Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mother Daughter Bonding Time - (or "Oh lord, help me... when does your father get back!?!?!?")

I know I have so neglected Shades lately.  My goal was to keep this from morphing into a mommy blog by creating a separate blog for our daughter, Emerson, elsewhere. However,  I have discovered, for the first time in my life, compartmentalizing is no longer an option.  I'm not saying every post will be adventures in motherhood - but its without a doubt the most all encompassing role I have ever held so you're just going to have to grip the handlebars and work with me on this completely insane course onto which my life has veered.

Hunter and I have spent the past four months positively desperate to get Em into a routine and now that we're there, we both looked at each other last night, exasperated and agreed that having every single moment of your day budgeted just completely sucks.  Now, I will admit we do have about 4 or 6 moments that are not scheduled or consumed.  We use these moments to close our eyes and catch our breath or lean up against a wall and take a 30 second nap.  We occasionally splurge and try to get through 15 minutes of The History Channel's Pawn Stars (the only TV show we have the mental capacity for these days) and I do try to get in a few pages of reading before losing consciousness at the end of the day.  Just in case you're wondering - I'm re-reading the Harry Potter series.  Yep, that's right.  I'm pretty sure this is the 4th  time I will be reading the entire series.  Harry Potter is comfort food in the Best household.  Pure-T Comfort Food  (Though I will say, Ghost Written by David Mitchell may have to intercede between The Prisoner of Azkaban and The Goblet of Fire).

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining.  This has been the most amazing and magical four months of my life.  Every single day this beautiful little girl does something new that just takes my breath away.  She makes a new connection, she gets her hand eye coordination controlled enough to reach out and pet Bodhi, her giggle gets a little more defined, she wraps her little arms around my neck and squeezes with a soft little 'coo' in my ear.... and I will tell you, each of these tiny little milestones leaves me just completely breathless and fighting the urge to go out and buy a celebratory red velvet cake (we celebrate with red velvet in this house - we cope with chocolate in any form).

Last week, Hunter took a much deserved mini-vacation; (Don't worry - my turn is coming... oh yes... one day) a road trip with his friend Jon with the ultimate destination of Telluride, CO for a two day Phish concert.  I was kind of excited about kicking back and just relaxing with Emerson.  I scoped out all of the parks I wanted to visit, I got a good bottle of wine before he left, I went to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients for a few recipes that I've been wanting to try.  I figured I could knock the recipes out during her 3:00 nap, take a stroll to the park before bed time and then spend my evenings after putting her down kicking back on the patio with a glass of wine, catching up on long over due phone calls.  It'll be fun!

(Every time that overly enthusiastic, excessively perky voice in my head exclaims "It'll be fun!" I really should just go get in bed and hide under the covers.  Why haven't I learned this?  It's my inner voice for crying out loud?!?!)

Let me just break it down for you like this.  The minute Hunter walked out the door - the child started teething.  At least I think she's teething?  She's producing about 2.5 gallons of drool a day and gnawing on her fist like a fried drumstick from Mama Dip's Country Restaurant.  (Has anyone else noticed how food oriented this blog is?)  Maybe its not teething and is some sort of new personality quirk.  If so... we'll love her anyway.  So as soon as Hunt walks out the door Em begins to teethe which made her usually sunny disposition a little ... shall we say... cloudy?  Stormy? Torrential? Gale Force? Category Five-God Save us All-Hurricane?  Okay, she wasn't THAT bad but she was less than beaming.  She also decided that she was completely done with the 3:00 nap that she has taken every single day of her life.  (That blessed nap that allows me 45 minutes to transition from work to mama with just enough grace to pass muster.  Good bye grace!  There goes those recipes I wanted to try.... fortunately I had enough bread to get me through these tenuous four days with sandwiches.  *Glances sideways at spoiling tomatoes*)

Around this time, the dishwasher also quit.  Well, it didn't so much quit as it flooded the kitchen.  At first I thought it might have just been Emerson's drool, but after further inspection, it was definitely coming from the dishwasher.  I know this because you can turn the dishwasher off and the encroaching river of water would stop.  You can't, however, turn Emerson off and make her encroaching river of drool stop.  We would later find that we somehow burned a hole completely through the base of the dishwasher's tub.  How did that happen?  You've got me.... I'm mystified.  (By the way there goes my evenings with a glass of wine and a phone call - its hard to talk on the phone and wash dishes at the same time and that's about all I had the energy for at this point.)

So - screaming, teething, sleepless child... CHECK!  General need for a snorkel... CHECK!! Broken coffee maker... CHECK!!!

"WAIT!?!?  WHAT'S THIS??? BROKEN COFFEE MAKER!??!?! NO!," you exclaim.  "Surely you jest!," you cry out.  "Not the coffee maker!!!!!!!  Anything but the coffee maker!!!!," you wail. (You don't mind if I dictate your end of this conversation do you?)

Yes, the coffee maker just added insult to injury.  It didn't just break, it would take two agonizing hours to brew 4 of the 12 cups of water I put in the hopper.  Like a slow, cruel, torturous taunt of coffee that came out the consistency of what I can only imagine would be equivalent to these tar balls we hear so much about.

Woe. Is. Me.

PS:  As a post script, I should let you know... I survived and Emerson won't remember it.  Hunter returned home to an exhausted but functional family, a new dishwasher should be installed by the end of this week (meanwhile we've switched to disposable EVERYTHING because WE'RE THAT LAZY) and my savior of all things caffeinated walked me through a do-it-yourself emergency maintenance on the coffee maker that, all told, was truly the crux of my survival...  live to fight another day my friends!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Awakening

Hey there!  First of all, welcome to any new readers who stumbled up on Shades of Gray via Casual  Kitchen and Cheap Healthy Good.  My blog on breaking the cycle and raising a daughter with a healthy body image is definitely one of the most intimate and poignant pieces I have written in a long time and it moves me deeply to see that it resonates with so many others.  It sounds like more and more people are working diligently towards adjusting their mentality on this issue.  My hope is that if we stay committed, we can be a generation of healthy women raising a generation of healthy daughters, emotionally and physically.  Thank you for sharing your stories and struggles with me, you are beautiful and thank you for stopping by.

There has been so much on my mind these past few weeks since Emerson was born that I need a few days alone with a coffee pot and a keyboard to make sense out of it all.  Unfortunately, those days are a little more difficult to come by lately.  Most days, by 3:00 p.m. Em and I have both grown a little weary of the rattles and bells so we load up in the car and take off for a driving exploration of Salt Lake City.  We put on some Iron and Wine, Em finally succumbs to a nap that has been waiting in the wings for hours and I drive aimlessly, acquainting myself with the hills of Deseret and writing blogs in my head.

I have found since having Emerson that my tolerance for Cable News has gone from minuscule to non-existent and yet I spend hours, upon hours picking and choosing my way through the New York Times on my blackberry in the dark of night and wee hours of the morning... kind of the equivalent of poking one toe at a time into the water until you think you can handle the temperature.  Its been a completely new experience to have the combination of immobility (while nursing Em) and seemingly endless amounts of time, darkness and silence with which to digest this world in which I have actively chosen to raise a daughter.  However, at the same time, cradled in the safety of our rocking chair, shielded by our lullabies, the madness of this very same, often broken world seems so very removed and far away.

It started with the oil spill.  I believe Emerson was born on day 5 of the spill.  I'll be honest, we had other things on our mind and had no concept of the magnitude.  Who did?  When we came home, while we fiercely cradled our own little tiny, fragile miracle in our arms, the news in Salt Lake was consumed locally by the tragic and brutal death of a 4 year old little boy.  I couldn't handle it.  I was forcibly banned from all news outlets for several days. Then, the oil wasn't going away and the Dow dropped below 10,000 for the first time since February.  Then the oil was getting worse.  Then.... facebook changed its privacy settings.  Facebook changed its privacy settings and the world stopped and wrote about it.  This was when I started to tune back in.  My "blog in my head", as I was tooling around the grocery store to kill time with a sleeping baby, consisted of:

 (abridged), "Hey!  DISCRETION!!!!!!!!  If you're not comfortable with your parents, grandparents, teachers, or bosses reading it, don't send it out into the ether.  Put some clothes on, expand your vocabulary, and if you must talk about last Saturday's debauchery, either pick up the phone or, if that's too much human contact for you, send an email to your 20 closest friends."  I was irritated and I don't think it was hormones.

So, my frustration with facebook's privacy policy dominating the news cycle during a period that seems to be of "Darling, you were born on day 5 of the worst man-made disaster our planet has ever known significance" got me thinking (though, yes, I was following the story on facebook... privately):   At some point we must come out of the bubble.  To really seal the deal, there was an oil spill of 500+ barrels about 2 miles from my home that has poisoned every natural water source in my immediate vicinity (you might not have heard about it, but that's over 25,000 gallons of oil in my little creeks and rivers).  For lack of better terminology, the chickens have come home to roost.

The pelicans and geese are dying, people hurt children, families fear about putting food on their tables and this morning, the state that I now call home, paid 5 individuals to shoot a man to death for crimes committed over a quarter of a century ago.

Here we go again, what do we do.  Do we pace the nursery, wringing our hands?  Do we talk over coffee about how distraught we are about the fact that our babies might never sit for hours in the tidal pools of southern shores watching the tide magically bury their little legs with sand?  Do we sleep even less; agonizing over injustices, terrified in quiet places of our minds of faceless, invincible enemies?  Yeah, a little.  I don't know.  What else is there?

I think step one is to pop the bubble and keep singing but stop hiding behind the lullabies... try to find a way to balance functionality and awareness?  Autonomy and activism?

It's a process.... it will take some time, at least for me at this juncture in my life.  That said, I think I can start by opening my eyes, talking... educating... writing... initiating a dialog and amongst us, maybe we can change something, do something.  I'll be honest, I truly believe that together, you and I, the two of us,  WE really can change the perspective from passively reactive to passionately proactive., and if nothing else modify the generation that we are raising to simply be better than... to be greater than....

All that said, let's start by opening our eyes, then our minds, then our mouths, then our hearts.  One day at a time.

So very much love,

Julie

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen: Miss Emerson Gray Best

Oh my dear god in heaven, where do I begin!?!?!  I have SO much to say and so little time with which to say it!

So, I gave birth.  I guess I could start there.

Emerson Gray Best was born on April 25, 2010 at 11:42 p.m. after 18 hours of labor, 13 of which were UNMEDICATED which was NOT BY CHOICE, ACCIDENTAL AND UNINTENTIONAL.  When it was all said and done, however, the epidural did eventually arrive and her actual delivery was probably the best experience of my life.  After a day that was wrought some stressful and fearful moments... and... well... pain... lots and lots of pain.  When it came time to her actual delivery, we were all very relaxed, excited, and having a great time.  In fact, Emerson was literally laughed into this world.  I can't think of a better way to enter this mad mad world than coming into a room full of warm, sincere, laughter.

Of course, she is beautiful and perfect and amazing.  She has reddish/blonde hair (My mother calls it 'golden')... truth be told, it is the color of a wheat field at sunset - seriously... it is.   She has the fairest skin I have ever seen on a child and her eyes have decided on deep, deep blue.  She turns us both into little puddles of melted love every time she does this little 'coo' thing after she sneezes, her favorite thing so far is a toss up between dancing with her daddy and playing with her hands, and the other day, when I accidentally almost cut her little finger off trying to clip her nails, I had to resist an urge, the likes of which I have never experienced, to punitively throw myself down the stairs.

Emerson's first 72 hours were spent being monitored closely in the nursery while she recovered from an extreme case of hypoglycemia and being monitored for other possible issues such as polycythemia (an excess of red blood cells), and a possible infection.  It was the most intense, emotional, terrifying 72 hours of my life but ultimately she turned it all around.  Because of the rocky start, it has taken us a very long time (over a month) to recover her birth weight, but we finally turned that corner last week and she's back up to 7 lbs 5 oz.  Of all of the weight issues I was concerned about dealing with, I didn't expect to a) have to deal with them immediately upon birth and b) have the to attack the challenge of helping my daughter GAIN weight.  That is just so not how we do things where I come from.

In these first five weeks we have had lots of visitors and more to come and while it can sometimes be a little stressful packing 5-6 people, two dogs, and a cat into a sleepless house with out a true guest room, the joy of being able to share her with our loved ones is so very great.  I mean, really, its hard to get the full effect if you're not cuddling up to her, breathing her in, and covering that little fold in her neck with kisses while she nuzzles up and sticks her tongue out at you.  Just sayin'.

So this is my gushy, I have the most magical daughter on the planet blog.  Don't get me wrong... there have been so very many challenges that would have made for some incredibly entertaining, a little more sardonic fodder and I'm sure there will be more to come.  Spending 5 weeks of your life forcibly homebound and topless (and NOT in a fun, 'I've been drinking tequila' sort of way) with the most psychotic sleep schedule known to man makes for some good reading material.  It has taken me 5 weeks to get through this blog, so i don't know when I will write again, but I hope to make it a little more frequent.  I feel like in July, when I return to work, there will hopefully be time for me to resume regular posts.  However, for now, I will leave you with this cherubic face and I am going to go cuddle up and take a nap with my sweet baby girl.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Final Post Before the Big Day - Maximum Capacity

So..... the gestation continues.  I thought I would check in with everyone once more before the big day.  We have an induction scheduled on Tuesday and have a busy weekend of sleeping as much as humanly possible, going to movies, and eating warm meals outside of the confines of our home planned so its possible that I won't get a chance to check in with you again until after we're officially *gulp* parents.

Let me tell you, the sheer anticipation of the past two weeks from the moment the doctor announced "You're technically considered full term, you can have that baby any time now!" has been.... man, I don't even know if there are words.... torture doesn't cover it.  I distinctly remember a few days ago being plopped in a heap on the couch, staring at the wall, brooding silently, trying to communicate via telepathy with this child to convince her to be born (without sounding like Mommy Dearest).  I looked up and realized that Hunter was staring at me as though I were some sort of agitated fatally venomous snake (you know, one of those snakes that has swallowed a moderate sized mammal and has a massive bulge 8 times the size of its head half way down the length of his body).  So I took this moment to try to explain to him what I was feeling....

"Imagine if.... you knew you had to take your board exams.... and you had been studying for the better part of the year.....  and they were going to come and get you to take the test on any day at any moment but you didn't know when.  So you just keep studying, because you want to be prepared, but at the same time, you know you need to relax, but at the same time, you know its going to be perfect hell and you want to get it over with so that you can move of with your life and enjoy what comes next, so you just end up being pissed off and crazy..... Only its worse than that."

I personally thought that was a truly brilliant analogy, but I'm pretty sure he glazed over half way through and didn't hear the whole thing.  He does that a lot these days..... I can't say I blame him.

So yeah, we've really just been doing a lot of sitting around and waiting, trying to distract ourselves from the fact that we're waiting.  I've been trying out all of the old wives tales and have been through two boxes of Raspberry Leaf Tea and an entire bottle of Primrose Oil.  I've walked waddled an average of 2-3 miles a day... I'm not going to lie, on Sunday I even jumped up and down for a few minutes.  According to my dr. all systems are a go, the only hold up is the baby.  Imagine, Hunter and Julie would have a stubborn child who is determined to do things in her own right, in her own time, on her own terms.   Wow, when you put it like that... I guess I can wait a few more days and sit back and be proud that our daughter is already well schooled on digging her heels in.

I will leave you with a few pics and thank you for all of your excitement, enthusiasm, and well wishes.  We will be in touch with as many people as we can between the 27th (induction) and 28th (b-day!).... (unless, of course, she decides to make her debut over the weekend.... but I'm over holding my breath... no really... I am.  Seriously.)  So much love to each and everyone of you!

Below are some pics of the nursery, me at maximum capacity and the cat (Sidha) trying to help me by attempting to hatch this baby.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock

Sorry its been a while since my last post.  I've been very busy basking in the absence of my flesh-eating-virus.  That's right, ladies and gentleman.... rash free for a week!  You just have no idea.  I will never take for granted having functional skin again.  For a while there, we were contemplating having to raise our daughter in a leper colony... it was traumatic... but we survived.  In order to overcome the rash, however, I ended up having to take a low-dose round of steroids.  You will recall, that BEFORE the rash and steroids my darling bambina kicked so aggressively that she dislocated my rib (on more than one occasion) and earned the name "Bone-crusher Moon-pie Best".  (In my opinion, 'Bone Crusher' is a great compliment to 'Moon Pie' and should keep her out of any trouble on the playground).  So, I will admit, now that she's been subjected to a two week round of Prednisone, I have some concerns about birthing a female version of The Hulk and having to open a separate savings account for anger management classes (and/or bail) in addition to college tuition.  I guess we'll see!

In other Moon Pie news, we had an ultrasound a two weeks ago in order to get a more accurate idea of how she's been fairing with the GD Dilemma (for those of you just tuning in, 'GD Dilemma' is code for the diagnosis of Gestational Diabetes).  There are two main concerns with GD: 1) That we'll end up with what is fondly referred to as a 'mega-baby' (as you can imagine, this makes for a complicated and less than fun delivery (and a bit of a complex as well, I would imagine)) 2)  Blood flow will be inadequate to give her what she needs (obviously, decidedly uncool).  Both of these have been pretty stressful concerns as you might imagine.  The latter we check twice a week, and we're all good on that front.  Now, after our most recent ultrasound, she looks like she's right on track in the size department as well.... Somewhere between 5 and 6 lbs with 4-ish weeks to go.  I'll take it!

So, for those of you who have been concerned about the multitude of maladies that have made up trimester 3, (*KNOCK ON WOOD*) things are looking up and I'm enjoying the last week or two before the bell rings for the next round.

As far as preparations are concerned, Now that I'm not writhing in discomfort for the first time in two months, I'm really just kind of hanging out and waiting.  Waiting, anticipation, baited breath, patience, holding my horses.... not so much my thing.  Not really my forte.  I have other strengths.  To put it kindly, waiting makes me a little irritable and unpleasant (of course, being nine months pregnant probably makes me a little irritable and unpleasant as well) But WAITING.... oh, waiting makes me very very Type-A.

So here's how it goes, I'm a little limited when it comes to being able to do things like, mount shelving, install window shades or pull mutant weeds from the back yard.  In fact, I have found that I am most effective at the following:
1) incessant list making:

  • Lists of things to get done before Moon Pie arrives (please see above reference to shelving, shades and weeds... because the baby is going to care about the weeds) 
  • Lists of things we forgot to get in preparation of Moon Pie's arrival (WE DON'T HAVE BABY NAIL CLIPPERS!  WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO!?!?!)  
  • Lists of things that I need to take with me to the hospital (Chapstick - do NOT forget chapstick ... because I'm sure there's a major shortage of Chapstick at the hospital) 
  • Lists of things that I want knock out before my mom arrives: (get hair highlighted, touch-up nail polish, get a new tube of lipstick and clean out linen closet....) 
  • Lists of things we can do when Hunter's parent's arrive (.... um .... play with the baby? this list needs help) 
  • Lists of foods that I plan to eat post delivery (Pie Pizza, Banburry Cross sour cream/sour cream chocolate iced donuts, Hunter's mashed potatoes, Mama's banana pudding, a chai latte with extra chai, a cherry mochaccinno, omg... wine... I almost forgot wine.... and... ) ... I'm willing to delay the post-pregnancy shape up a week or two to celebrate being diabetes free... though watch me end up in a damn sugar coma... 
 You get the idea.  You can see how, with the exception of the last, glorious list, this could make one maybe a twinge loopy.  Especially since I've not really been in much of a position to accomplish anything on any of these lists (okay, that's not entirely true - I did mount shelving and clean the linen closet this weekend).  

2) Incessant laundry

Y'all, I have found true catharsis in laundry.  It started with the flesh eating virus when I went on a mission to drench everything we touched in bleach at least every 24 hours and never really let up.  I have found that laundry is a completely manageable chore in my condition, as all I have to do is waddle around the house with arm fulls of clothes and deposit them from point 'A' to point 'B' with a pit stop on the couch in front of the Food Network for a brief stint of folding..... and the best part..... how awesome is it going to be to come back from the hospital to all clean clothes/sheets/towels/anything else made of fabric?  How long do you think that will last?  2... maybe 3 hours??  What a grand 2-3 hours, though!  No, the point is, it makes me feel productive as I've felt pretty useless of late.

(Just in case you've grown weary, here comes a rant.... continue on at your own peril)

Now, in reading this, I'm sure some of you are thinking.... "Nesting".  Let me tell you a little something about "Nesting."  Maybe its just me, but when someone accuses me of being afflicted by "the nesting instinct", the only overwhelming instinct I have is to punch them in the nose.  I don't know why it makes me so incredibly hostile.... but it does.  Here's the thing... when you're days away from embarking on the biggest, most significant, most anticipated, most terrifying and wonderful event of your life thus far, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be organized and prepared. Also, what better way to take your mind off of things than to scrub your floors with a toothbrush (if you're in to that sort of thing - I prefer the less extreme version: fold laundry in front of Food Network).  Also, after having been extremely restricted due to sheer girth for the past several months, anyone would start go a little stir crazy and let me tell you, the public does not appreciate you going out on the town to blow off some steam in your 9th month of pregnancy!  At this point the world pretty much sees you as a grenade with a loose, dangling clip and does not appreciate the potential that you might explode in their presence.  So, you say "Cute.... she's got the nesting instinct!" (*twitch*) I say "just stand back, she's uncomfortable, nervous, and bored out of her skull.... someone slide her some earth-friendly, all purpose cleanser and offer her a donut".

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Breaking the Cycle - Raising a Daughter With A Healthy Self-Image

One of the bloggers I have recently started following, Anne Collier of Net Family News, distributed a link to an article from slate.com addressing a "sexting" case in which a couple of 15 year old girls were caught having sent provocative pictures of themselves via text message and a group of boys were forwarding them to each other's phones.  The issue was not so much that teens are experimenting with sexual exploitation - we all went to high school - but that the judge in the case was threatening to convict the girls of child pornography which would technically classify them as sex offenders.  I thought it was an interesting article and found it unsettling on a multiple levels. Two days later, I encountered another instance involving the distribution of provocative photographs, this one a bit closer to home, involving an acquaintance.  So, I'm now looking at this from the perspective of a woman, of a woman who has always struggled with body image issues, of a woman approaching thirty, of a woman whose body has become a completely amazing and foreign enigma, and ... what really kept me up last night.... of the mother of a daughter.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm all about free speech and free love.  I think the human body is a beautiful thing and I am far, far, far from prudish.  HOWEVER, I'm pretty upset over this.  I spent most of yesterday thinking about this in the context of how do we keep our daughter from exclusively linking her self worth with her body - from measuring her value by the numbers on the scale or by her bra size, or by her pants size while still instilling a well-rounded sense of confidence?  How do I keep her from instinctively using her body as a tool to get attention and affection verses her mind, her heart or her spirit?  In the moment, upset and not knowing what else to do, I had a long conversation with Moon Pie in which I told her over and over and over again how amazing and wonderful and beautiful she is.  With out much else to go on, I figured I'd start there.  I have no idea what she looks like, I don't really care... beauty is relative and simply, I guess its never too early to start building her self confidence... but surely there's more I can do.

Then I started thinking about myself and my own struggles as a woman with body image issues.  I would tell you, this moment, right now, without flinching, that I have never been "skinny" a day in my life.  I will look you straight in the face and tell you this, knowing full well that I have about eight pairs of  size 2 and size 4 pants in my closet that I was wearing three years ago that I can't bring myself to throw away.  Three years ago I was still desperately trying to lose weight obsessed with 'just 10 more pounds'.   I could bore you with all of the dysfunctional things that I have done over the course of my life in an effort to make myself thin but none of them are unique, you've heard them all and seen them all, we've all seen the after school specials, body image demons are nothing if not cliche in today's society.  Honestly, it hasn't been until right now, with the third trimester of pregnancy, that I have really come to understand my body and see it as a whole verses a waist vs. hips ratio and something that is "almost there".  Honestly, I have gained more weight with pregnancy than I had planned but I am also doing everything in my power to have a healthy baby so, much to my surprise, I'm really not bothered by the number on the scale.  The two things I am looking forward to over the course of the next 12 months is a renewed commitment to exercise to develop a strong body (verses being able to see my hip bones jutting out when I lay down while dealing with dull, thinning hair) and implementing the nutritional information I have adapted with the gestational diabetes into a lifelong, healthy, dietary plan.  That sets me on the right path and I feel good about the head space I am in right now with regards to my own self-image.... ironically, probably better than I have ever felt in my life.  But what about our daughter?

It's no secret that my side of the family is not setting any metabolism records and its also no secret that Hunter's side of the family does not have the most healthy dietary regimen.  This could make for a very unhealthy combination and a life-long struggle.  Not to mention the fact that with the development of gestational diabetes both she and I are now 60% more likely to develop type II diabetes later in life.  I fear that we're potentially starting behind the eight ball when it comes to body image issues.  So, my goal is to find some magical way of reinforcing a healthy life style without making it about size.  I know this means that, as a mother, I can't be crash dieting or complaining about how I look and feel and that I also can not micromanage everything that she puts into her mouth or her level of physical activity.  My hope is, that with the proper environment, she will make healthy decisions of her own volition and that we (yes, darling, I know you're reading this and that means you too)will set a very strong example.

My other concern and challenge as the mother of a daughter is to keep her from having a skewed perception of the value of her physique - a.k.a. sending provocative pictures to freshman boys to get attention, love, or affection.  I remember high school. Trying to keep sex from being a focal point at that time in a person's life is laughable but if we can just keep it in a healthy context and keep it from becoming consuming then I think we will have succeeded.  Hunter and I both agree that the importance of having a well informed child very much outweighs the awkwardness that this education can occasionally bring.  However, in addition, if we can somehow, magically, teach well-rounded intimacy that is not exclusively physical, maybe... just maybe.... she'll fall in love with a guy who reads Neruda to her on their second date instead of the guy who keeps eying her entirely too short skirt.

Looking back on my own struggles, seeing the women that I know and love struggle all of these years and living in a society that is completely addicted to and obsessed with an unobtainable image of the perfect female form at any cost just breaks my heart.   As I write this, I think about the women that I know today who seem truly happy and they are intelligent, creative, quick-witted, talented and stylish.  They are women who love to read books and write journals and knit and cook and run and do yoga.  They are single, engaged, in relationships, and married.  Every single one of them are absolutely gorgeous, elegant and classy.  Every one of them tend to be fully clothed when they leave the house and I doubt if any of them of them looks like a Maxim cover when she steps out of the shower.  I have no earthly idea how much any of them weigh because we rarely discuss it and these confident, well-rounded, exquisite, happy women are the ones that I hope will help me to raise a daughter who is confident, well-rounded, exquisite and happy herself.  

Friday, March 19, 2010

**Quaranteen!!** or ' A Flaming Deluge of Itch'

I'll be honest, I've had some concerns about this turning into a 'mommy blog'.  That was not what I originally set out to do and mommy blogs have become so trendy and cliche lately that I really cringe when I think about falling into that category.  However, the reality is,  I'm becoming a mother very (VERY) soon and lets face it,  its the most significant thing I've ever been through, ever done, ever been a part of... its a bit consuming.  Also, it just so happens I got pregnant as soon as I started this blog, so maybe I'm railing against destiny.  At the end of the day - do I really care?  Nah, not so much really.  Plus- these days I don't really have to worry, because instead of a mommy blog this has become a database of maladies, an encyclopedia of heath-related catastrophes, a hysterical screed on sickness - and well.... slightly pathetic.  Now that I've acknowledged that, that's right, I'll own it, let me tell you about this rash!  No seriously... this rash is blog worthy... this rash is epic.  (You know you so wanted to kick off your weekend reading about my rash!)

So if you will recall about two weeks ago I was bemoaning yet another cold and was wailing about how much I missed the simple act of breathing.  Truth be told, as far as colds go, this one was definitely less significant than most.  No sore throat, aches, cough, etc...  it only lasted a week.... in the scheme of colds, I can handle it.  So, after the cold wanned and life returned to normal, as per usual, my darling Dr. Best started complaining of the sniffles.  "Great, another sympathetic illness.  Why can't he just let me be pregnant and miserable without stealing all of my ailments after I have exhausted them?" I think to myself.   "Go chug your nyquil and leave me over here to pout with my herbal tea." (I blame moments like this on hormones).  So a few days go by and I start to itch.  Then I start to itch more.  Then more body parts start to itch... the itching is increasing in both intensity and surface area... what... the... hell.  At first we were thinking allergic reaction, then we talk to the doctor and she says -"nope, pregnancy rash... its common, it sucks, it will go away someday.  Sorry, my dear!"  (Believe it or not, I do take strange comfort in the fact that it takes a whole hell of a lot to get my doctor worked up.  I find it inexplicably comforting when she crosses her legs, tilts her head, smiles genuinely and says "yeah, I hate that for you, but you're going to have to just deal.." So pregnancy rash it is!  More to file away  when moon pie and I are at odds over curfew.

.... and then Hunter starts to itch.

"NO!  NO! NO! NO!  YOU CAN NOT HAVE MY RASH.  ITS A PREGNANCY RASH, YOU DO NOT GET TO STEAL MY PREGNANCY RASH!" (again with the hormones.)  He pulls up his shirt and there it is.... damn if the love of my life doesn't have a pregnancy rash.  So we immediately started sleuthing for the source because, let's face it, if Hunter did have a pregnancy rash - we have bigger issues than territorial tiffs over disease.  We checked the animals for fleas, washed the sheets, inventoried all of our soaps, detergents, etc... nothing stood out.  Then it dawned on us - we both had that cold..... holy crap..... THE RASH IS VIRAL.  WE HAVE A FLESH EATING VIRAL RASH.  Just for fun, Hunter went to the doctor and confirmed this hypothesis yesterday.

So, between us, we're taking 3-4 oatmeal baths a day, we've been through 4 tubes of Gold Bond cream, and an entire container of Sarna lotion.  We went out Wednesday night and had to come home early because my legs spontaneously combusted into a flaming deluge of itch and so since then we've essentially spent our evenings in the bed slathering lotion, trying not to touch anything, and fantasizing about amputating various body parts and sleeping about 3 hours a night...and NOT in a fun and kinky sort of way!  I just took the first benadryl that I have taken in 12 years.  Last time I took it I didn't sleep for days and ended up hallucinating.  Of course, I was also in a very different place in my life about 12 years ago, so I could have that entire experience out of context.  Fortunately, I just ended up in a spherical, drooling mass of slightly-less-itchy exhaustion today... I'm fine with that.

So - there is our epic tale of the flaming flesh-eating viral rash.  I have to say, this has been one instance where misery does love company.   Though  I hate that he's uncomfortable, its been nice being able to hole up with Hunter knowing he can relate to and share my agony.  If nothing else, we've been able to effectively entertain each other!

In a brief baby update, looks like Moon Pie is getting as anxious as I am about moving on to the next phase.  Our little girl is a getting little ahead in terms of size so as of today, we've got less than 4 weeks or so and then we can start talking about getting this party started.  I learned this exciting bit of news on Tuesday and almost as if on cue, I started with the braxton-hicks contractions (fake contractions or 'practice contractions') on Wed.  General consensus is that this is an indicator we've got a month or so left.  That puts us at the week of April 13th, which really and truly seems like tomorrow to me.  At this point, there's really no telling... I do know, the next couple of weeks should be pretty interesting!  I will continue to keep you posted.

Hope all is well with you.  I know back east you're having some serious spring weather.  Its snowing right now but they're calling for 64 degrees and sunshine this weekend.  Maybe I'll go sun my rash!  :)

Lots of love!

Julie

Monday, March 8, 2010

Nothing exciting... a cold, a dislocated rib and a broken dishwasher... just your average weekend.

Y'all are going to have to forgive me.  I've been a little all over the map lately.  We can blame that on the hormones, the absence of sugar, or whatever, I don't really care what we blame it on... pick an excuse I have plenty!!!!!!!  The end of last week was one for the books, for sure.  I ended up completely overcome with *A-N-O-T-H-E-R* massive cold.  Honestly, with the exception of maybe 4 or 5 days I've been sick since day one of my 3rd trimester.  I so wanted to be one of those women who just totally Zen's out and just "loves being pregnant."  I was all good for trimesters 1&2.  Then I became one of those pregnant women who starts every sentence with "you're not going to believe what this child has done to me now."  Oh-well.  At least we know that I'm not all of a sudden going to decide to birth an entire herd of children.  Back to my cold.  This was the sort of cold where your body pretty much feels okay except for the fact that you might as well not have a nose.  There are no sniffles or sore throat or cough, just a complete absence of one of two very critical breathing options. My sinuses were completely sealed shut.  Occasionally, one of my nostrils would just start dripping liquid but because my face is scaly and raw and numb, this was difficult to predict and catch.  We're really talking about a total absence of grace here.  Because my nose just up and quit my face, there was no sniffing or blowing, just this delightful spontaneous dripping and desperate clamoring for a Kleenex/paper towel/roll of toilet paper/sleeve/whatever.

The most predominant effect of this phenomenon was to piss me off and make me whiny.  Then came the rib situation.  I'm sure most of you have heard me mumbling in protest about my child's foot in my ribs and how uncomfortable said foot placement could be.  Also on Wednesday, this discomfort morphed from a consistent annoyance into full on chronic agony.  I asked our birthing instructor for advice and she told me to go hang from some monkey bars.... Really?  Monkey Bars?  I was so scouting out playgrounds for monkey bars.  I was hanging on door frames, I was hanging on Hunter... whatever, I was game.  It didn't work.  Thursday, I asked my Dr. about it.   She laughed at me and said "tell her to move!".  Cute.  So finally, I did what no pregnant woman should ever do.... I Googled 'how to remove baby's foot from my ribs'.  LOW AND BEHOLD the first 10 things that came up involved physical therapy.


**long pause** 
Duh.    

So by Friday morning, I had not slept since Tuesday and I was confined from the bed until pain became so unbearable that had to pace around the house trying to re-adjust my torso. I called the physical therapist who had helped me with some S.I. joint issues earlier in my pregnancy who specializes in women's therapy and pregnancy.  This woman, Ashely Nelson, is a goddess, a saint, and my personal hero.  I made an emergency appointment to see her Friday afternoon, walked into her office, she looked at me and immediately said "Wow, um, yeah - I'd imagine that hurts, you've got a dislocated rib sticking out of your back.".

My darling little girl dislodged a rib.  God love her.... from what I understand, that's not super easy to do!  She's either really really tall or really really strong.... or both.  So with some serious manipulation (Ashley), banging (Ashley), cussing (Me) and praying (Me), Ashley and I got my rib back in place and tapped up.  If nothing else, our efforts did clear my sinuses for a few minutes!!!  So I kick started my weekend bruised as hell from our efforts to re-align my rib, but you know what, I'll take a little bruising over chronic agony ANY DAY.

Also, while all of this was happening our dishwasher stopped cleaning our dishes.  Ordinarily this wouldn't bother me all that much but a dear friend reminded me that I would soon be doing lots of dishes and sterilizing lots of...well... everything.  Even so, this has really been a minor irritant of late (in comparison...) until today when I started calling around to have the thing fixed.  I called Sears a total of 3 times and had Hunter call once all in an effort to try and understand our two payment options.  First of all, out of all four phone calls none of our customer service reps spoke English as a primary language.  That's totally fine, unless I am asking open-ended questions that require a legitimate dialogue.  To the best of my understanding there were two payment options, both of which made me feel like I was signing up for some sort of seriously creepy life insurance.  Something inside of me kept saying - "if you sign up for this appointment, you might still have unsterilized baby bottles there's a possibility that they will completely drain your 401-K.... red flag... red flag."   Neither plan allowed me to get a new dishwasher if I changed my mind. Seriously?  How can you tell me 'No' if I want a new dishwasher!?!?!  How does that even work? I'm pregnant.  I'm incapable of making a decision or committing to what shoes I want to wear today.  I need legitimate options.  I NEED to be able to change my mind!

An hour later, I actually found the manual for the dishwasher.  I called the Maytag company.  This time, instead of being transferred over seas, I spent literally (by this point yes - I really am timing) 25 minutes trying playing 20 questions with a computerized voice.  Trying to read off your phone number with no nose to anon-human is just really really challenging.  "Dide.. One.. Dide- etc. etc. (should be 919)"  and then with all of the yes or no questions I'm eventually screaming "Doh!!!!" into the phone thinking, under different circumstances, I'm sure this would be comical.  Finally, the computer gave up on me and put me on the phone with Taylor, a sweetheart with a southern drawl.  I gotta tell you, Taylor was no real help but just hearing his live, human, southern voice really made my day.  Taylor inadvertently reminded me that we were given a 1 year home warranty when we purchased our house and that our dishwasher is covered!!!!  I was so elated by this news that I didn't even care that I had wasted the last 3 hours of my day.

SO if we're keeping pace:
While the size of my baby looks great and she doesn't qualify a 'monster baby' in physique, I have taken to referring to her as 'monster baby' because, well, the child dislocated my freaking rib!  (Hunter gets very upset when I refer to our sweet daughter as monster.  Hunter, however,  has never had a dislocated anything.  Yet...)  However, I have found the best Physical Therapist in the whole wide world so its all good.

Round 17 of the never-ending-head-cold  seems to be wanning.  I've been almost able to breathe out of my left nostril for going on 17 hours now.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Thanks to a very cool Realtor and sweet Taylor from Maytag, our dishwasher should be fixed for the more than reasonable price of $60.00.  No one was injured in the scheduling of this service.

Nursery is almost finished (pics this week!) and we should be able to start working on the yard in the next week or two (its our first honest to goodness yard, I'm excited).

Spring is coming and sometime in the next 5-7 weeks, so is Moon Pie.

Life. Is. Good.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A little rant, A little common courtesy, A little more rant.

Okay – I will be the first to admit, I’ve been a little intense lately.  That said; it’s a controlled intensity.  I was able to keep myself from laying on the horn and screaming at the lady driving in a way that made Ms. Daisy look like Mario Andretti through the cancer center on my way to pick Hunter up from work.   I have enough presence of mind to realize, it’s a cancer center.  The only people who get to cause scenes here are the ones with cancer.  Get a hold of yourself… and a hold of myself was gotten!  See!  Controlled intensity! Beautiful!

HOWEVER!   HOW-ev..errrr…. When it came to the guy “walking his dog”.  Okay, screw it; you can’t call what he was doing “walking his dog”.   I need to rephrase: When it came to the guy “passive aggressively trying to communicate reverse psychology via telepathy to his mongrel of a canine in an effort to maintain a pathetic delusion of evolved human-being/companion animal dominance and FAILING TO THE DETRIMENT OF … WELL … AT A MINIMUM, ME”…. Yes, when it comes to THAT GUY…. I kind of lost my patience.

Allow me to expound.  (Like you have a choice at this juncture).  I mentioned Monday that we (I) have a renewed commitment to making our yard a pleasant space that will, one day, hopefully, be somewhat child friendly.   (I think the term frequently being whispered behind my back when referring to this latest crusade is actually ‘nesting’.) We (I) have decided that step one in this process is to transition the primary function of our yard being an unsanitary sewage pit for our two golden retrievers, Dharma and Bodhi.  No more stench of ammonia wafting up in the hot dry summer sun as we sit on our patio table and no more monthly expeditions in hazmat suits to remove all of the piles of poo.  Two 60-80 lb dogs produce a lot of poo.  It’s gross.  God love ‘em.  Also, something we learned the hard way, when there is no humidity and no rain, dog poo doesn’t just break down and “fertilize” like it does down south.  No, it petrifies instead.  If it’s winter, it freezes and then petrifies.  SO my solution to this is 3-4 short walks of a block or 2 or 3 or more (depending on how much time we have and how shy Bodhi is about going on a tandem leash with Dharma at his side - I’m finding he’s pretty shy).  Operation no-poo (I’ll come up with a better name when I’m not so pissed off) started today.  I’m finding I’m digging this new endeavor because it also forces me to take a break, stretch my legs, and get a breath of fresh air.  I’m down with it. 

To set the scene, I have to tell you we live in what is often referred to as a “mixed use” neighborhood and a “walkable community.”  It’s a neighborhood with an urban feel to it.  While it is primarily historic/residential homes a lot of these old buildings have been turned into  art galleries, coffee shops, cafĂ©’s, bakeries, laundromats, grocery stores, ski shops, you name it, interspersed with the houses on every block.  It’s laid out in a way that really encourages social living, getting out and walking, lots of sidewalks and bike lanes, etc. etc.  It’s also INCREDIBLY dog friendly.  Dogs are almost required to live here.  It’s nothing for me to see a little old lady with her yippy, white, fluff ball strolling down the aisle in the produce section of the neighborhood grocery store or chilling in her purse in a near-by restaurant.  
For the most part, I find dog owners are pretty conscientious.  Most dog owners are in the same boat we are, the lots are very small in this part of town and in order to keep your yard from being flagged by the CDC, you have to walk your dogs often.  We all make sure we bag the business and toss accordingly.  We have understood off leash areas – for example; the cemetery one block up.  Not technically off leash, but if you are conscientious about your dog’s behavior, personality and when you go, its all good.   Also,…. Drum roll please… theres THE DOG PARK in the middle of the neighborhood – even though it’s not fenced in… which is kind of strange for a dog park in the middle of an urban neighborhood…. FINALLY if your dog really needs to get some energy out of its system there is a dog friendly hiking trail at the edge of the neighborhood that goes for about 5 miles through the woods AND INCLUDES A CREEK FOR ADDITIONAL DOG DELIGHT!!!! What more could you ask for?  So the rules are, bag your business and keep your dog on a leash unless you are in one of the understood leash optional areas.

Now, I am willing to grant exception to this decree.  For example, our neighbor’s dog, Beau is really and truly the reincarnated soul of some heavenly saint sent down to provide dignified, well mannered, love and companionship to his family.  Beau is perfect.  Beau does not require a leash.  I will be the FIRST to tell you  with absolute certainty… my dogs are nothing like Beau.  Dharma is a somewhat unpredictable, neurotic, psychologically faulty, spaz.  She has three modes: Hide, eat, run.  She doesn’t have an aggressive bone in her body and is beta to a fault, but she’s stubborn and when she’s walking, she really just wants to run, hide, or both.    Therefore, I don’t let her off of the leash.   Bodhi, on the other hand is a huge, bumbling, blond, exhibition of love.  Really.  He’s three dimensional love.  He loves everything and everybody and has so much love that he can’t control himself.  When he encounters something new he just showers it with and explosion love and kisses and… well urine.   Shockingly, some folks find this trait annoying.  Therefore, I don’t let him off of the leash.  At the end of the day, both of my dogs are pretty well behaved, well trained, and listen fairly well.  However, you never know when you’re going to encounter another aggressive dog or someone running a stop sign, or whatever.  Because I love my dogs, I don’t let them off of the leash.

(Below is Bodhi.  He's experiencing explosive euphoria because his all time favorite person in the world, our neighbor, Ron, is telling him good morning through the fence.  This state of extreme, full bodied bliss is pretty much perpetual)
(Above is Dharma.  She's hiding from the voices.  We've been able to determine that the voices only stop when she's fed, therefore, if she's not hiding, she's stalking the kitchen.)


So I’m waddling down the sidewalk, minding my own business, trying desperately to talk Bodhi into getting over his bathroom shyness when I see dude walking down the street in front of me about 15 feet behind his little black Scotty/Yorkie/thingy, which is not on a leash.  It was a super cute little dog, lots of energy, I’m guessing a puppy.  I wave to the guy and slow down to give him time to call his dog back and leash her up.  He does nothing.  Nothing.  I stop.  Little dog runs over to us and starts bouncing and trying to play.  Dharma wants no part of this and starts trying to hide and Bodhi can’t contain himself and starts trying to wrestle with the dog.  I’m now in the middle of a pack of 3 dogs going in three different directions all in various stages of insanity and I’m 7 months pregnant.   Needless to say, I held that leash for about 30 seconds before I was over powered by the chaos of 150 pounds worth of dog and let them all go.  Now, keep in mind it’s also about 5:30 in the afternoon.   We’re at an intersection.  This is just uncool.  So I look at the guy, who is now strolling towards me (strolling) causally calling his dog “Cricket.”, and I say “SERIOUSLY!?!?!?  Man, this is uncool”. 

AREN’T YOU PROUD OF ME!?!?!  I DIDN’T USE A SINGLE CUSS WORD!  THAT IS A SERIOUSLY LOW KEY EXPRESSION OF FRUSTRATION!!!!!!!!  So the guy… says… NOTHING.  Not. A.  Word.   Not, ‘OH MY GOD I’M SORRY!’  Not, ‘Are you okay?!?’  Not, ‘my dog is out of control and I’m a pathetic human being with no respect for my fellow man’.  Not, ‘lady why don’t you just roll your pregnant butt out of here’.  Nothing.  He just ignores me, keeps casually strolling towards me passively stating his dog’s name, “Cricket.”.   I’ve got news for you; Cricket had left the reservation by this point.  Cricket was flying so high she didn’t hear anything but a thousand euphoric trumpets blasting ‘freedom’ in her little puppy dog ears.

I decide to take a different approach.  Maybe the guy is embarrassed at his obvious impotence when it comes to his dog.  I say “ha ha… I’ve been there… she’s actually a really cute dog.”  Still nothing.  I’ve given up that the guy is ever going to get control of his dog and mine are sensing that I’m really not happy and are starting to calm down and dial back into what’s going on with me.  I gather up their leash, they calm down, we start walking.  Effing Cricket starts following.  She follows us to the end of the block, she bolts across the intersection, she’s yard hopping, she’s out of this stratosphere!  The guy starts strolling in her general direction causally calling her name like it’s just no big deal, he’s yet to acknowledge me or our obviously unpleasant predicament, he’s just strolling and I can’t stand it anymore.  I just can’t. So I turn around and say, “I hate to state the obvious here, but you obviously have zero control over your dog and therefore have absolutely no business walking her off leash.  Not only is it dangerous for her to be playing in 5:00 traffic, but its unbelievable rude and inconsiderate and I really really don’t appreciate being put in this situation while I’m walking my dogs minding my own damn business”.  You guessed it.  He said nothing.  I stormed off in a huff, put Dharma and Bodhi back in the house, and came out on the front porch with my hands on my hips to glare at him with my most humiliating glare while he spent the next 15 minutes following his insane little monster around my block.   He finally turned around and left her, which she finally realized and followed in his general direction.  Nothing like some passive aggressive reverse psychology to really show your little dog who’s boss.  Way to handle the situation.

I just don’t understand people sometimes.  In my world, and I like this little world, you go out of your way to be kind and conscientious.  You cross the street to help someone struggling; you don’t look the other way.  You are accountable for your actions and claim responsibility if you have caused discomfort to another person.  This could be as simple as accidentally bumping someone with your grocery cart or almost causing a pregnant woman to land flat on her face amidst a pile of insane dogs.  Anyway, you get the point, no need for me to get all high and mighty.  Just remember, you have nothing lost by making an extra effort to interact with your fellow man.  Worst case scenario is they ignore you and you’re no worse off than you would have been if you had ignored them.  I think it’s easy to get out of the habit if physical interaction and common courtesy when it’s so much easier to text, tweet, email, or chat.  I love all of these functions, but let’s face it, they are a little soulless and I always say, there is nothing in this world like hearing the sound of your sweet voice.   

On that happy note, I must get ready to go to birthing class.  And I'd also like to end by saying... Screw you, Cricket's Owner!  And your little dog too!!!  HA!

Monday, March 1, 2010

The weekend, progress and pregnancy portraits!

Greetings! I hope y'all had truly exceptional weekends! However, let's face it... not every weekend can be truly exceptional, so if your weekend wasn't exceptional, I hope it was, at the very least, pleasant. I was able to effectively pull myself out of my funk on Friday. I appreciate you're letting me vent... it helped tremendously! In addition to unloading into the ether, I spoke with my doctor who cleared up a little bit of confusion and I went back and read this: "The biggest lesson I have learned from the first phase of this experience.... you can not predict, plan, schedule, or manage this experience. As you might imagine, this is a MASSIVE revelation for me... but amazing all the same. For the first time in my life I truly have almost no control of my body, my mind, my emotions, my reactions, or my needs and wants and I can honestly say, I have never been happier. I have never been more relaxed and I have never been so excited to be surprised each and every single day. I'd say so far, this is an amazing introduction to our grandest adventure yet." from an entry I wrote in October, when I unveiled the big news (Our Greatest Adventure). Needless to say, I found that little paragraph to be pretty profound, given the state I was in at the end of last week. In addition, every Thursday I get to go have a non-stress test on Moon Pie. I say "I 'get' to go have..." because a non-stress test consists of me kicking back in a seriously cushy recliner in a private room in the hospital, closing my eyes and listening to Moon Pie's heart beat for about45 minutes. I have to say - there is absolutely nothing in this world more relaxing or soothing than that sound. So by this point I'm pretty much at the "okay, high drama - so you can't have cake.... listen to that beautiful heartbeat, take your medicine, eat a salad and get over yourself,"state.

So, having effectively gotten over myself, I decided to be a little more proactive in finding outlets to keep myself securely away from the downward spiral. I find cooking to be incredibly cathartic, so Friday night, I cooked dinner twice. One very very healthy dinner of lemon roast chicken, a baked sweet potato and a salad (that would be for yours truly) and one very unhealthy dinner of fried country-style steak, mashed potatoes and biscuits for Hunter. I highly recommend kicking off your weekend by frying something while dancing around the kitchen to Elton John and Neil Young. Trust me. Just do it.

SLC Trib & My Two Cents & Shutter Island

Saturday marked day one my subscription to the Salt Lake Tribune. We spent the morning under the covers with coffee and books and the news paper. I subscribed to the Tribune on Thursday after writing my last blog, mainly to give myself a little more writing fodder. I had heard that the SLC legislature is, essentially, off the grid insane and it sounded like it would be a great source for commentary. Turns out, its true... I just need to get a little more organized before I can share with you HOW insane politics actually are out here. I also thought it would be a good way for me (and Hunter by force... i mean by proxy) to become a little more immersed in the goings on/culture of our new home. Well, all I can say is, from an entertainment perspective, the SLC Trib does not disappoint. From a news/culture perspective... I'ma little disturbed... but that brings us full circle to writing fodder... so I guess mission accomplished? Anyway, I laughed and yelled at the paper until almost noon when we went to see Shutter Island. (It was okay - different from what I was expecting and slightly less than what I'm used to from Scorsese. It was more like a watered down Kubrick in my opinion.... but I'm far from a movie critic and it certainly didn't suck. I highly encourage you to form your own opinion on these things).

Spring Fever

Yesterday, spring fever officially hit. Hunter had to work so decided I would rake the back yard. No, we did not rake the back yard in the fall... we waited until spring. My rational for this was that the leaves would rot, fertilize, and moisten our completely miserable and pathetic back yard. Obviously, this is something that I made up to help me sleep at night, but it sounds good, doesn't it? Let me tell you how cute I looked out there trying to keep from just rolling down the hill in what were essentially mismatched pajamas wrestling with a rake and a coffee mug while trying to keep my shirt pulled down over my ever- expanding belly. Super cute. The problem with the above (aside from the fact that I pulled my back and can barely walk today) is that its a slippery slope (both literally and figuratively). Since raking, I have called and set up an appointment to have these two god-awful trees our our back yard hacked as much as humanly possible without cutting them down and I'm hoping that the people coming to do that will bring Edward Scissor Hands with them. We have these 6 rose bushes in our front yard that look like something out of a Tim Burton movie only Sans-Johnny Depp. (For those of you who aren't getting the reference, Johnny Depp kinda completes Tim Burton. Without him, he's often more just scary and deranged - like my rose bushes). I'm also working on getting together with a landscaper this week for some very minor suggestions (I do not need to be implementing a massive landscaping project and birthing a baby at the same time. I do not need to be implementing a massive landscaping project and birthing a baby at the same time... Repeat.) Its our first yard.... we have a serious, serious learning curve and unfortunately not too terribly much to start with. I just need to remember to be patient. If anyone sees me circling the parking lot at Lowes eyeing a pallet of mulch, please just stop me.

Socialization

Last but not least I went to a knitting class yesterday at Blazing Needles. This place is seriously awesome and they are teaching me how to make these!!!! I'm so super pumped. So, I got out of the house, got to be around people, I even broke down and had a couple of thin mints (dude, they were in my face for 3 whole hours!)

Conclusion

All in all it was a much needed, very positive weekend. I feel like I made a lot of personal progress just by accomplishing little things. I think we're all pretty exhausted and are planning a low key week. However, mental health context, it was definitely worth it. It very much helped me put everything back in perspective. I have 7 more weeks (or less) to enjoy this once in life time experience so I'm going to relax and enjoy my weekly 45 minute heart beat concerto, I'm going to enjoy the 15 minutes every night when Hunter reads Moon Pie a story and then bends down to listen to her heartbeat and gets a tiny little punch in the ear. I'm going to enjoy playing guess that protruding body part (so far we've identified head, foot, fist, elbow, knee, bum) and I'm going to remember that this is a truly magical and beautiful experience every single day. On that note, I have included some portraits below. Since some of you are far away and some of you haven't had a chance to really experience this first hand with me, these were taken at our place last weekend by a dear friend and ski-buddy.

Pictures














Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Darker Shade of Gray

Not to state the obvious, but the title of this blog is "Shades of Gray." The purpose of this blog is stated as "my effort to make sense out of a world that think's its black and white but never can be... etc. etc." - an exploration of space in-between, if you will.


In general, my posts lean towards the positive, the comical, the sentimental, and occasionally the lightly sardonic. However, let's face it. I wouldn't have a blog called "Shades of Gray" if I didn't occasionally go through periods in my life that were a bit darker (otherwise this blog would be titled Sunshine and Puppies). In the past, this has been a significant issue for me (us). There have been periods where depression has had a rather severe impact on my life, my health and the lives of my loved ones.

I think we all have periods of darkness and periods of light. The goal, which is easier for some than others, is to keep the darkness from suffocating and the light from blinding. For me, it has been almost two years since I've really struggled with depression in a way that has left me feeling, in hindsight, terrified. Its been a gradual process, painstakingly gradual really, but over the years, with maturity, love, support and a little perspective, I've (we've) managed to get a decent handle on my emotions or brain chemistry, or whatever you want to call it.

(side note on the 'us' and the 'we' above - I have an incredible spouse/partner who has been with me through every single up and down as though he were experiencing them himself... He has done so with a level of patience, understanding, unwavering clarity, and devotion that defies comprehension. Without him.. well, there is no 'without him'.)

One of the key components in this delicate balance between light and dark has been to recognize the path that you're on, acknowledge it and find some diversions to keep you from going too far down the path and getting lost. One of those outlets for me is and has always been writing. Its undoubtedly a form of therapy - an anonymous ear whose soul purpose is to listen while I talk myself into making sense again. All this said, I'm using you as an outlet and a diversion today... its been a rough couple of weeks.

So, I mentioned above, we feel like we have a better handle on my depression than ever before. I think we understand it better, we have more coping mechanisms and we're better equipped to deal with the blah days. For me, this was a critical component in our decision to go ahead and have a child. Don't get me wrong, its not like the thought process was "hey, I'll never be sad again, lets have a baby and live happily ever after." It was more "I am confident that I am emotionally equipped and stable enough to be responsible for the emotional health and well being of another person forever - wow... holy crap that's huge." With that realization, I knew that there would be new emotional challenges on a level of which I was incapable of even beginning to comprehend. She's not even here yet and I'm getting a taste of that dynamic.

Gestational Diabetes (yes - I'm back to the GD Dilemma), in the scheme of life and pregnancy, is really NOT A HUGE DEAL. Its not. I'm not just saying that. I know this and tell myself this hundreds of times a day, I could be dealing with issues so very much more significant and severe. At the end of the day I have phenomenal medical care, this baby is being monitored twice a week and all of the odds say everything will be absolutely fine. The problem is, I have been tasked with the responsibility of monitoring this dilemma and keeping it in check and I am starting to feel like I have been given a completely impossible, truly insurmountable task. Not a good feeling under any circumstances - but really not a good feeling when the well being of your own helpless child is involved.

When your boss gives you a completely impossible, truly insurmountable task, chances are you start muttering obscenities, call your friends/family, vent about what an unreasonable (-insert your favorite derogatory name here) he/she is, suck it up, do your best, and at the end of the day it works out. Other than elevated blood pressure, loss of sleep, and perhaps an unexpected deficit in the liquor cabinet, no harm, no foul. When its your unborn child, however.... well for one thing, you can't go near the liquor cabinet. You feel like its life and death, there's no one to blame, there's no one to call names and no one who can really step in and help you own it. Maybe its just because I tend to be a little type-A and can be a little extreme but at the end of the day its like having a gun pointed at your child and you either pass or fail.

Okay - that is a bit extreme, no one is going to die here, but let me explain the analogy. I am maintaining an unbelievably restricted diet. I pour over nutrition facts, I keep a calculator in the kitchen, I keep a timer in my pocket, I have a color coded spreadsheet that would blow your mind. I analyse every drop of sustenance that I put into my mouth trying to find the balance between getting enough sustenance for the two of us and keeping my blood sugar low enough to keep her healthy. Every meal feels like a gamble. One hour after each meal I prick my finger, take my glucose levels, hold my breath and for the past two and a half weeks, 75 percent of the time, I have failed. I can not tell you how much stress and anxiety I have developed as a result of this insanity. Now, my logical mind says - you're eating a perfect diet and your blood sugar is still high, its not your fault. I finally came to terms with that this week, threw up my hands, acknowledged that I had done everything I could have done, and went on a low dose of medication. My doctor assured me it was safe for the baby, its only 8 weeks, it will lower my stress and anxiety (which is also good for the baby) its the right thing to do... not... my... fault. This morning I woke up and realized that I was in ketosis. For those of you who did not spend part of the last decade on the Atkins diet, that essentially means (in terms of pregnancy) I'm not getting enough sustenance. I'm eating what I'm supposed to be eating, my blood sugar is still high, and now, I'm essentially starving... all at the same time.

So I have a call into the doctor. I have my second weekly appointment this afternoon with an RN to make sure Moon Pie's heart rate, etc. are perfect. I know we will find a good solution for what I now refer to exclusively and not-so-affectionately as the GD Dilemma. I know, 8 weeks from now this will all seem like a distant memory and a whole lot of stress over nothing. Right now though, it just feels all consuming.

The point of all of this (if you're still with me, that is) is I just needed to vent.... to vent and vent and vent. I need to unload and not be consumed. I need to drop this burden off in the ether, take a hot shower, and go spend an hour in a local book store, treat myself to an exceptional cup of decaf (they do exist, you just have to really seek them out) and keep myself from diving down the rabbit hole.

I do, however, want to end on a slightly more positive note. So we had birthing class again last night. Hunter will be at a conference for the last session of class and won't be able to attend. We were trying to figure out what was on the syllabus for that class and whether or not he would miss the tour of the hospital. All of a sudden his eyes got as big as saucers and he got this panicked look on his face and said "Is there a test that night!?!?!? Am I going to miss a test?!?!". As if they're not going to let us birth the baby if we fail birthing class??? You'd have to know Hunter to really appreciate how hysterical this actually was. If you do know my brilliant, over achieving, uber competitive, professional test-taking, geneticist husband, you will understand why I started cackling and almost fell out of my chair. I'm pretty sure he gets to audit this one. Hope you enjoyed the chuckle and thank you for listening. I'm going to go eat a half a banana with a 1/2 a tablespoon of some all natural peanut butter for a total of 15 carbs, take a super hot shower and point myself in the direction of that book store.

So very much love.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Birthing Class Part I (**Warning some content and language may be slightly graphic - but absolutely nothing compared to the real thing**)

Me again! This is 3 days in a row.... can you believe it? It's because I'm sleep deprived and oxygen deprived and therefore feel the need to prattle on endlessly into the ether. The cold is better but I'm pretty sure its stagnated. I'm not "balled-up-in-a-helpless-whining mass" sick, but I'm maintaining "just sick enough to be pissed off about it". You know, where you're still going through tissues like a bulimic goes through gummy bears on a road trip, where you just know that the next time you blow your nose you're going to end up with a hernia (which is a very disconcerting sensation when pregnant, let me tell you) and you wake up every morning and the first though in your head is "oh crap, did I accidentally swallow the cat in my sleep last night?" Point is - I'm going to live.


In other super exciting news, Hunter and I went to the first in a series of 6 birthing classes last night. You would think that, to a certain extent, birthing would be intuitive. I don't know, I've never done it before. However, after staring at numerous 3-D, life sized models of the different stages involved in this oh-so-pleasant process and five or six re-enactments with props - some things might be better left with a smidge of mystique surrounding them. Don't get me wrong.... I'm all about prepping for what I'm sure will be the most amazing and beautiful and spectacular and magnificent and oh-my-god-traumatic experience of my life. I'm pumped we're taking this class, I've just recently decided that some things you just really can't truly prepare for - no matter how many times you see the creepy baby doll with the plastic head and the 360 degree arms and legs shoved through the birth canal and fake pelvis.

Our instructor is 'a character' to say the least. She has a very dry (slightly disturbing) sense of humor (she's have to though, wouldn't she?). More often than not, it seems like Hunter and I are the only ones who get her jokes, which is in itself entertaining. I think she really zeroed in on that - or the fact that Hunter had this look of catastrophic mortification plastered on his face through much of the class to the extent that I was becoming concerned that his face would get stuck like that. She kept glancing our way and occasionally asking things like, "are you okay", "you should have some candy", "do you need a break", and "are you still breathing?". At one point, about 15 minutes into this demonstration, the creepy doll made its 3rd rotation in an effort to squeeze through the fake pelvis. Hunt was looking particularly squeamish and frankly, somewhat panicked. He leaned over to me and in a slightly insane whisper said, "Oh My God, just get the f***er out!". To which I replied in a not-so-hushed-voice, "Hunter!!!! Don't call the baby a f***er!". To which he replied, "I wasn't calling OUR baby a f***er! I was calling the freaky doll a f***er!" At which point I shook my head and thought... "This really is going to be our greatest adventure".

So birthing class was at the very least, entertaining. We will have the same instructor for our breast feeding class, which I have almost conned Hunter into taking with me (because he is an awesome husband who is very secure in his masculinity).... (and because the instructor bribed him with chocolate and he'll do damn near anything for chocolate).

Until next time.... enjoy the rest of your week!

Love,

Julie

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Arm Chair 2 Cents (Because I'm such an expert on winter sports.... or winter... for that matter.. um... yeah)

Okay, so yesterday I mentioned that I haven’t exactly been feeling 100% lately. (Okay, so I moaned and groaned and threw myself an all out pity party. Whatever.) The point is, I’ve been feeling “a little punk”, as my Grandmother Glasgow used to say, for a week and a half now.Because I’ve been feeling “a little punk”, and Hunter has been feeling sympathetically “punk”, we have found ourselves glued to the couch since last Friday taking in every single moment of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

As a child, I always watched the winter Olympics. Actually, that’s not entirely true… my mother and I used to watch the opening ceremony and the figure skating. As any of my aunts or uncles will tell you, my mother’s entire family is genetically required to tune in to every major pop-culture event. As much as I rail against this aspect of my DNA – it has been bred into me to a certain extent as well, though I try very hard to keep it on the periphery. You know, manage my outbreaks with the visits toPeople.com so as to only have one or two outbreaks a year (Golden Globes, Oscars, the occasional fund raiser sponsored by George Clooney) So, as a child, I watched the opening ceremonies because they were essentially like the Super Bowl half-time show minus the football, Budweiser commercials, steroids, and Janet Jackson’s left nip…well you know) and we watched the figure skating because, well, let’s face it Dorothy Hamilll and Scott Hamilton were the 80’s precursor to Dancing With the Stars…. And to carry that analogy further – weren’t Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding the 90’s precursor to Survivor??? (For the record I do not watch either of these shows) I digress… So I was madly in love with Scott Hamilton (and still kind of am) and was going to name my daughter Katarina, after Katarina Witt. Seriously. I was.(Nope, not disclosing any proprietary info here – I outgrew the ‘Katarina’ thing around ’89 and Moon Pie’s name is quintessentially American). Hunter never really watched the Olympics before this year, so this is our first full on exposure to the wonderful world of legitimate athleticism.

I have to say – we’re sucked in.

Part of our motivation for tuning in this year is, it’s an armchair way for us to get involved in the SLC Culture. As you might have noticed, we’re both very excited about finding new ways to immerse ourselves in our new world. Hunter is very much into skiing and I’ve been delving into all sorts of literature, etc. about SLC history, politics, etc. etc. The cool thing about the Olympics is that, not only are most of the sports accessible to us out here, but most of the athletes have some sort of ties to our area.So, when it comes to all of the ski events, the snowboarding, the figure skating (of course) and even the speed skating we’re hanging on every moment. That said, I need to raise some questions about a few things.

Biathlon: So, let me get this straight. You strap sticks to your feet, grab some poles, stuff a large shotgun behind your head and start sprinting through the snow. You sprint until you’re so exhausted you can’t see straight and then you throw yourself on the ground, grab your gun, fire a weapon, stuff your gun back behind your head and start sprinting on sticks through the snow again. I have an open mind. I do but does this seem… at best: antiquated and at worst… dare I say: silly??? I don’t mean to judge… there’s obvious skill involved here – I’m just a little confused as to how this became such a legitimate combo. It just seems like the pickles and ice cream of the Olympics – The Julia Roberts/Lyle Lovett of the Olympics – the Elton John/Lady Gaga of the Olympics (okay, so I watched 5 little teensy minutes of this year’s Grammy’s…. (I was flipping… it was on…)) Its the pairing that just kind of leaves the rest of the world shrugging their shoulders.

Curling: Okay – Seriously? This has to be a joke. I’ll admit; I’m judging here. Are there even enough people in the world who are into curling to justify it being an Olympic sport? I mean, I seriously wonder, if I decided tomorrow I wanted to get into curling (ain’t happenin’) – I bet there’d be a spot open for the 2014 games on Friday.So, my understanding is (and I’ve researched this): one person gets down on all fours, essentially, and shoves a rock (literally – a hunk of granite) across a sheet of ice and a group of other people wearing bowling shoes hustle in front of the rock sweeping a path ahead of said rock in the hopes that it will land in a circle and maybe bump the other team’s rock out of the way in the process. The group of people with the brooms really and truly look like part of the Queen’s Court from Alice In Wonderland, I feel like they should be dressed like playing cards. To me, this ‘sport’ is some sort of bizarre cross between bumper cars, life-sized pin ball and… um… spring cleaning? I know I sound negative here, but really, I fail to see the skill/athletic prowess required to push a rock and then sweep a path. I watched curling for about 45 minutes today… trying… so… hard…. To get it. I don’t get it. I’ll move on now. To you curler’s out there – please forgive the offense – and if you can help me make sense of this absurd phenomenon, please, reach out to me and I’ll give you my undivided attention. I promise, I always welcome a little more logic in my universe.

Figure Skating Scoring: I’m not going to spend too much time one this one, but I’ve noticed a trend in this year’s figure skating scoring – that it’s completely arbitrary. I mean, you can skate a decent run and make a mediocre score, you can fall on your face and be scored into 2nd place…. All I’m saying is Scott Hamilton is a commentator and he seems both confused and annoyed and that is not okay with me.

Conditions: I know nothing about snow sports and the way that different types of snow affect your performance. I’m still getting acquainted with snow period, so I’m staying out of that. I mean, I understand that you can’t control the weather (unless you’re a member of The Cauldron), but if you’re having a tough time with the outdoor sports, you’d think you’d go to great lengths to make sure theindoor sports (like speed skating) are in line. When the ice on your indoor rink looks like the ice covering alley behind my garage… really?

So there you have it – my armchair 2 cents on the Olympics. Again, sincere apologies to any gun-toting cross-country skiers, rock path sweepers, figure skating judges or Canadian Zamboni drivers I might have offended in the writing of this blog.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I just realized that Dr. Best failed to tape last night’s Olympics (HELLO!?!MEN’S FIGURE SKATING SHORT PROGRAM AND SNOWBOARDING!?!?!). I have a scathing phone call to make and a remote control to permanently commandeer. Mutiny of the DVR! WHOO HOO!