We inherited multiple trash bags full of clothes that Clay and Mason have grown out of, and I spent days sorting them by size, stashing most of them in labeled bins in the basement, and washing everything from size newborn up to 3 months and filling up the dresser drawers.

And then there's the home-birth center...We originally planned to put a birth tub in the corner of our bedroom but quickly realized that that basement was a better bet. There's more room for the tub, the bathroom is closer, and there's a door that closes in case we need to be sectioned off from the rest of the house. This way, if birthing happens when Hannah is trying to sleep, we don't have to worry about disturbing her. The added benefit is that we can be totally set up and not have all the birth-specific stuff in our living space in the meantime. Check it out!

So, yeah, the house is ready to welcome its newest member, and now that he's been cooking in there for more than 37 weeks, he should be getting ready to come on out and check out his new digs.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Bowling with Brandy and a belly shot to boot!

After reading about our annual bowling fiasco, Brandy said she wanted in on some Kellogg family bowling action so we set up a date and, miraculously, made it to Stoneleigh Lanes twice in one year! Our timing was pretty rad because early last week they sent out another Groupon which we promptly scooped up. Who doesn't love half-price shoe rentals, lane rentals, and bowling alley pizza?

We started our morning at the BSO family concert. This one was Musical Roots: From Africa to America and featured an awesome percussion performance by the OrchKids and a few seriously amazing and super fun performances by local beat boxer, Shodekeh. I loved this song best and am thinking I need to order it from iTunes.

We went straight from the concert to the bowling alley (getting ourselves dressed that morning for those two back-to-back activities was a bit of a conundrum) to meet Brandy and Tim, sling some duckpins, and eat some pizza.

For those of you who have been harrassing me because I have posted very few belly shots (ahem, Autumn!) check out this pic in which my super huge belly dwarfs the miniscule little duckpin ball. I'm pretty sure I'd dwarf ten pin ball as well.

The adult-to-child ratio on this particular bowling fiasco was 4 to 1 which meant that the adults actually played a full game. I don't know the last time I played a whole's been years for sure. Unfortunately, we had no idea how to keep beyond simply marking down the number of pins that we knocked over with each turn so my two spares were ignored. I mention this because I think that should we have been able to calculate in what to do with spares, I might not have come in dead last....

Eric came in at the opposite end of the score card befuddling us native Marylanders and putting us to shame. I grew up lobbing the occasional duckpin with my dad and so did Brandy and Tim, but Eric had never even heard of duckpin until he married me let alone lobbed one down a lane. In spite of being humbled by my Michigander husband, it was a super fun game and a super fun day in general.

We even ended up with a family picture, courtesy of Brandy! That makes two very rare shots in this one short post. Thanks B!
Photo courtesy of Brandy Washington

Saturday, March 2, 2013

This week in Hannah fashion

Pretty much all of Hannah's outfits are, at a minimum, mildly entertaining. Her outfits this week were a little more. I didn't manage to get a picture every morning, but I did manage to capture three examples of Hannah's talent at combining colors and patterns. This is in part because she discovered her summer dresses hanging on the top rung of her closet. She's been pulling over the chair in her room and choosing a different one every day as a top layer.

On the way home from school on Monday she told me that she was pretending to be a rainbow unicorn on the playground. On Tuesday morning, she came downstairs wearing this little number.

On Tuesday afternoon we visited the midwife and ran into the mom and 3-year-old daughter who had the appointment before us. The little girl was wearing a dress that I recognized as one that Hannah has, and I said so. The next morning, Hannah pulled that dress from the top rung of her closet and put it on over her purple and black striped leggings and a brown shirt with pink, white, and purple flowers.

I missed forgot to snap a pick on Thursday morning, and then when we went hiking around Cylburn after school, she peed all over the back over her pants attempting to squat in a bush, so that outfit was disassembled before we could get back home and take a picture.

On Friday she returned to an old fashion choice of hers in which she wears socks on her hands.

You can only see the socks on her feet in one of the above shots, but it's worth noting that she chose two different socks to wear every day of the week. It occurred to her that there were no rules saying that socks have to match, and she has delighted in not matching all week.

I love seeing what crazy, colorful concoction she's going to come up with every morning and hope her outfits are always this creative!