Saturday, May 28, 2011

37w6d: End of the Road

Tomorrow, 5AM. Scheduled call to L&D to find out what time they want me to come in for my induction.
Last night before becoming a mom!

My mother-in-law arrived safely last night, and we went for Indian food--I was hoping that the old wives' tale about spicy food would get labor going....but it didn't happen. All the walking didn't get it going either, but I did enjoy getting some stamina back and seeing all the pretty spring flowers in the neighborhood. Today we went out for brunch and did some grocery shopping. We put away my work stuff and set up the pack-n-play on my side of the bed. I also got in some last minute nesting--I finished the scrapbook I started in 2006 of the roadtrip David and I took to Joshua Tree and Death Valley and the roadtrip a friend and I took from here to Madison through Grand Teton and Yellowstone. Yes, five years later, I finished a scrapbook. It was very satisfying.

MIL made a delicious chicken piccata for dinner. I talked to some friends and family on the phone after dinner, and then we watched--are you ready--The Parent Trap on TV. I cannot believe we spent our last night pre-twins watching a movie about twins.

Whenever the babies have been moving today, I've been trying to memorize the feeling. I'm never again going to be so close to them, and I'm never again going to feel new life moving and growing within me. I can't wait to meet them, but I'm also sad for them to have to leave the place where they've been safe and warm for so many months.

Babies, your mommy and daddy greeted the news that we were expecting you with disbelief. The news that we were going to be parents was scary. As lucky as we felt, it was still a shock. We wondered how our lives would change and if we were ready, if we could handle the responsibility. But the most overwhelming sensation I felt was love. You were mine, something I'd made, and I was so excited about the future--your future, and my future with you. What would you be like? Would you be a girl or a boy? Would you like me? Would you look like me?

And then, at the first ultrasound, we found out you were you and you. Twins. Your father was terrified. I was in disbelief. Seeing two heartbeats and two healthy babies growing inside could this be? Your Opa's reaction--that this was "the best news"--was the beginning of my ability to process that we could do this and it would be a good thing. couldn't be anything else. Of course you're twins. Of course you're the two of you. Of course we're having two babies. Of course we love you more than we ever could have imagined.

And tomorrow we get to meet you!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

37w4d: End in Sight

Tomorrow is my last day of "work" before I have babies. I've continued to work from home although nowhere near a full schedule, and it's been good for my mental sanity and to stay connected. I am very lucky to have wonderful co-workers who have picked up my parts of projects and will cover for me while I'm out. It's going to be so weird not being attached to a laptop or blackberry for the first time since....October 2008? Wow.

David and I went for a nice walk last night and tonight, and I went for a really long walk this morning. Nothing doing. The babies were "textbook" at their NST/BPP today, so that's exciting. The nurse congratulated me on getting so far with them. I'm really proud too, but I don't feel right accepting congratulations. I know that every mom with a premature baby or babies in the NICU wanted to make it to full term too, and I don't think I "deserve" this more than any of them, or that they did anything wrong or should feel bad. When I was first on bedrest and when I first got my GD diagnosis, I felt like my body had failed me and that my body was rejecting my babies. I felt so guilty. But I hadn't done anything wrong--it was just what was happening. Same thing here--yes I was very careful with bedrest, but bedrest doesn't work for everyone. I just got lucky. I am glad something finally seems to have gone right, but I'm not going to take it for granted. I'm very grateful to David for everything he did to keep me and the babies safe, and I believe my mom is protecting them from Heaven.

It is now my favorite time of day--bedtime snack! No Sugar Added ice cream is actually pretty darn delicious, and David found my favorite flavor--Mint Chocolate Chip. Snack time! Maybe the cold will move the babies along?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

37w3d: Holding Pattern

I'm still pregnant.

Those are the first words I have to utter when I call/email anyone these days. All our family and friends are so anxious and when they hear from us I know they're expecting news. I'm hesitant to call David at work even because I know he's waiting for "the call."

I'm really hoping I'll go into labor naturally. I'd like to avoid Pitocin--I just would prefer to limit the amount of drugs in my body. And unfortunately it's started raining so it looks like I'll have to wait to go for a walk, which is one of the things I was going to try to get things moving here.

Yesterday I got my haircut! I hate getting my haircut--I don't mind the actual process; I just hate the leading up to it. Like almost everyone with curly hair, I've had some awful experiences with stylists who have no idea what they're doing with curls. But I was really happy with the salon/stylist I tried yesterday. I will definitely go back--at some point.

Taken this morning at 37 weeks, 3 days:

I think I look like I've dropped some. Maybe?

We are very lucky to have a lot of friends and family coming out to visit us this summer. And with my dad moving out here for the fall semester, we will have almost constant help until December! David's mom is our first guest; she's flying out on Friday and will be here through June 18. I know she will be a supportive, welcome presence.

Babies, we're all excited to meet you--anytime you want to get going, just let mama know!

Monday, May 23, 2011

37w1d: Grateful

Full Term!
Full Term!!
Full Term!!!

I cannot believe it. I should believe it--I've had so many people praying for me and the babies and so many good thoughts coming our way--but it's just so amazing to me that 10 weeks ago I wasn't sure I would make it to April, and now here I am. My twins will get to be Gemini twins after all!

Of course nothing is certain, but it is very likely that they won't need NICU time and will be able to come home with us. At my ultrasound on Thursday, Baby A was weighing 6lbs 1oz and Baby B was weighing 5lbs 15 oz. Both of them are bigger than David when he was born! Of course the margin of error is something like a pound, but even still. I'm very proud of my babies!

We considered this weekend a "freebie" because we fully expected to have babies by this point. On Friday we hung out with some friends; we went to a bar/restaurant because David said that I'm too much of a buzzkill to go to a regular bar (thanks honey). On Saturday we did a lot of outings--BRU, Target, grocery shopping. I really do love grocery shopping, and it is especially fun now that all the summer fruits are beginning to be in season.

Yesterday I went to church and enjoyed being ooh'ed and ahh'ed at. :) In the afternoon we went to the public rose garden and to a fancy hotel for drinks overlooking the Bay. We had never been to the rose garden before--it's kind of a hidden jewel. The roses seemed to be about a week or two past their peek, but it was still beautiful. My ankles got very swollen from the walking around, but it was worth it.

The roses all had fun names....we couldn't believe how many species (varieties?) were trademarked though!

The garden was a fairly extensive complex--I had to sit down quite a few times to rest. David is excited to add a trip into the garden on his runs--he'll be able to get a little more than a mile in additional mileage and there's a bathroom, always an important feature.

Thanks for giving your parents an opportunity to check this place out, babies!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

36w3d: Cloth Diapers!

When I first heard about cloth diapering, part of me was intrigued but most of me thought "gross." But I kept seeing and hearing about it more and more, and the environmental benefits and cost-savings finally won me over. The fact that the diapers are so CUTE doesn't hurt either.

Having twins is a lot more of a financial burden than David and I realized. He initially thought we'd realize a lot of economies of scale, but we haven't found that to be the case. Families that have children one at a time can reuse a lot--the car seat, the stroller, the high chair, the crib. We have to have two of everything from the beginning. We're lucky to be in a position where this isn't much of a problem (and we have certainly been very lucky to receive so many generous gifts from family and friends!!) but it does mean that we're hoping that breastfeeding and cloth diapering will help take some of the wallet shock away.

So here's where the cloth diapering magic will happen:

I'll be the first to admit that a lot of cloth diapering people and websites are a bit....over the top crazy. There are a lot of women who appear to be completely obsessed with diapers and their "stash." The acronyms and lingo are like a foreign language. It made me run away the first couple (or more) times I tried to wade in to learn what was what. I just wanted simple, easy, and clear instructions, and that was tough to find. I liked the advice provided at Amalah's Advice Smackdown, but I also didn't want to buy 40 or so all-in-one style diapers at $20-25 apiece, which is what I figured I would need for twins.

So I decided on flat diapers, the old-fashioned kind that you fold yourself, and waterproof diaper covers. The flats live in the top drawer of the changing table. I bought 48 unbleached flats from Amazon for a cost of $81. The Snappis, the little plastic things that replaced diaper pins to hold the diaper on the baby, live there too.

The second drawer is where the cute stuff lives. The front box contains seven x-small size Thirsties-brand covers and five Size One Thirsties Duos, which will fit up to 18 pounds. The back box contains the larger size covers and the all-in-ones I've gotten for free. These are from Kelly's Closet, which I've found to have the best selection, deals, prices, and customer service. I'm planning to buy a bunch of Thirsties Duos in Size Two, but I'm going to wait a few months just to see how everything is going. The white pads to the right are inserts to go in the diapers, and "soakers," in case I have any heavy wetters. Farther to the right are clean changing pad covers and waterproof pads.

Total cost for the diapers in this drawer: $305.

The third drawer contains receiving blankets, swaddle wraps, and the clean pail bag and wet bag for the diaper bag. Two pail liners andwet bags came to $66.

No diaper stuff in this drawer--it's crib sheets and bath towels--but I figured so long as I was taking pictures of drawers I'd be complete.

So that's that. So far I've spent about $450 on cloth diapers. I've also spent about $50 on a package of cloth wipes, cloth diaper wipe spray, Bummis flushable liners, and the Snappis. Given that diapering two babies to age 2ish could easily run over $3,000, I'm feeling pretty good.

There are so many people coming to visit us to help with the babies, and I'm really excited about showing them how cloth diapers have come a long way. David's parents used cloth, and his dad was fascinated by the snappi and how cute the new covers are. Maybe I'll win over some converts for future cloth diaper usage!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

36w2d: Bump Update

Here I am at 36 weeks!

How far along? 36 Weeks!
Total weight gain/loss? 48 pounds!
Maternity clothes? I only have a couple shirts that still cover the panel on my maternity jeans.
Stretch marks? :( I was doing so well, but I would say that my days of being able to wear a bikini are over. I am comforting myself with the knowledge that these marks mean that I've grown big enough to grow my babies big enough to earn them. Hopefully the babies are going to be nice and big and strong!
Sleep? Gahhh.....I'm getting up to pee twice in the middle of the night and then around 6:30. Every time when I come back to bed and lie back down, I have horrible heart burn and need to take a Tums. The babies usually wake up and kick for about 10 minutes after I get up, so that's fun at least.
Best moment last week?
Having my dad come to the NST with me where he got to hear the babies' heartbeats.
Movement? The little boy is getting really aggressive and kicking my upper right rib cage HARD. I think he's mad that we haven't chosen a name for him yet.
Food cravings? Cookies. Carb-y baked goods. I am dying to make some Tollhouse.
Gender? Girl and a boy!
Labor signs? Same old Braxton-Hicks.
Belly button in/out? It actually has popped out even more. The area right around it is kind of soft and bouncy.
What I miss: Not running into things and having a normal center of gravity.
What I am looking forward to: My last growth ultrasound on Thursday! I am really hoping the babies are still of relatively equal weights and sizes and that they have enough fluid to keep going. My goal has been for both of them to weigh over six pounds.
"Your baby is still packing on the pounds — at the rate of about an ounce a day. She now weighs almost 6 pounds (like a crenshaw melon) and is more than 18 1/2 inches long. She's shedding most of the downy covering of hair that covered her body as well as the vernix caseosa, the waxy substance that covered and protected her skin during her nine-month amniotic bath. Your baby swallows both of these substances, along with other secretions, resulting in a blackish mixture, called meconium, will form the contents of her first bowel movement."

Monday, May 16, 2011

36w1d: Babies Room!

The babies' room is finally in shape!

Sorry the first picture is dark. The room gets a lot of sunlight--great for babies; not as great always for cameras.

We went with a "safari" theme.

His and hers sides to the closets.

Picture frames waiting to have baby pictures added! The quilts that David's mom made are hanging from this crib. She also made the crib skirt. That was going to be my project, but obviously that didn't happen. The second bouncer is also visible in this picture.

Crib #2. The quilt that my aunt and cousin made is hanging here.

Two cribs take up a lot of room--so much so that the changing table has to live in the alcove outside the babies' room. One of my mom's friends is making them cross stitch birth certificates, and they're going to hang above the table.

You can see little masking tape labels I made for on the dresser of the changing table--the top drawer contains the flat diapers and snappis, the inserts and covers are in the second drawer, swaddling blankets and sleep sacks are in the third drawer, and baby bath towels and crib sheets are in the last drawer. I figured since we're having so many different people visiting that it would just be easier to label everything so I don't have to answer the questions all the time.

Now we just need to add some babies!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

36 Weeks!!

I MADE IT! Or should I say "WE MADE IT!" to include the babies? Either way, 36 weeks is a huge milestone for twins. The old wisdom was that twins were considered full-term at 36 weeks, but now that's been pushed back to the standard 37 weeks for all babies. But it is really exciting to know that whenever the babies come now, their chances of being able to come home with us are very high, which has been the goal all along.

To celebrate, we are going out for dinner again tonight to another "top 100" restaurant. When I made this reservation two weeks ago, I really was skeptical that we would make it, but it sure looks like we are going to! We also went out to a movie last night. I wanted to see Bridesmaids, and David rolled his eyes that it would be a chick flick, but I know he enjoyed it. It was really funny and pretty crude in a way that most "girl" movies aren't. In fact I can't think of any other "girl" movie that is as raunchy. I'm not a huge Kristen Wiig fan on SNL, but I really liked her in the movie, and Maya Rudolph was great. Melissa McCarthy stole her scenes, and Jon Hamm was just delightfully smarmy.

We went to one of the old palace-style movie theatres, which is so much more fun than going to a standard AMC or Regal. I love the chandeliers and fancy velvet everywhere. The prices are the same, and I'd rather give my $10 to something locally owned than a big corporation. I hadn't been to a movie theatre since The King's Speech, I think, so it made me really happy just to see a movie. I love the movies and I know I won't be going very often in the coming year or so!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

35w6d: A Visit from Opa

My dad was in town briefly this week as part of the tail end of a group trip he took to Hawaii and SF. He came over on Thursday and Friday, and it was really nice hanging out with him. On Thursday he did a lot of chores for us--taking out the trash and recycling, setting up the new flat screen TV we got for in the bedroom, cleaning the stove, and folding laundry. He took us for dinner to a Southern restaurant near our neighborhood that we had been wanting to try for some time. I had fried chicken and David and my dad had jambalaya. The desserts were the best part--we ordered lemon ice box pie, pecan pie, and peach cobbler. A-mazing, and my blood sugar wasn't too bad either!

On Friday, I picked Dad up from BART and he came with me to my peri and NST appointments. He hung out in the waiting room during the peri appointment--I met with the dietitian, who was again very happy with me, and then the peri, who gave me the Group B Strep test. That was a quick swab and will determine if I need to have antibiotics during delivery. My fundal height was still 42 weeks, which made me a little worried--shouldn't I have gotten bigger?--but the doctor certainly wasn't worried, so I'm trying to focus on that. I've been having pain where my leg meets my groin, and he said that was from the relaxin in my pelvic bones. Totally normal. Good!

Next up was the NST. My dad said he thought he might have seen one ultrasound of me, so he was really excited to see the babies on the machine. He also liked hearing their heart rates and watching the monitor print out the graphs. Of course neither baby gave a good picture, but we saw their hearts and spines. The girl is still down by my left hip and the boy seems to be wiggling around at the top of my abdomen. Currently, he's getting himself wedged in my upper right ribs and frankly it's really uncomfortable!

After lunch we went to Babies R Us to return a lot of extra clothing--I hate BRU, but the store employees are always really nice and they let us return stuff without a receipt on my driver's license. After that we went for a spin around the store--yes, I used a wheelchair again and I feel absolutely no shame in it--and we found one of the high chairs I want. I had a couple 20% off coupons, which will be better than the 15% off completion coupon I have, so we bought that to save for later.

Last night was David's "farewell to life as I know it" happy hour that his co-workers planned for him, so he didn't get home until pretty late. My dad made dinner, a diabetic-friendly Chicken Waldorf salad. It was seriously delicious and another entree to add to regular rotation for later.

This weekend we've been working on getting the guest room/office and middle room straightened up....there is so much stuff and I really wish the desk in the office were more than just a table with a small drawer in the middle. Storage storage storage! We'll get there, I know--I just hope it's before the babies and my mother-in-law come (mainly my MIL; I know the babies won't judge).

Thursday, May 12, 2011

35w4d: Two Book Clubs!

On Tuesday night I attended the local twins' club book club to discuss Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. I had read that book, published in 1971 and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, shortly after graduating from college. It is a slog, but I think it is beautifully written and the ending makes it all worthwhile. I had warned the rest of the group at the last meeting that I had found the book tough going, and it seems that a lot of the women agreed with me. However, we had a really good discussion about the different characters and the portrayal of the West and 1960s culture. I didn't re-read the book; I just skimmed it and read some online reviews. I came away not really liking Susan and I don't remember having that reaction before. The book is a portrait of a marriage, so maybe now that I'm married I have a different perspective.

I really like this book club. The women are very supportive and I think it will be a good activity for me to get out of the house. They all understand the unique experience of being a MoM and I'm anxious to learn from them. Plus they're really intelligent and nice!

Then last night my friends' book club discussed Farm City. We agreed that the author probably embellished certain details to make a better story, but that we all enjoyed the book. One of the attendees is planning to get some chickens for her yard next year!

I love books and I love discussing them, and the communities of women in my book clubs are truly wonderful. I'm also so grateful to still have been pregnant for these meetings! When they were scheduled so many weeks ago I could only hope that I would make it.

And now here I am--exactly one month from my due date. Crazy!! These babies will be here before I know it!

And lastly, a photo I took while stopped at a red light on my way to book club last night. The lawnmower goats have returned!

The goats are the little white creatures on the hillside....they're munching down the tall grasses to prevent fire hazards during the dry season. I love lawnmower goat time! It's such an effective way to deal with the crazy weeds. And the goats are cute.

Monday, May 9, 2011

35w1d: Upcoming Events & Another Date Night Dinner

I was 34 weeks, 5 days on Friday when this picture was taken. My fundal height was 42 weeks.

My bump has developed a multitude of stretch marks around my belly button. I'm trying not to be too sad about them--they just mean I was able to keep the babies baking and growing long enough for the marks to appear. But I do agree now that cocoa butter is a bunch of BS--you're either going to get stretch marks or you aren't, and all the cocoa butter does is moisturize and make you smell yummy. I have heard it helps a lot postpartum, so I'll keep using it, but I'm not impressed thus far.

On Saturday a friend came over in the afternoon and we had a nice lunch on the back porch. It has been so sunny and beautiful here lately, and the fog is just beginning in the mornings. Murray performed his usual trick of trying to climb the back fence, but David caught him before he went over the other side.

Saturday night was another date night. When I made the dinner reservations for last Sunday and this past Saturday a month or so ago, I had no idea if we would be able to keep them. It seemed so far off and everything was so uncertain. I'm so grateful for the time I've had to keep these babies inside--and also because I really like nice restaurants and it will be some time before I can go to them again on a regular basis!

This time we ventured to a restaurant specializing in local, organic, and sustainable foods. Their specialty is a vegan "charcuterie" appetizer, and it was amazing. I always think vegan preparations require a lot higher demand on the chef's talents--it's easy to make meat flavorful, but I think it can be much harder when you don't have the fats and juices to work with. Anyway, the platter featured amazing roasted beets, pistachios, a "goat cheese" made from cashews; fennel with smoked olives and kumquats; and mushrooms with spring onion soubise and onion marmalade. The onion marmalade was unbelievably creamy, and I could have eaten an entire plate of the beets.

For an entree I had a vegetable salad with sheep's milk ricotta and crispy black quinoa. It was probably the prettiest salad I've ever had--adorable baby pea pods, beautiful carrot swirls, and the cutest little radishes. The crispy quinoa was very interesting too. David had a burger which he said was excellent. The accompanying fries were made from Yukon gold potatoes rather than the usual russet, which was a nice change.

For dessert we shared a slice of the honey pine nut tart with buttermilk ice cream and stewed kumquats. I am now obsessed with kumquats. They were so delicious and just burst in your mouth. The tart had a fantastic crust and wasn't overly dense or overly sweet.

Afterward we went for a nice, flat, slow walk which felt good although very tiring for me. I completely forgot to check my sugar an hour later though, so who knows if it was as effective at keeping my GD in check as the walk after our prior big dinner.

I have big plans for this week. Tomorrow the local twins' club book group is meeting to discuss Angle of Repose, and on Wednesday my book club is meeting to discuss Farm City. My dad will be in town Thursday and Friday, and I'm going to take him to my NST and peri appointment on Friday. I think he'll enjoy seeing the babies' on ultrasound and hearing their heartbeat, and since he won't be here when they're born, it will be nice to have him with me for some of the medical stuff.

Less-exciting plans include finally, finally finishing the babies' laundry and sorting their clothing and putting it into appropriate plastic bins by size and gender for later use. There is SO MUCH CLOTHING I can't even believe it. People have been so good to us and our Little Bears!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

35w: Happy Mother's Day!

I am so happy to be the Mom-to-Be of inside babies on Mother's Day! Eight weeks ago I wasn't even sure if I would make it to April with them inside--and now here we are!

David, my mother-in-law, and David's grandparents all sent/gave me very nice Mother's Day cards. While going through some boxes trying to purge the house of unnecessary items before the babies arrive, I found some Mother's Day cards that I had bought in advance for my mom. That made me cry. I also found some beautiful Happy Birthday Daughter cards that she had bought to give to me. I'm keeping them to give to Baby A when she's a little older. My mom so loved her cards and I know she would have found the perfect cards to send to me during my pregnancy and for the babies' birth. A few more people like her and the Post Office would never have to raise stamp prices and Hallmark would be the best-performing stock on the Street.

I hardly ever dream about her, but I did last night. I was telling her that I was worried about the delivery, and she told me everything was going to be fine. I cherish the dreams I get to have about her because for those brief instants it's like she's still with me.

One of my biggest causes for sadness is that my babies will never know her or know how much she would have loved them. I know everyone thinks their mom is special, but my mom really was an amazing person and I am going to have a really hard time living up to the example she set as a mother. I miss her so much and the pain is so great that I just have to completely put it out of my mind because I just cry and cry and cry otherwise. The people who say that it gets better or easier are absolute liars. It does not get any better or any easier; you just learn to live with it and to develop a new appreciation for the depths of misery humans can reach and still go on.

The last Mother's Day when I physically saw my mom was in 2007 when we were in Alaska. It was right after my law school graduation and David and I were on a different flight from my parents and aunt and uncle up to Fairbanks. They didn't get in until really late that night, but I told her she had to call me so that I could give her her present in person. I remember it was a book for the Mother of the Bride and a really pretty glass nail file. I found both on her dresser afterward. In 2008 I was in Pasadena for work and I must have sent six or seven cards from the hotel. You'd think a fancy hotel would be able to get its mail out on time--nope, none of the cards were postmarked until like four days after I had dropped them off, so they were all late. I felt so terrible.

I know that the babies' birth is going to be a wonderful, joyous day for me, but it is going to be tinged with sadness that my mom isn't there and won't be there. I am so grateful to David's mom for coming out for three weeks after they're born to help us, but I'm also so jealous that she'll get to hold our babies and they'll get to know her, and they won't know anything about my mom except what I can tell them. I hope I can do her justice because she deserves it.

My first Christmas, December 1981.

Wearing red plastic bells on our heads, Christmas 2006.

At Longwood Gardens, Christmas 2007.

Friday, May 6, 2011

34w5d: Bathroom Remodel Complete!

Yesterday, three weeks to the day after they started work, the contractors finished the bathroom remodel. I really think they took advantage of my being home all the time to come for an hour here, an hour there, instead of putting in the three or four days of work that it actually took.

I am SO glad they finished before the babies' arrival!!

As a reminder of what the hideous bathroom looked like beforehand:

Please note the giant, long crack in the floor.

As well as the multitude of oddly placed electrical outlets and switches. Dave's favorite was always the seashell soap dish cut in the vanity.

And now:

Cleaned up electrics and no more seashell!

Actual room on the vanity to put toiletries, plus a shelf!

A non-cracked floor!

Dave is very excited about the new toilet. It's a European style toilet with two flushing options depending on the needs at the time. Very efficient.

I'm overall pleased with the contractors that we hired. He got the job done and within the estimate. He had good suggestions and cleaned up pretty well. I was not pleased that some of his helpers could not understand the often-repeated instruction to be careful not to let Murray out, but all is well.

This was the first time we put money into the house that we'll actually get to see and enjoy it--a new water heater and furnace, the earthquake retrofit, and pulling out the knob and tube are not very sexy upgrades. I really don't think we'll be doing too much else in the way of work though--we like this house and that's why we bought it--except for that bathroom. I think it's now something that even if people don't love it, they at least won't think "ick!" when they see it!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

34w4d: Bedrest Book Review

I've been feeling kind of blah....not very productive and really, REALLY craving chocolate. It's a good thing we don't have any in the house or I would not be able to control myself.

Yesterday, I finished Novella Carpenter's Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer. My book club is discussing it next Wednesday--hopefully I'll be able to go!

Ms. Carpenter's memoir traces her experiences cultivating an urban farm in the ghetto of West Oakland. She and her boyfriend moved to Oakland from Seattle, where they kept bees and had a garden. Once in Oakland, she graduates to meat birds, then rabbits, and finally pigs. Mixed in with her personal story is a bit of the history of urban farming and references to urban agriculture throughout the world. Her colorful descriptions of the people in her neighborhood add to the human element of the book and also remind the reader that Ms. Carpenter ain't no farming Pollyanna--she is farming in an area where gun shots and gang activity are commonplace.

The book was particularly meaningful to me because I live in Oakland, and I'm not entirely sure that someone unfamiliar with the Bay Area would appreciate it as much. I can picture the places she's describing, from the drive up to Mendocino to MLK. I also had eaten at Eccolo (before it sadly closed in 2009), the restaurant where Ms. Carpenter learned to make salumi. I'm sure it comes as no surprise to anyone that the Bay Area has some "special characters," and the firsthand familiarity with them--even if it's just to hope that the guy pushing the shopping cart with bottles doesn't ask for change--made me feel like I could really "get" the book. Before I moved here, I doubt I would have understood in quite the same way.

While the vegetable garden takes up most of the space available to Ms. Carpenter for her farm, most of the book is devoted to discussing her experience growing animals. Confession--I was a vegetarian for four years and I haven't eaten mammal meat since 1995. I do eat poultry and seafood, so I do understand and respect her desire to come face-to-face--literally--with her food. I don't think that calling is for everyone, but I can see why it should be. It would, I'm certain, spell the death knell for the hideous factory farming operations that treat animals with cruelty and poison the environment. I'm just too chicken (no pun intended, I swear) to take that step myself. We're working toward buying only organic meat though, so I guess that's a (tiny) step in the right direction.

I'll be very interested to hear what the vegetarians in my book club thought of the slaughtering descriptions. I'm glad she did not mince words; if a person eats meat, they shouldn't shy from the fact that an animal died to provide that meat. Ms. Carpenter's descriptions of how she confronted her distaste for the slaughtering has real meaning.

Ms. Carpenter's journalism background makes the book easy to read and contributes to the (mostly) well-done pacing. I could have done with less explanation about making salumi, but for someone who enjoys it, it is probably good that it's there. I would recommend this book, particularly to anyone who grows a few tomatoes in the back yard.

Topically, Ms. Carpenter has been in the news recently because now that she owns the land she farms (she formerly just squatted), the City wants her to get a conditional use permit. I am really impressed by how she's managed to turn a vacant lot in a neighborhood known for crime into a beautiful, productive urban garden. She represents what Oakland should be encouraging, not over-regulating. I hope that none of my tax dollars will be spent to persecute her or others like her, and I hope that the City passes some new, reasonable urban agriculture rules soon.

Monday, May 2, 2011

34w1d: Deliciousness

A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling like I needed something to look forward to. I decided to be optimistic and plan that I was going to make it to 34 weeks, so we made dinner reservations at a place David has been wanting to go to for ages, but it's generally really hard to get a reservation. Sunday nights are less difficult, so last night we had a date for 7:00! Time to celebrate making it to 34 weeks and to an (almost complete) bathroom remodel!

David dropped me off at the entrance and I was seated right away. David even found parking pretty quickly (usually impossible in that part of the city).

The menu was full of lots of delicious-sounding options. I had a salad to start, made with pickled beets with gem lettuce, hazelnuts and cacioricotta. The beets were amazing--three different kinds, yum. And the hazelnuts were so good with the cheese. David started with a gnocchi filled with chicken and pine nuts, I think. For an entree I had braised chicken with escarole, spring onions and fava beans with a side of erbette chard with pine nuts, currants, lemon and garlic. The chicken was perfectly cooked and I really liked the fava beans. The chard was just fine, but I figured it was healthy. David had a pizza (the restaurant is known for its pizza) of Salsiccia – fennel sausage, spring onions, mozzarella, tomato, grana, garlic, onions, chilies, olive oil. It was huge--he is going to be eating leftovers for lunch--and he really enjoyed it. He said the sausage had a nice spice to it. We shared a carafe of Giovanni Cherchi, ‘Pigalva’, Vermentino di Sardegna, Sardegna 2007, a bright Italian white with a low alcohol content and floral notes. David had 2/3 of it, but I did enjoy it. I was glad to see no judgmental looks from anyone else in the (extremely crowded) dining room!

And then....dessert!! I ordered ricotta cheesecake with almond crumble and rhubarb compote and David ordered the strawberry shortcake with almond pound cake, vanilla crema and saba. The strawberries were perfect, but my cheesecake was the best thing we had the whole night. It was soooo good. I had a feeling it would also be GD friendly because of the cheese and almonds. I had a couple bites of the pound cake; it was okay but I'm glad I had the cheesecake.

My dietitian had told me that if I splurged on food I should go for a walk afterward. So we walked about seven city blocks--a very far distance for me! And by walk I mean strolled at a very slow crawl. But it paid off--when I took my reading when I got home, it was at 101! Granted we'd been eating for a full two hours, but I was still really surprised and pleased.

We have another fancy dinner date planned for Saturday. Yum!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

34w: May Day!

I know I owe an update of pregnancy statistics, but I want to first report on the Big Day Out I had yesterday.

Time was running out on returning some of the gifts I received from Babies R Us (worst return policy ever--truly byzantine), and we needed to pick up some furniture from IKEA. So....I had a big outing! David dropped me off at the front door of BRU and I waddled inside. There was a wheelchair there, and I decided to take advantage of it. David was busy moving all the boxes to the counter, so I had to push myself--that was hard work, but good upper body exercise that I could use. We had the nicest salesladies, and if their computers hadn't died THREE TIMES it would have been completely painless. David decided we needed to buy some crib sheets even though I (still) haven't received the registry completion coupon. The salesclerk said that they send it up to two weeks AFTER delivery. That seems....kind of beyond stupid. I really wish there were a Buy Buy Baby closer to us so that I wouldn't have to give all my baby business to BRU.

After BRU we headed down the street to IKEA. Because I finally gave up on getting the heirloom changing table out to California (so sad!), we needed to get something. The solid wood options from Pottery Barn were nice, but for what they cost the reviews were really pretty poor. I also hate high end mass produced stuff like that...if I'm going to drop $500 on a piece of furniture, I'd rather go to a local furniture store. So the natural alternative--IKEA. I definitely agree with those who say that IKEA's quality has gone down--the IKEA furniture my parents bought for my bedroom when I was 5 still looks excellent, but some of the stuff I bought in law school is a total wreck after one move. Oh well, we got a thin dresser to go in the room and a bureau to use as a changing table for in the alcove.

IKEA was also just a fun experience (isn't it always??). David really wanted to eat at the food court, and while we were there we saw so many kids! Including a set of fairly young twins in a DSNG. Then in the ladies room I met a mom with approximately 2 1/2 year old B/G twins. We chatted a bit and it was really sweet. It was exciting to see "our people" out and about and not looking too sleep-deprived.

After my big adventure in public, I definitely needed a nap. Then later last night my good friend came over and we ordered pizza! I was really hoping that the whole wheat crust would mean that the chicken, cheese, and green pepper pizza would be okay with the GD numbers....not so much. :( So no leftovers for me. It was delicious at least.

We have big plans (my concept of "big" has been altered, I'll admit) tonight again. I'm so excited to have made it to May--next goal is to get to Gemini!