Wednesday, August 31, 2011

in or out?

Until I read my friend's blog post about lessons learned during her pregnancy, I assumed every woman's belly button protruded at some point during pregnancy.

With two weeks to go until my due date, my belly button still hasn't completely popped* out yet--the top edge sticks out, and the rest of it is either flush with my stomach or depressed. I have to admit that I'm a little disappointed not to have a full-fledged outtie. I think they are hilarious and when else in my life will I ever have one? I was looking forward to to taping it down each day with a band-aid!

What about you? Did you end up with an outtie during pregnancy? And if so, how long did it take to return to normal after you gave birth?

*I hesitate to use this word after my recent rant, but I can tolerate it when describing a belly button. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

wills and other important documents

When I first blogged about when and how to obtain a will, I didn't expect this process to take six months, but at long last, Brad and I finally have wills, durable powers of attorney, and living wills. The process really doesn't take six months--it took some time to get going on this project, and then once I found a suitable attorney, summer had arrived and we had to plan meetings around multiple hectic schedules.

My goal was to have these documents, or at least the last will and testament, in place before the baby arrived. If something happens to both Brad and me, our child will NOT become a ward of the DC court!

Many people believe a last will and testament is solely for delegating assets, and if they don't have much, then a will is not necessary. However, delegating assets was the least of our concerns and that section of the document took us about five seconds to complete because we don't care about it that much. We don't have many assets and our lawyer kindly told us that if something happened to both of us in the near future, our estate would not support our child financially until he or she turns 18. We set up a will to make sure our child is cared for in our absence and would not become a ward of the court or end up with someone unsuitable.

Laws vary by state, but in DC, if both parents die and leave behind a minor, and don't have a last will and testament that names a guardian for the child, that child becomes a ward of the court. Most times, the court will work out an arrangement with family or close friends to house and care for the child during the court proceedings, but not always, and there's a chance that the child could end up in foster care.  Also, family or friends must petition the court for guardianship of the child, which takes time and costs a fortune. The process takes even longer (which also means it will be more expensive) if multiple family members or friends seek guardianship of the child, and conflicts erupt.

Yes, this is a morbid topic. Yes, setting up these documents can be time consuming, confusing, and expensive. But only the Lord knows when our last day on this earth will be. And if something did happen to you and your spouse, would you want to put your family and friends, and most importantly, your child, through this unnecessary hassle and expense because you hadn't planned ahead?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

bright idea

A couple months ago, I decided to purchase several of those Living Social/Groupon/you name it housekeeping deals, intending to use them late in pregnancy or after the baby comes. The only time Brad and I have hired a professional housekeeper is when we moved into our new house and the hardwood floors had been sanded and redone, leaving a lovely orange, dusty film all over every inch of our new home.

I cashed in one of the housekeeping deals recently, now that I feel more uncomfortable each day and have trouble bending over or standing for extended periods. What a treat!!! I sat on the couch while two lovely women scrubbed my entire house from top to bottom in 90 minutes. And they cleaned much deeper than I do on a regular basis. For example, I mop the kitchen and bathroom floors as needed, but not every time I clean. These women mopped the floor in every room, even all the bedrooms!

Sometimes you can find these housekeeping deals for as cheap as $35 for a couple hours of cleaning (I paid $39 for three hours)--what a perfect gift for a friend or family member in need!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

full term

Please join me in praising God for reaching the full-term mark of pregnancy today!

Each day of this pregnancy, I have reminded myself how lucky I am. Whenever I want to complain about hemorrhoids, constipation, sleepless nights, soreness, nausea, fatigue, being hot, or other undesirable side effects, I think of couples I know still praying for God to make them pregnant or to help them sustain a pregnancy. I'd rather this baby NOT arrive before his or her due date, no matter how uncomfortable I feel, and I'd be delighted to deliver a few days late. But even if I were tempted to wish for the baby to be born now (and complain that he or she hasn't arrived yet), I think of mothers who deliver premature babies and would have loved to see their due dates come and go rather than have a child in the NICU.

I think of my colleague and friend, years ago, whose baby died in utero one day before her due date. Can you imagine? Yes,  I am still grounded about my pregnancy. The Lord is in charge and only he knows how this will all turn out.

My heart is thankful for reaching today's milestone, and I pray I continue to be thankful each day, no matter how I am feeling, physically or emotionally. God is good. And he is faithful.

I don't plan to share my progress (or lack of) toward delivery here or anywhere else. But know that as soon as Brad and I have something to announce, Lord willing, and we can get our hands on a laptop, you'll read the news here. So stay tuned, Gentle Readers. And thanks for your continued prayers and encouragement during these coming weeks.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

a must-read

Whether you have or haven't experienced pregnancy loss, this piece is a must-read. And, I love that it's written by a man.

Monday, August 22, 2011

August recipe challenge: Oreo cheesecake

Some of you will accuse me of cheating this month, but I've never made a cheesecake before (in spite of owning a springform pan for at least five years). Also, this recipe required the use of my monster Cuisinart food processor that I've, sadly, only used once since my in-laws gave it to me last Christmas. I had to read the instruction manual to assemble it, so that counts as a challenge in my book.

I took a break from Julia this month and followed this recipe, but like my previous challenges, this dish still took more than one day to complete from start to finish.

the ingredients and equipment

ready to go in the oven

The cheesecake was simple to assemble, but it had to bake for a total of two hours and 15 minutes: one hour and 15 minutes with the oven door closed and an additional hour with the oven door open! This recipe was not a smart choice for a hot August day; I should have saved it for December when we needed to heat the house anyway.

After baking and cooling on the counter, the cheesecake needed 24 hours in the refrigerator before I could release the springform pan's sides.

Success! The cake stood up when the sides came off!

first slice
While the crust of the cake stood tall and proud once the pan's sides were released, the middle did sink a little (see picture above), and I'm not sure why. These recipe challenges are teaching me that I am a consistent cook: the dishes taste just fine (even with low-fat ingredients!) but I have some work to do on my presentation.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

the p word

A colleague at work called me last week.

Colleague: "Hi! I've been meaning to call you for weeks now. When are you popping?"

Stunned silence.

Me: "Excuse me?"

Colleague: "When are you popping?"

Me: "Are you asking when my due date is?"

Colleague: "Yes."

Have I mentioned that I abhor the word pop or any form of it when it is associated with pregnancy? At least this colleague is a female. I might have croaked if a man uttered that word to me.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

the eggplant thief

Weeks ago, I had an eggplant in the making.

This beauty tripled in size. I went out to pick it and found a barren plant.

This is the THIRD TIME an eggplant has been snatched from under my nose this summer. I have yet to harvest anything from this plant. Which critter is stealing my eggplants? The produce is larger than the squirrels, so I doubt it's them. And they normally gnaw on and bat the goods around the yard and leave the remains for me to clean up, but I have yet to find a trace of each stolen eggplant. I'm beginning to think that someone is jumping over our fence and making off with my vegetables while Brad and I are at work!

My green peppers are looking good--I need to harvest them before someone or something else does!

Monday, August 15, 2011

a DC government service that works

The DC government and its respective agencies and services make me want to cut off my arm and beat someone over the head with it most of the time. But after 11 years of living in our nation's capital, I've finally discovered a DC service that is easy, efficient, and free.

The Metropolitan Police Department offers free car seat checks and installations at three locations in the city: DDOT, DMV (Inspection Station), and Children's Hospital. Brad made an appointment online at the Inspection Station on Half Street SW, was allowed to cut to the front of the inspection line, and the marvelous Larry Walker installed the car seat in Brad's car in about five minutes. Brad was in and out of there in fewer than ten minutes! When has that ever happened at the DC DMV?

We now have a way to safely transport Baby home from the hospital, but that doesn't mean we're ready for him or her to come into the world yet. Please hold out for another month, little one!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

one bump saves the other

I have a love-hate relationship with Brad's and my GPS. I rarely use it because it usually sends me on a scenic route, but I took it with me on a recent excursion when I didn't know where I was going. I figured that listening to the GPS would be easier (and safer) than trying to read my printed directions while driving.

I printed off a copy of the directions to my final destination as insurance. And as I expected, the GPS went wacky on me at one point. As I sat at a red light and consulted my printed directions to figure out the correct way to go, I was startled by a firm bump, and then I realized, with horror, that my foot had slipped off the brake and my car rolled a foot or so downhill to bump the rear of the car in front of me. 

The other driver and I both put on our hazards and got out of our respective cars to inspect the damage. My car didn't roll more than a foot, and I didn't hit her car hard at all, so I wasn't too worried, but I still apologized profusely because this incident was completely my fault.

This woman, who initially looked irritated, took one long look at my belly bump and said, "You know, I'm not going to worry about this at all. Are you okay? You have a good day." She smiled at me, hopped back in her car, and drove away.

There wasn't any damage, but this woman could have made this tougher on me than she did. My belly bump saved me a whole lot of hassle.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

planting for fall

Soon after I wrote this post, I chided myself for my arrogance. I never anticipated a problem with finding seeds to plant my fall crops, but all the big stores don't carry them after spring planting ends. After striking out at numerous places, I resigned myself to a barren garden this fall.

And then I went into beloved Frager's and voila: seeds for fall planting!

I've planted the first round of seeds, and I'm already looking forward to mesclun greens, romaine lettuce, spinach, and broccoli this fall.

Monday, August 8, 2011

11 years

Yesterday, I celebrated my 11th anniversary of working at UMD. Eleven years! How can that be?

Last year, I shared the many reasons why I love my job, institution, and people I work with. All of those reasons still hold true. And regarding my weeks of accrued sick and annual leave over 11 years, I can't wait, Lord willing, to finally cash in on this benefit beginning September 12th. Having ample sick and vacation time left in the bank after taking an extended maternity leave is an added bonus.

Yes, there are definite perks to longevity at one institution.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

parenting resources

I've held true to my vow to not read any books about pregnancy. My doctor, friends, and Google have been more than sufficient to answer any questions I've had.

But since I finished The Count of Monte Cristo a few weeks ago (Side note: Brad still has 400 pages to go... will we survive this married reading challenge, Gentle Readers?) and Brad has been asking me an increasing number of baby-care-related questions--he's searching for the instruction manual--I have checked out a few parenting resources that friends have recommended. I thumbed through Baby Bargains as I set up my registries (all online, so quick and easy and I didn't have to troll through baby stores!). Brad and I spent a Friday night watching the DVD of The Happiest Baby on the Block and were amazed when we successfully soothed a few fussy infants at church during childcare based on Dr. Karp's tips--it was like magic! I just finished reading On Becoming Babywise, and the authors' approach to feeding and sleeping makes so much sense to me that it's hard to believe that it doesn't work for all babies. I just received the newest edition of Baby 411, which seemed to be the best instruction-manual-type book on the market to answer Brad's questions.

It's easy to focus solely on the baby's practical needs, but Brad and I need much more guidance in parenting biblically, which is most important anyway. One of our pastors is conveniently offering a first-time parenting workshop in a few weeks that we plan to attend. Later this year, Brad and I will take our church's 13-week core seminar on parenting. In the meantime, I have two books on my must-read list: Shepherding a Child's Heart and Loving the Little Years. Christian moms, any other recommendations?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

summer saviors

I don't know what I would do this summer without the following products.

I bought this fan back in May when I first noticed feeling hot most of the time. This fan is a great supplement to the AC and ceiling fan in our bedroom each night.

Remember how I mentioned spending an entire weekend covering our front and back planting beds with weed-control fabric? Well, I'm so thankful I did. Excessive squatting and bending over to pull weeds continues to grow more difficult for me each week. And thankfully, because of this fabric, I only pull about 5% of the weeds that I used to. (Isn't it amazing how weeds still manage to come through the fabric at the holes and edges? They always find a way!)
I know these OFF! clip-on mosquito repellents don't work for everyone, but they've been such a blessing to Brad and me this summer. We love to eat dinner on our deck, but we have to lather up with mosquito repellent each night or else we'll be miserable. When I bought these clips, I never expected them to work, but they do! For us, at least, they do. We even wear them when doing yard work and watering the yard and we've been bite-free thus far.

What are your summer saviors?

Monday, August 1, 2011

august anxiety

Happy August! As of today, when people ask when I'm due, I can say, "Next month." Amazing! And praise God for carrying Baby and me this far.

Today is when my August dread usually begins. But, given the circumstances this year, my dread has turned to anxiety. I don't dread the fall semester at all. In fact, I look forward to it because, Lord willing, Baby will arrive safe and sound and I'll be on maternity leave most of the fall semester.

As long as Baby doesn't come early and I can work through the second week of classes, I won't return until the university reopens after the holidays: January 3, 2012. But I'm so nervous that Baby will come early and I won't be prepared, either at work or home.

I'm not worried so much about being unprepared at home other than if Baby arrives prematurely and I need to return to work before January--what will we do about childcare? On the work front, I've been toiling for months to not only accomplish my summer tasks, but to complete as much of my fall work as I can and to thoroughly prepare the rest of it to make life easier on those who will do my job for me. We have a small staff in my office, and I've covered for plenty of people during extended absences, so I don't take their time and generosity for granted.

Brad's and my decision to not find out the sex of our baby baffles most people. In truth, I still don't even wonder about it and we haven't once speculated about what we think we're having. For many reasons, this is the right decision for us and I'm glad we were never tempted to find out. But if I could have one question answered in advance, it's this: what day will the baby arrive? Tell me how much time I have to work with!