Thursday, March 31, 2011

It Begins

The teacher training I've been helping to teach finishes tomorrow. Yesterday we got out a little early and I had time to take a long walk in the park overlooking the ocean. My head started to clear for the first time in a few weeks---I felt the space that's coming, for a few months anyway.

I told myself before the training started that when it ended it would be April, and time to start getting seriously ready for Baby. I am clueless as to what gear I need, there's a nursery to paint and decorate, a house to finish furnishing.... I guess those are the big things. In the material world anyway. April is tomorrow.

My heart has been getting ready for this baby for a long time. Yesterday on the walk something started to happen. This snowball (a happy one) effect of seeing myself everywhere with my child: at the Festival of Books, at the Museum of Jurassic Technology, in a yard we don't have yet with a puppy we don't have yet, at my dad's house playing with the llama, saying bye to Sky and the bambino as I go to a rehearsal and being at that rehearsal lighthearted and easy because of the morning I spent with that little one. Suddenly I am seeing myself going through the world with this extension of my heart, as someone famous said once---like my heart is walking around outside of me.

I kept daydreaming. Then I began to feel those things I've read that parents feel but only knew in theory what they meant. I began to want my child to have so much more than I've ever had. And I've had a beautiful life. To passionately, deeply and completely want this baby to have all the courage, faith, and opportunities to be who she or he is here to be. Suddenly I started to have a sense that my life isn't going to be the most important thing to me anymore. There is so much I still want to do, and so many dreams I have for me, yet within that I'm starting to feel that mothering this person is the most significant thing I will ever do. I am starting to feel the lengths I am willing to go to in order to do that. And I don't even know what "that" is yet! or what those "lengths" are.

I was walking under some trees with interesting hollow pod-things hanging off them, and my heart was beating fast because I was dreaming of this. Dreaming of my desire to facilitate this new person's path.

About 4 months to go and I am feeling things I've never felt before. This is only the beginning, isn't it? Moms, chime in.

Kristina sent me these 2. With a note saying Sky and I need something like this.
I think she's right. For me to look at when the baby isn't a baby and is gone at a sleep-over. Or for the baby to look at if she/he ever doubts how much we're already in love with it.

first photo from here; second one here

(I really don't like calling the baby IT. But the double pronoun thing can go on too long.)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

First of Many

A week went by, didn't it? I'd say I'm not sure how that happened, but I know exactly how it happened. I've been helping to teach a Teacher Training for Yoga Works and I was out of the house before 7:30 every day last week, often not getting home til dinner time or after.

So hi.

We're heading into the last week of the training; it's been really good--a great group of yoga-teachers-to-be coming into the world. And I'll be happy to have a little time back. I feel like I have about 4 months left of My Schedule. Then you-know-who arrives and it's the end of My anything for a while.

Maybe I could say this about anything at any time of my life if I chose to, but I feel I'm being given all different sorts of experiences these 9 1/2 months to prepare me for the surrender necessary for motherhood: surrender of my body, surrender of my time, surrender of my agenda from little things to big. Then you add all the hormones racing around which make me, for one, so unbelievably sensitive on certain days (I had four days straight of tears last week around that super full moon) and I get to practice holding myself together (or not) when every nerve in my body wants to collapse. At least til I get myself alone. It's an intelligent design.

The house has pretty much been on hold these last few weeks, but as I have some time in the months of April and May I promise to post photos on how the redecorating is coming. We have to repaint the bedroom we repainted: the color we chose turned out too light and too blue. Something else to take in stride. I might have to redo a wall someday when one of my children colors on it. And the garage really is the bane of my existence right now: it somehow seems representative of all the chaos waiting for me on the other side of my sanity. But I'll tackle it soon.

Anyway, I did manage to make something delicious last night: lentil burgers.

For the recipe go here, to Heidi's beloved and brilliant site. I added a few walnuts and lemon zest to the recipe, and planned on caramelizing onions until I forgot I'd planned that and it was too late. I made the saffron yogurt sauce she suggested and that is yum. Planning on putting the leftovers on veggies, sandwiches, maybe using as a salad dressing. The one thing I'll say is that she cuts the patties in half and uses them like a bun: so between the patties you have your sauce, avocado, greens, whatever. I guess I didn't make them thick enough because that wouldn't have worked with mine. So I ate with a knife and fork sans bun, and Sky put his between slices of bread and kept moaning about how good it was. Play around. This was the first of many times I'll be making these as I want to master the right thickness to halve and pick up, and I want one with caramelized onions.

Talk soon.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Heath for Japan

Leave it to Heath Ceramics to be beautiful and conscious at the same time. Now through March 24th Heath is donating 25% of all sales to Architecture for Humanity's relief efforts in Japan.

I need more Heath like I need another excuse to eat cheese right now, but nevertheless I find myself called to add one more piece to my collection which started 7 years ago on a walk through San Francisco's design district. It was Sky's and my first trip together; I saw some pieces in a design store, and I knew that's what I wanted for my own home. I bought a lone linen ramekin (not even the set shown here)
as a beginning. A few pieces were added over the next few years, and when it was time to register for wedding gifts, Heath took up a big part of that list. The ramekins have friends now. I digress.

Heath is beautiful, timeless, elegant and every-day friendly all at once. If you've been wanting to give yourself or someone else a gift, now could be a really good time to buy
that casserole
or pitcher
or serving bowl (this one from their stunning winter seasonal collection)
Or creamer/sugar set---one of my favorites. I have them in linen after one of my favorite restaurants, Axe, which is sadly no longer with us.
or one of these cutting boards (oh how I covet these)
Online or in-store and just for a few more days.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

To Tame the Beast

March is getting away from me. I'm assisting a yoga teacher training at Yoga Works where I've taught for the last 10 years, and it's all day every day and that's a lot to get used to. House projects have to wait, the second Twilight movie has to wait (I confess I watched the first one and I double confess that I liked it), and Sky and I are back to scheduling time together. But it's only til April 1.

When I'm my busiest I need music. Need it to quiet the frenetic beat inside that can escalate when I've got a day I won't be home for 12 hours and the kitchen hasn't been cleaned and I haven't really meditated and the garage is still a war zone. And Andrew Bird is high on my list of folks I listen to when I want to get a little cooler. In yoga an excess of heat is rajas, an excess of cold, or sluggishness, is tamas, and the perfect balance is satva. Andrew Bird helps me be sattvic:)

Have you seen this video on YouTube? If you know Mr. Bird it will be an affirmation of how much you love him; if you don't, please say hello to one of your new favorite artists. At the Guggenheim, no less: one of the great buildings in this world if I may humbly opine. His album Noble Beast has tamed my ignoble beast on many a day.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Smoke Alarm Broke

Sky was in Europe for a week working. He got back yesterday. I've gotten a lot better about sleeping enough when he's gone--it used to be an excuse for me to exercise all my obsessions, one being that there is never enough time to do everything so I should sleep the bare minimum. Even before the hummingbird, I'd let that go. I was ready to rest and restore over this weekend alone.

Starting on Friday morning at about 4:30 there was a high pitched very loud chirping in the bedroom at intervals of about a minute. It didn't take me long to realize it was the smoke alarm asking for a new battery. I thought I could sleep through it and deal in the morning. Wrong. It's loud, about the pitch of fingernails on a blackboard, and about as loud that favorite song you blasted on the radio this morning.

So I got up, stood on the dresser (which I will show you soooon!), and tried to dismantle it.

It's not a normal smoke alarm.

Once the cover was off, I learned the bugger is attached to the ceiling with all these weird coils. I have to go online and download instructions how to take it apart. After calling it a name or 2 I realized I had a dilemma: go online at 4:45 in the morning or pull a Sky and sleep successfully with a pillow over my head.

I tried the latter. And was able to sleep for a bit.

The sound didn't happen the rest of the day so I thought all was clear. Saturday morning, 4:45 I hear a familiar cry. This time I don't manage to go back to sleep and instead skype Sky in Spain. Then I figure I'm just up, have some time before a class I'm taking so I get online and read a lot about the Tsunami. And feel more helpless than an hour-old kitten. So I do some fantasy shopping. If I were looking for clothes that fit around a waist and had enough cash to save families in Japan and then lots left over I'd hit up the Nanette Lepore spring collection and come home with these:

I'd feel like a breeze in April
and wear this to the wedding in Bali

if this shirt were longer it would actually work in my present state. Alas. or Phew.

This one wins. I'm speechless.

Ok so Saturday happened, and I had enough energy to see a play, do a little knitting (I'm learning thanks to my mom and making a bear for you-know-who), and go to bed around midnight. Fully expecting a long rich night of Z's. You know what happened at 6:00am on Sunday.

I knew it might but couldn't deal with downloading instructions Saturday night at 11:45. Thought I'd will myself to sleep through it. You know the definition of insanity right? --Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Did Einstein say that? I think so.

I sort of sleep til 7:30 and then it's done. I lie in bed but bed is constantly interrupted by my rooster, I mean smoke alarm, so I'm up. While I know I could meditate or write something profound, I also feel a little brain dead. I am totally guilty of spending too much time online when I'm too tired to do much else. It's not a great habit and I plan on breaking it.

But when in Rome (ie alone in the house on Sunday morning)......

May as well consider the fact that in barely more than a month we'll be traveling to Bali for a wedding and I'll need some things to wear.

The maxi skirt resurgence is brilliant news for this belly. Too bad this one is $1700. It's my favorite
from Jen Kao as seen on Shopbop

But the bathing suit issue is by far the most pressing one. This is an example of a maternity suit out there
I should just wear a jungle leaf and some plastic jewelry for crying out loud. I mean, really?! I think not.

I've always liked J Crew bathing suits and these might work (because they have a little extra tush coverage)

Definitely need to order in time to send back and shop some more if they don't, however. Not sure how these cheeks are going to look in said pieces. No waiting til week before.

As I write this the chirping continues. Guess I'm downloading.

Postscript: I got up on the dresser to find the model number. It's not as complicated as I thought. There are no batteries in the smoke alarm. I think I just said there are no batteries. A) We've lived here for 2 months and the smoke alarm has no batteries. Did the previous tenant take them?? If that's true that's tasteless. and B) so why on the 11th of March did it decide to let me know? At least it's a simple fix. Off to buy 2 9-v batteries.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Goodbye Again

I'm twenty weeks pregnant. Twenty and a half, actually. Which means I'm halfway through. (OMG! pause for a moment of WTF?! Ahhhhh!!!!) I'm just starting to have a belly--still looks kind of like a beer gut but definitely looking more like someone's living in there. I've been enjoying it. I feel good, have energy, am eating well, my hair is thick and shiny......And yes, I've gained weight. That's what's supposed to happen, and it's happening.

However, I want to share my experience of weight and weighing with you should you find yourself pregnant and faced with the decision each and every time you go to your midwife or doctor: to look at the number on the scale or not.

I didn't weigh myself for YEARS. I have a history of not-so-great behavior with food and body, and numbers have always been a trigger for me. Forget if I feel good or not; I would decide there's a certain number I should be and I would do whatever it took to be there, and it was never low enough. I went through a period a couple of years ago where I decided I could sanely handle weighing myself, and that ended with me walking my scale out to the garbage can and giving it a funeral. Some of you might remember that day.

For some reason, I decided it would be fine to chart my weight while pregnant. It'll be fun to see the number go up! And I'm SURE I'll be the girl who gains the normal amount at exactly the rate the book tells you to. First trimester I gained quite a bit at first (little freaky), then nothing at the end (ahh relief) ; 2 midwife visits ago everything seemed fine and on track (guess I'm an average statistic!).

Then last week I went for my 20-week appointment, stood on the scale, and honestly, the world crashed. The number that showed was so above and beyond anything I thought it could or should have been in any galaxy in any universe, and I freaked out. I was completely traumatized, and I don't use that word lightly. The rest of the appointment I couldn't focus on what my midwife was telling me, could barely talk to Sky who had come with me since we were getting our ultrasound (baby is perfect, and I was more focused on the scale than that), and proceeded to sob for about 4 hours when I left the office. I felt ashamed, I felt like I'd done something deeply wrong, I felt hideous, and I felt like an unfit mother. Seriously.

So here's the deal: I am not looking at the number anymore. Because here's what I learned when I called some of my mom friends in hysterics: the books that tell you you'll gain 3/4 to 1 lb a week for the second half of your pregnancy can go F themselves. Nobody does it the same way. One of my friends has 4 kids, and for one of them she gained slow and steady the whole time, for another one she gained 30 lbs by 20 weeks and 1 lb the rest of the pregnancy, and she didn't do anything differently in the latter half of that pregnancy. That's just how her body made that baby. For each of her 4 kids she gained exactly the same amount of weight, and ate totally differently for each one. She didn't look at the scale while pregnant, only after would she find out. One of my friends gained 16 lbs in 6 weeks and barely anything at the end; another was barely showing at 7 months and then 28 lbs came on. Another friend who has 3 kids and also doesn't ever look at the scale found out after her third child was born that she had gained the exact same 33 lbs for each baby. There is no formulaic way our bodies are going to grow a human, and as long as we're not doing anything extreme in any direction, it seems like our bodies have a place they like to get to while pregnant. And that's not in our control. I refuse to be miserable in my pregnancy trying to fit myself into a book's formula and feeling like a better person and a better MOTHER if I stick to that model.

That said, you may be someone that can handle it with no sweat. I think that's great, and look at the number if it sates your curiosity and it's not going to give you a window into unhappiness. I know that suddenly my pregnancy felt about how I was going to control my body at a time that it is completely under new management and control is the farthest thing from realistic without potentially harming the baby. If I were eating a pint of ice cream or 3 pieces of cake everyday, sure, I could consider changing my food. But I haven't been. Yes, I indulge at times (hello San Francisco trip), but for the most part I eat 5 or 6 times a day in super-moderate portions. It's definitely more than I ate pre-pregnancy, but it's not a diet that should cause me fear extreme weight gain.

So that's my experience. I'll turn my back on the scale, let me midwife know I'd prefer not to know, and as long as I don't have high blood pressure or gestational diabetes, whatever that number is shouldn't be cause for concern. At the end of my pregnancy maybe I'll find out what that final number was. And maybe not.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cure For What Ails You

At least I hope so.

I have a friend who's very ill, and I'm one of many many people who signed up to bring her family dinner while she fights to get well.

I wanted to make something that is easy to serve, easy to reheat, and good for a group. Soup. Ye old standby when the family requested no white flour which ruled out lasagna. I, of course, could use rice noodles, but half the time they fall apart.

I've been wanting to make a tortilla soup my stepmom made at Christmas, and that seemed perfect. It's best the day after you make it which was perfect since it meant cooking and transporting on different days--easier on the schedule for sure.

If you're using dried beans (always what I recommend over canned), then you want to start 2 or even 3 days before, since you'll need to soak the beans overnight, and maybe cook them the day before you make the soup. That's what I did: soaked beans Monday night, cooked beans Tuesday, made soup Wednesday, delivered on Thursday. But of course you could do the whole thing in one day if you choose. That's what cans are for.

Once the beans are ready, the soup comes together pretty fast. The only part that needs you hovering over the stove for more than a minute is making the roux at the beginning: the flour needs to be stirred constantly with the oil til it turns caramel-colored, and that can take 15 minutes. After that, it's adding ingredients and letting them simmer, and not even for that long.

The original recipe uses chicken and fewer veggies; I used homemade veggie stock, lots of vegetables, and no birds. I also used a fairly spicy dried chile, but you, of course, can spice to your liking. I ordered some tamales from here, got some extra corn tortillas, and made a big salad of lettuces with pumpkin seeds, radishes and snow peas. Our friends Melanie and Jon who live in New York and can't bring dinner over instead ordered gorgeous flowers from, where else, Dandelion Ranch, which we had delivered here so I could take everything over at once.
There's something about soup that says Feel Better to me. When I was in Taos for Christmas and feeling so sick in those first 3 months of pregnancy, this soup was something I could stomach. I made it this time with wishes that it be something that contributes to well-being in my friend's home.

It's also great for a party. You don't have to save it for hard times.

Tortilla Soup
adapted from a New Mexican cookbook I don't know the name of

1/3 c olive oil
1/4 c flour
1 green bell pepper and 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 zucchini, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 c cilantro leaves, chopped
1 1/2 t dried chile
1 1/2 t ground cumin
3 c cooked pinto beans
5 corn tortillas, shredded (love the mini-food processor for that)
2 quarts vegetable stock or broth
12 oz diced canned tomatoes, drained
few grindings black pepper

1/2 shredded Jack or cheddar or combo of the 2 cheese (for garnish)
1 ripe avocado, peeled and chopped (garnish)
2 corn tortillas, cut into thin strips and fried in veggie oil (garnish)

Heat oil in large heavy saucepot or Dutch oven and whisk in flour. Lower heat and cook, stirring constantly, til mixture has browned to a caramel color.
Add all chopped veggies except tomatoes, along with cilantro, chile and cumin. Cook 5-10 minutes.
Add beans, shredded tortillas, stock, tomatoes and black pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and refrigerate for several hours or overnight if possible to let flavors blend.
Before serving, reheat soup, ladle into bowls, and garnish with cheese, avocado, and fried tortilla strips.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Shelve It

As I told you awhile back, we were furniture shopping. And so we did. And now we wait. 4-6 weeks (now down to 2-4) for various pieces to arrive. And once they arrive, then there will be smaller accent pieces to track down. So the house still feels like a work in progress. A very livable, comfortable, sunny work in progress, but a WIP nonetheless. (did anyone see Cedar Rapids? Love those anacronyms). And til the furniture arrives, some things are not getting hung on the walls, office boxes are not getting organized under the pending desk, and Craigs List ads are not getting posted with old couch friend ready to move on to someone else. Which means I have time for some smaller projects.....

Honestly, the little detail of opening the drawer and seeing clean pretty paper instead of old nasty cheap drawer wood warms my heart. It can be the difference between liking the kitchen and loving it. My google search led me to Chic Shelf Paper. Then I saw Apartment Therapy had posted about it and I felt extra sharp. There have so many beautiful creative patterns, it makes me want to line every surface of the house just because I can. Which to choose for our dark blue tiled kitchen.....?

I love this one but I'm not feeling black.

Awesome, but too much blue in one room I think.

Should I ever be hungover again would I regret this one? It's cheerful though.

Classy, subtle, and we have a lot of orange in the house.

This is my wildcard but I'm kind of into it.

I just. love. red. Always and forever.

What would you do?