The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

The past week has been one giant obstacle course of emotions around here, and not just because my preggo emotions have me in constant flux between laughing hysterically (“a puppy playing tug of war with a child!”), sobbing (“a lost sign for a puppy/cat/box turtle”), or angrily storming around (insert imagined injustices). So let’s just break it down.

The Good…

I flew to KY a week ago to spend the weekend with my family. My granny fell and broke her hip a couple weeks ago, which, while truly awful, meant that I spent lots of quality time chilling with her in the rehab center. We did puzzles, went through potential baby names (she rejected most of mine), and got to catch up on everything happening in life. On Saturday, my mom and best friend from home threw me an absolute perfect baby shower, attended by the women who defined my childhood. Friends, my friends’ moms, family, mentors- I can’t even describe how special it is to be celebrating this baby boy with those women. We played games, had a rocking devotional by my mom, shed a few tears, and our boy got some of the most amazing gifts ever. Just look at that quilt that my friend made:

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PRIMARY COLORS AND TINY CLOTHES. Cannot even deal.

Not shown are the handmade bibs, the books with notes for our son, the adorable clothes, and the practical necessities. The shower was themed after one of my favorite French books The Little Prince, and the dedication to the theme was on point. My mom has become a Pinterest convert, which is how we ended up with this cake…

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Behold, the cake that I shoved in my face all weekend long.

…and of course I brought just a leg back home to James, adding it to his lunch without explanation. He might never recover. Brunch is my favorite, and showers are the best, so a SHOWER BRUNCH OF FOOD was perfect. I was so busy eating and socializing that I don’t really have any other pictures, except for this one of the homemade granola I squirreled back to DC.

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Not shown: The casserole made of sausage, cream cheese, regular cheese, and croissant dough. BLESS US ALL.

The picture is obviously deceptive, as it makes my weekend dining look healthy, but it was more like a binger of breakfast casserole and cake for days on end.

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Must work on my casual funny picture face.

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Other superpowers include having my lips disappear into my skin when I don’t wear lipstick.

As I am deeply loyal/dependent on my KY hairdresser, I made sure to cut my mangy locks while home. And as anyone knows, a fresh haircut is like having a new superpower. I also got to spend some time with good friends, after which my heart was so full that I had to quote my favorite philosophizing car thief of few words:maxresdefault-2

#DomToretto4lyfe

The Bad…

All those amazing gifts, the ones that made me feel like our entire world in KY came together to help us welcome this boy, wrapping their love around him in tangible pieces? Yeah, Southwest lost the bag with every. last. gift inside. (The severed cake baby leg was safe in another bag, not that it was much consolation.)

The Ugly…

I spent all week crying on the phone with various Southwest representatives, none of which were helpful, some of which were downright rude. One lady told me that if I didn’t want to lose baby gifts, I shouldn’t check them, which I realize might sound ok in theory… but how do you carry on 50 pounds of baby gifts? She then said that Southwest deemed bag tracking too expensive and unnecessary (they only scan your bag at the initial drop-off), and that maybe I just don’t travel enough to understand how things work. I cried, I pleaded, I ranted, I got no results.*

But then some more good!

Late last night, in a last ditch Hail Mary, I called the baggage people at Midway one more time. I tried to keep it together, but about 3 seconds into the conversation I started sobbing and babbling and gasping out words like “QUILT” and “IRREPLACEABLE” and “FIRST BABY EMOTIONS.” The woman, a saint by the name of Donna, was just the night shift bag worker, but she announced that she would FIND MY BAG, and off she went to personally inspect every bag in Midway, before she started contacting all other airports and getting results.

And at 2am, Donna called to tell me that my bag was in New Hampshire, after a brief trip through New Mexico. At which point I cried again and declared that I would be naming all my children after her.

And now it’s Friday, and we have pretty chill plans for the weekend, which also includes shower #3 of our three weekends of celebrations. Hoping for nothing but good for the next little while.

(*In fairness to Southwest: the service I received was so terrible, that I was ready to change my stance from Southwest-gusher, to I Will Never Fly Them Again. I was ready to cut up our Southwest cards and label all their proclamations of service as TOTAL LIES. I still think that their baggage system and many of the people I dealt with are not what they should be. But Donna was such a hero that I am in awe. Plus, they did apologize for the exceptional rudeness of the one employee who tried to victim-shame me for my lost bag and offer some vouchers, so I must withdraw the angry texts I sent to everyone in my life declaring them The Official Worst Ever.)

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30 weeks.

Spring 2016-120Instead of just slipping bump shots and pregnancy tidbits into other posts, today I am going to devote a whole post to the exciting milestone that is 30 weeks of carrying this kid. I know you are just pumped, right? Probably almost as excited as James was when I made him take a million photos so I could have one decent one, as pregnant women are not exactly prone to being easy to deal with. I briefly had a knotted chambray shirt over this dress, but James and I both stared at it before dying of laughter at how bad it looked, something like Daisy Duke’s frump cousin, to quote James. Of course, halfway through laughing, I paused to remind James that my hormones are like Russian Roulette, and he should just be aware that this exact same exchange could have ended with me in tears for days, had the hormone gods declared it such.

30 weeks! Which means that sometime in the last two weeks we crossed from people telling me “don’t worry, you have time for ____________ (name picking, nursery planning, pediatrician finding, insurance contacting, booster shot getting, childcare organizing, etc.)” to people informing me that we really need to get on things. BELIEVE ME – I KNOW. I like to think that we are making progress on the name front at least, when really it just means that one night James and I chilled on the couch for an hour and hit refresh on an auto name generator until we came up with the killer first/middle combo of Elroy Digby. Y’all, the fact that the internet is producing this means that someone is using these names. I did a Buzzfeed quiz to help me pick a name, inputting that I like things that are “classic” and “traditional” and “could apply to any man over the age of 70” and it gave me the name… Wheat. Like the grain. In what world is that classic? Are they just using classic the way that the wedding industry uses it, as a generic adjective to apply to whatever you want to justify as your taste? What happened to adjectives MEANING SOMETHING?

But we do have a dresser and a carseat! Not in the car, or stocked with anything useful, but they exist.

It’s strange, carrying a life that lots of people know about, but only I really know. I’m not sure that makes much sense. James and I talk about him all the time, my mom and I gab about him, my girlfriends have to listen to alllll my thoughts on everything, but for now — he is mine. I feel him all day,  his kicks and shoves and oh-so-irritating slow attempts to drill his way out of my side when I am trying to sleep. I imagine them as actual responses to things that are happening around me, as if he knows. He spends lots of time kicking while I work on my dissertation, which perhaps explains his intense feelings about 19th century French novels, demonstrated by the fact that his peak movement every week is during my Wednesday evening seminar class. This kid has STRONG opinions about Emma Bovary, and you bet he lets me know.

Because of this, of his silent but felt emotions, I find myself imagining a personality for his semi-sassy, energetic, kind of naughty little self. When I get to the top of a bridge lift in Barre and he slams a foot into my back, knocking me down, I like to imagine him giggling. When he wants to keep me up at night, I imagine a fun boy who doesn’t want to stop playing. When he moves and rolls and tosses, it lets me know him just a little.

And I like him. I mean, I also live in terror that I will never sleep again once he comes and that he will cry for hours and no one will want to be our friends anymore. But I think he’s going to be a pretty fun little buddy, because it already feels like he is.

30weeks

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Celebrations.

Spring 2016-98A lot of celebrations are happening around here, starting with this past weekend. I have showers to throw or attend for three weekends in a row, and I can’t imagine anything better. Yes, it means lots of baking and eschewing healthy eating — which might have had me leaning over the toilet at midnight last night, pretending it was morning sickness when really it was just a lack of self restraint when it comes to Easter candy and Cosco mac-n-cheese — but it also means concentrated time spent with people I love, celebrating all the milestones of life.

The first celebration of the weekend was a shower for my soon-to-be sister Liz down in Charlottesville. I could not be more pumped about her wedding. And everyone else could not be more stressed about me being in the wedding, as my due date is… shall we say… not exactly long after I will be walking down the aisle to stand beside her. But! I routinely remind baby boy that he needs to come out two weeks early, or stay put until his due date, OR ELSE. In the meantime, I love getting to take part in all the pre-wedding festivities. My other SIL and I spent Friday night baking up a storm (because obviously it made sense to put off all cooking until 9 o’clock the night before), before the shower. Somehow a huge portion of our friend group has all moved within a couple blocks of each other on the eastern side of Capitol Hill, and our baking night turned into an open house of all our people chilling around the living room while we threw together quiches and fancy finger foods. Saturday morning, it was up bright and early to head to Charlottesville, with a necessary detour to Chick-fil-a for no fewer than 20 chicken minis. Here are a couple pics from the classy shower.

Lizshower Spring 2016-102 Spring 2016-103BUNTING AND MIMOSAS. The very best things. I’m pretty sure that some people might think it strange to hear me declare that bunting one of the best DIY investments I have ever done, but it is. Truly a versatile decoration. Spring 2016-104 Spring 2016-105SISTERS. I HAVE SISTERS.  Spring 2016-109And of course, the couple who chambrays together, stays together. Spring 2016-111Saturday night we headed back to DC to get ready for our traditional early morning Easter breakfast. This meant setting out my monkey bread to rise and switching the chalkboard to say “HE IS RISEN!” instead of “MIMOSA BAR!,” though to be fair, somehow the two phrases do seem to get conflated pretty frequently on Easter Sunday.  Spring 2016-112 Spring 2016-113 Spring 2016-114 Spring 2016-115I don’t have pictures of church, the best part of Easter Sunday, as we celebrate the miracle of the resurrection with all the best hymns that have me fist pumping in church in a manner that makes James just a tad embarrassed. But if you can’t fist pump for Jesus beating death, than good heavens when can you?

Happy Easter all! I hope your weekend was full of celebrating the most important things with the most important people. I know that this post is mostly the lighthearted side of Easter weekend celebrations, but I would encourage you to go read Erin’s post about Easter that perfectly hits at the beautiful and often missed truth of Easter.

[PS: Unrelated side story: I slipped out in the middle of church on Sunday to go to the bathroom because pregnant women basically go every .2 seconds. On my way back in I passed a table with some decorations and what I assumed were candy eggs. They were not. To anyone who happened to see the pregnant women trying to eat the decorative plastic eggs in the middle of church, thank you for looking the other way and leaving her some dignity.]

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Awesome blossoms and cliché walks.

Spring 2016-74Spring 2016-75Spring 2016-76Spring 2016-91Spring 2016-82Spring 2016-81Spring 2016-97Spring 2016-95Spring 2016-87Spring 2016-79Spring 2016-89Spring 2016-84Spring 2016-96I have a pretty firm stance against going to the Tidal Basin while the cherry blossoms are blooming. I’ve been swayed in this for photo shoots a couple times (like here and here), and of course I do love a good 10 mile run, blossoms or not, but I think the last time we just went to wander the basin as tourists was before I moved out here. It’s not that they aren’t lovely – they are. But DC turns into a total madness when those darn flowers bloom. The waves of tourists are insufferable, turning a pleasant stroll into an elbow shoving shuffle. And the parking? NOT POSSIBLE.

But this year the blossoms surprised everyone and bloomed weeks early. Thus, while there were still some tourists who redirected towards the trees, the masses that show up for the festival are not yet in sight. Maybe it is my crazy pregnancy hormones, but I actually wanted to go do the most cliché DC wander, so I convinced James to do an early morning date with me one day before work.

We pregamed the blossoms with some breakfast at Pineapple and Pearls, as I am a sucker for new places and just had to try those various sticky buns. In a true moment of miraculous intervention, we then managed to find a parking spot without driving around long at all, and joined the smallish throngs to marvel at the flowers. James tried to direct attention to the engineering marvel of Tidal Basin pipe work instead of the trees, and I briefly cried over the memory of a children’s book I once read. We became one more of the many people taking bump/engagement/wedding/family/insert occasion here photos and reveled in the perfect spring morning while I rocked all my best awkward poses.

[Sidenote: there were some old dudes fishing in the basin who cared not at all that the festival was happening. They were planted under some of the prettiest trees with the best light and overhanging branches — prime photoshoot spots. And indeed, numerous trios of classy couples and zealous photographers started approaching them…. only to be driven back by the stench of dead fish that the guys had scattered about them. Genius. If you want to be left in peace during peak bloom, bring your rotting fish.]

Sometimes I want to avoid cliché DC experiences almost out of principle. But then I get up early, trek around the Tidal Basin, marvel at the flowering trees and think, maybe cliché isn’t always a bad thing.

Here’s to morning dates, pretty blooms, and spring weekends.

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Around this home… there is no subway tile.

Spring 2016-59I cannot emphasize how much we love our new home. I mean, we loved our old place. It was the first place we lived, a place that was cozy and had us smack in the center of a perfect area of the city. But it wasn’t without its…. charms. Our new apartment is a decided step up, and sometimes we just sit around feeling like real adults and listening to the dishwasher purr in the background. We congratulate ourselves on upgrading, and stand firm in our belief that having a kind of crummy first apartment as newlyweds is a blessing, because anything feels like a huge step up.

Still.

I thought about putting some pictures up here, and I kept on stopping. First because it seemed weird and strangely pretentious, as I am not at all a home decor maven. Every decision takes me eons of stress, until I finally default into the primary colors and Ikea classics. But secondly, it always seems like people who do share pictures of where they live all live in the same house. Everything is white and shiny, done in tasteful unique pieces carefully curated from vintage stores and the occasional West Elm purchase. Things are sparse, colors are muted, and lush house plants gleam in every corner. They don’t seem to own trashcans or books, or if they do, only aesthetic ones, and I have no clue how their couch cushions stay so plump. They have white subway tile covering the bathroom and kitchen backsplash, carefully selected to match the already white everything else. They have fresh flowers. Their homes are beautiful, and usually owned, and tailored to an exquisite taste that I love.

But we rent, and will rent for awhile, and that means limited options and few renovations possible. And around this home, there is no subway tile. Which I am actually fine with, as our old place had a version of it, and do you know how hard it is to keep calk mold-free in a bathroom? It is impossible, and subway tile is basically a snazzy mold factory – albeit the prettiest one ever. Around this home, there are no plants, because I kill them all. Around this home, we have to store things on top of cabinets, even if it looks bad, because that is all the space we have. Around this home, there is a delicate balance of the practicality we need, the aesthetics we want, and the constraints that we have to deal with. What small apartment budget living teaches you is how to mold your own style into whatever space you have, pushing it into little corners and adapting it to awkward nooks.

And I decided I wanted to share that. I love our place, I’m proud of it and the things we love that fill it. So! Here it is, in all its I-waited-to-take-pics-until-it-was-cleaner-than-usual-but-left-off-the-bedrooms-because-of-a-laundry-bomb glory.Spring 2016-61Ah, the mantle moose. Maybe my favorite belonging. It started as a joke Christmas decoration that we put there before unpacking anything else, but I’ve grown attached. He just looks so regal in between our home-state maps.

One of our biggest decor/home dilemmas is what to do with all the books, because we have (too?) many, and not the pretty coordinating kind, but the all over the place liberal arts grads kind. We managed to purge an entire shelf worth while moving, but then opted to just fill shelves fuller, ditching lots of framed pics that we had in our old place, but clinging to my obsessive W collection. You also might notice the TV wedged in the bookshelf. TVs are tricky things. I hate how they look and refuse to have them be a focus of the room. But I also marvel at how so many beautiful homes that people splash across the internet don’t have TVs visible. Do they hide them? Do they not actually like to watch Office marathons on their couch, feet on the coffee table??? I mean, I love things looking good, but I also love all my people sitting on the floor, eating bagel bites, and watching The Bachelor. In the absence of a room that could be a TV/den, we just have to make due.apartmentSpring 2016-64Spring 2016-65I almost cried when we managed to find an apartment where I could have an office– and by that I mean a tiny 5×5 alcove off the living room. I wish it had a nice streamlined desk and comfy chair, but for now we are making do with the old desk from my grandma’s garage and a metal folding chair (that is coincidentally also from her garage). But it’s mine, it has all my dissertation stuff, and it is perfect. It also lets me go crazy with my collage wall, since James gently suggested that we keep our walls slightly less cluttered here than in our last place. Spring 2016-66Spring 2016-68BEHOLD THE DISHWASHER. Definitely our favorite family member. And though I miss the gas stove of our old place, I do marvel at how much cleaner everything stays without that filmy stuff that gathers in gas stove homes. Mostly I just love that this kitchen is open to the living room, keeping me a part of things when I am cooking or cleaning and people are having fun in there. My middle-child FOMO is satisfied at last.Spring 2016-69Fun details that no one noticed in our old place because the kitchen was dark and cut off! Spring 2016-70Spring 2016-71Ok fine — one last closeup of the Mantle Moose of Might. Spring 2016-72Home. It used to be a tiny place in Eastern Market, and now it is a much bigger, though still small, place on the edge of Capitol Hill. Not perfect, but perfectly working for what we need and most of what we want. I couldn’t ask for more.

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Taking Stock

takingstockMaking : Slow but steady progress on the first chapter of my dissertation. (30 pages! Only a million more to go!)
Cooking : Tomato soup and grilled cheese, as its become a weekend tradition that I look forward to.
Drinking : Frothy iced coffee drinks that I should be ashamed of… but once I passed that glucose test, I was all “BOTTOMS UP!”
Reading: Books about shifting perceptions of gender in nineteenth century French novels and Emily Oster’s Expecting Better. Still trying to at least read ONE book before this baby comes.
Wanting: To just read this month’s Real Simple that sits alone and neglected on the counter.
Looking: Through photos from the wedding I photographed Saturday – my last wedding for the foreseeable future!
Playing:  A shamefully good dystopian teen fiction audiobook about fairy tales, cyborgs, and true love amongst high schoolers – who are also trying to save the world from the plague.
Wasting: Money, as I caved and turned the heat back on this morning because it just got too cold over the weekend.
Sewing: The tiny tear in James’ pants… from 4 months ago.
Wishing: That Ben had picked JoJo, because I just love her so much. Then I remind myself that now we get her as the Bachelorette, so I guess this is still a win.
Enjoying: The fact that Capitol Hill has spring recess this week, so I might actually get to eat dinner with my husband a couple nights.
Waiting: For some divine moment of inspiration where I suddenly have decision skills about anything that should go in our nursery. Kid, you might just have to content yourself with a dresser, because that’s all we got.
Liking: These sandals. Pretty sure footwear will be the only realm where I can get excited about clothing this summer, so I might break my long hatred of sandals and give these a try.
Wondering: If I am hardy of heart enough to brave the Tidal Basin to see the cherry blossoms that are blooming crazy early this year.
Loving: Avocado toast – all day, erry day. Topped with a pathetically poached egg (PLEASE TEACH ME YOUR WAYS, YE PEOPLE WHO SUCCESSFULLY POACH EGGS!).
Hoping: That the dentist doesn’t notice on Thursday that I gave up flossing months weeks ago.
Marveling: At the crazy kicks that rock my insides over and over throughout the day.
Needing: Reese’s Easter Eggs. Ok fine – maybe not needing. But at least craving.
Wearing: All the amazing maternity hand-me-downs that have poured in from awesome women in my life. Between those and some amazing gift card purchases, I am loving my elastic-waisted, flowy-shirted wardrobe and spent nary a penny.
Following: The two strands of March Madness filling the nation- basketball, and presidential primaries.
Noticing: That every year I can’t help but get giddy for spring, even if winter was good, short, and mild.
Knowing: That this spring will fly by and before we know it- summer will be here with this baby and all sorts of big changes.
Thinking:  That we aren’t ready at all.
Feeling: That no one ever is.
Bookmarking: Things to do/eat in New York when James and I go next month for a little mini babymoon. The original plan was somewhere far south and warm, but I got scared off by Zika, so we are just going to go chill in the city and eat all the things.

I’ve been really apathetic about blogging lately, but I always love the exercise of stopping to think through the little things filling our lives.

Happy first week of spring!

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Top 10 from last weekend.

Spring 2016-38Spring 2016-39bumpbudsSpring 2016-43Spring 2016-50Spring 2016-55Spring 2016-58Spring 2016-57Spring 2016-56Spring 2016-40

Ten things that made last weekend awesome, in no particular order. Followed by not awesome things that are so obnoxious that they don’t get their own numbers, earning instead one long line with commas.

1. The weather. SPRING. I know it is coldish again this week, but it’s a coming.

2. First picnic of the year!

3. Lazy picnicking, which meant grabbing Good Stuff burgers and fries instead of taking the time to pack and plan.

4. Couple besties who are having a baby a mere two months ahead of us. Matching bumps and built in friends.

5. Trees that are blooming insanely early and stopping me in awe.

6. Starting Saturday with a date to the Pretzel Bakery for pretzel sliders and Nutella stuffed pretzel bombs.

7. Wearing this sweatshirt all weekend long. It is a gift from some of my very favorite students, for whom I was maman poule last summer in France, and I am obsessed. Plus, being pregnant means that once you find an outfit that is fitting and you are loving at the moment… you wear it like 5 times in a row.

8. Did indeed make this spinach tomato pasta bake, and it was awesome, not to mention cheap and easy. (Shout out for Aldi almost having everything I needed for groceries this week. Anyone who shops at Aldi knows that the trade off for the world’s cheapest groceries is the knowledge that you might only succeed with 50% of your list.)

9. Continued our process of spiritual discipline as we prepare for our baby by hitting confirmation class at our church…. and by watching the next installment of the Fast and Furious franchise, Fast Five. Yes, I realize they are all the same, and yes I love them all. Am I considering decorating our nursery exclusively with quotes from Dom Toretto? Maybe. #ilivemylifeaquartermileatatime

10. Lazy Sundays with James.

And the not-fun: taxes, Daylight Savings time, taxes, Trump supporters who tried to persuade me as I waited in line for hours at the DC primary , taxes, a cold that has come back again even though I feel like I just beat it, taxes, last pair of pre-pregnancy pants no longer buttoning, TAXES.

But all in all, I’d say the good far outweighed the bad.

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