Sunday, July 31, 2011

Waverly Farmer's Market

Saturday morning at Baltimore's Waverly Farmer's Market in pictures.




The bounty I brought home.  Fried zucchini blossoms for dinner.
What's your weekend's flavor?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ready... Set... Wait....

After two weeks of "nesting" (read: "frenzied preparation panic"), the relentless to-do list shrunk substantially.  The fully geared-up crib, dresser, and diaper bag collect dust.  The birth center bags clutter up corners of the apartment.  Anxiety about sudden early labor wanes; anticipation about actual labor and motherhood fill in the gap.

No complaints about a little extra time ... yet.  Each day my belly tightens more, and Ramlet kicks at my right ribcage to remind me he's coming.  Later I'll work on some other project, but for now I'll rest with my swollen feet propped up and sipping some organic pregnancy tea.

Thanks for the nail polish suggestions--I went with the first vote of Chop-Sticking to My Story!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Remaining Me

My due date approaches faster final exams before Christmas Break.  I've taken classes, read books, and practiced breathing/relaxation techniques.  Still, no one knows the exact form of this pinnacle moment until it actually unfolds.

Regardless birthing, and motherhood, will become a part of who I am ... part of my identity ... just like my love for vibrant pedicures.

OPI:  quick-drying, long-lasting colors with bizarre names.
If I hold my breath I can still reach my toes so there's time for a little glamour before the big day.  Line up, OPI collection.  Sound off: Suzi Says Da (chocolate-y brown), Blue My Mind (sapphire blue), Chop-Sticking to My Story (burnt orange), Alpine Snow (crisp white), Java Mauve-A (ballet-y pink), Black Cherry Chutney (dark purple with red sparkles), and Sand in My Suit (iridescent beige).

Which color should brighten the birthing room?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Worse Than Doing Laundry

The one thing worse than doing laundry is having laundry to do.

Old, mismatched machines.
Monday morning I threw the brand new organic cotton cloth diapers in the washing machine (apparently cloth diapers need to be washed/dried a few times to maximize absorbency).  I expected to walk away, feeling maternal, as I listened to the pleasant chug-chug-chug of progress.  Instead, an awful grinding sound begged for mercy from behind the laundry closet doors.  Frantically, I rescued the diapers from the cantankerous sudsy pit.  While Husband rinsed the prefolds in the tub, I marched to the leasing office full of pregnant indignation.  The washing machine is on its third round of maintenance issues.  And, the replacement dryer's setting--like on/off--have never worked.  Note: we've lived here less than two months!

Fast forward a direct conversation with the complex manager about the problems (including a moment of pointedly smoothing my shirt over my protruding belly) and a visit from the entire maintenance team to validate my complaints.  Goodbye old machines.

The icky linoleum under the machines.           Sherbet inspects my rushed cleaning job.

Hello new, energy efficient models.  

All these knobs and settings to learn ....
Time to triumphantly throw in another load.

Have you overcome a challenge lately?  Or, are you procrastinating laundry day?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Synonyms for Adorable

In the midst of the crazy heat wave on the East Coast, I'm falling in love with knitted and crocheted baby clothes.  Confession: I made the denim blue blend hat and booties, but the rest are gifts from friends.  How can you not fall in love with these even if it is over 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside?

Which one should Ramlet debut first once autumn arrives?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Not "Like New"--More, "Like Me"

My world buzzes with baby preparation.  Some call this nesting, but it feels more like frantic uncertainty.  I've need to arrange Ramlet's clothes in his dresser, reorganize my desk (which absorbed craft supplies from Ramlet's dresser), wash/dry the cloth diapers at least four times (to maximize absorbency--who knew?), pick up a random baby items, and pack bags for the birthing center--diaper bag, my bag, snack bag.  Husband can pack his own bag.  And the countdown until labor begins ... sometime?

Sherbet making her less than 11 pounds seem much, much larger.
Even with the above list, right now I'm stretched out on the couch with my favorite new thing: a sock full of uncooked rice heated in the microwave for about 30 seconds.  Ah.  A little relief for the "round ligament pain" (pregnancy side effect #1,969,210).  I would be in the glider, but ... (see above photo).

Before: ugly, scary cushions.
Speaking of the glider, I impulsively checked Craiglist one afternoon in the midst of packing boxes hoping for a way to avoid shelling out a few hundred dollars on a new glider.  Rocking soothes me, however Ramlet's preferences are yet to be determined so I'd rather be thrifty.  One advertisement looked promising so I contacted the seller and arranged to a test sitting.  Turns out the seller lived about 10 row-houses down from our old apartment.  Once we verified the glider was a good fit (I'm vertically challenged), Husband carried it home.

The scratchy green cushions begged for replacement.  I'm not fond of used upholstery since there isn't really a way to (1) throughly clean it, (2) de-bug it, or (3) get pet scents out of it.  Enter Mom.  (Do you recall her influence on the sari dress process?)

The off-white and dusty cornflower blue check blends with our touch-of-the-seashore living room theme.  The cushions are soft, but firm.  The dragonflies remind me of summer.  It took two fittings (and countless hours by perfectionist Mom), but this glider is more "me" than the $500 one I lusted after in the big-box store.  Sherbet, too, loves the glider.  She adopted it as her #1 Cat Bed of Choice for Overnight Napping.  Looks like I'm going to have some company for the 3AM feedings.  Hopefully I won't accidentally sit on her!

After: zoom in to see Mom's precision on the corner of the cushion.
Ever found something perfectly "you" second-hand?  Any tweaking involved?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Showered with Love

My shower contribution: Lemon Blueberry Cake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing
Mom outdid herself hosting a baby shower for Ramlet and me this past weekend.  Platters of homemade finger sandwiches, salads bursting with summer's best produce, and enough carrots on the veggie platter so assure all attendees might get to eat one before I polished off the rest.  (Note: I told Husband the other day carrots had a better crunch and a more complex flavor than potato chips.  Conclusion: Definitely pregnant.  Concern: How many pounds of carrots does it take to turn Ramlet orange?)

Friends from all stages of my life attended or sent greetings.  Those present decorated onsies for Ramlet, guessed my belly's circumference (the shortest strings won!), and laughingly remembered nursery rhymes.  My three-year-old niece kept the gift unwrapping moving at a brisk pace.  The generosity of friends and family overwhelmed me as each package revealed something adorable or practical (or both) for this next part of life. 

When's the last time love overwhelmed you?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

$10 Beautification Project

Flowers fascinate me.  Their petal shapes and coloration, their fragrances, and their distinct surrounding greenery.  Their names: petunia, daffodil, gladiola, chrysanthemum, lavender, begonia, black-eyed-susan, gardenia, daisy, tulip, dandelion.  In my dreams of permanence, I long for a yard more than a house.  The backyard will be for grilling, vegetable gardens, raspberry bushes, and room to run through a sprinkler.  The front yard will be reserved for a mammoth perennial flower garden punctuated with walkways, benches, and a gurgling fountain or a mysterious statue.

Impatiens.  My favorite shade-friendly small flower.
Until then, Husband and I are content with our huge, though a tad ugly, porch.  The slab concrete floor and solid wall (instead of railings) make the space feel contained for being outdoors.  One trip to Lowes for a bag of dirt and a few forlorn impatiens brighten the atmosphere.  Now hot pink and terra cotta blossoms invite me onto the porch for early morning tea or late afternoon writing.  Meanwhile the half full bag of dirt promises a future gardening adventure, wherever that may be.

Houseplant refuges from the terrors of Sherbet.
What's in your dream yard?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Blueberries on a Hot July Afternoon

To compensate for the lack of road trips this summer, I'm approaching the last few weeks of pregnancy as a quasi-staycation.  My planning notebook, brimming with lists of things to accomplish, contains one deceivingly short list.  The "Fun in Baltimore" list.  Restaurants, art museums, and a few other attractions to check out while I'm not counting down the days until I can take a deep breath again.  Dates with Husband; fun times with friends.  Enter blueberry picking.

Perhaps a few hours in the sun and heat isn't recommended for pregnancy, but I loved it.  Being outside, chatting with friends, and picking about 7 lbs of blueberries (Husband helped).

Staying pale courtesy of my sun hat and lots of sunscreen.
What to do with about 20 cups of blueberries?  Freeze 10 cups.  Eat a few cups over sliced fresh cantaloupe, plain yogurt, or vanilla ice cream.  Throw some pancakes on the griddle.  Bake muffins.  Dream up blueberry banana bread for tomorrow.  Perhaps a Blueberry Lemon Cake to debut over the weekend.  Snacking and baking like this, the blueberries may disappear!

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins
Have you ever gone on a pick-you-own adventure?

Monday, July 11, 2011

... or Not.

The events of the past few weeks exemplify the not-so-ready side of me.  The side that is complaining more than proactive, tired more than organized, and late more than considerate.  For instance ....

The apartment.  As mentioned before the move went exceptionally well and the apartment seemed ready: cleaned, freshly painted walls, and shampooed carpet.  As a few days passed, Husband & I noticed a growing list of little, and not-so-little, problems.  The hot/cold water reversed on the washing machine.  The bathtub and bathroom sink didn't drain properly.  The washing machine died working halfway through the first load of laundry; the dryer tossed clothes for 45 minutes without drying them at all.  The grease trap fell out of the oven hood (wrong size piece jimmied in).  The dishwasher soap dispenser wouldn't shut to start the cycle.  The seal on the oven door was falling off and releasing enough heat to burn you if bumped.  The kitchen drawer and oven fought over space--to open the drawer, push the stove one way; to open the broiler, shove it another.  The light switch in the living room activated none of the outlets.  The towel bar in the bathroom drooped to one side--no level needed to see the sloppy installation.  Perhaps some of the complaining, specifically to the Leasing Office, was justifiable.  The rest, not so much.

Sherbet luxuriates in the afternoon sunshine, "The apartment is adequate despite my pet parent's whining."
The pregnancy.  Last week also included a spur-of-the-moment trip to the midwives to discover yet another strange phenomena deemed "normal" for pregnancy (for those of you who have never been pregnant, the list of side effects is endless to the point where the medical community treats symptoms with a mildly concerned, but joking, manner).  For those worried, Ramlet (etymology: a baby Ramsey is a Ramlet much like a baby pig is a piglet) and I are dandy minus the whole competing for room in my abdominal cavity.  The reassuring midwife, after checking our vitals, looked at my chart to recommend when to come in next and casually mentioned how many weeks along I am.  Hmmmm.  Somehow I missed a week.  Now, do I scramble to get more things off of my pre-baby list or simply par down the list?  Naps currently outrank accomplishments.  Good or not-so-much?

The sari dress--still fits and quite the compliment grabber.
The wedding.  Due to poor communication and planning, Husband & I left barely enough time to make the wedding of friends.  Long story short, we pulled a "Portuguese."  (Note: Of the three Portuguese-American weddings I've attended, almost no one shows up to the actual wedding while the reception brims with well-wishers.  I've even seen a woman in house-clothes, rollers in her hair, transformed into a semi-formal fashionista by the time the reception welcomes the bridal party.)  Only this wedding wasn't Portuguese-American.  And, the doors were locked once the ceremony started, which may have been a smart tactic seeing how Ramlet demanded another comfort break minutes after arrival despite recent relief.  Yeek--need to realize I do not control the clock.

Despite the my less-than-stellar recent approach, life continues to surprise and bless.  Internet connection at home--finally!  Got back our security deposit--the entire amount--from the last lease.   Blueberry picking with friends--more on that next time.

What's good in your life?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Vacation: Documenting v. Experiencing

Unaware of Husband's documentation.

                    "But it was more than that,
More even than her voice, and ours, among
The meaningless plungings of water and the wind,
Theatrical distances, bronze shadows heaped
On high horizons, mountainous atmospheres
Of sky and sea.
It was her voice that made
The sky acutest at its vanishing."

Wallace Stevens, from "The Idea of Order at Key West"


A handful of sea shells, some from the Atlantic and some from the Pacific.

Husband's shrewd eye for pictures, my selective pocketing of sea shells and ticket stubs--innocuous documentation of time well-lived.  A certain amount of capturing and collecting optimizes memory keeping, but I'm skeptical of the frenzied photographer and, especially, the fanatical videographer.  Too much time behind the lens shifts the focus from reveling in the moment into an abstract editorial mode.  If extreme, this disconnect blushes inauthenticity over everyone else's experience.  Still, a little proactive documenting makes for scrapbook pages to savor when vacations are distant, for a pocket full of sea shells to discover while running errands.  

How do you balance experiencing your travels with documenting them?