Monday, March 26, 2007

A book dilemma

What would you do if you were reading a book and it was ok but you didn't really like it. What if you'd read 200 pages already and were halfway through it? I'm reading Snow by Orhan Pamuk. It's not boring (a revolution is going on) but I'm completely bored. The most intriguing reason to keep reading is to figure out why everyone else liked it (an NYT best seller and much acclaimed) and to see if it's going to get any better. At this point I don't have anything else on my nightstand to read (see previous post about how I mostly only read borrowed books) but the thought that this might be the last book I read before I give birth is really disappointing. I don't like to be a quitter (that doesn't mean I'm not a quitter-- I am. I will.) especially when it comes to reading. At the same time, the person who gave it to me even said that she didn't finish it either. So maybe I'll go to the bookstore or the library today.

About being pregnant

I know I haven't written much about being pregnant. I don't want to be a complainer. Even though the beginning of this pregnancy was a little harder than my first (a bit of nausea, some tiredness, a little unexpected depression for a few weeks) I felt like I didn't have time to think about it because I was preoccupied with taking care of Talia. I also know people who struggle with infertility so it seemed silly to complain. Of course, that made me feel more guilty and confused about those few weeks of depression-- I really wanted to be pregnant.

As time wore on I felt better and my pregnancy followed a more traditional trajectory-- felt slightly yucky in the first trimester and then much better in the second. Ron and I took a trip to Paris, we had the whole job search thing going on, and the holidays came and went.

And then the third trimester came. I can honestly say I have been feeling uncomfortable for at least 6 weeks now. I have had a low grade cold on and off (mostly on) since early February. Most of all, though, is how fucking uncomfortable I am. I am carrying so differently this time around. Classic boy belly as opposed to classic girl physique when I was carrying Talia. I haven't gained very much weight at all-- less than 20 pounds at my last visit (I weighed more 6 weeks ago but had a stomach flu, lost a bunch and have been catching up). I can assure you every pound of that 20 is in my belly. I can't breathe, I can't get comfortable, I can't sleep at night (turning over is a huge event for me and involves huffing and puffing), my appetite is erratic, and I certainly can't climb the stairs. I have terrible heartburn even though I'm on Prevacid. I actually think things like, oh it would be nice to take Talia to the zoo but I can't see myself walking that much. We had a layover in Chicago last week and had to walk at least 100 miles between terminals. Ron carried Talia, I carried my backpack and hers and I seriously thought I would die. Most of all I find this embarrassing.

I try not to talk about it but find myself doing it anyway and it feels so stupid coming out of my mouth. I know people who are on bedrest. I know people who can't get pregnant. I know people who are carrying twins. I know people who have miscarriages. It seems futile and petty to complain. I've mostly started complaining to Ron, who reacts by saying that we definitely won't be having any more kids because I find it so taxing, which I think is really fucking insensitive. I think I complain to him the most because he's the one I need to help me out a little bit extra. If he had ANY idea how much trouble it is for me to bend over to pick up his crap and Talia's toys he would just pick it up himself! I keep trying to make this clear to him but he can't seem to remember. It doesn't hurt him physically to bend over or run up the stairs to get something, or move in certain positions like pulling the garbage bag out of the can, but it is really hard for me! I can't even breathe! He has completely taken over bathtime, which is great because I can't see myself getting up to the third floor, bending over to wash Talia, or possibly carrying her down the stairs (they're really slippery if you're wet). I see every task this way-- how hard will this be for my pregnant self to do? The overwhelming feeling is that I'm out of shape and I have to remind myself that I'm NOT out of shape (not more than I was before I got pregnant anyway) but I'm PREGNANT. VERY PREGNANT!

I am SO ready for this baby to come out. I know how much easier it is to take care of a baby when it's inside and I know that I won't be able to finish any of my current projects, like quilting or packing the house but I would be perfectly happy for this baby to come ANYTIME after this week. I'm ready to find out what our new life will be like. Every plan we try to make, regarding moving or deciding how many days Talia should spend in preschool this summer, or whether or not I will be able to handle flying with the two kids alone so Ron can drive a car out to Madison, EVERYTHING is contigent on how everything goes with a new baby. It's going to be hard and it's going to happen anyway, I may as well find out now. Please...!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Talia's first ballet class

Talia liked it. I was reminded why I don't like Ballet and everything it stands for (anorexic girls, rigid and old fashioned teaching methods. If she didn't like it so much I would consider not taking her. I'm going to give it another chance and then consider maybe switching to another class. I did NOT like the teacher.
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Why I probably shouldn't buy nice furniture when we move...

I found Talia coloring on the dining room chair with crayons yesterday. She had no idea she was doing anything wrong, probably because I let her color on her own wooden table, chairs and stool. She was shocked and I think even embarassed when I freaked out. She said "I will never do it again! I wanted to make it pretty!" I tried my best to get the crayon out with a Tide-to-go pen. Of course, watching me use a PEN-LIKE DEVICE to clean it probably didn't send the CLEAREST message about whether or not we color on chairs. Moving the chair to the far end of the table and suggesting we "not tell Daddy" might have been a bigger clue.
Truthfully we have no furniture at this point that is special to us. We have couches that we thought would be nice but turned out to SUCK even though, at the time, they seemed like a lot of money. My plan is to take most of our furniture with us to Wisconsin and slowly replace it as we start to save some money. There are definitely a lot of crappy Ikea pieces that we're leaving here. I wouldn't wish them on anyone but if you are in need of really bad furniture, let me know...
Now I'm wondering how long we should wait before buying nice furniture. Perhaps longer than I thought.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Things I love/ Things I don't (about the new house)

Things I love about the house:

Detail on the stairs!
All the built in cabinets!
The kitchen (I think I love it anyway)!
Playroom on first floor is hidden!
A master bath!
Guest room is in the basement with full bath!
Living room with gas fireplace!
Style built in to the design of the house!
A garage!
Linen closets!
A coat closet!
Things I don't love about the house:
Lack of land
Closeness to the street
No mail delivery! Help!
Distance from downtown?
Dangerous/ high/ narrow cement steps leading to front door
The front porch seems and doesn't seem to get light...
What the hell will we do with that huge room on the second floor?
Dining room is too small and you can see the kitchen from it (I'm a messy cook)

New Spring Fabric

This is the fabric I bought for my "Grandmother's Flower Garden" quilt. I wanted to be able to take quilting along with me to do some work if I was sitting in the Midwife's waiting room, or at the park with Talia or on an airplane etc. Since this quilt is completely hand-pieced I figured it would be a good place to start. The "jelly roll" of fabric is perfect for this quilt because it consists of 40 inch long strips that are 2 1/2 inches wide. I just cut squares from it and they fit well over my hexagon template. I have made two flowers so far (on the airplane!) and it's fun to hand quilt. Of course, this quilt could take years to finish.

New House in Madison WI

Front of house

Back of House

Living Room



Hallway 2nd floor
So this is the house we are hoping to buy. It is one year old and absolutely BEAUTIFUL, 4000 sq. ft. Most of the features on the first floor are built in, which is great considering we have no (nice) furniture! This is the home in the "new urbanism" development. The houses are literally ON the street with small front porches and practically no land at all. This house is a little different than the others around it because it is on the edge of the housing development and therefore has a little bit of land (and a back deck) and overlooks some empty space that I don't think will be developed. I am going to do some (more) research on new urbanism but the basic premise seems to be a designed community that values high grade building materials, attention to detail, environmental features and usable spaces in the homes versus spaciousness, opulence and formal living spaces. The whole development is supposed to foster a sense of community rather than isolation and they do this by taking away indiviual land and having many many commnunity spaces from parks/ playgrounds (1 block from the house) to a nature conservancy (2 blocks from the house) and some commerical space (cafes and grocery within... 4-5 blocks from the house). There is also a pond and a community garden and probably more that I don't know about yet. Everywhere we looked there were kids, people walking and biking (it's still winter!) and lots of dogs. I honestly never saw myself in a place like this but fell in love with the house first and am kind of falling in love with the concept as well.
Since I don't know anyone in Madison it might be nice to have a built in community for a few years. Buying in the middle of our price range (and a home with a high resale value) also allows us to learn more about Madison and decide where we might want to buy our "forever" house when we are making more money. Supposedly the schools are fantastic with high parental involvement etc. The elementary school is also within walking distance (does that mean I'm going to have to drive talia in the (long) winter?). There are not too many drawbacks to the actual house. Obviously, no (a little) land is weird and not what I was looking for, the dining room is smaller than I would like-- not really enough space for a big holiday dinner, but the weirdest thing is that the mail doesn't get delivered to your house-- you have to pick it up down the street! that FREAKS me out! There are a lot of days I don't want to leave the house--especially in the winter. UPS etc does deliver to the house. I guess it would be nice to be able to recycle my junk mail without even bringing it into my home though. I guess they really want you to be neighborly. I know that's not me, but with small kids you have to be anyway so you might as well be. The house is a 12 minute drive to the capitol, state street (where the cute shops are) and the university. It's about 6 minutes to Talia's preschool (which she LOVED and I LOVED by the way) and 5 minutes to the more conventional (chain) shopping like Barnes and Noble and Joanns etc. At some points when we were driving our realtor said, "there's a lot of traffic right now" and all we had to do was wait through two lights. It was way less than Flemington traffic!

I have to say the houses in madison seem to be VERY expensive to begin with. We saw million dollar homes that needed a LOT of work and upgrades. These were in highly desirable locations but still! All in all, the people in Madison are so nice and everyone just wants you to be happy. It's a little strange! I'm sooooooo tired from seeing about 25 houses. from now on I'm taking it easy until this baby comes out. I'm going to just sit on the couch and chill. Our next step is to make a final decision and move forward. There was one other house that was about $100,000 less, in a much more secluded and woodsy setting (and backed up to a park) but definitely would need updating (nothing immediate) to make it special. Everything was nice and it was very well spaced (seemed bigger than the one we will likely get even though it was slightly smaller) but it did not have a great style or great kitchen or great master bathroom or anything like that. It was very sunny and bright and open and had lots of space though. and woods.

Ok, lots to think about-- goodnight!

Friday, March 16, 2007

My baby's all grown up!

Talia is finally wearing her hair back in a ponytail and looks so grown up! She says words like "definitely" and "whatever" and "actually" (and "damn it"). She's mostly off her princess dress but into her ballet outfit (class hasn't even started yet). She even WANTED to go to school yesterday (that only took 7 months...). Of course now she has pink eye and can't go to school. It's hailing anyway so we don't really want to go out anyway. Of course I have nothing to make for dinner and no motivation to do laundry or pack for our trip to Madison tomorrow or clean out the fridge.


Family Photo

New Baby Quilt

Made this quilt yesterday for a friend of Ron's. It's 3 feet by 3 feet and has little "taggies" all around the edge. I think the baby is probably 4 to 6 months old now so hopefully she'll like playing on it or putting the tags in her mouth. These are all flannel fabrics I had lying around. Some I even used in my first quilt (ever!) for Talia 3 years ago. Fast projects are fun!

Cousin Marley comes for a visit and gets professional portraits

Thursday, March 15, 2007

birthday weekend

Daycare Party
Preschool Party

Kiddie Party

Family Party

So we had FOUR parties all together for Talia who is now THREE. One party each at preschool and daycare (just cupcakes and party hats), a party for kids at the house on Saturday and a family party on Sunday. I'm exhausted. Actually, everything went really well. I decided that I wouldn't cook or bake any cakes or even cut up vegetables and fruit. I simply bought everything premade and ordered pizza.

Talia was very good at her friend party. I think all the kids were good but with a ratio of about 1.5 adults per child maybe everything was just taken care of without my noticing. For the first time ever I had T go around the house and choose toys she felt she just couldn't share to put away. That seemed to work really well. She actually picked what I would have picked for her; stuff she's had trouble sharing in the past. At first when I proposed the idea she said we should put away "all of the toys" but quickly came around. The kids did a little art project and mostly played and ate. Ron mostly kept an eye on Talia and I was able to talk with friends. After the party was over we all took a family nap and cleaned up later.

talk about tedious/ 700 pins

I used all my pins (and then some) to baste the princess quilt.
I used about 25 pins per 10 inch square and there were 30 squares so... that's over 750 pins. I put them in on Tuesday and took them out on Wednesday after machine stitching with clear monofilament thread. Basically I'm saying my fingers hurt. I decided to follow the backing fabric and hand quilt hundreds of hearts (from the back) with variegated pink thread. It looks pretty good but I almost wish the thread was darker so it would show up more. I'm hoping to be able to do it within two weeks since T is really ready to use it! I haven't decided what to use to bind it. I might just fold the backing fabric over since it's flannel and would therefore be soft.

In the meantime I have about four other quilts I'm working on in my head. I might whip up a baby quilt today (I guess I should get to it...) for a friend that I've been MEANING to send a gift to for a few months already. I feel so bad about the belated gift that I think I should make something by hand. I could do it in a few hours with fabric I have lying around.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Princess Quilt is Pieced Together!

I really wanted to get it pieced before T's birthday. Now I REALLY have other stuff to do!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Book Abuser

This is so totally me! It's an essay about abusing books by writing in them, folding down the corners, cutting them in half, etc. I believe in all of it. I also believe in NOT keeping my books. At this point in my life I have kept only a VERY few (fiction) books, maybe 2 or 3 from my adult life and a dozen or so from childhood. I like to pass them on or get rid of them. I absolutely don't keep them. Perhaps when we move to Madison and have a home in which we hope to stay for years and years I will create a library but at this point I feel no need to keep them.

I also don't really buy books. I definitely use my public library (so easy now with online reservations!) and borrow books from family and friends. Of course, the family and friends have to buy the books for me to borrow them but I would be almost as happy to get them from the library. I actually read them faster since they have to be returned. I am terrified of accumulating fines at the library and use an email reminder service to help me remember to return them!

I would say I have read more in the last 3 years than ever before. Perhaps it's because I'm not in school, or not working (much), or getting in bed earlier because I'm tired from parenting all day. I think the main reason however is.... TIVO. I rarely watch TV at night anymore (we have no TV in the bedroom) and just Tivo my shows to watch while I'm cleaning etc. Also, Ron wants to watch the Jim Lehrer news hour every night and frankly it bores me. He has this moral superiority about how it's the NEWS and it's on PBS so it's infinitely more important than say, America's Next Top Model or Project Runway. So he will watch the news and I'll go upstairs and read. I guess that's good for me!

I'm attaching the link to an essay in the NY Times Book Review last weekend. I would just copy and paste the article here but somehow I don't think that's right...?

I know the NYT links to articles only work for a week or so...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

bow dress

My kid is SOOOOOOO particular about what she wears. She REFUSED to wear this dress for months. I noticed that she suddenly likes a different dress in her closet because it has a little flower bow at the neck. I grabbed a shirt with a similar bow (she doesn't like the COLOR of that shirt so won't wear it) and voila! I sewed it onto the dress and now she likes it! Needless to say I'll be buying a pack of these flower bows next time I get to the fabric store.

artistic genius or the opposite?

Usually T just paints "abstractly" (a nice way to put it) but this time I drew a butterfly on her paper and this is what she came up with. Coloring "in the lines" is a concept that is very new to her. She is suddenly able to draw faces too, and suns and put whiskers on kitties (I have to draw the ears). I think being able to draw faces is a huge developmental step. Anyway, I was really impressed with this butterfly but then I thought, do I really want a kid who colors within the lines? Maybe it's a sad day after all? Either way it's a beautiful butterfly.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Black Truffle Mac and Cheese

Ron and I went out to dinner on Friday and I ordered Black Truffle Mac and Cheese. It was the best entree I've ever had, no question. Here's a recipe I found online (at the "Top Chef" website, actually) although it's definitely not exactly what I had...

Dave's Black Truffle Mac and Cheese
Black Truffle Mac and Cheese

1 Tbsp. EVO

1 small shallot

6 cloves of roasted garlic

3 oz of black truffles, sliced with truffle shaver

one quart of heavy mfg. cream

one cup of cognac, reduced to demi sec

2 tsp. fresh oregano, finely chopped

2 tsp. fresh thyme stems removed

1 Tbsp. sherry

2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. white pepper

8 oz. Fontina, finely grated

6 oz Parmiggiano reggiano,finely grated

2 tsp. chipotle Tabasco

2 cups seasoned sourdough croutons, run thru food processor to turn into crumbs

1 lb Fresh pasta noodles (rigatoni or other noodle that will hold sauce), cooked in salt water to al dente

Method:Heat oil on stove top in stock pot and then add shallots and garlic and heavily sweat until aromatic. Deglaze with sherry and then add fresh herbs, truffles and cream and reduced cognac. Cook over low heat until reduced by half and truffle flavor is infused. Season and add parmesan and Tabasco. To this hot mixture add the cooked and drained noodles and the fontina and mix cheeses are melted. Taste noodles for seasoning and adjust as needed. Set aside.

Other ingredients:8 oz unsalted butter3 oz sliced black truffles

Assembly:Take small 4 -6 oz. baking dish and butter the bottom and sides. Set one slice of truffle on bottom of each dish. Then add noodles and sauce to the dish and top with the crumbled croutons, finely grated truffles and a pinch of the finely grated parmesan and back in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until mixture is bubbly and toasted on the top.

Friday, March 02, 2007

The quilt is (almost) done!

I'm so excited to be finished with Marley's quilt. I won't show finished pictures for another month because I'm giving it to my sister and to Marley on April 1st. I will, however, show pictures to document the progress of it over the last month.

Step 1: Choosing a pattern. I haven't really followed a pattern before (I usually like to design my own) but I saw a quilt I thought my sis would like so I bought the book.
Step 2: Choosing Fabrics to Match Marley's Bedding

Step 3: Designing the Layout for the Fabrics. (My favorite part)

Step 4: Cutting the fabrics and laying them out. This is the first time I used a "design wall," which is just a piece of batting pinned onto a curtain in my dining room. The fabric will stick to it without being pinned but would eventually fall off so I had to pin them in place.

Step 5: Applique-ing the stars. I had never done applique before and wasn't getting very good results doing it by hand so I ended up using a zigzag stitch on my machine. I used felt for the applique because I was afraid of using fabric and turning it under and using fusible web and all that but next time I will definitely use fabric. I don't know how the felt will wash, although the quilt is intended to be a wall hanging.

Step 6: Piecing the quilt together. I did this all by machine.

Step 7: Basting. Clearly the most tedious part and I'm no good at it. I think I did a decent job. The finished result doesn;t really show any tucks, although there are a few hidden in there.

Step 8: Machine Quilting. This is the most challenging part, in my opinion. I never know where to start in terms of choosing a design or color thread. Since I was following a pattern I decided to just follow their suggestion. I machine-quilted "in the ditch" (meaning along every seam) with monofilament thread (clear thread that looks like thin fishing line). I've never used monofilament before and the result is... a quilt that is quilted but doesn't really look it. I've read that some people always quilt in the ditch with monofilament to stabilize a quilt before proceeding with decorative stitching.
Step 9: Hand Quilting. A new skill! I never hand quilted before and found it very fun and relaxing. Plus I could do it without all the mess and work of setting up my machine (it's in my living room right now but I try to keep it kind of hidden away and neat so my family doesn't complain. This means I have to pull the table out and do some set up before every quilting session and put it away after. It's not a big deal and doesn't take a lot of time but it's still a pain).
Anyway, I started out using a neutral colored thread (tan) and it didn't show up on the quilt, which is what I thought I wanted. I liked the way the quilt looked already so I didn't want to ruin it. The whole thing seemed kind of pointless though, since you really couldn't see it, so after a while I tried it with red thread and it's looked great! I took out all the hand quilting I had done (a decent amount) and re-did it in red. I used freezer paper (a new tool!) and cut the stars out and ironed them to the quilt. I quilted around them and then took the freezer paper away. Easy!
Steps 10-12: I won't show them because it gives too much away and I want some part of the quilt to be a surprise to my sister but...
Step 10: Quilting the border. I wasn't sure what if I was going to do it or not and I tried it and it looks great and gives the quilt a balanced and finished look.

Still to be done:
Step 11: Attaching a quilt sleeve. I've never done this before either but it seems pretty easy. The quilt will most likely go on a wall so it needs a sleeve.
Step 12: The binding. I found a fantastic fabric for the binding that completely matches the bedding my sister got for the baby. Unfortunately it's a home decor fabric so it's not as soft as the rest of the quilt but I think it will be fine. I have to cut it on a bias, sew the pieces together by machine, sew the binding to the front of the quilt by machine and then stitch it over to the back by hand.
I could definitely do steps 11-12 today but I really have to take care of some things in the house so... probably I won't get to it. As I said, the quilt isn't going to be given to my sis for a whole month but Talia is really excited about her princess quilt and I'd like to get started. I've chosen the fabrics, washed and ironed them, and figured out the quilt design. The next step is the actual quilt layout, which I mentioned upthread is my favorite part so I really want to get to it! I have a busy weekend and a busy two or three weeks coming up, with T's birthday and our house hunting trip to Madison but I'd love to get started on it. It should be really simple. If I had all the time in the world to work on it, I bet it would only take two or three days.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

I thought it was warmer/ no nap

It was warmer today than it has been for weeks so I decided to skip nap and take T to the park instead. T will be starting a dance class once a week and be skipping nap that day so I figured I may as well give it a trial run. She rarely skips nap but sometimes takes it very late, like from 4-6pm. Whether she naps early, late, or not at all, she never seems to go to bed before 9pm and generally it's more like 10 or 10:30 before we're actually out of her room.

The results of my experiment were... it was a bit more work for me. Since T didn't nap, neither did I (I nap with her 4-5 times a week), so I was tired too. We went to the park for 2 hours and it was definitely colder than I thought it would be. We started out with no jackets and then went to jackets, hats, scarves, mittens and huddling for warmth! But T got a bit of exercise (barely) and I actually got to talk to a few adults. Then we went to the Penn bookstore. Usually T is very self sufficient there and will occupy herself really well. With no nap she was little more clingy and needed me to read to her and interact more. Fine.

The weirdest thing about the few times T has skipped nap is that she kind of gets violent. I guess she gets frustrated more easily and a primal instinct takes over or something. T has never been a biter or hitter, which I attribute to her early verbal skills. When she naps she gets a semi-evil look in her eye and besides being more prone to (short) meltdowns she can get kind of devilish and do things that she knows will piss me off, like spitting food on the floor or throwing things. Dinner was a little bit of a challenge and she overreacted to silly things, like Ron sitting in "her" spot on the couch.

I had to really enforce an early schedule and we had dinner, played for 1/2 an hour, bath and then the bedtime routine. It's 8:51 and she's in bed but Ron is still in her room. She has been wanting him to be the actual person who puts her to sleep and that is FINE with me! A big change over the past 8 months or so. Hopefully he'll be able to leave her room soon and come down and we can spend some QT together. That usually means me suffering through the PBS news hour but that's another post...