Thursday, January 30, 2014

37 Weeks Along

There I was, coasting along through middle pregnancy, then I blinked and now I'm 37 weeks along.

I'm feeling pretty good altogether, I'm just coming up on the stage of pregnancy where everything just feels a little "Ugh."

Sleeping comfortably at night, sitting comfortably at my desk all day...those aren't happening anymore. It's tough to bend over, like when I'm drying myself off after a shower, and I tend to make little noises when this happens, which causes Michael to ask if I'm okay about 47 times a day.

Nausea and sensitivity to smell are back. Michael started putting on his cologne outside in the mornings, which was very nice. This morning, though, it was raining so he didn't. "And you couldn't have put it on while in your car?" was apparently not the right thing to say. To be fair, I wasn't thinking clearly through the sensation of the burning membranes in my nose.

I feel like I'm being a sub-par parent to June. I don't have the energy I used to have...I'm just tired, you know? Thank goodness she has Michael, who will pretend to be her horse and will wrestle with her and swing her around in the air while they dance. Whereas my dance moves more and more resemble those of Tracy Morgan during those SNL Christmas Specials. Even when she does still climb on or around me, I have to caution her saying, "Be careful! Don't jump on my belly!" She must think I'm the most boring parent ever. Makes me sad.

Michael and I took a tour of our hospital the other day. It went great and reminded me a lot of the birthing center/hospital we used in Phoenix. I am still planning on going completely unmedicated if possible, and the medical practitioners seem supportive of that. It's just such a different setup than my last birth, though. Last time, I knew our midwife Lylaine throughout the whole process and I trusted her completely. This time, with this huge medical practice, you labor and deliver with whoever is there at the time. (There are always both midwives and OB/GYNs.) So I hope the midwife I end up with is as supportive as all of the other ones I've met with. And I hope that they can trust me when I say I don't want interventions, and that I can trust them if they ever say that I really need one.

My mom is coming out to be a life saver/support system/June supervisor in a couple of weeks. We'll be so lucky to have her. We have a friend or two we could call on to take June if the baby comes before that. I'm trying not to worry too much about the baby coming early. I know that at this point in pregnancy everyone starts feeling eager for it to be over, become convinced the baby will arrive early. Trying to take it one day at a time and be grateful for these last few weeks where June will have our undivided attention.

Friday, January 24, 2014

June's First Dance Class

We've been hoping to get June involved in some extra curricular activities, both for her to enjoy and for us to meet some folks around here with kids near June's age. We signed June up for soccer lessons that are offered through her school, and I also decided to sign her up for a free trial of a dance class.

June loves dancing and she loves dressing up, so I thought she'd love dance class, but the free trial class seemed perfect because, what if she wasn't ready yet? What if she freaked out and hid in the corner the whole time?

So last Saturday I dressed her in comfy clothes, brought out an adorable tutu that a friend made for her ages ago, and we set off for dance class. She even got to borrow 'ballet shoes' once we got there!

Being a first-timer, I wasn't sure what to expect. Would we moms sit in the room? Would there be a window we could watch through? I quickly found out that there wasn't a window and that we could watch through a TV monitor out in the lobby. I was a little nervous at how June would react to me dumping her in an unknown classroom with an unknown teacher. But June saw a girl she knew from her class at school and that seemed to make her really excited. She just went over and sat near her friend and I quickly backed out of the room. 

The rest of my pictures are TERRIBLE creeper iPhone photos of the TV monitor. I really wish I had some great shots of her dancing, but I do imagine that it's for the best that we watch this way. One of the moms in the class stayed in the classroom the whole time and her daughter was totally distracted and kept running over to her mom. Hopefully you can pick June out of the group...her signature pigtails (and the line of her part) should make her stand out.

(Now that I think about it, having such blurry pictures makes me feel better about posting these pictures of other peoples' daughters. I'm less creepy now, right?)

The kids were SO cute and June did SO well. I just sat there, giggling in the lobby with all these subdued parents around me. 

At one point the teacher placed shapes across the floor and the girls went one-at-a-time across the floor practicing a move at each shape. Here's June doing a plie...

This one kills me...

Spinning in circles...

The teacher had some other things for them to do, which really kept their attention for the whole 50 minutes. (I couldn't believe it!)

They brought out these little 'happy sticks' which the girls ran around with, banging them together. Then they each got a scarf and practiced waving them around. 

Then they ran around the room in circles waving their scarves. June loved throwing hers up in the air and trying to catch it. When she successfully caught it, I watched her go up to the teacher, get her attention and do it again. I laughed because I could picture exactly what June was saying since she does the same thing at home. "I did it! I did it! Watch this!" The teacher was so sweet and watched as June threw and caught again.

To cut to the chase...they got us, as they always do. We signed up for weekly classes and bought the "uniform" for the class. (They're supposed to wear pink. Side-eye to the little one in the blue tutu up there!) June now has her very own "princess dress" and ballet shoes to wear, and her very own class to attend on Saturdays.

I'm sure next week we'll leave the long-sleeved shirt and leggings off.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Life Gave Us Lemons

Huh. I just realized that I never posted about my lemons. I KNOW YOU'VE ALL BEEN SHAKING WITH ANTICIPATION. 

So, as you may recall, one of my earliest observations about our new house was that it had a fully-grown Meyer Lemon tree in the backyard that was positively full of lemons. I might have campaigned for us to get this house just because of that tree.

You see, when we were doing our whole yard renovation in Phoenix, we pulled out our dud orange tree and put in a Meyer Lemon tree. And ooooh, how I looked forward to one day having a crop of lemons to enjoy! (Meyer Lemons are known for being a sweeter, milder lemon.) 

I nurtured that thing like you wouldn't believe to try to get it through its first crazy Arizona summer. I was adjusting watering schedules, I was buying citrus tree food, I was cuddling with it at night. I was going against my instincts and pruning some of the lemon buds so our little plant would put its limited energy into a few promising lemons. 

And then we promptly moved to Sacramento.

So when we found a house for rent with a lemon tree that looked like this...

I shouted "WE'LL TAKE IT."

And let me tell you, I had plans for these lemons! But it was starting to get colder outside at night and I knew these guys wouldn't hold up in the upcoming freezes, so I had to get on my #1 project immediately, which was preserving lemons. 

Preserved lemons are a big part of Moroccan, Middle Eastern and North African cooking, and I was once given a jar of them by a coworker. I fell in love and swore that one day I'd make my own.

I went out back and picked three baskets worth of lemons, which seemed like a lot until I stepped back and realized the tree looked like I'd barely picked any.

Then I brought them inside where my 24 sanitized quart-size mason jars were waiting.

(The funny thing is that making a single jar of these from lemons you got at the store would take only 15 minutes. But because I set my sights on making 24 jars of them, it was a tad more time consuming.)

If you're interested, you can check out some background on these lemons, how they've been used historically and the recipe on this website.

The only ingredients are lemons and coarse salt. (And the amount of salt you go through...whoa.) But the salt and the juice from the lemons seeps into the lemon rind and softens them until they are the component that is used in the cooking. Most of the sites I've read about don't even use the fruit of the preserved use the peel. 

And once the jar has set for a few weeks, you just pop out a segment of the lemons, cut it up and put it in anything. Anything you'd normally make with lemons, except preserved lemons have a sort of mellowed-out taste, not really the bite of normal lemons. 

I've been using mine for lemon pepper chicken, I put some in with asparagus I was sauteing, you can make salad dressing, use it with fish, put some in with crock pot recipes, anything really. And they stay good for over 2 years!

I ended up making 20 jars worth before the holidays. The problem was that I wanted to give them to everyone I knew for Christmas, but by the time I got around to planning the trip back to Arizona, it was a little late to think about shipping them. So I only managed to bubble-wrap and pack about 6 jars into my suitcase before the size and weight limits indicated that it was enough. (Not surprisingly, I got one of those cards in my luggage saying that TSA had searched inside by bag.)

So now I have about 14 jars of preserved lemons here in Sacramento and no one to give them to. I might just start bringing them with me on outings and forcing them on strangers. I want to share my love with someone! (Delivery room nurses - you've got a treat headed your way! A salty, citrusy treat!)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Doughnut Attempt

The other day, I was a woman on a mission. I had a Saturday morning plan and I was going to take my family on my plan and it was going to be great!

I'd seen a show on the Food Network that was a competition between doughnut bakers to create the best doughtnuts. Randomly, one of the competitors was from Sacramento...and he won the competition! So I decided right then and there that I simply MUST patronize this local shop and I would do so that very weekend.

It was pretty dreary outside, though. I hadn't spent much time outside in the mornings, so we just put on some layers and went out and hoped for the best. 

We went downtown to the doughnut shop, Doughbot, grabbed some doughnuts to go and headed to the big park downtown.

Which was deserted. Because it was so cold and early. 

(I don't think it was quite as cold as Michael is making it seem in this picture. I think he was just being funny since this was taken after a gust of wind blew over and Michael gave me the side-eye, saying, "Is this what you had in mind?")

The funny thing is that California is in the middle of a record-breaking dry year, with higher-than average temperatures in general. Michael and I were just talking the other day about how we wish we were getting more rain so we could see this reputed "Sacramento rainy season."

June was happy enough with her doughnut, and didn't really seem to mind the empty playground, but we were still convinced early on that this would be a short park expedition. 

And just because I find her singing so cute, a little video of her making up songs while she plays by herself:

So we went back to the car past Doughbot ("We get more doughnuts?!?!" June asked) and headed home.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Nursery Beginnings

Even though we've technically been in this house since Thanksgiving, so much of that time has been holidays and the go-go-go of the season. (Hell - I was out of town for three weeks straight.) And now that I'm back for good, I started getting the shakes whenever I looked into the nursery and saw this:

Yeah... not exactly baby-ready. Not  exactly good for the nesting instincts.

So this weekend we kicked the nursery prep to the top of the To Do List and made some progress.

For Baby Boy's nursery, I did some thinking and looking (and Pinteresting) to shop for ideas. I knew that we wouldn't be able to paint the nursery (we're renting the house) and we couldn't hang tons of stuff on the walls (they're plaster and we've been asked not to punch a lot of holes), so that caused some limitations.

When I saw this mood board for a log cabin/outdoorsy/mountaineer nursery, I felt like it was the one. I showed it to Michael and he gave me the go-ahead.

This weekend Michael cleaned out the miscellaneous toys and other stuff that has accumulated in the baby's room. I used June's nap times to work on two little projects that I've had my eye on.

First, I saw this little print for sale from this Etsy site during my search. 

I thought it was adorable, but I felt a little weird about paying $21 plush shipping and handling for a piece of which I'd still need to get a frame for. So after realizing I already had black and yellow paint and some small paint brushes, I bought an 8x10 canvas at Hobby Lobby for $8.

I free-handed the bear outline and then filled 'er in.

And the finished product!

It's definitely not perfect, but it's the little imperfections that  show that it's homemade with love, right?

That night I measured and cut out the fabric for a little pillow I wanted to make. In the mood board above, I loved the bear pillow and loved the idea of having something like it for our rocking chair. But the more I Google Image searched, the more I was inspired by all kinds of bear pillows. 

So I used a piece of June's coloring book paper and traced a bear off of the internet straight from the laptop screen. Then used that to trace out a brown fabric bear. The next day, I pulled out the sewing machine and got to work on this guy:

For the back, I used some flannel and worked in a hemmed slit so the pillow case can be washed.

So who cares if we don't have a crib sheet or changing pad cover?! We have a pillow and some small-scale art! ;) I think the baby'll love it no matter what.

Can't wait to see this room come together!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

New Year's Surprise

Since Michael had already gone back to Sacramento, I was ready to spend New Year's not alone, but without my sweetheart. I was happy to have both my parents to hang out with - not to mention the Junebug - and JP even came out to dinner with us before going off to festivities that were slightly more exciting than midnight celebrations in sweatpants on the couch. 

Earlier in the week I had assured Michael that I didn't mind being apart on New Year's, that I'd probably fall asleep before midnight anyway, but as the week (and New Year's Eve) went on, I did get a little blue at the idea of not being together. 

On the 31st while I was at work, I shot Michael a text telling him that I wished we could be together. After work, I met up with the family (Mom and Dad watched June while I was at work) for dinner. 

Right after drinks arrived, I saw someone approach the table and say, "Hey guys." I looked up and just stared for what felt like 3 hours, not putting the visual together in my mind. Michael! Michael was standing at our table! Michael was there in Phoenix!

June and I were so surprised and excited to see him. We were both squealing "Daddy is here" for about five minutes straight.  (Thanks to JP for snapping some pictures!)

He'd used some airline points to get a flight for a just-over-24-hour trip to spend New Year's with his girls!

After an awesome dinner, JP went on his way and the rest of us headed back to the house. We had a pretty wild dance party and 9:15, because it was bedtime for toddlers.

June loved those little noise-makers.

After she was down, the rest of us got pretty crazy. There was some Crown Royal-drinking, some Martinelli's-popping and some countdown-watching. I fell asleep on Michael on the couch, and he was kind enough to nudge me two minutes before midnight.

I was overcome with happiness, there in my sweatpants with my family, cuddled up with Michael. Such a warm night. Such a nice surprise. Such a great start to the year!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Christmas Miscellaneous

The good thing about having a long trip with family is that there is plenty of time to spend with everyone. A lot of downtime, a lot of time to just hang out. So we have a lot of pictures of June that I gathered during our trip, which I hope you don't mind me dumping here to paint a picture of our downtime around the holidays!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Fountain Hills Park Times Three

When we visit my parents, it's always so nice being near the Fountain Hills park. Especially in the cooler months when the weather is awesome and everyone just wants to spend time outside. During the two weeks that June was in Phoenix, she hung out at the park three times.

First with the whole family, when we had a whole French loaf of bread (that had gone super stale) to feed the ducks. 

Once with my friend Nicola and her little girl Sophia:

And one last time with our smaller family on New Year's Day.

We all got some exercise walking around the lake, June got some practice dribbling a soccer ball and there was only one incident of someone getting pooped on by a duck. Good times all around!