07 December 2010

Things I Absolutely Must Do Tonight

-clean off the table
-finish wrapping presents
-clean the toilet
-address and stamp thank you notes
-put together box for Kasey and Matt
-write notes for the Bible study I'm teaching on the basic historical-cultural exegesis of Matthew in two days
-compile medical bills that must be paid before we leave for Texas on Thursday
-straighten up the living room for Ainslie's physical therapist appointment tomorrow
-take out the trash

And guess who has no interest in sleeping and only wants to be held by Mommy while Papa's at work?  I'll give you a hint, it starts with "Ai" and ends with "nslie".  La vida.  Loca.

(Also, notice how "waste time blogging" isn't on the list.)

Turkey Day

Thanksgiving was a joy, a symphony of smells in my tiny, steamy kitchen.  "It's a matriarch's holiday," I thought to myself with probably a little too much smugness as I puttered from one kitchen surface to the next, the sole cook for my hungry little family.  I had woken up that morning at four to feed Ainslie and found myself actually disappointed (for once) that the local(-ish, Juneau doesn't have a local news station) channel actually paid attention to the four-hour time difference between here and the East coast and scheduled the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade at 9am Pacific Time instead of Eastern.  I would have to wait a few more hours for my favorite part of Thanksgiving.  And wait (impatiently) I did, but soon enough Kip, Ainslie and I were sitting on the couch in our pajamas eating cinnamon rolls and critiquing (and I use that term loosely...it was more like Kip criticizing and me defending) the pre-parade entertainment.  And the world was right.

For the first time ever, I made cranberry sauce from scratch.  Why I thought it was going to be difficult, I have no idea.  Turns out it was actually easier than opening the can of jellied sauce I'd bought just in case mine didn't work (and I'm not making that up, do you know how hard it is to be left handed and try to use a right handed can opener?).  I had a few pears lying around that were about to go bad and conveniently found a recipe variation for cranberry sauce with pears and ginger, so I gave it a try.  The result?  Delish!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Pears and Ginger
1 bag fresh cranberries, picked through
2 ripe pears, cored peeled and diced
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup water

Combine the sugar, ginger and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to ensure the sugar and ginger dissolve.  Add the cranberries and pears, stir and reduce heat to a simmer.  Lean over the pot and take a good, deep sniff.  Allow the mixture to simmer until the cranberries begin to pop (or until you begin to salivate, it happens around the same time), cook until slightly thickened then turn off heat.  Cool and serve at room temperature if you can resist eating it until then.

It. smelled. divine.

Per the deal that Kip and I made on Thanksgiving Eve, as soon as the parade was over, he got to watch football.  He took the opportunity to tutor Ainslie on the finer points of the game while I set to work in the kitchen.
Eventually, after six hours of cooking, one mid-afternoon phone call to Mom ("Well, when this morning did you put the turkey in the oven?"  "I haven't yet" ::long pause:: "And when were you planning on eating?"), and three guests (including one on-duty officer who refused my appetizers but wanted to see the score of the Cowboys game) later, Kip and John (one of the aforementioned guests) stood over our turkey scratching their heads.  They eventually figured out how to carve it about seven minutes before I dropped the crescent roll I'd been transferring to a basket and cried, "Oh no!  We forgot to take a picture of Ainslie next to the turkey!"  They decided that there had been greater tragedies in the world and set back to their task while I swore up and down that we couldn't forget to do it at Christmas.  

Then came the inevitable silence for ten minutes as we all ate, followed by a group staring contest with all the dirty dishes.  The dishes won big time, and they sat in dirty splendor on the counter all evening while Kip, Ainslie and I collapsed on the couch in a family tryptophan coma and the neighbors down the street lit a wood fire that made the entire neighborhood smell like home.  

The End.

03 December 2010

On Advent

"If we are tempted to grumble about a culture that has forgotten Christ, then perhaps we are beginning to sense the longing of the prophets [for Christ before He came in the first Christmas]."
-Scott Hahn, from the chapter on Advent in "Signs of Life"

01 December 2010

Oxford Folders

I attempted to clean our room today and stumbled upon an old friend: Oxford University.  In going through a box of old-ish clothes, I also found my folders of notes and photos and info sheets from the summer program I attended at Christ Church, Oxford in 2008, waaaaaaay back in the beginning of this blog, when it was called "Bolaskoxfordia" and I was globetrotting for the summer catching parasites in Bolivia, knowledge in Oxford, and falling deeper in love in Alaska.  It was interesting, like seeing the remnants of an old relationship.

The Oxford folders were worn on the sides from being stuffed in my frame pack while I was traveling, and then taking up residence with me at school and moving with me to Alaska...they were too important to me to pack up with the rest of the books I knew I wouldn't need in between college and grad school, and so I took them with me to Juneau knowing full well that I'd never use them.  When I picked them up this afternoon, feeling their smooth surfaces, I instantly missed it.  The feeling I had while I was there that I was part of something important, the optimism I had that I'd be back for grad school, the adventure of traveling internationally by myself (and the subsequent shock when I realized how lonely that was).  Gosh, those folders even smelled like nearly a millennium of academic excellence.  I could've guessed at the time that I'd be married a year after that, but I never thought that two years later I'd be staying at home, still in Juneau, hanging out with my cat and waiting on the birth of my first child.  At the time, I was discontentedly happy to be sitting through an afternoon class on the connections between postmodern philosophy, Trinitarian theology and wisdom literature, Skyping with Kip at night, and lugging my frame pack across High Street to catch a bus to London, cussing out the wet cobblestones as my flip-flopped feet slipped on every other one.  I was sad to be so far away from Kip and completely overwhelmed at the subject matter of what I was learning, but I loved every minute of it.  And I miss it.  It's not that I don't love my life now, but I do miss having something more complex to think about than diapers and dishes.  Just a thought.

30 November 2010

The Moment I Realized How Ridiculous My Life Is:

Kip was sleeping.
I was considering a nap when Ainslie woke up crying and hungry.
And then the cat puked on the floor.


23 November 2010

I'm a Professional Nap-Putter-Downer

Forget Pilates, I have found a new endurance sport: putting Ainslie down for a nap.  Scoff not, it's an epic endeavor requiring skill, patience, and precise timing...kind of like marksmanship.  Only harder, because a slip of the finger could result in hours of disastrous crying instead of a missed target.  (Okay, maybe it's not hours of crying, but it is annoying to have to start the whole process over again after an unfortunate pacifier incident)

The process proceeds thus:  
Ainslie is up and chipper, staring around at the world in wonder
She gets hungry.  I feed her.  She falls asleep in the process.
I wait for the opportune moment, a predator of Zzzzs
Her mouth hangs open.  I make my move, carrying her to where she'll sleep
Hark, she stirs!  I move quickly, trying to arrange her with the stealth of a ninja
She wiggles around and starts to flutter her eyes open.  I pull out the big guns:  the pacifier.
She suckles the pacifier, content with the world (and perhaps completely aware of how she now has me captive for the next five minutes)
I stand waiting, still as a statue, holding the pacifier in her mouth 
Her sucking slows down.  I move my hand away.
The pacifier hangs out of her mouth, James Dean-style.  I wait for this most important moment coming up.
Her breathing slows, she is officially asleep!  
I gently lift the pacifier off of her bottom lip and pray for mercy; this is the moment where it all could unravel...

...and from there it's a real life version of a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book.  Either I took the pacifier away too early and she wakes up, forcing me to start the whole process over again, or if I'm lucky she stays asleep.  Before I learned the error of my ways, I would leave the pacifier with her, which resulted in several instances where it fell from its precarious perch onto the crib mattress with just enough oomph to scare her awake.  Disaster.  

But like all sports, this one allows me to reap certain benefits.  Oh no, it's not washboard abs (ugh, I'll address that in another post), but potentially a few hours of free time to do dishes and work on Christmas gifts.  To the victor go the spoils!

22 November 2010

GRE, It's Fine By Me

If nothing else, my experience with the GRE taught me two things:
1.  I'd forgotten how quickly number 2 pencils wear down.
2.  Watching the "John Adams" miniseries was the best thing that ever happened to my vocabulary.  Had it not been for Paul Giamatti's excellent portrayal, I never would have been able to complete the analogies for words like "vicissitude".  

After finishing the four-hour long test, I was welcomed back into reality by a barrage (oooo, GRE word) of picture texts from Kip which thoroughly documented the trip that he and Ainslie took to Costco in my absence.  I basically stood in the testing room grinning like a fool at my phone while my fellow test takers shuffled around me, wondering who the crazy lady was.  

In all honesty, it wasn't all that bad.  Sure, I ended my first analytical essay in the middle of a sentence because I ran out of time (leave 'em wanting more, I say!).  Sure, I frantically filled in the last few ovals in random order for both the math sections because I sat staring dumbfoundedly at the geometry questions for too long (you know it's bad when you remember not understanding it in high school either).  But I took the darn test, and in six weeks, I'll know how I did.  And so will Boston College (ack), Yale (double ack), Notre Dame (triple ack), and Catholic Theological Union (actually not ack-worthy, but only because they don't need the scores).  No need to freak out.....really.  

19 November 2010

Going Through the Big D, (do mean Dallas)

It's official.  
We have plane tickets.  

T-minus 20 days until Kip, Ainslie and I get on the big silver bird and head down to Texas to see (in order): my family, the Sun, and a fancy schmancy doctor with a long, difficult to spell title who will hopefully tell us that Ainslie is the picture of health and developmental normalcy.  It's a trip that's coming none too soon, since it's been about six months since I've traveled outside of the state, which means that that old itch to pack my bags and go somewhere exotic is coming back.  Not that Dallas is all that exotic, but it is about 30 degrees warmer than here, so I'll take it.  

In a dream world, Kip and I would pack up Ainslie in our Moby wrap, stuff a few belongings and our camera into a backpack, and trek around India for a few weeks, then maybe Amsterdam.  Those are my two travel fantasies as of late.  They're purely fantasies because they would require several things happening:  
1.  Kip would have to get over his idea of India being dirty and a place he never wants to visit
       1a.  I would have to suddenly start liking Indian food (but I'm sure it's much better in the actual   
       country than the place in Lombard, Illinois where I had some)
2.  Juneau would have to suddenly decide that crime is overrated and give Kip a month or two off
3.  Society would have to start running on a bartering system where money is irrelevant and unnecessary

As it stands, our credit card is sort of, kind of close to being close to maxed out with all the tickets we just bought for this trip and another in February to Anchorage for Ainslie's checkup with the doctor there, so India and Amsterdam will have to wait.  In the meantime, I'm watching a lot of random shows on the Travel Channel.  And not studying for the GRE, which is about twelve hours (ack) away.  Instead, I'm working on Christmas presents, doing a lot of dishes, and trying to catch up on cleaning around the house...when I'm not hanging out with Miss Ainslie (who, incidentally, has added smiling, laughing and the ability to rock a mean case of cradle cap to her repertoire of tricks).  Maybe she'll be able to backpack around India and Amsterdam when she's older and send her old mom a postcard.  Or maybe I'll go with her.  I'll work on liking Indian food until then.  For now--Texas.

13 November 2010


Things are beginning to feel more like what my sister described as “whatever version of normal the three of you decide works”.  

Inspired by the Giada DiLauretis/Bobby Flay vs. Rachael Ray/Mario Batali Iron Chef battle (it was epic!), I cooked dinner for the first time in ages.  Chicken marinated in balsamic vinegar over couscous and grilled red peppers.  Kip, who was shocked he liked couscous so much, ate all of the tupperware I packed for him to take to work AND the leftovers I’d been planning to use for dinner the next day.  Victory!!!  

Sister Marie called and asked if I’d be willing to present a lecture on the gospel of Matthew at the church’s new Bible study sometime soon.  I’ve been celebating/preparing by unearthing my old copy of Burridge’s “Four Gospels, One Jesus?” and reminding myself why that is the single best book I’ve ever read on the subject.  Lest I’d become worried that my exegetical muscles had atrophied (which I had), I’ve been feeling that old academic tickle come back--the one that bears a striking resemblance to the way that Kip made me feel when we worked together at camp; my heart beats a little faster, my face gets a little red, I’m overcome by a curious urge to giggle.  In short, I feel like a giddy little schoolgirl, but instead of a boy I’m completely infatuated with studying the Word.  It feels SO good. 

Also, I cleaned our floor for the first time with the new Rubbermaid dohickey that my mom got me while she was here--the one that’s just like a Swiffer Wet Jet but infinitely awesomer because it has reusable cleaning pads instead of disposable ones and a cleaning solution container that you can put your own solutions into--and it rocked my world.  And now I’m staying up way too late blogging.  See?  Normalcy.   

09 November 2010


Ainslie and I have started reading together while she's awake and staring around the room.  I love "Goodnight, Moon" and "Bumble Bee" just as much as the next person, but by golly if I have to recite one more stanza of rhymed iambic pentameter about barnyard animals, I am going to lose it.  

So we've been reading theology, because it makes me happy.  And Ainslie's happy when Mama's happy.  Our favorite quote from the section on Retreat in Scott Hahn's "Signs of Life":

"Though still I saw through a glass darkly
I saw things as a whole for the first time with 
a delight, a joy, an excitement, which is hard to describe.
This is what I expected when I became a Catholic.
This is what all my reading had led me to expect 
in the way of teaching and guidance in the spiritual life.
I came away with what I can only consider to be 
an increased knowledge of the supernatural life,
the feeling that I had grown in faith, hope and charity,
that I had been fed the strong meat of the Gospel 
and was now prepared to run the race,
to journey onward with that food which would sustain me for forty days in any wilderness.
I felt prepared for deserts and underground tunnels,
for the dark night of the senses and of the soul. 
And I knew too that this strong light would dim with the ensuing months
and that the next year I would again have to make the retreat,
to adjust my vision to the blazing truth which was set before us,
to get things into perspective once again."
-Dorothy Day

07 November 2010

Life Is Now Comprised Of...

Peapod cuteness 

Saying the offices with Ainslie during her mealtimes 

Lots of naps

Lots and LOTS of smelly diapers

And celebratory One Month Birthday cupcakes
(she was much more excited about the cupcake than she looks in this photo)

Also: about a thousand pounds of laundry a day, way too many diapers for not enough storage space, stolen moments to study for the GRE or finish homework, space heater wars, a slowly growing motivation to cook for ourselves, constant dirty dishes, lots of college football, professional football, European football, football of any type, Christmas card scheming planning, very occasional showers, and so much pink that it looks like a cotton candy factory exploded in our apartment.

Plus, Kip just informed me that "Keeping Up With the Kardashians", my absolute worst guilty pleasure (even worse than "Gossip Girl", shame, shame) is on Netflix Instant.  Oh, dear me.  This might be added to the list.  And that could be bad.

01 November 2010

Remember, Remember It's Finally November!

Oh, how times have changed.  I used to hate dreary November weather, but today I'm welcoming the seeping rain and gusting winds.  It's a perfectly blustery day in exotic Juneau, and Ainslie and I are staying at home celebrating with perfect joy.  We're celebrating All Saints' Day, of course, by telling her about our favorite saints proper (St. Joseph, St. Perpetua, Sankta Lucia, St. Damien of Molokai) but also by telling her stories about the saints in her own family, the relatives long gone who lived exemplary Christian lives.  The Forbes family, my new favorite friends in Juneau, inspired and encouraged me to put up Christmas lights in celebration of feast days and cover everything we could think of with Nutella.  Because nothing says "Celebration!" like Nutella.  Our celebration also includes a soundtrack of Rockabye Baby: Lullaby Renditions of Queen (the xylophone version of "Killer Queen" really is something to behold).  Oh yeah, some babies listen to Mozart, mine listens to classic 70's rock in reworked lullaby form.  Mommy might spring for the Rockabye Baby Beatles album next.  Or maybe Bob Marley.  We'll see.

On the inside, I'm also celebrating the fact that it's November 1st, which is exciting for two reasons:  
1. November 1st means the official start of the holiday season.  I am the type of person who would normally start playing Christmas carols today, but I'm holding back.  I'm sipping warm apple cider in my favorite slippers (you know, the Scandinavian-looking ones that are falling apart at the seams because I love them so much) instead.
2.  November 1st also means that it's, well, November.  Which means NOT October.  I've loved Autumn my entire life, especially October, but this October blew chunks.  So good riddance, October!  You can take your crappy birth experiences and hospitals and way too many medical emergencies and hide in shame until next year!  Only good things will happen in November!  We welcome it with much festivity!

Welcome, November.  You rock.

24 October 2010

Home Sweet Home

Blogosphere beware:  I've figured out how to type with one arm and nurse Ainslie with the other.  The fact that I have a pretty respectable one-handed typing speed only helps this phenomenon of parenthood.  So here we are on the couch, Ainslie and me.  She woke up cold (the biggest post-NICU battle we've had to fight: realizing that the NICU was practically a sauna and trying to keep her warm enough in our not so sauna-y apartment) and hungry, so I brought her to the living room, popped some cinnamon rolls in the oven for me and Kip (which I've decided is to be our new Sunday morning tradition), and set up in the sunlight that's streaming through the window and onto the couch.  

She's never felt the sunlight on her face before.  
I am LOVING sharing this experience with her.

Obviously, we are home.  The trip was an adventure of epic proportions, and it was totally worth the hassle of carrying a two-week-old baby with assorted two-week-old baby accessories through the Anchorage airport if only to watch the looks of horror on the faces of the two young TSA guys who had to do a liquids check on the breastmilk in Ainslie's diaper bag.  It was absolutely priceless.  She didn't utter a peep on the plane (thanks in part, I'm sure, to a phenobarbital-induced nap) and in fact handled the entire flight much better than the three year old a few rows in front of us. ::Tear::  I'm so proud.

Something interesting happened on our way home, though.  We were putting ourselves back together past security, still snickering at the TSA guys' ookiness around perfectly natural bodily fluids ("And this is formula?" asked the agent, peering into the cooler.  "No, it's breastmilk" I say as the color drains from his face and he reaches for a pair of latex gloves with undue haste) when a blonde woman who'd been staring at Ainslie from across the terminal approached us.  "Are you the Cheshire family?" she asked.
Kip and I looked at each other, raising eyebrows.  "Uh, yes"
She looked down at Ainslie and back at us, "You probably don't remember me, but I was in the room when your daughter was born.  I've been so worried about her and we've all been wondering how she's been doing.  I was at the hospital in Anchorage for the past few days doing some work and I meant to stop by and see how she was doing, but I never got the chance.  I don't think I ever caught what you decided to name her."  
We grinned at her and chatted for a minute, giving her such obvious updates as, "Well, we're on the way home!"and "She's doing pretty well!"  I blame our lack of skill in the art of conversation on sleep deprivation and the utter shock of meeting this woman at the airport of all places (although I shouldn't have been--in Alaska, you can't go to an airport without seeing at least two people you know...we saw our second acquaintance at the gate).  Her presence was just such a tangible reminder of all the people who have touched us through this catastrophe, a number that is, if all the people who told us they're praying and asked their churches to pray really did so, literally in the hundreds.  The amount of kindness and generosity shown to us by friends and family and even complete strangers, the donated money and meals and prayers and flowers and stuffed animals with notes of encouragement, has been humbling and uplifting at the same time.  We're forever changed by it.

So here's the conclusion:  Ainslie was sent up to Anchorage because of the meconium in her lungs at birth.  She stayed because the doctors realized that she also needed treatment for head trauma from the labor (to put it lightly--I couldn't make a list of all the problems if I tried).  But now she's home.  She has my nose and Kip's hair and has proven to me that the quirky faces people make have to be genetic, because she has given me the "I'm thinking really hard about something" scowl that Kip makes and the "Are you serious?" eyebrow raise that I do about a million times now.  She's doing much better than she was three weeks ago, and we have about a dozen doctor's appointments and occupational therapist's numbers and neonatologist checkups to make sure that she continues to do well in the next few months.

I came to a realization as I hung up all our "Congratulations on your new arrival!" cards this morning.  Well, I came to two realizations:  First, that running around cleaning my entire apartment at five in the morning while the baby and my husband are both finally sleeping felt refreshingly normal and glorious;  Second, that this is our time to celebrate.  Three weeks ago, Kip didn't get the chance to pass out "It's a Girl" cigars because he was on a MediVac flight.  I didn't get to hold our baby and read her the blessing we'd wanted to and bond with this little person I'd been growing for (at that point) ten and a half months.  Ainslie wasn't well enough to be held until she was two days old, and I didn't even meet her until the fourth day.  But now that we're home, we can be a family.  We can bond and play and hold her nonstop, pass out cigars or candy bars or whatever it is that people pass out these days in celebration of a birth, put up an obnoxious amount of pink balloons in front of the house to announce to all passers-by that we are the proud parents of a bouncing baby girl.  I like that.  Ainslie and I are celebrating this revelation with a sunny nursing session, while the cinnamon rolls burn because I don't want to disturb her to go get them out of the oven.  Later today the three of us are planning on going for a walk in the sunshine before it gets cloudy again, and then we'll bring her to the night service at church.  It's good now.  We're home.

13 October 2010

Bean's Birth Day: Third Time's the Charm

I looked at the upside down face and found the grey eyes peeking out from between the blue mask and cap.  "I.  Love.  You."  The anethesiologist laughed, "So I suppose it's working?"
"Mmmhmm", I nodded, closing my eyes and enjoying the tingly feeling spreading all over my body.  It had been about 35 and a half hours since I first felt the contractions that wouldn't stop; 40 since I drank a castor oil shake in desperation to get labor started.  A few minutes later, I was numb to the world and Kip was sitting at my head as I lay spread eagle on the operating table, staring at the giant blue curtain erected to keep me from getting up close and personal with my inside organs.  
"What do you think it is?" Kip asked, looking dapper in his white scrubs.
"I think it's a boy still, what about you?"
"I really, really don't know"
The surgical team chatted away about changes to the union contract and weekend plans as they casually cut into me.  One of them looked at Kip, "Do you want to see?"  Kip nodded.  "Alright, just let me know if you feel faint or something.  We can't have you passing out on the floor."  He stood up and peeked over the curtain.  
"What's it look like?"  I asked.
"Um, it's really bloody" he responded, not looking the least bit phased.  "Here it comes!"
"Right now?"
"Yeah, they're pulling it out!  It's........it's a girl!"  He walked back over and took my hand, "It's a girl, it's Ainslie!"
Tears ran down my cheeks and onto the oxygen tubes running across my face, "A girl?"  I squeaked, my voice grainy from hours of grunting and yelling and pushing.
"We have a little girl."
"It's Ainslie."  We smiled at each other, my tingly feeling having nothing to do with the spinal block now, and then I realized something was missing.  "Wait, why isn't she crying?" I asked.  Kip looked over the curtain and back at me, "Oh, they're just getting some stuff out of her nose and mouth, it's okay."  

What I didn't know was that my husband, my Superman who had just seen me through 35 hours of drug-free labor with nary a complaint, who'd held my hand or my supported my back through over 10 hours of pushing, who held me in the car on the way from the Birth Center to the hospital when we realized that was the safer place to be, who watched my lips and ears turn blue as my oxygen level dropped along with my kidney and liver function and who watched me wheeled into the C-section, still pushing as they lifted me onto the table, was now watching our little girl having CPR performed on her tiny little body.  

02 October 2010

Bean's Birth Day, Take Two

This baby is just far too comfortable where it is.  Our second attempt at meeting Bean for the first time started Thursday morning when my now twice-weekly fetal monitoring session (which started when Bean and I went overdue a week ago) didn't show the results Becca, the midwife I saw that morning, would have liked to have seen.  Either Bean was just a totally sleepy baby who didn't want to wake up enough to raise his or her heartbeat, or it's showing signs of malnourishment because the placenta is getting too old to properly function.  I was sent from the Birth Center to the hospital for an ultrasound to check Bean's amniotic fluid levels, which would give us an idea as to the health of the placenta.  An hour and a whole bunch of blue goop on my belly later, Bean's amniotic fluid level was dubbed too low and we were told that I'd have to be induced that night.  "Go home, eat a really good meal, pack up your stuff, and I'll call you when we decide which midwife will meet you at the hospital", Becca told me over the phone.  We were sad we wouldn't get to have Bean at the Birth Center, but excited to finally be able to meet our baby!

27 September 2010

Snail Mail Is So Retro Chic

Take ten minutes: brew a cup of tea and read Tessa's latest post on writing notes instead of emails.  It's iconic and classic and--as most of Tessa's ideas are--simplistically encouraging (this is the woman who, after all, makes raising thousands of dollars for African relief look and sound easy).  I also enjoy the fact that she encourages old fashioned, paper and pen correspondence on a blog without shaking a fist at the blogosphere and denouncing its usefulness.  

Basically, I think Tessa's wonderful and I'm so glad she's feeling well enough again to post!

26 September 2010

Today Is Official "Talk to An Overdue Pregnant Lady About Something Other than Being Overdue" Day, Didn't You Hear?

It's September 26th and it's official.  Any way you cut it, no matter which due date you take (the 20th or the 26th), I am due.  Or rather, Bean is due.  Okay:  any way you cut it, Bean is supposed to be here.   But just the fact that I'm still calling it "Bean" and not the wonderfully gender appropriate names we picked out months and months (and maybe at this point years) ago, means that it's not.  And I have completely mixed emotions about that.

On the one hand, I'm frustrated.  I'm tired of people seeing me on the street, jaws on the pavement, exclaiming, "Haven't you had that baby yet?" Well, do you see an infant in my arms?  Obviously we both know the answer to that question.   I'm tired of getting on the phone and hearing, "You should really tell that baby it's time to come out" from practically everyone who calls, as if I actually had a say in the process.  I have tried literally everything that people have told me to--different foods and exercises and walks and teas and herbs and assorted other ridiculous techniques that supposedly get labor going.  Except castor oil.  I don't think treating my digestive system like the clogged pipe in the bathroom is really the best solution here.  

I feel like overnight, my pregnant state went from "Blessed Miracle" to "Overdue Inconvenience" to the rest of the world.  

And they're not even the ones who have to deal with the swollen feet!  (Although they do have to deal with me dealing with swollen feet, which I acknowledge I've been a bit whiny about.)

And then, on the brutally honest other hand, I'm not frustrated and I'm kind of okay with being pregnant for a little bit longer.  I know, very VERY deep down, that Bean just isn't ready for one reason or another yet and that's why it hasn't sent out that "I'm ready to be born" hormone.  I also recognize that sleeping in until nine or ten (or, let's be honest, eleven) will be a distant memory in a week or so.  I know I'll miss feeling Bean kick from inside (although I won't miss the roundhouse kicks to the ribs on my right side), and the idea of having the two of us be in two separate rooms does freak me out a bit.  Kip and I made a decision last night that whenever someone gives me grief about still being pregnant, I will hear it as what they're really trying to say: 

"I care about you and I really want to see your beautiful child!  I'm getting impatient, but I know it's not your fault that it hasn't arrived yet.  Please ignore any further comments from me regarding your weight, the validity of the contractions you've been feeling, the rapidly approaching date of the baptism, the fact that Natalie is moving out of Juneau at the end of the week, and the gestational period of elephants."

In conclusion, and in completely unrelated news, our recent stretch of sunny weather has officially given way to regular crappy Juneau rain, but also to an unmistakably Fall-ish feeling.  I dug our Fall decorations out of the closet and I'm having a good time craving all things cinnamon and apple-y.  Last night's culinary victory:  homemade peach cobbler.  Oh my goodness, was it amazing!  Maybe today I'll make something with oatmeal.

21 September 2010

In the Past Seven Days, My Life Has Included:

-increasingly crisp fall weather 
-a kitten who just can't seem to cuddle enough
-lots of hanging out with Mom
-the most frantic cleaning I've ever done in my life (except maybe the day before college graduation, and that's because our apartment was a pit....oh gosh, was it disgusting)
-a baby who just is far too comfortable in utero to be bothered with being born
-a husband who I'm happy to say I'm still so completely in love with
-fall decorations around the house
-"John Adams"

Eventually I'll post about it, but for now I'm just trying to relax and enjoy it.

14 September 2010

Ten Things Tuesday

Ten Things That Made Me Smile This Past Week:
1.  The signs that it's truly Autumn in Southeast Alaska:  changing leaves, crisper feeling air, a sun that travels so low in the sky that it constantly looks like it's about 3:30 in the afternoon (I LOVE that warm sort of light!), and winter constellations hanging low in the longer-lasting night sky.  I realized the last of these signs around 4:45 this morning when I got up to pee (shocker, right?) and realized in a fit of goosebumps that I'd forgotten to close the window in the living room before bed.  I stood on the couch (necessary to close aforementioned window) and stared at Orion, the only winter constellation I know, hoping to see the Northern Lights since it was still pitch black outside, excepting the stars and the neighbor's porch light.  Two months ago, the sun would have been well up by that time.

2.  I know it was on last week's list, but it's still making me smile:  my mom is a genius who suggested tying Tillamook's harness to the clothesline so he can wander at will outside without running away.  It's diffused a lot of kitten-owner battles in our household.

3.  The cleaning fest we had on Friday.  The apartment looks incredible.

4.  The orange and red sunflowers Mom got for me after my last prenatal appointment showed I'm really not much further along in the dilation department than I was two weeks ago.  The sunflowers helped take me from totally bummed to only slightly dejected.

5.  My masseuse (don't judge, our insurance pays for massages if a doctor prescribes them and I'm taking full advantage of that!) gave me a hug after my last appointment while we were pointing out our favorite awkward baby photos on the bulletin board in the hallway of the Birth Center.  (The winner was the one where a woman, surrounded by her family, was at the crowning stage of birth.....crowning!  Do we really need photographic evidence of that?  In a public place? NO!)

6.  Father Thomas also decided last week that he needed to upgrade to an iPhone 4, which means that if I don't have Bean before he leaves this week, we can do a video call just like in the commercials!

7.  I made a trifle for dessert on Saturday and it was glorious--angel food cake, homemade whipped cream, organic peaches, nectarines, pluots and apples!  Yum!

8.  The thank you note we got from two-year-old Nolan Warnaca:  "Thank you so much for coming to my birthday and for the cool castle.  I can't wait to build it.  P.S.  I can't wait to be your son's friend, or date your daughter!  -Sir Nolan"

9.  Tillamook's new habit of sitting on the retaining wall by our back stairs.  It's cute.

10.  The amount of bonding we've been doing with our landlords ever since my mom started staying in their spare bedroom.  They're so great!

12 September 2010

Raging Maternal Hormones = YouTube Sob Fest 2010

Confession time: I rarely read through the sentimental emails that people send me about friendship or motherhood or whatever the warm fuzzy thought of the day is, but I decided that this video was worth watching when a friend sent me an email yesterday asking how Bean and I were doing.

I lost it at "She will have your eyes".

Can I PLEASE have this baby soon????

11 September 2010

How Samsung, Ryan and His Pointy Shoes Turned Me Into an iPhone Addict

Hello, my name is Cindy and I have a problem.
After years of fighting it, swearing I wouldn't, vowing to stay out of the trend and swim against the current, I did it.
I got an iPhone 4.
And I like it a little too much.
And, in true "person with a problem" form, I am blaming it on someone else:  Samsung.

It really is Samsung's fault for making crappy phones that stop working after ten months, conveniently losing all touch screen capabilities, messaging capabilities, the ability to receive most calls, and sounding like the caller is down a tunnel in the calls that do come through.  It just makes other phones (that actually work) seem so much cooler.  The problems with my (now former) phone had actually been happening off and on for a few months, but every time I went to bring it in to AT&T it was miraculously healed, like that sore throat that you finally present to the doctor on the day it decides to feel fantastic again.  This week, however, it was mission critical.  The phone stopped working and I sped off to the store, ready to throw it at them and (politely) request a new phone with some longevity.

I didn't want to get an iPhone 4.  I did want to get the regular old iPhone3G.  I didn't need anything fancy, just a phone that I knew would last more than a year (and the iPhone is the only one that I've seen last for awhile).  "Well," said Ryan, the kind clerk with shoes that were far too pointy in the toes for the mostly non-fashionable Juneau population, "we don't have any iPhone3s anymore; everyone wants the 4."
"How long would it take to order one?" I asked, absentmindedly stroking my still baby-filled belly.
"Five to ten business days," said the pointy-shoed fashionisto (it was really distracting me). 
"Well, I'm supposed to be having a baby in five to ten business days and I really need a phone that works."
"Hmm," he said, glancing down at my belly, "Let's see what we can do..."

A few keystrokes, one bequeathed upgrade from Kip, and a stranger who came over solely to ask "You're due any day now, aren't you?" and touch my belly (without asking) later, Ryan and his pointy shoes brought me a new phone (with a new purple cover too, because apparently it drops calls without one...I think this is a grand conspiracy between Apple and the phone-cover-maker-people).  It's beautiful and techie and has lots of great apps and is easy to use and all that worries me because I went home and played with it for hours.  
Too many hours.
And this is in complete contradiction to my "People who spend too much time on their smartphones care more about their little piece of technology than the living, breathing human sitting next to them" philosophy.

We'll see how this turns out.

07 September 2010

Ten Things Tuesday

Ten Things That Made Me Smile This Past Week (and I'm trying to make them non-baby-related):
1. MY DAD CAME TO VISIT AFTER THE FALSE ALARM WITH BEAN!!!! I walked out of my prenatal appointment on Friday only to see him in a rocking chair at the Birth Center. I was completely floored. He's never been to Alaska before, and he could only stay for the weekend, but it was so nice to have him there, even if I still didn't have Bean.
2. Not any less exciting or important, but Mom flew out to help us too! It's only not number one because I knew she was coming. So far, I think we've racked up about 15 miles of walking around Juneau in an attempt to start active labor (unsuccessfully), but I've enjoyed the walks and talks with her nonetheless.
3. Mom brought Panera bread and bagels with her, which I've been craving for about two months now.
4. In a stroke of genius, we realized that if we tie Tillamook's harness to the clothesline, he can roam around outside and I don't have to sit on the stairs and make sure he doesn't run away. I enjoy this newfound freedom almost as much as he does.
5. I'm probably 95% finished with reorganizing the library at the Cathedral. Yay!
6. The icon of Theotokos that Father Thomas brought back for me from the state fair in Anchorage. He had been up there for a conference during The Big Bean Scare last week and was given the icon by an Orthodox priest to give to me. It makes me smile (obviously, it's on this list).
7. The giant bag of basil that came in our produce box this week. Guess who's making pesto tonight?
8. 65-degree weather this week. This is what we didn't get all summer!
9. Getting up super early this morning to have breakfast with Kip. Who cares if we were both half asleep, it was nice to get some time together!
10. Dropping off more aprons at Homespun Mercantile, which I've been meaning to do for months now.

04 September 2010

An Update

I've been in early labor since early Monday morning, a ticking time bomb (I'm even all round and bomb-shaped), waiting for these interspersed contractions to turn into active labor.  "Let me at the pain of regular contractions!" I say, "I can take it, just let me try!"  But no dice.  The pain is ignoring the gauntlet I've thrown to the ground.  It has also ignored all the walking I've been doing, the bouncing up and down, the spicy food, and the red raspberry leaf tea I've downed in quantities sufficient enough to bring any other woman in the world into full-fledged labor long ago.  I've tried every myth I've ever heard of for inducing labor except castor oil--a girl needs to keep some semblance of dignity, you know.  I've tried getting everything super ready for going to the Birth Center so I'm not subconsciously putting off active labor because I don't feel ready.  The house is clean.  The nursery is stocked.  Kip's and my shoes are by the door.  But the contractions still come and go, despite all of my hard work at welcoming them.

Lorna, one of my midwives, told Kip on Friday that it'll probably be only a week--maybe two--until Bean is born, but despite her assurances, I think it's official:

I'm going to be pregnant forever.


02 September 2010

Bean's Birth Day, Take One

Well, first of all, Hoonah happened. Kip's phone rang at 12:17 Sunday morning, followed by the sound of a few grunted "uh huh"s and a flurry of activity. He was out of the house by 12:20, off to negotiate a man out of his barricaded house in Hoonah, a nearby village. It wasn't the average crisis negotiation/SWAT team call-out--before barricading himself, the man had ambushed and killed two police officers. I didn't hear much news until three the next afternoon, when police dispatch called to let me know that the standoff would take a few days and to pack a care package with Kip's personal effects to be boated out to the remote village.

How's that for a stressful situation to induce labor?

Contractions started at 3 am on Monday.
The suspect surrendered several hours later and Kip got back just in time for me to go to the Birth Center to have the contractions checked that night.
The next morning, my water broke (supposedly...keep reading).
We went to the Birth Center again, thinking we'd leave with a baby.

We were really excited for awhile.
Bean was coming!

Kip decided he had some labor pains, too.
(On a related note, he was the best birth partner ever and his support skills were amazing)
So we waited for a few hours.
And then a few turned into 12.
And then 18.
And then edged closer to 24, which is the cutoff for transport to the hospital after a broken water (something about risk of infection).
So we went up to the hospital.
And they said, "Um, well did your water really break?" and generally made me feel like an idiot who didn't know what she was doing.
And they did some tests.
And then they sent us home.
Without a baby.

Although I did get to eat some dinner after they determined they weren't inducing me.
I was really excited about that.

So there are three options as to what happened:
1. My water never broke to begin with and I was just a crazy pregnant lady who peed herself
2. The water broke only slightly and then resealed itself
3. It was what they call a "forebag" break (think about what would happen if you took a water balloon and twisted it into two sections, then broke just one of the sections)

Either way, no baby. The doctor did another ultrasound before we left to make sure that Bean is okay, and we decided that we'd ruin the surprise and see if Bean is a boy or a girl. It would be a sort of consolation prize for all the effort, you know? Well, it's a.......baby who has his or her legs crossed and folded over the goods!

So, in summary: No baby. No time frame for when said baby will really decide to arrive. No gender.

We're crushed and exhausted in every possible way, but there is a silver lining: now we still have a chance at having Bean at the Birth Center instead of the hospital, and my mom is flying up tomorrow, which is really great because after all of this frustration and disappointment, I really need my mommy.

22 August 2010

I'm Too SxE For Your Party

It has recently come to my attention that there's a new trend among the kids these days. Cue me feeling really old because I can legitimately use that phrase now..."the kids these days". It's called being "straight edge", and according to my friend Natalie it's been around on the West Coast for years, but this is the first time I've ever heard of it. Supposedly, whereas "emo" kids are classified by wearing dark clothes, bangs in their heavily-lined eyes, and listening to emo bands, and "scene" kids are emo kids with designer clothes, the "straight edge" (abbreviated SxE) crowd is classified by the following:
1. No alcohol
2. No illegal drugs
3. No promiscuity
4. Listening to "straight edge" bands like Minor Threat.

And this is the new cool thing.

Which got me thinking, I must have been born about ten years too late, because back in my day, this was called being LAME. Or Christian. Or a prude. And I was thoroughly chastised for it by the "popular" crowd in high school. The times, they're-a changin'.

Come to think of it, by the standards listed above, you could call most pregnant woman "straight edge". So really, I'm hip and with it. Even if I'm about eight years older than any of the teenyboppers who follow the trend. Or would they not be called teenyboppers now? I'm so confused.

19 August 2010

Ten-ish Things Thursday

Okay, okay, it's Thursday not Tuesday. And in all honesty, until a few good pieces of news happened within the past two days, I wasn't even going to post a "Ten Things [fill in arbitrary day of the week where I actually remember to do the post]" this week because it was a wretched seven days; Father Thomas called last Wednesday night to let me and Kip know that he's been reassigned to Petersburg and Wrangell, effective September 17th, nine days before his godchild is due.

No sugarcoating, I'm heartbroken. And I'm not ready to blog about it yet, if ever.

But there have been blessings! So I'm listing them, even if I couldn't think of ten.

A Few Things That Have Made Me Smile This Past Week:
1. Going out on the town with Natalie on Friday. Sure, it was only for 45 minutes and sure, I drank cranberry juice, but it was still nice to actually feel 23 years old again.
2. The amount of halibut and Coho salmon that Kip caught on Saturday. We are officially set for the winter. My man provides!
3. Two words: moving furniture. Our apartment looks amazing.
4. Finding out on Tuesday that Father Thomas and Father Pat agreed to switch churches for a weekend in October so that FT can come back for Bean's baptism! This is huge.
5. OffbeatMama published the article I submitted...five days earlier than they said they would! Check it out here.
6. The box that my mom and sister sent to us, and specifically the letter that my niece, Alli wrote to Bean. I read it out loud so Bean could hear.
7. Finally, more than a year later, sending wedding albums to my parents and the in-laws.
8. The adventure Kip and I went on over the weekend: we drove out to the end of the road on Douglas Island and then walked the path out to the sunny beach. Followed by a lunch at Tracy's Crab Shack, it was glorious.

18 August 2010

First Babies May Be Late, But Apparently First Article Publications Are Early

After perhaps the World's Most Productive Day (in the past six months at least), Kip tucked me into the couch tonight after our crock pot apricot chicken dinner (told you it was productive) and before his post-dinner run. I putzed around the internet for awhile and, on a whim, ended up at OffbeatMama.com. I was completely unprepared to see my face (and belly) first thing when the page loaded, but there it was---they published the article I'd submitted five days early!

"I'm gonna put it out there: as unlikely as I thought it would be, I actually LIKE my stretch marks. They're a statement of my baby's growth. They're sort of a nice shade of pink. And they make it look like I got into a scratch fight with a wolverine in the name of motherhood. It wasn't an easy road to feeling this way, which is precisely why I feel like I should share the experience."

Check out the rest of the article here.

Maybe this means that Bean will be early, too!

16 August 2010

Bean's First Laundry Day

Come on, go ahead and tell me this isn't the cutest thing you've ever seen hanging over a stairwell.

I embarked on Bean's first laundry day today, since we're actually close enough to Bean Day to necessitate clean baby clothes and blankets.

It was very exciting.

Tillamook kept guard, making sure no harm came to Bean's wardrobe.

I'm a little, teeny, tiny bit afraid that someone who is in dire need of newborn to three-month, non-gender-specific baby clothes will somehow wander around the back of our house, happen upon this hanging miracle and declare, "Jackpot!" before stealing it all. It's a fear that I also experience when I leave my cart unattended in the aisle of the grocery store. In all reality, I think the only foe I have to worry about is our grumpy UPS man, who probably wouldn't think it's cute and mumble something about a falling hazard, but who cares what he thinks anyways? I'll just sic Tillamook on him.

12 August 2010

Let's Get This Show on the Road!

In complete honesty, I have enjoyed being pregnant these past eight and half months, but there are parts of me that are really ready to be not pregnant anymore. Is that bad?

I made a list.

Things I Am Looking Forward To Regarding Not Being Pregnant Anymore:
-We get to meet Bean! Is it possible to miss someone you've never met? Because that's what I feel like during mundane activities almost every day: "Gosh, going to the grocery store/taking a walk/ laying on the couch being lazy/(fill in the blank as appropriate) would have been so much cooler if Bean were here to do it with us."
-Clothes--Bean's AND mine. We get to choose gender-specific clothes for Bean (not that we're super into pink fluffy everything for girls and blue trucks for boys, but it would be nice to know if I can get that cute dress I saw on Zulily or not), and I get to wear my old tried-and-true pre-maternity clothes again (eventually) because everybody in the entire world seems to find cuter/better fitting maternity clothes than me. And it's starting to get frustrating.
-Taking photos of Bean. Nonstop.
-Finally being able to refer to Bean by his or her real name that we picked out, which I have been maddeningly NOT sharing here because my parents read this blog and they don't want to know the names until the baby's born.
-Not having to take a zillion supplements anymore. Just a multivitamin and some vitamin D will do, thank you.
-Fewer trips to the bathroom. Hallelujah!
-Being able to sleep on my back again. I think I'm going to do nothing but sleep on my back for months and months after Bean is born (well, when I can actually catch some Zs, that is)

On the negative side, I think I will actually miss my baby bump. I can't really express how exactly at the moment, but I have the feeling being able to see my feet again will be a tiny disappointment. And I'm sure that having to let Bean out of my sight, much less out of my personal space bubble, will be minorly traumatic.

But let's focus on the positive! Six weeks to go!

10 August 2010

Ten Things Tuesday

Ten Things That Made Me Smile This Week:
1. Our entire anniversary weekend, the extent to which I blogged about it (scroll down), and the way that Kip and I have both been giddily happy about the whole thing.

2. Watching Kip finish his first triathlon! I told him I'd do it with him next year. Um, yeah, let's see about that....

3. Having the midwives teach me how to poke around my belly and feel different parts of Bean! I got to feel his/her head (it was about four inches wide!!!!!!!) and his/her back. I already knew where arms and legs were, since Bean makes those (painfully) obvious about every hour or so.

4. Successfully training Tillamook for at least a day: He jumped into Bean's crib because he thought he had no other way out of the windowsill, so I sprayed him with a water bottle until he got the message that he should have found another way out. Ten minutes later, he found himself stuck in the windowsill again and guess what he did? He jumped over the bookshelf instead! And then he did it again later in the day! I don't know if I'm proud of myself or him, but the fact of the matter is that he wouldn't jump in the crib because he knew he'd get wet, and that, folks, is what I call successful training.....we'll just see if he remembers today.

5. The sleep-inducing tincture that I got from the midwives. I've been enjoying reading "John Adams" late into the night when I can't sleep, thinking about how legions of third-trimester mothers-to-be are going through the same thing, but seriously, insomnia gets old after about, um, twenty minutes. I don't even care that the tincture is all herby and kind of weird tasting.

6. Here's a shocker: it's raining. Why does that make me smile? Because at least the weather committed to something. Yesterday it was all sunny and beautiful for five minutes and then cloudy and dreary, and then sunny again, and then cloudy again and it really freaked me out. Today it's just one of those rains where you know you'll stay inside, read, and have soup for lunch.

7. Our invitations for Bean's baptism came in the mail. I'm a TOTAL sucker for stationery.

8. Finishing the giant jar of dehydrated strawberries from last fall when I went through my dehydrating food phase. Sure, the intent was to use them over the winter (you know, when you can't find them in the grocery store), but I only recently realized the pure and simple culinary joy that is dehydrated strawberries over honey-nut Cheerios in the morning. Plus, I feel like the dehydrating food phase was officially good for something now.

9. Realizing that having Bean in a month or so means that I don't have to take so many supplements anymore. I'm pretty much done with feeling like my grandma every morning with the prenatal and the vitamin D and the omega-3s and the iron...and the...and the.....

10. Last, but not least, BIG NEWS! (Drum roll, please) That article I submitted to OffbeatMama.com?

It's being published on August 23rd!!!!!!!!
Which makes me a pretty legitimate writer, I think.
And that's been making me smile ever since I found out.
Like this ---> :-D

09 August 2010

Anniversary Weekend Wonderfulness, Part 2

The adventure continued...

...with a waffle breakfast and a celebratory Blessing Cup.

And then we went out to the Shrine of St. Therese and renewed our vows at the regular Sunday service. It was beautiful. Kip and I got to pull the ropes to ring the church bell since it was our special day, and I'm pretty sure our five-year-old selves would have enjoyed it no less than we did in our twenties. We laughed and rang it for awhile, simply because we could, enjoying the sound echoing against the water outside and the beach rocks that form the chapel's walls. Father Thomas invited us up to the front of the sanctuary after the homily and, in true FT fashion, joked, "Obviously, they really need to get married!" upon observing my round physique. Everybody except for the old lady sitting behind our friend, Natalie, got the joke (especially after FT explained that a year ago, he'd been in New Hampshire performing our wedding) and laughed. The Old Lady Sitting Behind Natalie? Apparently she let out a chorus of tsk, tsks and said "What a shame!" over and over again, missing the correction.
We've chosen to find it hilarious.
Finally getting to say our vows and have our rings blessed again in the place we would've gotten married if it weren't for about 3,000 pesky miles and about a hundred relatives was...well, there aren't really any words for it. We loved it. After the vows and the blessing, Kip was invited to kiss the bride again (that's me!) and then we helped Father Thomas serve communion (Old Lady Sitting Behind Natalie blew past me...maybe she doesn't drink the wine, but I doubt that was the reason). After the service, as we stood on the steps outside, Sarah Powers' dad (of the Sarah and James wedding on Saturday) came over and offered me Sarah's bouquet, which he had found sitting at the bottom of the cross outside the chapel. I was honored to accept it.

We got to wear jeans because it's Juneau and gosh, everybody here values comfort far over fashion. It was definitely a perk.

Since my bouquet was silk (and since I really didn't fancy the idea of Kip going up my skirt in front of family and friends to retrieve a garter), we didn't do the bouquet or garter toss at our wedding, but I got my chance a year later! Kip and Natalie vied for position!

And Natalie was ultimately victorious!

Only 364 more days until next year! I can't wait.

08 August 2010

A Year or Two Ago Today...

Two Years Ago Today...

This guy:

Brought me here:

And asked me to do this:

Which We Did One Year Ago Today:

And I've been feeling like this about the whole thing ever since:

Thank you, Kip, for being the best sing-along-to-the-radio-in-the-car, go-out-and-get-me-Fruity-Pebbles-when-I'm-having-a-craving, forces-me-to-try-new-things-that-I-end-up-loving, always-loves-me-for-who-I-really-am, inspires-me-everyday friend and husband a girl could ask for. And for always letting me blog about you. You are my heart, forever.

07 August 2010

Anniversary Weekend Wonderfulness

Kip and I have been having a hoot of an anniversary weekend! One day simply isn't enough to celebrate our love, so a full weekend it is! So far, it's been everything an anniversary celebration should be--lots of relaxing, lots of simply enjoying life with each other, and lots of yummy food (because I'm eight months pregnant, and food is a very big part of my life right now).

I surprised Kip yesterday with a stay at Pearson's Pond, the type of bed and breakfast where you feel a whoosh of calm as soon as you open the door and step in. The owners knew our stay was in celebration of our anniversary, so they left chocolates and sparkling cider (non-alcoholic, how sweet) in our room. Lucky for us, it stopped raining long enough in the evening to light a campfire and make some s'mores in the midst of the garden, which still smelled like rain and had that really great drippy look that gardens get after they've been thoroughly soaked.

After finally dragging ourselves out of our room in the morning (seriously, Zen monasteries aren't as peaceful as this place...it's impossible to convince yourself to do anything productive, including get out of your super comfortable canopy bed in the morning to visit the super peaceful bathroom with its fluffy robes and happy smelling toiletries), we took off for the JPD triathlon.

That's right, folks, my husband competed in a triathlon after blissing out at a B&B.

I can't decide if it was the perfect preparation for such a grueling feat or the absolute worst preparation. Either way, he did a great job, and I really enjoyed cheering him on through the event.

Feeling confident before the race

10 laps in the pool down, now just a 10-mile bike ride and a 5K run to go!

He's off!

I drove out to the halfway point of the bike ride and cheered him and the rest of the triathletes on (while I sat and ate snacks...some of them may or may not have been offended)

Following an unfortunate "Where's my iPod?" experience, Kip was a bit behind after the biking leg. He transitioned into the running phase (now happily with music) in record time.

Sarah Hieb was the first place finisher!
How fitting that they crossed police tape at the finish line.

That's my man! I'm SO proud of him!

And the guy on the left is the guy that beat my man by about twenty seconds, oh well.

Fist pumps abounded in celebration

And he was kind enough to share some victory sweat with me and Bean.

The 2010 JPD Triathletes!

Then, as if a short vacation and a triathlon weren't enough to get done in 36 hours, we drove out to the Shrine for Sarah and James' wedding this afternoon. It was beautiful. Now we're both ready for a nap.

Tomorrow is our real anniversary, and we have no plans other than to renew our vows at the weekly mass at the Shrine. I can't wait.