Monday, December 31


I've been trying to avoid all the pitfalls of worry that loom large in this whole pregnancy thing, but it's starting to freak me out that I haven't felt the baby move yet. It doesn't help that I just got a postcard from a good friend who is due a week before me, and she writes about how active her little fetus is being.

I know I'm only 17 weeks, and most movement is felt between weeks 15 and 22. Intellectually I know this. But I'm still worrying. I feel little weird things every once in a while, but nothing like "butterflies."

I can't wait for my January ultrasound to resolve this.

Saturday, December 29

Do this--no this

I have begun to dig into the avalanche that is parenting advice books, and it's giving me a headache. Never before did I realize what amount of thought goes into such simple considerations.

Do you allow your crying baby to self-soothe so s/he is a better sleeper as an adult, or do you comfort it immediately so it is reassured of your constant, loving presence? Do you breastfeed on a schedule so it knows consistency or do you feed on demand so his/her attempts at communication are acknowledged?

Every book you read tells you something different. This article does a good job at explaining the frustration and confusion that accompanies this kind of reading.

Friday, December 28

Sit down for your rights ... or stand up?

A mother with four children in the 5- to 10-year-old range got on the subway during the evening commute. It wasn't particularly crowded, being a holiday week, so the kids all found spots next to each other, which was next to me. The mom went to sit before she realized they were a seat short, and momentarily looked at me before bracing herself against a pole.

I felt like saying, "I'm sorry, but I'm four months pregnant underneath this winter coat. Otherwise, I would give you my seat." But I didn't say anything, because I hate the idea of pregnancy being an excuse (my nausea was the real reason) or a condition that I should apologize for. Still, I felt uneasy the whole ride because I'm not sure if that seat should have been hers or mine. In the end, I probably should have stood up. Her hands are more full than my uterus.

I guess you could always blame the person sitting on the other end of the kids.

Thursday, December 27

Mommy Advice I Hope's Not True

Apparently this is the time of year when all the lists surface. Top Ten Blogs, 12 Worst Hairstyles, whatever. So I'm stepping on the bandwagon and making a list: Mommy Advice I Hope's Not True.

And no, I'm not going to do it a la Letterman.

1. "You will never be able to read a book in peace again."
2. "Everything changes." Really? Everything?
3. "Good luck sleeping through the night."
4. "You haven't known worry until you've had a child."
5. "Sex once a month is a higher batting average than most." Can we play a different sport then?
6. "Become a mommy, lose your sex appeal." Ahh, the good old Catch-22.
7. "Make time for dates; otherwise, you'll never see each other again." Is that why the average American family size is only 2.14 now?

And my list is only 7 long. Because you don't have to have 10, 25, 50, or 101 things to write to make a list.

In the mood to make New Year's resolutions? Check out this list-crazed site. It made me add "see the Northern Lights" to my own life list. For my birthday this year, a friend gave me Listography: Your Life in Lists. I haven't written anything in it ... I'm not ready to put it in ink yet. Does that make sense?


I could get used to this three-day work week thing. Why save it just for holidays? Let's make every day a jolliday.

Not only is having four days off, three on nice, but so is the pace. Everyone seems less rushed -- even the notoriously bad Boston drivers. I actually heard an "excuse me" out of a businessman's mouth when he hit me with his umbrella. Wouldn't it be lovely to capture this feeling of relaxed spirit and spread it throughout the year?

I wonder if the lower concentration of people in the city affects moods in a positive way. Certainly having open green space has a positive impact, and that could be related to space in general. Or it could be related to quality of air, the physical possibility of escape, and a variety of other things. I know I personally feel more comfortable and relaxed when I have a little more space in my environment than I actually need. I'm not talking about McMansions or even today's standard American house ... but sitting every other seat on the subway is much nicer than being crammed in like sardines. I've noticed I pay more attention to proxemics than most people I talk with, so perhaps this is just me.

I'm listening to Oscar Peterson play on YouTube. I'm not a big YouTube fan, but it's a classy little number.

Monday, December 24


Every Christmas Eve as a child, our family would gather around the lit tree and sing "Silent Night." It was a quaint tradition, one that produced many eye-rolls when we were teenagers, but I remember it fondly now. The comfort of tradition and that time spent with family is something we are left without this holiday. Of course, I have my husband to celebrate with, but we haven't developed any holiday traditions yet. We are baking some goodies and watching a movie tonight, but I find my thoughts drifting back to apple cider, Christmas excitement, and that old song. From there, I wonder what traditions will delight and be fondly remembered by our baby in the years to come.

Sunday, December 23

'Tis the season

Without the spirit of the holidays but with hope for a shift in future consumption patterns, I bring you this stunning array of artwork via CoolPeopleCare. May we all think before we buy.

Saturday, December 22

Anthony Flint lecture

Wednesday night we went to see Anthony Flint speak at the Boston Public Library. I was interested in learning more about smart growth and New Urbanism, so his presentation was a little disappointing. He gave a basic overview, much of which I already knew: a restructuring of land use as an important tool for combating climate change; careful regional planning in addition to city planning (even so-called "mega-regional" planning, like the area from Boston to DC); retrofitting buildings and old first-suburban neighborhoods as LEED-ND; and mixed-use zoning. He did provide great examples, but I would have loved to hear more in-depth analysis. I suppose I'll have to read his book.

All of this smart growth strikes me as basically advocating this: let's do what the European cities have been doing for centuries -- build people-centered communities in our cities, where your social, financial, material, and dietary needs can be met within walking distance. Or at least biking distance. And I agree.

There were about 100 people in attendance, and the highlight by far was the question-and-answer session at the end. One woman asked how it was feasible to expect a resurgence to the city when all of the Boomers moving in kept bringing their cars with them. "We don't have the space for your car," she exclaimed. "We need that space to make the city livable!" His response was so trite that I can see why she left soon afterwards; Flint explained that although they are bringing their cars to the city, they are using them less while they're there and mass transit more, so it's still a good thing. He didn't even address the issue of space. Perhaps if Boston were a smaller town, a slow-city movement could work here. Still, what do you do when people hold on to their past when you're trying to advocate change? This applies to moving people into smaller spaces like cities as well as shifting consumption patterns for the green movement, and I thought her question was excellent, and needs to be explored.

Notice all the links in this post. Two reasons: I have paid time off right now and so more time to research, and I read this advice on why linking is important. I realize I may have gone a little overboard, but this topic excites me and I read about it a lot.

The whole lecture did reconfirm we should try as hard as we can to not sprawl after this baby is born, but we'll have to figure that one out. Boston and affordability haven't found their mix yet, so the nearly century-old wisdom that sprawl is more affordable still holds for this city.

Thursday, December 20

Oh yeah ...

.... And we got another six inches of snow today. Don't worry, Val -- I opened my parents' timely holiday gift last night: a pair of Earth boots. No more sliding down hills on my butt for me!

I heart potatoes

This morning served up a prenatal nutritionist appointment. My parents were surprised that seeing a nutritionist is standard practice nowadays. It's interesting how much prenatal treatment changes from one generation to the next.

The nutritionist actually squealed once I had reported my weekly intake of all the food groups. Apparently I'm amazing. Playing with her fake foods was the highlight of the appointment. The salmon looked like cat puke. All of the portion sizes, the real reason behind the fake foods, were surprisingly small. She said everyone says that.

They also weighed me, and I haven't gained any weight in several weeks. Kind of odd, since my belly is ever-enlarging and I've been more interested in food since the nausea has improved. I'm still in the healthy range for being at 16 weeks, though, because I gained so much the first trimester (I still have no idea how, with all that vomiting).

She asked about fried foods, oils, sweets, caffeine ... none of which I've had except homemade french fries and olive oils. It's OK to eat the once-a-week homemade french fries, she said, since I'm eating well otherwise. The mere mention of it made me want it for dinner, of course, and I've thought about it all day. Mhmm, veggie burgers and fries!

Tuesday, December 18

Still icy

This is going to be quick, since our homemade pizza is almost done cooking. Mhmm tomato sauce smells good. I'm enthusiastic about certain foods now, if you haven't noticed.

Several holiday cards have arrived in the mail over the past few weeks, and more in my inbox. I wonder how the people who sent cards feel if they don't receive one. Some holidays I send cards, but most I don't. I like the sentiment behind sending it, but not the waste of paper. Emailing a card is the easy answer, but I find it more impersonal so harder to justify the time for.

Ooh pizza's here. Tofu, zucchini, broccoli, onions, and red peppers. And vegan cheese and Parmesan. I get a lot of questions about vegan cheese. No, it doesn't duplicate the taste of all the cheeses. Yes, it definitely depends on the brand you try. And yes, the easier to duplicate cheeses taste good. Oh, and the question I get most often: no, I don't miss it! (Or the similar question, is it hard to eat like that? No!) That's kind of like asking a born-again if they miss being agnostic. Once you believe in something, you follow through naturally.

Now that I've managed to finish a slice while typing, I best get back to full-time pizza concentration.

Sunday, December 16

Oh, the weather outside is ...

Thursday's snow accumulation was about a foot, and it's snowing another 4-8 inches on top of that right now. Plus some sleet and rain expected later today, just to make things nice and slippery. The dogs love it. They're both adopted and previously abused/neglected, so they thoroughly enjoy the absence of people snow creates. Plus it's good times to jump in huge snow banks and lick the ground while they race. When the snow plow goes by, though, it's a different story. One of our dogs, Onnie, gets so scared that we have two leashes and a harness on her (the gentle leader kinds, not chains or chokers or anything), and she'll still manage to slip out of all of those when the plow goes by.

I have a friend that uses one of those shock collars for barking. I think that's so cruel. Barking is a completely natural reaction, and if it needs to be controlled, you can do that by voice command.

We're having grits and faux-sausage for breakfast. I have been craving grits, and the weekends mean more time so that equals grit-making! I need to think of a code name for my husband like BerryBird's SodaBoy. That's a good one. Constantly referring to him as hubby is not anything I would do in real life. I call him hubby here because I'm making fun of the word, but then I realize that might not be apparent.

I'm fairly new to blogs, so I'm slow to realize the etiquette and speak that goes along with it. I still don't know what a meme is.

Thursday, December 13

Snowy footprints

After leaping out of one snowy foot imprint and into the next, I finally made it home in a 3-hour commute that usually takes 45 minutes. It started snowing around lunchtime, accumulating about 1 1/2 inches an hour, and it hasn't stopped yet. I can still hear the neighbors scraping away with their metal clunk-clunk spoons for snow. At least now they're clearing some of it up. I'm amazed at how far in advance the city knew about this weather storm and how little preparation was put into the clean-up effort. It's like the way the West practices medicine: all treatment and no prevention. Not that they can prevent snow, but hiring a few temp workers to drive the dozens of plows that are just sitting in the state's parking lot might be a start.

We had our staff holiday party last night and I ventured out for a non-work, non-medical reason for the first time in two months. I'm proud that I made it through the whole night, too. We were floored by the fancy-schmancy restaurant, and a little surprised that the server, who knew with our reservations that we were vegan, told us the chef had specially prepared fish for us. First of all, I don't expect everyone to know what vegan is, but I would think a famous chef and perhaps a few on his/her restaurant staff would have a clue. Secondly, if you don't know what I can eat, why don't you just ask? And finally, that disgusts me that you wasted food like that. I certainly hope the dishwasher got to eat "our" grub.

That makes it sound like a bad night, but really it was nice. I enjoy, for the first time in my life, all the people I work with. One of the bigwigs even made a toast over how much she is enjoying the high value we place on our families and that there is a work-life balance cultivated that puts family first. She pointed to me and one of my coworkers as an example. My coworker brought his 5-week-old baby girl to the dinner! She was soooo adorable ... and I got to hold her! She looked up at me from her sleep a few times and I thought I was melting. I've thought about her all day today. I guess I've got a bit of a baby bug. :)

I was happy to hear the bigwig's speech, especially since I've been looking into alternative work options like flextime. I don't know what I want yet, specifically, but I do know that I'm going to go for it. It never hurts to ask, right? I read this blog on Gen Y work predictions today and it made me feel like figuring out what I want and asking for it may help someone in my shoes later. Like I can pave the way for future mothers and their work environments. That's exciting!

Speaking of shoes, I need to get me some winter boots.

Tuesday, December 11


I have to leave my desk for lunch, and I certainly enjoy every last second of my full hour. Most of my colleagues, however, just sit at their desk and apologize when they run next door for a burrito. It seems unhealthy to not take a lunch, or at least a longer break. Staring at a computer screen for eight straight hours with minimal nutrition seems like the type of thing health experts would advise against. I think I've read some studies on that before, which ideally I would link up here for you, but I'm tired and lazy tonight.

I realize this whole I-can't-take-a-lunch thing could easily be seen as them just having too much work, and while that's the case for some people, it's still a choice, especially in light of all the time they spend at the "water cooler." The problem reinforces itself with their behavior ... the more people that don't take a lunch, the harder it is to work up the nerve to take one when you want to. I avoided that trap by taking a lunch every day since the day I started. Of course, I still feel guilty -- maybe even moreso because they don't even get a lunch and here I am, luxuriating in mine!

I found the best spot on the fifth floor - a cushy deep orange couch. I take a good 45 minute nap. Well, I don't actually fall asleep (I'm a light sleeper), but it's a glorious rest. I started it when I returned from disability leave, and I'm thinking I just may continue it for my pregnancy.

See what these people are missing out on? Naps!

Monday, December 10

Fall down, go boom

Ice storm hit last night. The walking and road conditions were just terrible this morning, but by mid-day were manageable. Unfortunately -- or fortunately, as the ice were -- I got sick in the am so crawled into work around 10:30 am instead of the usual 9.

My supervisor left early today to pick her husband up from the hospital: as they were leaving the house for their morning commute, he says "Be careful, it's slippery," and proceeds to fall down the steps and break some bones in his hand. Yikes. Double poop since he's an artist owning his own business and it was his right (dominant) hand. It's scary walking up and down the hills in these parts with the ice the way it is. Especially after hearing stories like that.

There are salt stains on my dress pants now from walking downtown ... not too cool since this is one of the last pairs that fit my growing mid-section.

Homemade pasta fagioli's on the menu tonight. I can't wait!

Saturday, December 8


I'm doing some online holiday shopping today, partaking in more consumption than I probably do all year. I try to keep the gifts handmade, through iGive, or edible. And I definitely try to minimize the number of gifts I buy, for financial and environmental reasons. Luckily, I've managed to convince my fairly large family to do a Secret Santa with a $30 limit, so we've had that going for a few years now. It seems to make everyone's lives easier, even the people who enjoy consuming like there aren't any tomorrows.

Ahh, back to finding a used CD for my brother-in-law.

Thursday, December 6

Shea butter

I have the best hubby. He bought some pure shea butter for me today and now he's rubbing my feet with it. Ahhhh. Simply the best.

Another mail merge work day. I also got to start on a trillion InDesign award certificates. It's kind of sad how impersonal the whole award thing is. Yea, you won, good job, now let's "personalize" last year's template with a click here, copy, paste there, and look at that. A piece of paper you'll keep for years.

I just saw a Tampax commercial promising to donate tampons to Africa's poor. I'm sure that's just what they need. Why not throw in some Chia pets and gold-plated rims for good measure?

My feet are greasy.

Reading the nice people who post comments on my blog makes me smile. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 5

Chilly chili

I just finished a big bowl of steaming hot chili, a relief after crawling through the slush-covered blocks downtown on my way to the crowded subway. Thankfully I nabbed a seat despite the bulky winter jackets taking up an extra half seat by themselves. The woman next to me played a video game all the way to Davis Square. I still find it too funny how everyone is everywhere but where they are.

Mail-merge work day, and now kitty is pitter-pawing on my lap.

Tuesday, December 4


The four inches of slush on the ground is my reminder to buy some winter boots.

Vomity morning today, not fun especially when there's nothing in your belly to come up. It is a strange sensation to be simultaneously hungry and sick to your stomach. I am feeling more and more pressure to return to work full-time. My disability coverage ran out on November 15, and our savings is running out now. I'm lucky to have had time off, especially since this job is only a few months old. I just wish I felt better.

My single, childless friends don't seem to know how to handle this pregnancy concept, and certainly not feeling sick. One of them keeps asking when I'm going to go out. Not anywhere near in the mood for bars and smoke and late nights, thank you! I'm not sure what they don't understand about the phrase constant vomiting, but I wish they'd hurry up and understand. I feel guilty, like I'm ruining friendships by being sick. I know I shouldn't, but I do. I guess I feel the same about my job.

My parent-friends, however, seem even more excited than I do sometimes. As one of my co-workers wrote in a congratulatory note, "Welcome to the club!"

A little more snow and a thick layer of ice has covered over the slush from Sunday/Monday. It has made for some weird car sounds outside my window. I'm not sure what it's like to walk in, being sick, but it certainly looks dangerous. So far most of the neighbors haven't cleared their sidewalks at all. I wonder if that's another symptom of this Boston rudeness. I live on a fairly steep hill and will have to walk it to get to the bus ... scary for a pregnant woman due to the risk of falling. Not looking forward to that.

Back to my previous post on sprawl ... wondering how to avoid moving further out. There isn't anything to really downsize or sell ... I've always paid attention to urban design and affordable housing issues, but it seems that having an article addressing that the issue of families moving out of the urban center is as far as they get. I still think moving to a cheaper city is the best solution so far, but will have to wait at least a year for that. I'm not planning to spend buckets of money on the baby like the industry would prefer (I've always been of the mind that a good child's toy is an empty pot to bang on or some trees to swing from), but I still realize we'll need a little more moola. Hell, even now we're spending a bit more money simply because I'm hungrier, doctor co-pays, etc.

Speaking of frugal and simple lifestyles, there's the issue of a baby shower. My mom didn't realize that oftentimes it's in her corner, but now that she has, she's talking about a shower near my IL hometown. Problem is, I don't know if I actually want all that stuff. I do need basic items, yes, but not necessarily new ones. Also, I've been to enough baby showers to realize that you don't really get the things you actually need (diaper wipes, breast cream), you get the things that are fun to buy (elaborate outfits, plastic toys with flashing lights that probably cause ADHD). Although I'd like to celebrate the baby coming, I'm not sure I want to contribute to all that buy-buy-buy overconsumption, let alone travel across the country to do so.

I should probably tell my mom this soon - before she invites all her friends I've never met.

Sunday, December 2

Pondering, wandering thoughts

I'm sitting on our make-shift couch (three cushions atop a headboard) waiting for the predicted gallons of snow and listening to classical music. I'm not much of a classical music fan: I find it pretty but it just puts me to sleep. I'm also not, as you may assume, listening to the music for Fetus; it's all hubby's doing.

He's making black bean burritos and he's the one responsible for putting on this Modest Mussorgsky. What a name.

I may not totally buy into the classical-music-for-baby hype, but it is pretty neat to know his/her ears are developed now and it is beginning to hear things in the womb for the first time. I wonder if those first few noises are scary? Is it even capable of being scared or feeling emotion now?

It has been interesting telling everyone we're expecting. There were the normal reactions, of course, but then there were some surprising questions and tidbits of advice, too. Like, "was it an accident?" Well, we weren't abstaining, obviously ... Or, my favorite, "were you celebrating something?" As if you need a celebration to have sex, and furthermore how do you possibly feel you have the right to ask that question?? Privacy continues to go by the wayside.

The snow is still not here yet. The weatherperson predicts it will hit around 9 pm and continue through mid-Monday. I've found the Boston weatherpeople to be wholly unreliable, though, so I'm thinking ounces, not gallons, and Tuesday, not Monday. If it snows at all. Seriously, though, the weatherpeople out here have no idea what's going on and their forecasts seem to change from hour to hour. I don't know why I bother paying attention anyway. I kind of appreciate the fact that nature will do its thing, and it should be a surprise other than the oh-look-at-those-clouds-rain's-a-comin' type of common person's predictions.

I have so far been amazed at the number of pregnancy books willing to "tell you everything no one else will" (they all confide in me that I will fart more) ... and yet I have found only one book that deals with an expecting couple's emotions. All of the other books dismiss the whole thing into a sentence like "you may experience some 'baby blues,' but rest assured this is normal." Postpartum isn't the only time you experience fetus/baby-related emotions! And the wide range is astonishing.

Mhmm I smell food.

Saturday, December 1

The Nest of Arlington

I live outside of the Boston/Cambridge area in an inner suburb that realtors still consider "hot." The Boston Globe recently published an article toting this tidbit. It's not that surprising, considering its proximity to the city. Having recently moved here, I can say I'm relieved to be living here and not where we were before, now that I'm pregnant. This town is very family-friendly. But as much as that's a relief, it also concerns me. From what I can tell, as the town becomes more affluent, the typical results surface ... rich, white neighbors with moderate or conservative values. This certainly isn't Wellesley, but it's also not very us. And it's getting more expensive by the minute, in an already overpriced city and housing market. When the baby comes, we may have to move again. And it may be further out from the city. This is not the pattern I value, this sprawl. But as long as it takes my husband to finish his degree, we have to be near Boston, and with a child, that might mean further out. I keep dreaming, as I have for years, of going more rural, having my own organic veggie garden, raising our kids on nature and sunshine and friendly neighbors without any serious worries about money or having a traditional job. All of this preferably in a contemporary, sustainable small home in the middle of a beautiful wooded area but near enough to neighbors "just in case." And now that this baby is coming, I feel this dream even more strongly. I want this nest to be ideal, and ideal isn't a cramped, expensive attic-floor apartment near public transit.
I also have an overwhelming desire to find some secondhand furniture. How can we bring a baby home when we don't even own a couch? Silly I know, but that's how I've been thinking. And I've been researching places like Marlboro, Vermont; Madison, Wisconsin; Asheville, North Carolina; Fort Bragg, California; etc. like a madwoman. Especially mad since hubby has at least a year and a half left of school.