Thursday, August 30, 2007

Mish Mash

There's a little bit of everything going on in this post.

First, a little story. When we were getting ready to welcome Chewy as the newest bundle of fur into our lives, I read lots of puppy training books because I'd never raised a puppy before. I was especially interested in making sure we did crate training correctly because I had seen other people who used it with great success, their dogs retreating to their crates for some privacy and relaxation, their own little "den," whenever they wanted to. These dogs actually like their crates.

When we started crate training, it was frustrating for a while because, although Chewy never fought us when it was time to go in his crate (he's too sweet for that), we had to really lure him in there. Then we had the bright idea to give him treats (not just verbal and tactile praise) every time he went in his crate--and not the cheap-o training treats; we gave him the good stuff: freeze-dried meat, etc. It worked! And he's been consistently going into his crate with the command, "Go to bed!" ever since (except for the occasional confusion of which bed to go to, when he guesses wrong and heads to his bed in our bedroom or the cushion in the living room--and we never call those "bed" by the way; that's his own generalization).

But we've reached a new milestone. This morning I saw him crawl into his crate all on his own while I was innocently fixing myself a glass of water. He's napping in there. Incredible. We did it.

Now for a random rant. Have you seen the new commercials for those "cereal straw" things? I just saw one this morning. Look here to see what I'm talking about. I don't have an inherent problem with the existence of these things, though I hope they'll never make it into my kitchen. But I do have a problem with them being marketed as "cereal." This is a cookie! No? How is this different from those fancy cookies they sell for stirring in your coffee? I think those are maybe solid chocolate in the middle, so not technically a "straw," but these are chocolate-lined. Chocolate has no place in cereal. If there's chocolate, you're having dessert. Or, at best, a snack. Let's face it, the second ingredient in these "cereal straws" is still sugar. I'm just so tired of marketing these days.

Am on the mend from the virus that plagued us last week; although, my sinuses are still driving me crazy with that stuffed-up-but-I-can-still-breathe feeling, accompanied by random periods of suddenly not being able to breathe as my whole head is trying to wring itself out like a sponge. The Husband still isn't 100% either, but we're getting there.

He was a saint this weekend, hanging shelves (which is his most-loathed around-the-house chore), agreeing to paint the nursery next weekend (yay!), planning to build a small bookcase for the wee one. It's a good thing he didn't want to relax or anything, after finishing grad school. What? I gave him two weeks.

Speaking of painting, here's a question I need answering: if you're planning to paint the walls some shade of white, but obviously not white white, and the decor in the room (i.e., the baby bedding) will be a celery green, do you go for one of those whites with a similar green undertone (i.e., match it), or do you go for a shade of white that contrasts (e.g., with blue, pink, or yellow undertones)? It may not even matter. When we moved into this house, the realtor said she would pay for the paint if we wanted to repaint that room. In which case, we'd match the color to the rest of the house. We'll call her today and she if she'll hold to that; we never got it in writing, unfortunately. But I won't be surprised if they don't agree to that and we have to buy our own paint, in which case I'll get whatever color I darn well choose. Except that I know nothing about paint color design and how to get the effect I want. All I know is that the last renters obviously had a little girl in this room, too, because it's yellow with pink wallpaper flowers stuck to it. Not bad, except that the flowers are peeling off and the paint is chipped and I'm not at all sure about this particular shade of it's going.

On the sewing front, I have all the cloth wipes stitched up and most of them washed. Just need to tie up and clip some loose threads on the last batch and figure out a storage system. Then my plan is to finish up the bibs and get started on the hooded towels. I took advantage of some Labor Day sales yesterday and got some terrycloth for those. Still need to whip up some burp cloths, too. Sounds like a lot (to me at least) when I start listing things, but really those are all quick, easy projects, so I don't think it's as much work as it sounds like. I hope. I'll keep telling myself that anyway.

I didn't work all last week because I was sick. I worked Sunday for a couple hours. Today they don't need me, so I'm home again. I'm thinking this is all just as well as my body has been making it perfectly clear to me that I should have made August my last month at work rather than September. You just never know. As the Husband and I were just discussing, so many women make it all the way up to the end. And not just in desk jobs. Also standing at the grocery check out all day. If I had tried a stunt like that I'm sure I would've ended up on bed rest. So we've been feeling very lucky to be in a financial and professional position where I can stop working this soon.

And I'm finding ways to be productive even while sitting on the couch, heating and icing the back. I spent hours last night trying to be a good Maid of Honor for Scarlet Lily, researching videographers for her in her area. I'd forgotten what a pain in the ass planning a wedding can be. For us, at least, it was definitely all worth it in the end, but, man, that legwork can be excruciating. But she has a nice long list of several plausible options now, and I hope one will work out. Know anyone in the Rochester area with a video camera and some film skills who wants to make a few bucks?

By the way, I hit the jackpot at a yard sale last weekend: tons of baby girl clothes. So I stocked up on the older (mostly six and nine months) sizes that we don't have much of, and scored a ziploc full of baby hats. I love the baby hats. Can't get enough. I told the Husband he's going to have to reign me in because she'll never get to wear them all before she grows out of them. I won't even remember all the ones we have now when I'm trying to dress her! Plus, she could be like my nephew, J, who hated hats for the first, I think, year of his life (maybe more?); although, he'll wear them now (that he's over 18 months). But the best baby hats are the ones with ears. Oh, how they kill me. Seriously, how can you resist this? You'd have to be made of stone.

The last bit of news from last weekend: Bob got a new collar.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

New Look

Wait, don't leave! It's still me. Maybe harder to recognize, as I've been fooling around with my template. It's been over a year. It seemed like time to shake things up a bit. I made the title banner myself. It's nothing impressive, but the first time I've tried to make one from scratch so I'm pretty satisfied.

I caught the Husband's plague and have been home from work all week so far. Not sure tomorrow's looking much more promising. Between that and all the pregnancy aches and pains life continues to consist of many seated activities, like blog design. Also, giving Chewy a haircut. His mohawk was all matted. The last time he got shaved at Petco they fluffed up his mohawk so much that we think it caused the fur to get matted. Like 'froing out really coarse hair on a person, then rubbing their head in the carpet (as Chewy likes to do for back massages--in fact, as he's doing right now!). Disaster. So I gave him a haircut with scissors. The mohawk is gone. I think I did a pretty good job blending it in, if I do say so myself. The mats on the back of his head were so bad he has total bald spots, but the fur on top of his head is so long that it flops over and mostly covers it. I've often said that the fur on top looks like a bad toupee. Now it's serving as a pretty good toupee!

I cut out about 17,000 cloth wipes for diapering. Really, about 80. Excessive, I have no doubt. I was only making 60 measuring 8" x 8", which already seemed more than plenty, but then the Husband thought they might be too big...and I had all these scraps...and it was so easy to just fold my template in half and cut out some 8" x 4" pieces. Most of them are cut from old t-shirts in a scrap pile. Some old, dingy, used-to-be-white washcloths also got thrown in the mix. The selection was rounded out by some favorite pajama pants of mine that got bleach-stained long ago and since took up residence in my sewing room, just waiting for such a scrap project. So I have a combination of jersey knit, terry cloth, and flannel wipes, which encompasses most of the options I found for sale on-line. Hopefully they'll work out. The only "problem" I've run into is that the edges are rippling on me when I topstitch them. No matter which stitch I used, and believe me, I think I've tried at least a dozen. This happened both with the knit, which I double-layered, and the terry cloth, which is a single layer. I haven't done the flannel yet. But I decided that the rippling really probably won't matter. These are for the purpose of wiping a baby's butt, after all. Perfection is so not necessary.
Speaking of less-than-perfection, here's the latest Cooking Light recipe I've tried. I do recommend trying it, but I also recommend keeping in mind that my black bean "patties" turned out more like black bean blobs. Maybe you'll have better luck. It was actually really good; even the Husband liked it and said he'd eat it again! And it was a vegetarian dish; most recent sign that the apocalypse is upon us. No wait, here's the latest sign: he's happily eaten two dishes with spinach in them that I've cooked recently. And he was aware of the spinach. And he complained that the new lady who makes the wraps at the hospital cafeteria where he sometimes gets lunch doesn't put in enough spinach. It doesn't taste as good without the extra spinach. You know, know that I'm actually typing this, I'm thinking the question I should be asking is: WHO IS THIS STRANGE MAN AND WHAT HAS HE DONE WITH MY HUSBAND?

Sunday, August 26, 2007


On Thursday, after my OB appointment, I'm innocently sitting in Starbucks eating my bran muffin and milk when the guy next to me decides to strike up conversation. "Do you like the zucchini walnut muffin?" he wants to know. I've never had it. "Did you read this latest article about the mortgage crisis?" he wants to know. No, sorry. "Do you listen to things other than music in your CD player?" Sorry, what? "Did you know that mangosteen is really good for you?" Did I just walk into a conversation with Jonathan Lipnicki?
(Ray: D'you know that the human head weighs 8 pounds?

Jerry Maguire: Did you know that Troy Aikman, in only six years, has passed for 16,303 yards?

Ray: D'you know that bees and dogs can smell fear?

Jerry Maguire: Did you know that the career record for hits is 4,256 by Pete Rose who is NOT in the Hall of Fame?

Ray: D'you know that my next door neighbor has three rabbits?

Jerry Maguire: I... I can't compete with that!)

He gave me a CD. To listen to on my CD player. About Mangosteen. Which is apparently one of those superfruits like blueberries and pomegranate. I have not listened to it.

Also on Thursday, walking innocently out of a store after an errand, I pulled a groin muscle. If it's not one thing it's another, I swear. I hobbled to the car, thinking it was just cramping up, like it often does. But no. I got home and couldn't walk the rest of the night. Pregnancy can be ridiculous. I stayed off it Friday and have taken it easy all weekend. It seems to be fine now. I'll head back to the gym tomorrow for a test drive. A nice side-effect has been that my back hasn't done better in months. Sitting on my arse seems to agree with it.

Part of "taking it easy" this weekend has also included the Husband and I finally celebrating our fourth anniversary, which actually occurred a month ago. We went out to dinner Friday night: Chinese. Inexpensive, but a favorite. We went to brunch Saturday morning and spent the day together. We were supposed to go to a fancy dinner Saturday night to top it all off, but at the last minute I didn't feel up to it and we ordered in pizza instead. The Husband was just as happy to see that change of plans because he's been sick as a dog all weekend. So we bought this beautiful little mini-cake for the "fancy" part of our celebration instead. It's as good as it looks, by which I mean delicious.

The other big event involved a first experience with acupuncture for both of us. I tend to be a big fan of your classic massage. Relaxing, calming, peaceful, all-around feel-good experience. But the Husband has an innate tendency to be "different" and doesn't really like massage, but says he's always wanted to try acupuncture. Because my OB had recommended acupuncture when the pre-natal massage I had didn't seem to do any good, it seemed like a good idea for both of us for part of our anniversary weekend.

The Husband went first, and remember that he was sick. My appointment was directly after his, so I didn't get a chance to talk to him, but the acupuncturist said he slept through the whole thing. So we talked about what problems I was having and I got on the table. He felt my wrists and asked, as though he already knew the answer, "You're having a boy, right?" Uh, no. I hope. Or I have a lot of pink stuff that's sure to come up in therapy when he's 30. "They tell me it's a girl..." "Really? Because I'm getting a really strong 'boy.'" Huh. I would ignore this except that the husband and I have been making comments to each other with increasing frequency as the due date approaches along the lines of, "That ultrasound turned out to be really early. I sure hope she was right about the sex." "Ha, ha, yeah, that would suck if it turned out to be a boy and we have all this pink stuff." "Yeah. And we haven't even tried to think of a boy name. But she said she was 95% sure." "Yeah. You still think it's a girl, right?" "'s gotta be." Several variations of that conversation have been popular around here lately. So his certainty that it was a boy kind of sent up some mild alarms in my head. I'll be asking my OB at the next appointment if she'd be willing to send me for another ultrasound. It would be cool to see, wouldn't cost me anything, and would give me peace of mind. So we'll see.

Anyway, back to the acupuncture. So, he stuck a bunch of needles in my hands and wrists and knees and feet and ankles. It took about 2-5 minutes, I swear, that's all. I felt this massive amount of heat travel from my head down my body and with it came the most intense nausea I've had since I had the flu in June. I tried to ignore it at first, hoping it was my imagination or at least temporary. "Crap, I'm going to puke in his office," I thought. "That'll be embarrassing." So I told him, "I'm feeling a little nauseated and clammy." Because at this point I was drenched in a cold sweat. With the nausea. I felt awful. He explained that this was probably because he had inserted the needles at places that encouraged "things" to move around the torso area. So he removed two of the needles that were doing that. Within a couple more minutes the nausea and clamminess improved (although I was still drenched in my own sweat) and things were okay for maybe 10 minutes. Then came wave two. "Uh, I'm starting to feel nauseated again..." He looked shocked. He put two more needles in my ankles and said I should feel some immediate relief. I didn't. But after a few minutes I did. That wave had been worse than the first and his reaction made it clear he had no idea why my body was reacting this way. I was so close to asking him to stop the whole thing. It was bizarre. I made it through maybe 10 more minutes and could feel a third wave rearing its head when he decided it was time to take the needles out anyway. Thank God. My hour-long session was only 45 minutes.

He told me afterwards that my face had totally drained of all color with each wave of nausea, which has been a screamingly obvious sign of nausea on me since I was a child. Afterwards, the Husband kept remarking on how awful I looked for a good hour, even after I felt fine again. The acupuncturist felt sure that the reaction was due to some kind of "blood deficiency" which he decided was probably a lack of animal proteins. This is very plausible as I really don't like to eat meat (not a vegetarian, just don't like it) and am always struggling to make sure I eat enough protein. He also told me to eat more easily digestible leafy greens, like cooked spinach and kale.

It was interesting. It was awful, but interesting. The speed at which the nausea came on (and the intense sweating) and dissipated was remarkable. I don't know if I gained any positive effects from it, but it sure as hell did something. The Husband, on the other hand, looked significantly better after his session, but whether that was due to the acupuncture, the nap, or the Sudafed kicking in, we can't be sure. The Husband thinks I should give it another chance when not pregnant, but dude, that hell will take some convincing to purposely relive.

Today was spent conducting massive amounts of research into cloth diapering. I think I finally understand the details now and have definitely decided to give it a whirl. Once I got the logistics down, it actually sounds no more difficult than disposables. And sooooo much cheaper. So, I've ordered some supplies and will be sure to let you know of the success when the time comes. If it doesn't work out, I'll either try a diaper service or some eco-friendly disposables. Or try one of those for the first few months and revisit the cloth diapering when things are more under control and some of the initial baby-shock has worn off. We'll see...

So no sewing progress since the last post. I'll try again this week. Lots of ideas in the brain, as always, but the execution is lacking.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Tea Party

I'm back from my trip to Ithaca...and the flight was smooth as buttah! Everyone's prayers to the airline gods apparently paid off, so thank you.

Scarlet Lily and our mothers threw me a beautiful, fun baby shower on Saturday. It was a yummy tea party, with a little ceramic tea set to decorate for the little bean.
That party was followed by a second bash later that night: the engagement party for Scarlet and her fiance, which was also fabulous.

So I've pretty much spent the day catching up on laundry and writing thank you notes for all the unbelievable gifts we received. You people are too, too generous.

Because I've been receiving special requests for more Chewy pics I took these.

Didn't realize until I took these how badly in need of a haircut he is!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Purse Handles

I had hoped to post about a couple WIPs I have in the pipeline before leaving for NY today, but it didn't work out that way. I'll try to finish them up next week and tell you all about them.

The Husband had his MBA graduation on Saturday; just a short ceremony and a dinner. He downplayed it so much that I forgot the camera, which I was sorry about. But some friends took pictures, so maybe we'll get to see some of those soon. I got him this briefcase as a graduation gift. He has a laptop carrier/backpack that he loves and is a good backpack, but it seemed like he also needed something more professional looking for when he's meeting clients for the first time or going on interviews, etc. He said he liked it, but..."it has purse handles." What?!?! Do any of you think they look like purse handles? It probably won't matter because I have a feeling it will be less trouble for him to just get over it rather than look for one he likes without "purse handles." I don't know, it looks pretty darn unisex to me. He's notoriously particular, so I'm not surprised.

Okay, I have a plane to catch. Heading to Ithaca for Scarlet Lily's engagement party and the baby shower she's hosting for me! Also wedding dress shopping...very excited. Everyone in blogland: keep your fingers crossed and send positive energy for smooth flights that are reasonably on time with minimal back/abdominal/groin pain. The last thing the baby and I need are a repeat of the fiasco from my last trip to NY.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


The last 24 hours or so have brought a new level of intensity and duration of back pain, along with it's new friends, upper abdominal pain and groin pain. And the three decided to party all night with the result that I think I got about two hours of sleep, collectively. So I was very grumpy this morning getting ready for work, even though I knew I'd only be there a few hours, as I've been doing half-days for a month or so due to this back pain.

A little background about my work: all the therapy services in the hospital (speech, physical, occupational) are required to bill patients/insurance companies on a per unit basis, rather than per hour. That means, if I evaluate someone's swallowing, I bill them a certain number of unity. If I do swallowing therapy, that's a different number. If I do a modified barium swallow (swallowing x-ray) that's another number of units. Etc.

The hospital keeps tabs on us by tracking our "productive hours." We're supposed to bill a certain number of units per hour that we're clocked in as working, and thus getting paid. Usually it's no problem to hit that goal. Most of us are overly productive on most days. But some days just don't go the way you plan and some patients are more time-consuming and complicated than others. This, incidentally, is the same reason you run into problems with your PCP spending maybe 15 minutes with you, if you're lucky. Because they have to jam-pack in so many patients in order to make a profit, so the healthier ones get a drive-by because more time will be spent on the sicker, more complicated patients. They have to bill by units, rather than hours. Unlike lawyers and accountants, for instance, who, much more sensibly, are billed for their time. But enough criticism of health care. That is so beyond the scope of this blog.

Anyway, today was the first time I've ever worked for several hours and not been able to see one single patient! That's okay, it happens. But one patient whom I tried to see today stuck with me. It was the last one I was attempting before I gave up and went home. I was doing the chart review on her and got as far as reading that she had had an emergent c-section with lots of complications, including death of the fetus. She's 37. I stopped there. I cannot think of anything more inappropriate than me, 7 months pregnant, walking into this poor woman's room to address her swallowing. She apparently has some cognitive issues, too--I don't know if she had some sort of anoxic brain injury or what, but she's been combative. I'm sure there's at least some amount of psychological trauma involved. Either way, it was weird. I felt stunned. You know that horrible things happen; of course, I'm more acutely aware of fetal deaths because I'm pregnant. I think it was the close call of me almost going to treat this patient and how potentially painful just the sight of me would have undoubtedly been to this patient, and how traumatic that would have been for both of us.

My point in this long, rambling story is that it made me appreciate how healthy and lucky I am to have had such a relatively easy, problem-free pregnancy (and life) so far. The pain is a nuisance, for sure. But it's a small amount of suffering to bear compared to some.

On a much lighter note and completely different topic, I tried another cornbread recipe (we're still working our way through that damn chili!). The Husband implored me to try a "normal" cornbread recipe this time, and we both found this one to be pretty good. If anyone feels inspired to try it out though, definitely follow the other readers' suggestions regarding halfing the sugar. I did, and still find it on the sweet side. A little too sweet for me, but I know some people like it that way. I also subbed buttermilk for the water. And it's a tad on the dry side, but I couldn't bring myself to follow the other readers' suggestion to increase the butter from 1 stick to 1.5. Ouiser, you're a big user of the applesauce for oil sub; can you sub applesauce for butter? I'm thinking not... Anyway, the cornbread was pretty good. I would make it again, reducing the sugar to a half cup and trying to find someway to make it just a tad more moist.

Now, excuse me while I return to my regularly scheduled plan of sitting on my butt, reading, playing Nintendo, and watching Dr. Phil. Never mind that I have newly purchased 75% off decor fabric screaming to be made into curtains. Never mind that I have lumber sitting in the garage begging to be installed in the laundry room. Never mind that I have nothing to eat for dinner tonight because I can't stay on my feet long enough to make it through a grocery trip, never mind the actual cooking, without making my back situation worse again. Never mind that the bathroom is in such need of a good scrub down that I've started using the guest bathroom instead. Why do they wait until the third trimester, just when you're good an uncomfortable and needing to rest, to really let that nesting instinct kick in. This is just poor planning and foresight.

On the other hand, the Husband should soon be able to help with at least some of that, as tonight is his last night of class! He will officially graduate with his MBA this weekend and I will have a spouse again. I made him celebratory chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter cookies (but pointedly not chocolate chip peanut butter cookies, which he dislikes) last night to share during their final today.

Maybe I should try to take up knitting again. This would be my third or fourth attempt at learning to like it. I find knitting frustrating in much the same way I remember finding ballet when I was very small: I want to get right to the good stuff. I wanted to be en pointe in my first year. "Enough of this stretching crap, let's twirl!" I remember thinking. Likewise, enough little practice squares to measure the gauge. Enough scarves. I want to make these! And these! (Both courtesy of SuperBuzzy, found here.) By the way, I find it really funny that I'm now coveting (along with hoards of other crafters, I know) patterns for nordic products written in Japanese.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Knit Motherload

We received this very generous package from a friend of my mom's today (well, shipped by my mom [Thanks, Mom!], but given by her friend):

I especially love the five different sizes of booties. Plenty to grow into! And the sweater is so sweet.

Less impressive is my own first attempt at booties, of the sewn variety, from yesterday:
The pattern for these booties is free and can be found here. However, problems abound. Problems with me, I suspect, not the pattern. First, the soles are just regular woven cotton, so the pattern suggests you double up the layers, if desired, which I did desire and attempted. But try as I might, I could not get four layers of fabric to line up perfectly with the recommended zigzag stitch when sewing the soles to the uppers. Meaning little frayed edges are sticking out, especially on the bear pair. Second, the elastic didn't stay tacked on one of the (left) pink booties, but of course it chose to come untacked after the last stitching was complete, so I have to take apart the whole booty to get to the elastic again and start over. That pair is a heavier decorator fabric, so they hold the booty shape better.

I'm not sure how comfortable these actually are for babies though, so I can't decide whether to keep at it or give up. On the one hand, socks are so cheap and so much easier. On the other hand, these shouldn't be hard and I love the infinite color/pattern choice afforded by making them myself! There's another free pattern by Stardust Shoes here. The only reason I didn't start with hers is because it requires bonded fleece for the sole, which I didn't have on hand. But they look sturdier and might be worth a try. I'll share the results if I decide to give it a go.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Onesies Coming Out My Earsies

Today's pictures feature some of the worst lighting ever. Sorry.
This was a nice chili and cornbread dinner the Husband and I had last night. The chili is a Cincinnati Chili, according to Cooking Light. I didn't know what that meant before I made it, but apparently it means it's served over pasta. That seems like an overkill of carbs when already served with cornbread, but maybe we'll try it when we're out of cornbread. The cornbread included molasses among the ingredients, which was a nice tough with the spices in the chili.
I speant a few hours today churning out a ton of onesies. Some for my baby girl-on-the-way, some for the Husband's cousin's baby boy-on-the-way. I think I have easily over a dozen onesies at this point. And that's just in the 0-3 month range. This kid will not be wanting for clothes.
I'm off to meet the Husband for dinner at a friend's house. Four days until he's done his MBA!