Thursday, May 29

One week ... or two, or three, or ...

I'm officially one week from my due date today. The last few days I've felt increased tightening and pressure, which has made me excited and giddy. Who knows, though, when Fetus will really arrive. Thankfully, at my birthing center, the midwives will give you up until 42 weeks before they start (adamantly) suggesting medical induction. (Technically speaking, a human pregnancy's due date is anywhere between 38 and 42 weeks; after 42 weeks, the ability of the placenta to support the baby's life diminishes and, accordingly, the likelihood of a stillbirth increases slightly.)

I'm shocked at how few mothers don't know a pregnancy is 10 months. Others, I don't blame--I didn't know, either, and why would we, what with the media making such a fuss over 9 months? But women who have gone through the experience? Shouldn't they know any better?

I made the mistake of sending out an email to family and close friends with the subject "9 months and counting," and in-law G-ma B. instantly emailed me and all of her friends that I've never met to say I'm having a baby any day now. I didn't know how to break it to her, a woman who has had five children, that a full gestational term is 40 weeks or 10 months. Not nine. So I just let it go ... only now I'm being bombarded by emails asking if Fetus has arrived yet.

Speaking of Fetus, my G-ma B., who is an extremely devout Catholic, emailed me and said: "I want to let you know that I'm praying for the baby (not fetus)." While I understand that she's coming from the perspective of her religious beliefs, it was still something of a smack in the face. I call our baby Fetus, so you kind of told me that the most powerful action that you believe in (praying) will not be conferred upon my baby, at least not in my terms. This is also the same G-ma that wrote me a 3-page letter on how I need to adhere blindly to "the doctor's" every whim because "it's not about you anymore, Goose." Was it ever?

I have read that many mothers are sick and tired of the pregnancy at the end and "just want it out." I don't feel this way at all. I feel curious, certainly, but patient. I will miss Fetus being wrapped inside me, kicking every evening around 10 pm, making me laugh with his/her weird waving movements, rubbing my belly and knowing s/he is safe and secure ... At the same time, I'm excited to meet her/him. I can't for the life of me imagine what Fetus will look like or be like.

I picked up my library copy of Last Child in the Woods and have started reading already for Green Bean's green reading challenge, though tonight I think I'll take a long walk with the dogs instead. It's gorgeous weather today, blue jays surrounding my bird feeder and two new flowers bloomed from my strawberry plant.

Monday, May 26


As promised, my beautiful, tiny alpine strawberry plant and basil plant ... thank you all for your advice for these two. I'm hoping for some netting to keep the birds out off Freecycle ... because of course we planted the strawberry plant right next to two bird feeders. Smart, huh?

Sunday, May 25


"The love of one's country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border?" -Pablo Casals

Sunday Morning Breakfast Club

I dread the week these club meetings end ...

Last week, Hubby made cinnamon rolls! I've been avoiding sugar more than usual during this pregnancy, but this past month I've been craving it. You can find the recipe here. Our dough didn't rise (the milk was probably too hot and the yeast didn't appreciate that) and we didn't make the icing (that was pushing the sugar limit a little too far), but they were still delicious.

Friday, May 23

Handmade fair in Union Square

I hope I can get to this: Boston Handmade Marketplace in Union Square (Somerville) on June 28. Fetus, however, may have other plans for me.

Reuse, redonate

Black beans are simmering on the stove and the windows throughout our apartment are wide open -- even the fire escape door that kitty cat loves to climb and leave rips in the wire mesh is open. There's a storm coming and I absolutely love the chilly wind that cuts through right beforehand, the silence as all the creatures look for cover. Meanwhile, our new strawberry plant looks ready to topple over and poor kitty has been confined to the bedroom lest her claws carve paths for bugs in the screen door (not to mention the rent deposit).

Work is threatening to throw away more crap, so this week I've come home with an almost new white kitchen table (yea! We have a table now, after two painful trips back and forth on the T!); two freezer bags filled with bagels ("It's a long weekend; let's just toss 'em." Umm, hello, freezer anyone? Homeless people downtown? Hungry, pregnant, underpaid staff member?); an mp3 player I will probably try to sell (they were going to throw it out because "everybody already has one," only I don't but I don't need one); two muffins; and an almost new bookcase and 12 planters that I have yet to pick up. All this from a nonprofit that prides itself on being green. No joke there. I actually believed it ... my first week.

I've finally broken down and joined Freecycle at Momma Val's suggestion. Actually, I've wanted to join for years but I never did because ... well, because I don't want another account. I know, I know, it's a dumb reason and I could have been giving all those Goodwill donations away for free and perhaps finding something I needed myself in the process but I just hate all the email accounts and logins and passwords and mess that I have to check. I hate composing this electronic self, and then having to check on it constantly. It's kind of like buying junk to make your life easier, only then you have to take care of the junk and it becomes your life and it's not so easy anymore. In fact, it's harder.

But I broke down and joined up with Yahoo and now I'm a full-fledged Freecycle member. I've only been a member for two days now and I've already given away two moving boxes filled with books in great condition (leftover from our yard sale) and six grocery bags filled with moving materials (mostly stiff tissue paper and bubble wrap). It feels great! I'm still sick over another account to check up on, but it's well worth it. I'm hoping to find a desk chair (we use a makeshift sort of bench right now that has no back support and my back is killing me!) and perhaps some chairs to go with our new kitchen table, courtesy of my "green" workplace. I'm hoping to give away some stuff from my work, too, like the bookcase since I already have a bookcase.

Library emailed and my two reserved books are in: Affluenza and Last Child in the Woods. Yea! I wonder if I'll finish them before Fetus arrives.

This week's "small" goal: start eliminating paper towels. It's been much easier to do than I imagined (my fear was our lack of personal washer/dryer would make this hard to handle) ... and I can't believe I didn't think of it before! I always bought recycled, non-bleached paper towels, but for some reason it didn't occur to me to not buy at all. <-- which is exactly the problem, and we can solve this!

Next "small" goal: create a vermicomposting bin that kitty will leave be.

Quesadillas are ready! Yum ...

Thursday, May 22

Yard sale ergo green thumb

In my quest to simplify our lives, we held a yard sale last weekend.

It was the first time we'd ever had a yard sale and it went fairly well. Before, we had always just donated items to Goodwill or whomever. This time, it was actually easier to hold the sale because we didn't have a way to easily transport all the boxes to a donation center. If we took it all on the bus, it would be many trips and a bit much for me to carry at this point in my pregnancy. Also, with my unpaid maternity leave coming up, we could use a little extra cash.

Note to other newbie yard sellers: it takes much longer to set up than you'd think!

I didn't price anything, and mostly negotiated fair prices with the people who shopped. There were a few who argued to the point where I was annoyed with them, but most people were nice and thought my prices were reasonable.

One of the annoying customers kept trying to convince me I had said something I didn't.

"How much for the CDs?" he asked, flexing his muscles in a ripped-sleeved purple tee and thumbing through my collection of old-school alternative music like the Meat Puppets and Belly.

"Two bucks each," I replied in my shaded lawnchair, borrowed from our landlord.

"Will you make a deal if I get a lot?"

"Sure," I said, smiling and covering my eyes from the sun.

A little later ... "OK, I have 40 CDs at a buck a piece. What kind of deal will you give me? $20 for all?"

"Um, no. $60 for all?" I replied, fidgeting a little and rubbing my very round belly.

And so it went. He ended up getting quite a good deal ... 40 CDs, 5 DVDs and a CD box set all for $50. But he was a jerk.

We ended up making $161.26, which is a great help. More than anything, though, I was thrilled to get rid of some clutter, knowing someone else will use it instead. I think we'll post some of the remaining items on Freecycle and donate the rest to our local center.

Since then, I've been considering what to use the money for. We do need to save most of it -- at least half -- but I thought since it's kind of "extra" money, maybe we could use some towards fun money. We almost never have any entertainment or fun money.

We decided Monday to buy two plants and begin our goal of growing some of our own food. Visiting this great natural foods store nearby, Pemberton Farms, we bought organically raised alpine strawberry and basil plants for $12 with our yard sale money. I was so excited! We had a pediatrician "meet-and-greet" immediately afterwards, and it was pretty amusing to have two plants sitting under our waiting room chairs the whole time. On the way home, a lady exiting the bus called back, "Good luck with the berries and that baby!"

Hubby planted both of them the next day in planters left behind from the previous tenants. We put them out on the fire escape. I'll post pictures soon.

The whole planting thing is so new to us: we're scratching our heads at what to do next. I already read online that we should have made the soil very moist for the basil prior to replanting it and different sources vary on the amount of sunshine the strawberry plant should receive (some say partial, some say full). I guess all of the little errors are part of the learning curve. Really, though, what do we do now? Should we put up netting to keep the birds and squirrels from eating the fruit? How often do we prune? What else do we need to know? I need to do some research, but if anyone has any suggestions, I'd appreciate it!

I'm considering buying equipment for vermicomposting with some more of the yard sale money and saving the rest. I have to look into that, too. This site gave me a better picture but I want to look some more.

Fetus news: all systems go, just waiting and imagining what being a parent is really like.


"We are all the same people, all of us. You're no different than I am. Our love is the same. When someone says, 'You can have a contract, and you'll still have insurance, and you'll get all that,' it sounds to me like saying, 'Well, you can sit there, you just can't sit there.'" -Ellen DeGeneres

Tuesday, May 20

Vegan blueberry pancakes for Mother's Day

Hubby made some delicious vegan pancakes for a Mother's Day breakfast feast. Here's the recipe, in case you're hungry:

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
2 cups soymilk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Frozen blueberries (as many as you like: we like a lot)

Stir together the dry ingredients in one bowl and whip the wet ingredients (including the blueberries) into another bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, stirring. Leave 5-10 minutes to rise.

Lightly oil a skillet and heat over medium flame. Pour 1/4 cup of the batter into the skillet at a time, and cook about 3 minutes. Flip and repeat.

I may not be a full-fledged mother yet, but these pancakes were sure delicious.

Wednesday, May 14

Apples and burrrrrrnaners

I've recently come across Green Bean's blog, thanks to Nadine at In Blue Ink, and I found myself saying yes, yes, yes to all the questions she poses on this post. I also recommend clicking on the the link to Global Rich List. I love being inspired by other bloggers--thanks for the link, Nadine, and for motivating me to finally reserve Last Child in the Woods at my library!

This past weekend, I finally made the 20-minute walk to Menotomy Rocks Park. I've been wanting to get back there for awhile, but the chilly weather has deterred any and all efforts to do so. It was still a bit nippy Sunday, but we took the dogs out there. It's amazing to see the change from frosty white, ice-covered bare limbs to tiny green budding life in the small forest. I felt revitalized, and so glad that a small section of nature had prevailed in this inner suburb.

In the world of work, we've finally reached an agreement. I'll be working four days a week, two from home. We'll need to make up the money I'm losing as a result, but I will be happier and perhaps more motivated to sell some of my photos once again. We're slowly compressing life down to the simple lane, and as we travel, learning how to deal with the transition and the friends and family who honk and drive by, sometimes taunting our way of life. The further we inch along, the more content I feel with this life.

Friday, May 9

Food: waste not, want leftovers!

We started a monthly budget a few weeks ago. We've always paid attention to where we spend our money (you kind of have to when you essentially live paycheck-to-paycheck), but it was interesting to see how much is spent in each category relative to the next category. For the most part, what we spend money on reflects our values.

Our largest monthly expense is, by far, our rent. Our smallest monthly expense is transportation. This fits with our values, in that we're keeping gas emissions low by living practically in the city, but, as many of you know, I would prefer leaving the Boston area (so expensive!) for a more rural setting in a walkable community (Asheville, North Carolina comes to mind). In the meantime, while Hubby finishes up school, I have to stick it out. I'm not sure if it's worth moving again when our lease is up in October. If we move farther out, our rent will go down but our transportation costs will rise. Furthermore, in this area, you have to pay a non-refundable upfront fee (usually one month's rent) just to get in the apartment--in addition to the security deposit and first and last month's rent. So losing out on the $800-$1200 upfront fee is a huge factor in whether or not it's worth it to move yet again.

Coming in second in monthly expenses is our food bill. This isn't as shocking to us as it would be to most Americans (who generally pay only 13.3% of their budgets on food, nearly half of which is from restaurants). I knew we spent quite a bit on food because we buy organic and local whenever possible, but this is an area we definitely need to trim now that Fetus is in our lives. We have been cooking from scratch for several years, but we need to cook more from scratch. Hubby has started making bread and pizza dough from scratch, and although you have to wait longer to consume it, it's much better tasting and cheaper to boot. The problem with cooking everything from scratch is, of course, time. We definitely don't eat out much though. I think we've been to a restaurant maybe 8 times in the last year ... and almost every time it's been with friends or visitors.

I read this blog that inspired me to try to find ways I can save more food items when we're cooking. I still want to start composting our food scraps, but this is a good start towards reducing food waste as well.

This Forbes article describes how Americans make and spend money, differentiating between how the "top-earners" and "lowest one-fifth" spend. It follows that we're in the lowest one-fifth, spending the most on housing and food. I thought it was interesting, though, that the "top-earners" spend the second most on transportation. Maybe it's all those fancy jets polluting our airways ... Still, I assumed it would be entertainment, not transportation.

We applied for another student loan under Hubby's summer classes so we can afford this maternity leave. Hubby is still looking for a second part-time job, and I asked my work for freelance projects while I'm at home with the newborn. You gotta love America's "family values."

I entered round three of negotiations with the head honcho this week concerning post-maternity leave plans. You might remember that they offered me a managing editor promotion as a consultant (no benefits) or a full-time communications position with two days flextime (with benefits). Today, I asked for the communications position with two days from home, two days at the office, the fifth day optional but a comp day if used--with the same salary I have now.

My logic behind the salary proposal is based on their alternative: hiring a completely new communications person full-time. They can't very well say that this person has the same skills, company knowledge, training, company software programs, etc. that I do after 10 months, and I figure those skills and that knowledge are worth at least 1/5th of my current pay. I expected the negotiations to center around this figure of 1/5th, but the head honcho threw me for a loop (an illogical one at that). She basically told me they can't do that, because if I was paid my full salary working 4/5ths time, then everyone should be able to work 4/5ths time for their salary. Perhaps she misunderstood my point of their alternative (hiring, training, etc. a new employee). She actually said "increasing pay based on the skills you have from working here doesn't fly with me." I figured she just didn't want to give me the money, in which case I might just look for a new job. But then she says since it's a new position with new responsibilities, they can take a look at increasing the salary and then adjusting that figure down to 4/5ths. And then she says no fifth optional day, but "maybe we could give you some freelance work to do for that day from home." Ummm ... wouldn't that be working the three days from home, two at the office that I originally asked for? OK Sherlock.

So it's back to the waiting game while she discusses this with the other directors. I'm more than 36 weeks along, how long are we planning to wait here? The strange thing is, the company already announced to all my co-workers that I would be working in the full-time communications position, which is certainly news to me. I haven't agreed to anything yet, and seeing how unpaid my maternity leave is, I don't owe them. I don't have to come back to this company (although I really don't want to look for a job with a newborn on my hip and a breast pump in my hand, but they don't need to know that).

Wednesday, May 7

Fetus coming soon

I went to the midwife's yesterday and had an internal exam. She can already feel the baby's head! She guesses that Fetus won't be here by next week, but it "might not be too long." I'm hoping Fetus lasts for at least another week, because you can't deliver in the birthing center until you're at least 37 weeks along.

When I got home, I was so excited that I couldn't go to sleep at my normal grandma hour and now I'm cleaning the house like a fiend. We still need to put the crib together, launder the new baby clothes and bedding, etc. etc. and here I am now, cleaning the toilet with baking soda. I get to meet Fetus soon!

In the world of work, J., our graphic designer, was inside the elevator with Goo Be Gone when I rode back up from my super-quick lunch break. As he scrubbed away at a Velcroed sign, he laughed and said, "I got two college degrees so I could clean elevators." As the elevator beeped and opened to my floor, I said, holding my nose from the chemical stench, "Yeah, and I got a 4.0 in college so I could make some labels." Wouldn't it be lovely to have a challenging job one day? I guess that's where Fetus comes in!

Tuesday, May 6


"It isn't only our food is travelling great distances to reach us; we, too, have moved a great distance from our food. This most intimate nourishment, this stuff of life--where does it come from? Who produces it? How do they treat their soil, crops, animals? How do their choices--my choices--affect my neighbors and the air, land, and water that surround us? If I knew where my food and drink came from, would I still want to eat it? If even my daily bread has become a mystery, might that total disconnection be somehow linked to the niggling sense that at any moment the apocalyptic frogs might start falling from the sky?" -J.B. MacKinnon


"Man is born free and everywhere is in chain stores." -Graffiti as quoted in The 100 Mile Diet by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon

Book recommendation

Over the weekend, I finished reading The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating by Alisa Smith and J. B. MacKinnon. The couple embarks on a year of eating only food within 100 miles from their urban apartment in Vancouver. And unlike many of those books where the real-life experiment sounds intriguing, this one is actually well written.

They give you the facts behind their decisions, like the popularly cited study from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, which reports the food we eat typically travels 1,500 to 3,000 miles from farm to plate. They also delve further into the facts -- that study is only including fresh produce: imagine how many miles all the various chemicals and ingredients thrown into our processed foods travels combined! It's incredibly baffling to read about how cheap oil has revolutionized the food industry to the point where you may have corn farmed in Iowa shipped to China to be canned, only to be shipped back to, say, New York to be put on a grocery store shelf.

The authors are really honest about their experiences, too, including the transition from convenience to planning for food (winter in Canada, anyone?) as well as their own personal evolutions. They emphasize food as a connection to place and community, something perhaps longed for yet often not fully realized on an individual level.

I highly recommend reading this book if you haven't yet. I've had it on my to-read list for nearly two years, and I'm so glad I finally did read it. It's the type of book that could change your actions, it's that inspiring. And now I really can't wait for the farmers markets to start up! Only three more weeks here in Boston!

Sunday, May 4

What to name a baby boy

Dreamy just asked me about this in a comment ...

So I still can't think of a boy's name. We've had a girl's name in mind for years, so that's taken care of. Some people have suggested using the girl's name if it's a boy, too, but if you knew the name and the meaning behind it, you'd know that wouldn't work.

We want to name the boy something that has meaning for both of us ... maybe after a plant or something in nature, or after an artist or writer or a color. I like what Momma Val did, using an ancestor's name for her baby's first name. We looked through some family trees, though, and found nothing exciting.

Nothing we come up with fulfills the two basic criteria: it sounds good/we can imagine calling a child that and it means something. Off beat is good, off sound is bad. We're thinking shorter is better, since our last name is somewhat long.

I'm at a loss. Open to suggestions, too. I mean, really, at this point ... I asked the midwives during orientation night how quickly we had to have a name on the birth certificate. They laughed, but the good news is you have a few days. We just might need it if Fetus is a baby boy.

Saturday, May 3

Did you have an imaginary friend when you were young?

I did! Bonnie and Shoe-shoe, and they were married. I think I was about seven. I was reading this article on children with imaginary friends and I couldn't help but smiling at my memories of saying goodnight to Bonnie and Shoe-shoe. Shoe-shoe actually was a stuffed animal when the stuffed animal was around, and imaginary when I was away from the stuffed animal (at school, a friend's house, and so on).

Did any of you all, my blogger friends, have imaginary friends?

Gray and full of wonder

Cold, gray rain again. The clouds in this town seem omniscient. I'm trying to think back to the sun of last week, the budding green trees that are now slightly mud colored ... hence the picture.

My sister is getting married today, in four and a half hours to be exact. She only has my parents there as witnesses. A judge, her fiance, and my parents gathered around a white gazebo in sunny Virginia. I never imagined being apart from her on her wedding day ... though I'm not sure I ever imagined her being married, either. They're planning to move to Texas at the end of the month. I'm not sure if they will, though. My sister is one of those people who spends a lot of time talking about how her life is going to change in dramatic ways, but it never materializes. She wants, but she doesn't do.

Week 35 of this Fetus life. I'm having some heartburn, which happens because your stomach is pushed so far up to your esophagus by your ever-expanding uterus. No real complaints, though. I will miss having this motion inside me, safe and warm. I feel comfortable knowing s/he is OK just by a kick or a nudge in my belly. It must be strange, to enter into motherhood and be introduced to this little being after nearly a year of having her/him growing inside you. I'm almost mourning the coming loss of being pregnant, though of course I'm excited to finally meet Fetus.

Hubby has finals this coming week. MIDI projects and mixing songs and math for acoustics class and all that good stuff. I can't believe he's been at Berklee for a year now, or that we've lived in Boston that long. People keep asking us what's next. Next is next, I suppose. We'll see where this wild road takes us.

The rain is drizzling down now, a slow soup on the sidewalks. So many worms, the birds are ignoring our feeders.

My little sister, getting married. She is doing today.