Thursday, July 28, 2011

still running!

Photo Credit: Steven White, Getty Images

Yep, at 33 weeks pregnant, I'm still running a little! And no, I do not look as toned and lithe as the woman in the picture. My belly's only a little larger than hers is though. A compact belly definitely makes running while pregnant easier.

Pre-pregnancy, a five-mile run was my standard exercise routine before work a few mornings a week and sometimes, definitely if training for a race, I'd run a farther distance on days off or the weekends. I haven't run farther than three miles since I've been pregnant. I probably could have early on, but I was scared to push myself, so I arbitrarily decided that three miles was my limit. If short on time, I only run two miles or even a mile and a half.

I now realize how much I relied on 10+ mile runs to help me catch up on miles when I lagged behind my goals. I can't do that now, and I won't come anywhere close to meeting my 2011 running goals. But at least I'm still out there, doing what I can. 

I don't run up hills any longer, and I can't run for miles straight without taking breaks. It's too hot, even at 6 a.m., and I get side stitches so easily now that as soon as I feel the slightest bit of pain, I stop and walk until it subsides. So, I run a few blocks, walk a few blocks, and then run some more.

Running while pregnant is incredibly humbling. I used to pass other runners as I lapped Lincoln Park; now nearly everyone--except for my dear, 87-year-old park walking friend Ellis--passes me. I am out of breath in ways I never have been before. I run at a snail's pace, not just because I'm carrying extra weight, but to allow plenty of time to catch myself in case I stumble or lose my balance.

I don't know how much these walks/runs a couple mornings a week are doing for me physically, but mentally, they are huge. My runner's high has never been higher. Even though I run slowly and don't go far, it feels like a huge accomplishment to do it at all.

Hoping I can keep running through the end of pregnancy and beyond...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

author preview

The National Book Festival site has a tentative list of authors for this year's event on September 24th and 25th. I see the names of several authors I have read, but none of my favorites are listed yet. Maybe that's a good thing in case I'm in the hospital and can't make it.

Which authors stand out to you?

Monday, July 25, 2011

july jitters

Have you ever had a bad day or month that made you leery of that particular day or month in future years? I've never considered myself a superstitious person, but when my recent 30- and 32-week OB appointments coincidentally fell on the same dates last summer that I found out I had miscarried twins and the D&C that followed, I felt a little freaked out and anxious.

Last year's weepiness, despair, and physical discomfort on that D&C day were countered by this year's uneventful 32-week check-up and accepting delivery of the nursery furniture. What a difference a year makes.

Although I'll never again be one of those pregnant women who is blissfully ignorant of the miracle and fragility of human life, I've learned more about the Lord's sovereignty and faithfulness over the past year than I ever would have had that first pregnancy gone perfectly. Praise God for healing, and for strengthening faith through sorrow.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

weird symptoms

When I had my annual eye exam in March, my doctor warned me that corneas can expand during pregnancy as other organs do. I've never heard any friends talk about their contacts being uncomfortable later in pregnancy, so I didn't pay much attention to his comments.

But I've now reached the point where my contacts feel too small, are overly dry, and I can't see very well most days. At least I have cute glasses as a back up!

The vertigo, another symptom no friend has mentioned to me, has hit. I have to lie down, sit up, and stand up slowly and carefully or the room spins like I've had too much to drink.

What unusual pregnancy symptoms did you experience?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

July recipe challenge: creme brulee

When I first started making this recipe, I felt like I was cheating. Only five ingredients? Only 20 minutes to make it? I should have learned from my bread-baking fiasco that few ingredients do not equal less stress.

I used Julia's recipe in the first volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking (p. 589). No place, that I can see, does she state that you need to bake the creme brulee in the oven after combining the ingredients and chilling the mixture. (Am I right or am I having another pregnancy brain episode? I have re-read these pages several times after I realized that I was about to botch the batch of creme brulee and I still can't find a directive to bake.)

After sitting in the refrigerator overnight, the custard was still foamy, like this...

And runny, like this...

After consulting Google, I learned that I should have baked the custard, let it cool on the counter and then chill in the fridge, before broiling a brown and white sugar mixture on top to make the crust (and then cooling on the counter and chilling in the fridge again to "set" the custard). Thanks, Julia, for leaving out some key steps!

I finished the recipe per the instructions on Google, and it turned out great.

Brad and I ate our portions garnished with fresh strawberries (that I needed to use up).

So, a seemingly quick and easy recipe ended up taking me two days to complete it. Yep, that's typical for my recipe challenges!

Monday, July 18, 2011


My fingers plump up like sausages in hot weather (or when exercising) even when not pregnant. So, in anticipation of my wedding ring growing too tight to wear as the sweltering days linger, I swung by good old Claire's in Union Station for a temporary fix.

For $15, I bought two fake diamond rings with bands a size and a quarter larger than my wedding ring.

But the bands aren't the only thing that's larger.

I went BIG on these fake rocks, about twice the size of my real diamond. I mean, why not? I don't expect to ever own a real diamond that large, so why not have some fun this summer?

Brad said I'm asking to be mugged.

I went for the bling, but what did you do, current mamas? 'Fess up!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

nosy and nice

On our recent last hurrah trip, during lunch at the beach bar one day, an older gentleman took interest in my pregnancy. After a slew of increasingly personal questions about my health and physical condition (he was a stranger, mind you... I don't mind if friends ask me personal questions, but I draw the line with complete strangers) and my vague answers and attempts to change the subject failed to deter him, I almost launched into a detailed account of my visits to the colorectal specialist just to shut him up. But, being an older gentleman, he may have had his own experiences with colorectal specialists and I certainly didn't want to open that door. Ew.

My posts have focused on people's inappropriate behavior or unsolicited comments, but I'd be remiss if I failed to mention how nice others have been to me. Four people to date have offered me their seats on crowded Metro trains. One woman said I could go ahead of her in the Chick-fil-A bathroom line. Strangers help me load the car in store parking lots and open doors for me. Plenty of people make eye contact with and smile at me as we pass on the street. My next-door neighbor told me he didn't care if the baby's wailing kept him up all night, and he spoke with sincerity. Even the facilities guys at work, after they showed up to unlock the plastic box covering my office's thermostat--set at a sweltering temperature--took one look at me and didn't even question my request for access, but got straight to work.

Pregnancy, for better or worse, certainly invites attention. Although many people make me feel like a circus act, I can't overlook the small but mighty group of sweet souls who are nicer to me than I deserve.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

gladioluses and dahlias

More flowers are blooming!

I'm not sure why my gladioluses are bending over. The blossoms can't be that heavy, can they?

I planted them right next to the house thinking they would grow straight up the brick wall and frame my front window. But they insist on hiding behind the bushes.

The dahlia bulbs produced massive flowers.

Look! The blossom is larger than my hand!

I love this season.

Monday, July 11, 2011

a neverending quest

This may be a weird quirk of mine, but I am slightly obsessed with my breath, and making sure it's as fresh as it can be. I'm the one who whips out the breath mints after a group lunch and passes the tin around the table. After brushing my teeth, my favorite breath freshener of choice is an Eclipse mint. These mints are sugar-free and effective without being overpowering like Altoids can be. The small metal tin is durable and fits easily in my purse. I much prefer mints to gum--I have no idea why.

These mints are perfect in every way, but I fear they're being discontinued because I've had a horrible time finding them in stores for the past year or so. I look for them at every check-out, anxious to build my stash at home for when the day comes when they truly are no more. Recently, a CVS employee made my day. She saw me scouring the mint and candy section at the cash register and asked what I was looking for. When I told her, she said, "I know exactly what you're talking about!" and pulled out an 8-pack of mints from behind the counter. "This is our last package, and I didn't even put them out because we no longer have a cash register code for them." When I happily told her I'd take the entire box of 8, she sold them to me at the clearance price!

After striking out at the previous ten stores I'd visited, what a joy to find them at all let alone at a bargain price. My fix continues . . .  at least for 8 more packages.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

our last hurrah

sunset over the Currituck Sound
Brad and I traveled to Duck, North Carolina, for the July 4th weekend, and we had a great time: perfect beach weather, a nice hotel room with the most comfortable hotel bed I've ever slept in, and most importantly, good conversations and sweet time together. We both sense that change is imminent, and for two people who are somewhat set in our ways and therefore don't adjust to change quickly or well, it's scary. Even though we've wanted children for years, now that we're about to have one, Lord willing, it's an understatement to say that we're both terrified about the future.

This past weekend we laughed, we cried, we relaxed, we reminisced, and we tried to enjoy a last trip of just the two of us (for a while, at least) because we hear that once children are involved, vacations are never quite the same again.

Even though it's taken longer to have children than we had hoped, I'll never regret these nine plus years of marriage that Brad and I have had alone together. We've run marathons and dined at fine restaurants. We went to Europe and traveled to countless other places. We've been hermits, and on the flip side, too social at times for our taste. We've started a married book club (kind of) and bought a house. I've earned my Ph.D. and Brad has advanced in his career. We love each other more and communicate better than we did nine years ago.

Of course we are both thrilled to welcome a son or daughter in about ten weeks, Lord willing. Our structured and orderly lives (and home) will quickly become a distant memory, and that's just fine with us. I know that we'll be okay. But fear is clouding my perspective and I'm feeling a bit nostalgic. Why is it that when something new is on the horizon, even a fabulous something new, you just want to curl up and cling to what's familiar?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

rugs and a runner

As longtime readers have probably gathered, interior decorating terrifies me. Whether it's selecting and purchasing art, furniture, window treatments, or the like, I tend to shy away from these projects because the options are overwhelming, these items are expensive, and because of the expense, the decisions, once made, are final.

Rugs have been no different from the other categories, but I finally bit the bullet and some of our floors are no longer bare! My friend Allison told me about the jewel that is Georgetown Carpet's remnant selection. Located in a nondescript showroom on the opposite side of city from where I live, this store offers a huge selection of remnants at discount prices that can be made into rugs. You can get a high quality rug for a fraction of what you would pay at a regular store, especially if your space requires a custom size. Know that you may have to make several visits to Georgetown Carpet before you find something you like, but it's worth it to keep checking back as their selection turns over regularly.

I found two great remnants that turned into two rugs for Brad's and my bedroom as well as a runner for the stairs and an extra throw rug at the top of the stairs. I used every spare inch of both remnants, so I truly got my money's worth! Take a look.

Here's a picture of our bare bedroom floor. Yes, the original 1915 red pine is pretty, but the room doesn't really look lived in with bare floors.

And here is the "after" picture with our two new rugs, which have added a whole new level of comfort and coziness to our room.

Here's a closer picture of the weave. The carpet is thick, high quality, and soft on our feet, plus, it matches our bedding and decor perfectly!

My second rug-related project involved buying a runner for our stairs, which are treacherous. I've fallen down the entire flight twice now, both times while pregnant, and I knew I could never risk navigating them with a baby in my arms unless we had a runner and possibly a railing.

descend at your own risk

Did you know that stair runners are incredibly expensive? Well, I didn't, and I was shocked by the price quoted to me for a "traditional" runner (e.g. borders on both sides of the carpet). Instead, I chose a remnant to make a nontraditional runner (e.g. without the borders), and I think it turned out great. Plus, it saved me over $800! Take a look.

One other benefit of using a remnant for the runner is that I ended up with an extra piece of carpet that I had turned into a matching throw rug for the top of the steps.

After over two years here, this house is beginning to look a little more "lived in", one project at a time.

Friday, July 1, 2011

vacation, part 2

Call it the second leg of our summer vacation, our Babymoon, our last hurrah, or all of the above, but Brad and I are off to the beach again this weekend. This time, we're excited to visit the Outer Banks!

Have a wonderful holiday weekend!