Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It's a Boy!

December 6, 2012 at 2:50am. 9lb, 15oz, 20.75"

Mom and son are doing great! DD loves her baby brother, too. More later...

(yes, that's a 10-pound baby)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Demolition continues

Demolition continued last Friday, part of Saturday, and yesterday (Tuesday). The masonry chimney came down, which was pretty dramatic to us. It had once served an oil furnace, not a fireplace... and the placement wouldn't have worked for a wood stove, which we did consider.   
 Getting rid of the chimney and related framing gave us an additional 10 sf of space in the kitchen for cabinets and appliances. Of course we changed the kitchen layout on Saturday, almost immediately upon seeing the emptied space. I met with our contractor on Monday to look at everything and go over the changes, which is why there was no demolition work that day. The refrigerator will now go in the corner, there, instead of on the opposite side of that doorway into the living room.
One major bummer was the discovery that the pine flooring (underneath a couple of layers of vinyl) that we'd hoped to save and have finished... was full of nail holes and there were chunks missing in spots. I'd have been ok with some dings and holes... you know, "character," but we opted to have it pulled up and will have them put down oak to match the rest.

We cut most of the bathroom scope, but decided to go ahead with redoing the tile shower surround, which was of superb quality...


The previous owner (it could have been one of several, but we tend to blame the one before us) had green board installed on top of the plaster, then had tile installed over that. It's been uneven and terrible to try to clean ever since. The contractor removed everything, down to the framing, and will install new, "water-durable, mold-resistant," cement board and tile.
We still have to decide exactly how to deal with the window in the shower. Our contractor suggested replacing it with glass block or just blocking it from the inside. We'd rather leave it or take it out completely. I'm not a fan of the glass block or the high 'clerestory' windows in bathrooms because they make me think of bad cookie-cutter housing developments... "oh, look, there's the bathroom!"
For ten years we kept it covered with a translucent shower curtain (along with the awesome 'stained glass' blobs that are now disintegrating), which seems to have kept out the water. You can see the evidence of past repairs for water damage to the framing below the sill. We might still need to repair some of this old damage, but I hope better tile work and making sure everything is clean and sealed will help... I can deal with the shower curtain.

The only other thing we're doing in the bathroom is replacing the tub & shower valve. The existing diverter (from tub to shower) quit working years ago, which wasn't a problem when it was just adults taking showers. Now that we need to use the actual tub, we figured we need to get something that doesn't fall off in your hand. ;)

The contractor is getting the revised cabinets re-quoted and the additional flooring quoted. I'm waiting to hear on a window quote. I think they're going to start work on replacing the roofing soon.

We're more or less settled in the rental house, even with a couple of boxes to sort, consolidate, and put away. We even put up and decorated the Christmas tree (and two wreaths!) and DH put lights on the outside, along the roof.

DD turned 20 months old on Friday. She was keeping the hounds company in 'time out' while my MIL was making cookies. Both of ours are on the left, in a pile, and that's my in-laws' dog on the right.

It didn't hurt that he had a ball to chew, but our boy is SO awesome with DD... he lets her sit on him, pull his collar and tail (although we nip that in the bud as quickly as we can)... it probably also helps that she frequently shares food with him. He'll do anything for food, even her favorite bananas and clementines ('babee' oranges, she says). She has tried, at least once, to throw her leg over him and climb on while he was standing... I'll keep y'all posted on how that goes.

Tomorrow is my due date and I'm trying not to get impatient for this new baby to get here. The weather had been pretty cold and we even burned fires in the fireplace at the rental, but it turned downright spring-like over the weekend. I'll take 60s and 70s in December!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Progress! (exhausting progress)

First and foremost, demolition started today!

We applied for the refinance on our house on a Friday in mid-October and had the appraisal scheduled for the following Monday morning, so spent the whole weekend furiously cleaning and finishing up as many almost-completed projects as we could. Not the easiest task, especially with a toddler who wants to be involved and won't really nap. With great weather, and a little help from our favorite neighbors, we got a LOT done and the house was looking pretty good.

The appraisal didn't come in quite where we'd have liked, though, so we had to look at our quotes and figure out what to do next. Between the project, moving and almost doubling our living expenses for a few months, and my pending maternity leave (only partially paid), it adds up fast. We don't want to spend all our savings to make up the difference, either. Our contractor has been great and was more than happy to talk with us about some ideas and then rework his quote to cut some things.

We closed on the refi 30 days after we applied and then moved to the rental house the weekend before Thanksgiving. Technically, we just emptied what was left out of our house last night. We've been living at the rental for almost two weeks now and feel fairly settled in. Most of what's left to unpack is stuff to go through and mostly toss. Architecture students collect an amazing amount of paper and other materials, but the value of most of it is significantly diminished by our current lack of need for balsa wood and chip board. We can only save so much for DD to color on.

We picked up our awesome FLOR carpet (that we designed and still love) and will put it in the den at the rental. It's held up pretty well for 5+ years of daily vacuuming and steam cleaning several times a year, not to mention the wear and tear of two 60# dogs and now DD. We'll definitely have to replace some tiles before we move it back to our house, but I'm sure the dogs will like having more space to stretch out and shed at the rental.

I stopped by our house on my lunch break to see what's going on... there's a dumpster in the driveway and the kitchen cabinets are in the living room and the den/office/dining room (we used it as an office before, but will probably make it more of a dining area/den when we move back.)

Note the poor Bronco and the sad driveway...

No more cabinets!

You don't want to know what it looks like under/behind your cabinets.

It has been an exhausting and sometimes stressful process to design, draw, price and sort out all the details... but I'm really excited about it, now. The reality is we're not even done, we still have to finalize the cabinets and a few other details... and it will be weird not doing the work ourselves like we have for so long. I'm also 39 weeks pregnant today, so I have good reason to be tired... but I actually feel pretty good!

I will try to go by fairly regularly and take progress photos... maybe even with the DSLR instead of my phone... and soon with a newborn in tow!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Doing it Right!

Our good friend, Berne, who I credit with "If you’ve got the ability and opportunity… and you’re NOT doing it… then you’re doing it wrong," is racing in the 45th Baja 1000 today! He'll be co-driving the second leg (of four) in the #401 Shaffer Motorsports car.

B, driving down to King of the Hammers 2010

He and his wife drove down from Portland, picking up a photographer, a spare transmission and who knows what else before crossing the border into Ensenada. They spent the weekend and the earlier part of the week pre-running and getting set up. This year, the race will start in Ensenada and zig-zag down the peninsula, covering 1,121.55 miles before it reaches the finish line in La Paz. Hurricane Paul did severe damage in Baja Sur only a few weeks ago, so flooding, washouts and wind damage caused some re-routing of the course.

B and John Cantrell in the race car
Lighting up the night in Baja

He's hanging out near Guerrero Negro (according to his SPOT tracker), waiting for his turn to go fast. I may talk DH into taking me for chilaquiles on Saturday, just so I can have my little taste of Baja. ;)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

19 Months - The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

DD is now 19 months old. Our sweet girl is growing like a weed, she was 21# 11.5oz and 32.5" tall at her 18-month check up, right on track for her personal growth curve. The doctor said 75th percentile for height, but that was actually the first time he's ever mentioned statistics. It has always been obvious, on the graph, that she's taller than average and that her weight is slightly below average but I really like that he's focused on how she's growing and developing based on her own track record, not just some random numbers. She still has her daddy's noggin (not a pinhead like me) and she's always been lanky.

She is her daddy's girl. I was the same way so I'm not surprised but, man, that girl loves her dad. There was a long while, when she was teeny, where she pretty much only wanted me and it definitely bothered him. He said he only kept her (barely) entertained long enough for me to do whatever it was I couldn't do while holding her. She still likes to hang with her mama but she thinks her dad is a fun guy and I can't help but agree. She likes to hang out with him while he works on the Jeep (she loves the Jeep) and he's had the majority of bedtime duty lately, too.

New words are coming, basically, daily and some of the phrases really crack us up. She'll get tripped up (on toys or dogs) and fall; I'll ask if she's ok and she'll respond, "Iiiii ooookaaay." She will take the keys (to anything) and say "bye" as she walks to the front door. "Bye-bye, Dogs," is a daily thing now. She can sort of say their names, but also calls them "good girl" and "good boy." Her "dogs" is also more like "dowgs." Really cute. She knows most body parts, lots of animals (and their noises), other objects, and is learning colors.

She's very independent and wants to not only do things herself but can get really upset (especially if also tired or hungry) if we don't know what it is she wants right away. We've been working on talking about how she feels and why she's mad or upset... trying to help her get to the point of using her words (or anything, really) to cope. She'll flail her arms occasionally and has actually bitten me a couple of times. The other morning she said, "I mad," after DH held her still long enough for me to get her hair in a ponytail and out of her face.

She doesn't like to go to sleep and talks in her sleep. She might even sleep walk, although she doesn't get far in the crib. Unfortunately, all her sleep habits are just. like. me. Which means, I guess, this is payback for whatever I put my parents through. I, still being the light sleeper, am the one who is up to settle her back down at 4am when she's standing in her crib and talking (but not awake, not even a little). Even if I wasn't 35 weeks pregnant, I'd be exhausted. Some nights are better than others, between teething and other developmental milestones that can contribute to a crappy night's sleep. She'll sleep for 5 or even 7 hours, uninterrupted, some nights and then there are the nights she wakes up for no reason at 2am and it takes 2.5 hours to get her back to sleep. She's been intermittently dropping her afternoon nap, also, and then she is melting down right after dinner. This is not for wimps.

I'm not complaining, these things are just reality. We roll with it as best we can, try to tag team different activities, and mostly try to let her be her. She's always interested in what we're doing, so we try to let DD "help" by holding something (and hopefully not losing it), or just get her occupied nearby while we talk about what we're doing. We did a quick landscaping project a couple of weekends ago and she helped DH replant some bulbs (another funny word for her to repeat) and we just let her cover herself in dirt and mulch. She was happy and we got something done in a timely fashion. DH did a couple of things to our Jeep one night and so I'd take her to find some random tool he realized he needed and let her carry it back to him. Did I mention that she loves the Jeep.

She's actually been working on using the potty for almost three weeks now. She will say "pee pee" and we'll either hold her on the toilet or let her sit on the little kiddie one some friends passed down. No where near done with diapers, and it is a whole new thing to deal with when we're traveling or doing anything else, but we cheer and clap when she does it and she grins really big, so that's fun.

To be sure I end on a positive note, I'll say again that my girl is an awesome kid. Smart, sweet, and super observant. She studies people, smiles easily, and has a great laugh. She likes to give hugs and kisses, she likes when we wrestle and tickle her, and she love it when we jump out at her and say "boo!" She is always on the move, walking, running, and climbing. She likes to pull things apart and empty out boxes, bags, shelves, and kitchen drawers. Sounds exhausting, just reading it.

We have about 5-7 weeks until she's a big sister and, although I don't think she understands it, I think DD will be great with the new baby. She loves kids, we're working on 'gentle,' and we will just have to hope this little one is a bulletproof tiger like DD.

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Bump...

I mentioned before that we were planning to have some work done on our house, to make it a little 'nicer' so we can enjoy the next 5-ish years there before we go live on a sailboat. I've had two hiccups come up, just this week, but I'm feeling better about them already.

The contractor who seemed very interested is suddenly very busy and has declined the project. We spent a bunch of time in the last two months revising our plan for the house work and then waiting on the contractor to return from a 2-3 week trip to the UK. We were a little distracted by our 5-year plan and I'll take responsibility for dropping the ball (since I've been the one communicating with him). It sucks because it means we definitely won't get finished until after the new baby is born, but we should still be able to move back in before my maternity leave (I'm planning on 12 weeks) is over. As easily as we have been distracted and continued to put this off, we just want it done... there are some aspects to our cute, quaint, shabby little house that we are just tired of dealing with after 10 years. We're more than capable of doing most of the work ourselves, we finished a renovation of our own bedroom two weeks before DD was born, but we're at the point of just wanting to pay someone else to fix it. We will probably do a lot of the demo ourselves, but if I don't have to lay tile or finish drywall evar again, I'll be happy. So, as of this week, we had to start over talking to more contractors. I've met with two and a third is coming by early next week. Two others, that I'd talked with earlier in the summer, are slowing down and are also semi-interested. This may actually get competitive.

I got in touch with the bank guy to refinance and the good news is the rates are great! The bad news is that everyone agrees and, so, closing will take 60-75 days. Crap. Fortunately, our neighbor has another mortgage contact and he has a much better outlook on closing, 30 days. Whew.

We celebrated DD's 18-month birthday last weekend. I'll gush more on how awesome she is later.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Setting a Course - Part 2

So we haven't completely let the cat out of the bag about our big plans, but I'm talking about it here and with some other friends... not to mention our friends (& neighbor), C and G, who now also appear to have live-aboard fever (sorry guys!). We've, collectively, come across a few books, more sailing blogs, several with kids, and even got a couple of links from the Schultes... I've also expanded my research to include several 'working abroad' blogs. Some people work remotely/online and others are making their living writing travel articles or even documentaries. It's fun to glean ideas or little tidbits of information, about the traveling part, the working/financial part, and the family part.

As it turns out, a good friend is restoring a 33' sailboat from the late 70s that he bought for a song. He's still not completely certain what he's gotten himself into, as far as the boat's condition, but it sounds like the project is going ok and we can't wait to make a trip down to check it out in person. We got together with some friends for dinner Monday night and DH and I both got to spend time talking to him about the project and what he's learned about boats and sailing. We only joked him a little that he got out of amateur off-road racing to get into boat restoration and sailing.

Last week I got to have lunch with my favorite cousin, who was going to spend most of this past spring and summer helping a friend sail his 42' ketch (Swedish made, that's all he told me) from Deltaville, VA, back to Sweden. I think it was originally planned for the summer of 2011, but the weather and other things forced them to put it off not only once but now twice. They're planning on doing a loop of the Caribbean this fall and winter. My cousin is in his late 60s or so, and a complete nut. I mean that in a good way... he's always up for a challenge and stays busy with a business (or maybe two), working on his 1740s house in Virginia, or visiting Hawaii and hiking all over to check out old haunts from his Army days. He basically drove 2 hours out of his way because he was passing through "close enough" to warrant a quick visit. He was excited by our scheme and promised to send me links to people he knows who are sailing, especially with kids.

Right now, I think we're leaning toward a catamaran. As much as anything for the stability, because they don't heel like monohulls (look at the terminology use!) and we'll have small children and dogs on board. I don't know, for sure, though because I've seen several blogs with kids and dogs on monohulls and everyone seems to do ok. There may be more critical things to consider, such as boats actually out there for sale and their available space, condition, equipment, and holding tank space for things like gas and water. DH suggested we name whatever boat "Your Boat Name is Dumb," but then realized we'd probably end up with the nickname "The Dumbs." You can't always get what you want.

We do have a ways to go before we are actually in shopping for a boat mode. Some of the boat questions will require some actual experience (or at least stepping aboard a craft or two) to sort out and we'll have to have at least a half-assed plan for how on earth will we finance this lifestyle to which we'd like to become accustomed. There are some debts to be paid off, money to save, a few ongoing house projects to be completed, stuff to unload, and a family to continue to raise. We need to refinance our house, because the rates are just too good not to. We're looking at having a contractor come in and do some work, including probably finishing some things we haven't. Several friends and family members have told us (more than once) that the 10 years we have spent working on our house have been tedious and unnecessary, but we've learned a lot about construction and ourselves along the way. DH and I know we make a good team; we know how to split up projects and tasks, we know our strengths and weaknesses.

We're bulletproof tigers, dude.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

You're Doing it Wrong

I read an interesting post on being afraid to fail over at The Fearful Adventurer. It talks about projects that remain unfinished and dreams that are never realized, all to avoid failure; about being "unpleasantly distracted for an entire lifetime." I think we're all guilty of doing that at least occasionally; that's the essence of procrastination. To choose to sit still as opposed to accepting an offer to do anything? To continue in a crap job or a crap life all to avoid the possibility that what lies around the corner might be difficult? I've frequently thought, while in the middle of doing something new or even a little risky, "I don't like this," or "I'll never do this again," but rarely have I arrived at the other side and not been glad I'd given it a shot.

The other side of the failure coin is the fear of judgement. This is one that nags even after the deed is done... "what does so-and-so think of me or of what I said/did?" Will it matter in five years? Will it matter in one year? In most cases, probably not, most other people are far too concerned with their own lives and problems. And, really, a friend wouldn't berate you over little failures and one who does is a friend not worth keeping. Then there's self-judgement... but the chance of being awful at something is a risk worth taking if it turns out to be untrue, or to lead to the discovery of an actual talent.

As a good friend put it, "If you've got the ability and the opportunity and you're NOT doing it... you're doing it wrong." I try to remind myself of these things whenever hesitation creeps in unnecessarily...

A recent example is that I finally feel comfortable driving a manual transmission vehicle, as of two weeks ago. I know, it's silly. I should have learned and been proficient long ago, especially considering I've spent the better part of the last 15 years with an avowed automatic hater. DH has only ever owned manuals and complains every time he drives my grocery getter. In my own defense, DH isn't always the most patient teacher and my early learning experiences weren't helped by the quirkiness of the 1990 Bronco... I'd get ridiculously nervous with the whole proposition and would come up with plenty of excuses for why I didn't feel like it or didn't need to deal with it. In his defense, DH is a great driver and has a lot of experience with a wider variety of vehicles and even with some sticky situations... and my best excuse was always that he liked driving and was better prepared to handle sticky situations.

Jeep, Dodge, and camper set up last fall in TN

Out of necessity (moving two vehicles at once) I had to drive our Dodge pickup a couple of times in the past few months and then, a couple of weeks ago, the 1998 TJ. I did fairly well (considering the quirkiness of four angry squirrels and no torque) and decided I HAD to drive it to work that week, no more excuses. Sure, I still stalled it a few (dozen) times, but I got way more comfortable with it and got rid of the hesitation and nervousness. Am I as smooth as DH, not yet, but he's been doing it for over half his life. Yay, me.

So we continue to make plans and work our way through realizing a few little dreams we've had, like having a more modern kitchen in our tiny 1940s house. We continue to work through getting rid of some of our stuff, or at least wrapping our brains around going from 880 square feet (that doesn't include the attic and garage/shed) to probably something like 450 square feet on a sailboat. I have given myself a deadline to photograph more items to post on CL today. Photos are done, just need to get things listed tonight. No hits on what I posted last week, although DH did have some interest in our older DSLR that he posted on our forum. We haven't started on bigger stuff and some of that may depend on whether or not we end up keeping the house and renting it out while we're gone...  but I'm hoping I can get DH in the garage to start planning an attack on the stuff that needs to go to the scrap yard or the dump or get posted on the forum... this weekend.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Weekend recap and a survey

We had the best weekend! Friday was a little rough. I left work a little early and picked up DD, who has been dropping her second nap and gets pretty cranky in the evenings as a result. I was unusually exhausted (even for 29.5 weeks pregnant) and, when DH got home a little early too, took a nap for about an hour. He took DD outside to play and pick up sticks in the yard (it's not child labor when she loves to help, right?) and then I made dinner after I woke up. She was just not satisfied, no matter what. Hungry? Maybe, but that still didn't fix it. Teething pain? Maybe, but a little something cold or even rubbing the gums didn't fix it. She finally gave it up about 8:30pm, but then woke up at 4am and didn't fall back asleep until at least 5:15. Ugh.

Saturday was beautiful and we spent the morning and most of the afternoon doing little chores around the house and spending time in the yard. DD caught an anole!

It was the funniest thing, and I still don't know how it got in the house much less how she caught it. He was a teeny baby, less than an inch-and-a-half from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail. I was moving laundry from the washer to the dryer and she was toddling around the adjacent office/sunroom. She was kind of quiet, so I peeked around the corner of the door to see what she was up to. She came from behind a chair, in front of the windows in one corner, with something in her hand, holding it palm up but with her fingers closed into her palm (not quite a fist). It looked greenish and my first thought was leaf or bug. Nope, she had this tiny anole by the tail! I was able to catch him from her and call for DH to see before we took it outside and set him free on the patio to watch him scurry away. We even saw an adult later, on the side of the house, so I could show DD the 'mama' lizard.

We even got DD to take two naps, the second one on our way to the stadium to tailgate with family and friends and then watch three quarters of a very one-sided football game. She is so not shy (at least most of the time), and had a blast clapping, dancing and waving at everyone around us. She slept better that night, too. What is it about more nap time and sleeping better? The better rested they are, the better they rest or something, I think I've heard.

Sunday (yesterday) was even nicer... a little cool and definitely fall-like. We started off early at our favorite country breakfast place. DD ate like a linebacker and I ate more than I should have. I mean, the pancakes are huge (11" diameter!) and I usually eat maybe half of one, including sharing a few bites with DD. Between the two of us, we ate at least 2/3 of it. We ran a couple of errands and got DD to fall asleep on the way back home. I'd hoped for a repeat performance of the afternoon nap in the car, since we were leaving for a mid-afternoon wedding a little over an hour away, but no such luck. She powered through the outdoor ceremony (my dad did take her around back of everyone so she didn't have to sit still), cocktail hour, dinner, and
she danced to the saxophone music during cocktail hour and the DJ after dinner. She gave hugs and kisses 'bye' before passing out as soon as we were in the car to leave, at about 8:15. Stirred once around 11 and then nothing until 6 this morning. If you don't have kids, you have no idea how awesome that is.

Speaking of this wedding... it was the absolute cutest, most fun event and it was really a great reflection of the bride, groom, and their families. My cousin, the bride, grew up showing cows for her grandparents' dairy farm and now she's a veterinarian. The groom also grew up on a farm and, with degrees in Human Resources, Science, and Agricultural Business Management, he helps run the family farm in western NC. The ceremony and reception took place in a 1940s dairy barn that has been refurbished into an events facility with a catering kitchen and space for dinner and dancing. The ceremony was out behind the hayloft, on the lawn overlooking fields of soybeans and recently cut corn stalks. The sky was completely clear except for the visible moon. The cocktail hour consisted of local wines & beers and meat, cheese, and fruit hors d'oeuvres passed on trays with little cards containing agricultural facts. The place cards were printed on labels attached to bright pink (the bride's favorite color) ear tags and the tables were labeled with farm animals and farm equipment. The dinner was good southern food... barbeque pork, grilled chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes, macaroni & cheese and deviled eggs. The cake was beautiful and delicious. 

Even if I wasn't pregnant, I'd still talk about the food.

I found this survey some time ago and held on to the list of questions, for fun... The sun is shining and some of these made me smiles that much more.

Hometown? the tiny community of Timberlake, NC

Parents still together? well... it's complicated... and not just on Facebook.
Siblings? two brothers, this one and this one
Pets? two very spoiled labrador retriever mixes... both rescues

Smoker? nope
Drinker? I like good beer but it tastes funny when I'm pregnant and, well, I'm pregnant
Favorite Color? Black. Ok, you know I'm lying... it's orange.
Favorite Flower? Daffodils. There were tons in my grandmother's yard and we'd pick and fill the house with them.

Favorite Candy? That's a tough one, because I love candy, especially the old-school penny candy variety. I'll go with Hot Tamales... or Mary Janes... or...
Collect anything? I used to collect little clocks, 3 is considered a 'collection' and DH cut me off at 5 or 6. I've given a couple away, now that we're getting rid of clutter.
Biggest Fear? That's a tough question... it pains me to think of my loved ones suffering, but I'm fairly content with the concept that life happens and shit happens...
Biggest Weakness? DH or DD's laugh, definitely. Cures all sorts of ills. Doggie kisses from my two favorite bad dogs are good, too.

Oh, and we had to find DH a new pair of slacks and a shirt to wear to the wedding. Yes it was adding to the stuff, but it was a good excuse to cull at least one pair of slacks and 4 or 5 shirts from his closet to donate.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Ball is Rolling

We're still both very excited about the idea of sailing and living aboard (or something) and have found a couple more interesting blogs and articles by people living aboard with kids. Our main 'planning' task is figuring out how to support ourselves. The idea we have is to take a 'shotgun' approach, and identify or develop several marketable skills and see what works and what works well. I read last night that the Schultes are writing a book on not only their choices to pursue passions and dreams but also how they fund their lifestyle and, specifically, Pat's experiences in trading stocks. Should be interesting reading! I can also confirm that they do reply to every email, as Ali was kind enough to help me with my question about concrete criteria for paring down. She confirmed that you do the best you can to clear out the excess and then you'll quickly figure out what works and doesn't once you shove off... either finding things you need or shedding things you don't. Her main piece of advice was basically to "get rid of everything you are not using now." It was really cool to hear back and it gave us an extra boost of enthusiasm.

I've taken even more stuff to Goodwill and I have a load to take to the Salvation Army (each takes donations of different types of things). I also posted a few things on craigslist last night and DH posted our older Nikon DSLR on the forum we run (which will also go on CL if no one on the forum bites). I have lots more to photograph and post, but it feels good to start the next step in our "clearing-out" process. The more we unload, the more motivated I think we'll be to keep it up.

DH and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary last week. It was actually the same day as my midwife appointment. Even though I knew they were the same day and we spent several hours and had lunch together, neither of us remembered until the middle of the afternoon. Our celebratory dinner consisted of sandwiches and chips. We did go back to the beach for the weekend, near where we were married on the Outer Banks of NC, and had some yummy fresh shrimp for dinner. The dogs had a blast playing on the beach and in the sound and we had great weather.

I've posted this photo before, of us the morning after our wedding... we were tired, a little hungover and DH had no grey hair then.

I'm 29 weeks pregnant today, which means I'm into the third trimester. That blows my mind. I had a midwife appointment last week where they did the Glucose Tolerance Test (no news is good news so I apparently passed) and also tested my iron/hemoglobin. That was a little low so even though I eat pretty well/healthy, I need to try to get the number back up before 36 weeks. I'll go in every 2-3 weeks, for now, but they won't check until 36. It dipped and went back up with DD, so fingers crossed. Everything else was good, though, as far as weight and the measurements they take. The midwife did seem somewhat incredulous that I'm working full-time, have a toddler who doesn't always sleep well, AND I'm almost seven months pregnant. DD is sleeping better, but she has eye teeth coming in and they're the worst so far. In other 'baby' news, we're proving to be just as slack (if not more so) with belly progress pics. We've taken some, but have yet to post any. I'll try to work on that.

Speaking of DD... this photo is a couple of weeks old now, but get a load of this kid... such a wallflower. New words are coming almost daily now, although there is still lots of 'nonsense' talk... but she will repeat entire phrases (that we can't understand at all) and we figure she just thinks we're dumb. Still climbing everything, trying all sorts of new feats of strength, agility, and parental nerve-wrecking. We're going to my cousin's wedding this weekend, it will be her second but first since she's been truly mobile (we were both in my first cousin's wedding last November). She's going to be a hit on the dance floor, I guarantee.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Stuff - Part 2

Knowing the reasons behind the piles (and not just of clothes) is one thing. Dealing with them is another. It is a process but one that has been underway for some time, due to space limitations of our 880 square foot house. We're kicking it into high gear because, as DH said, "Let's get on with it."

You can search "How to pare down..." and find lots of ideas and tips that say to evaluate your stuff and determine how important it is to your life. That's great... but I find it to be, on the one hand, a little incomplete when dealing with the reasons why I hold on to stuff. I need more concrete criteria.

On the other hand... what/how much do you really need on a sailboat or in a VW bus for four years? My biggest problem, with clothing especially, is nostalgia... in the form of screen-printed t-shirts that I don't want to give up, or that DH says I cannot give away. Well... I can only hold onto so much stuff to fit DD "later", but as long as it fits, it has a chance. I'm well-practiced at relinquishing older items when I find new ones, just due to lack of closet space and not wanting to be bothered with changing out for the seasons.

I've been offloading bags of "stuff" to the local Goodwill almost weekly, between outgrown baby clothes (much has gone to a couple of friends with daughters a year younger than DD, because some stuff just won't work with this December baby, no matter the gender), stuff I haven't worn in two years and will probably never wear again, old cds we never listen to because we have the mp3s, and kitchen clutter we don't use (no one needs THREE Pyrex pie pans). I've identified several items worth posting on ebay or craigslist, including some accessories and collectibles I usually see listed.

I found yet another travel blog called Life Remotely that does a great job of listing out their gear and personal belongings... super critical with three adults in a Toyota Forerunner! Their best quote, "Travel isn’t about stuff. Get over it. Stuff is stuff. It is replaceable. Travel is about people and places and experiences. The less stuff you have to worry about, the more you will be able to enjoy the present."

You can probably replace "travel" with "life" in that quote. Food for thought... more later.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Stuff - Part 1

OK, yes, I know... I'm busy making plans. Ha. Remember, this is an alternative to the "deferred life plan," as I think Tim Ferriss calls it.

First order of business in preparing for our 'around the world cruise' is getting rid of the clutter that's holding us back...

Now, I don't care how much "stuff" anyone else has. Hoarders are weird, but there is definite evidence of bigger (mental?) issues involved there. I don't begrudge anyone their iThingies or anything like that. It isn't political and it isn't environmental. Eat all the pie, smoke all the cigs and collect all the what-nots you want. For me, personally, I get frustrated by the mess.

I'm no minimalist, by any stretch, and I don't have time to be very organized... if you looked around, you would say I'm full of crap. You'd be partly right. My house is full of crap, my desk is full of crap. There are lots of memories and nice things, too... and I have a weakness for anything made by hand.

My frustration is with organizing the stuff and keeping it so I can find things when I need to... without having to move piles of other stuff. It is my lack of control over the stuff and the lack of knowing what to do with most of it... you know, in the 15 minutes I have, most days, after walking the dogs at lunch before heading back to the office, and the other 15 minutes I have, most days, after the baby goes to sleep and before I crash.

Part of my problem is the "gonna have to have/need it" that has a couple of sources:

The Great Depression.
Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents who grew up in the 19-teens and '20s. They were farmers who worked hard and didn't have a lot extra. I loved them immensely and miss them terribly. Their property had several outbuildings in which you could find all manner of parts and pieces to things... they had the room and it wasn't a bad idea to keep it around. They put up food for the winter. All good habits, until you apply them to the trappings of a more modern life and then things tend to get out of hand.

The trappings of modern life and enough financial freedom to hang myself.
Going to college, getting a little autonomy, getting a credit card, getting part-time jobs... having free time and no real way to spend it other than going to the mall with friends. I'm very fortunate to have never run up crazy credit card debt. Meeting DH sophomore year probably helped, because I had also stopped hanging out with some serious shopaholics and he hates to shop. I'm almost equally fortunate for being just as (if not more) interested in the 'deal' than the label... but those deals still add up. If not on the monthly statement, they add up in the closet. Clothing is self-expression and I'm cool with that. Maybe I just need to figure out exactly who/what it is I'm expressing. LOL

(Updated after sleeping on it) Gift Guilt.
I think this related to 'the trappings,' but is different enough of an issue to deserve its own heading. I think a lot of the stuff I have trouble giving up is gifts I've received. They're modern life-related because it is knick-knacky stuff, mostly. Candles, pottery, and other things that people give you when they a.) find out you like that sort of thing or have several items already, or b.) don't know what else to get you (especially if you are a girl). Nothing is wrong with these gifts, it is truly the thought that counts. I think, though, that if you are not the kind of person to ever burn a candle that smells of fir trees or do anything other than dust a pair of votive holders in the shape of squirrels... maybe they need to find a home with someone who will enjoy them more.

Part 2 will be me trying to come up with ways to evaluate what to toss and then how to toss it... I've never used ebay, but I had an idea to reactivate my etsy account and maybe try to sell some things that way.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Setting a Course

John Lennon sang, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

Maybe it isn't the most profound statement, but it's one that I like. I try to live in the moment, try to not get dragged down by the past and try not to get too distracted by what lies around the corner. Sure, I think about the future... especially now that I'm a mom, although kids definitely force you to live in the moment, because everything changes SO quickly. I just feel like life is too short to spend so much time planning and preparing that you either forget what it is you're planning and preparing for... or you just never get "prepared" and miss out on that thing and every other opportunity that you passed up in the meantime.

That's a lot of BS to get around to saying that DH and I have decided to set (or change) a course... we're not waiting until we're 65 to go on adventures. I mean, we've had lots of little adventures in the almost 15 years since we first met, but we're not going to wait for "retirement" to really go out on a limb. Yes, we have a 17-month-old and we'll have another baby before the end of the year, but we've never thought we had to wait 18 years to do anything "fun" again, either.

We haven't figured out exactly what or exactly how, but we've got some pretty interesting and compelling examples in folks like Brad and Sheena and Pat and Ali Schulte.

It all started when our buddy in Portland sent DH a link to a guy who is driving the Pan Am Highway with his girlfriend in an old Toyota Forerunner... that led him to Drive Nacho Drive which then led him to Bumfuzzle. He sent me the link where Brad and Sheena met up with the Schultes and I read from there... and climbed right on board (yeah, pun intended). The sailboat is compelling, the life in Mexico maybe even more-so since our PDX buddy competes in the SCORE races on the peninsula and has begged us to come for years. Doing all of it with kids is what is most interesting to us. Our daughter is 17 months old and will be about 20 months when the new baby arrives, just like the Schulte kids.

We've been on lots of road trips in the almost-15 years since we started dating, camping out of a 1990 Ford Bronco, sometimes with my brother tagging along, lots of times with one or two dogs tagging along, not to mention following along with our friends and all camping out together and helping each other through mechanical failures and other mishaps. We've driven from the east coast to Colorado and Utah and we've roughed it on the Rubicon Trail. We've done a lot of backpacking, even. We've done 'nicer' trips to Key West and San Francisco (if you can call youth hostels nice)... Now we have a jeep and still get in lots of long weekend practice runs... but we miss the longer (although only really 2 weeks or so) trips.

We think it will be like a mini-retirement. We're setting our 'start' date about 5 years (+/- 2) out, to give us time to figure some things out... and then we figure the duration will be 1-5 years. I guess it all depends, we're ok with that. We just like the option to change course and not be stuck anywhere doing anything. I think we've both been feeling a little "stuck", professionally, for a while and this has been a bit of a light bulb moment... not only can we get out of a rut, we can rid ourselves of the clutter and BS that drags you into them in the first place.

I've never sold anything on ebay, but I'm finding things I think will sell, along with things to offload to charities or friends (can you say way too much pink and purple baby/kid clothes?).

So, tell me your best adventure story, tell me how to best photograph stuff to sell on ebay, tell me I'm insane. Whatever. ;) I think, sometimes, you just gotta take chances.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


When I'm feeling kind of bummed about some things, I try to take a minute and focus on... Things I love, In no particular order:

1- My husband. It is that simple and yet that all-encompassing. As I've mentioned before, he is my favorite person and my best friend. He makes me laugh and he makes me a better person. We make a good team and we work hard, always there to help each other along the way.

DH and DD on his first Father's Day

2- My child(ren). My 'darlin' daughter' brings smiles to my face and melts my heart constantly. The newness of everything, how she's seeing and figuring things out for the first time, amazes me and makes me appreciate so much. Her hugs and kisses are the BEST and her high fives and fist bumps are pretty awesome, too. ;) She dances at the tiniest hint of a tune and she LOVES.

DD, age 1, my Gma, age 91

At 20 weeks, tomorrow, we're excitedly anticipating the birth of our second child. I can only imagine that the fun and love (ok, and lack of sleep!) will increase not only double but probably triple.

3- Making people smile or laugh. What is better in life than sharing the joys of every day with family and friends?

4- A sense of accomplishment for a job well done. Knowing I've done my best, learned something and made a difference to someone else. Like June Carter Cash was fond of saying, "I'm just trying to matter."

5- My dogs. They help me remember lots of simple things that make me a better person. They also make me laugh on a regular basis, which is good for anyone.

Happy Dogs on a backpacking trip

6- God. My faith is something I'm often at a loss for words to describe, something too personal to discuss. I don't expect other people to share my beliefs, so I don't often share my beliefs with others, if that makes sense? To each his own, it is a personal thing, is what I'm trying to say. I'm in awe and take comfort in the enormity of it all... whoever is responsible.

7- Nature. I experience great joy being out in the wildest places. It isn't just the sun or the trees or any particular type of place. I'm very happy when I'm out 'there' in the open (or deep in a laurel thicket) and the silence. See #6.

With DH and the Dogs, on top of Cold Mountain

8- Cooking for/feeding people. I may not be the best cook, but I put every ounce of love in my being into it. I learned that from my grandmother. Food doesn't solve all our problems, but knowing you're loved and cared for sure does help.

9- Feeling good/helping others feel good. Related to #3, 4 and 8... but more specific to feeling "healthy." I like to be active, but not in a gym-three-times-a-week sense. I like walking (see #7), I like stretching (I'm starting to feel a Molly Shannon moment coming on :LOL: ), I like to feel like my body is doing things it is supposed to do. I'm not the preachy type, but my enthusiasm may sometimes get the better of me. ;) I'm trying to figure out a way to do more of helping others feel good... maybe there's even a "job" in it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Birth Story

As I work my way toward month four of my second pregnancy (yep!), this is the story of my daughter's birth.

On March 30, 2011, at 9:57pm, I gave birth to a beautiful and healthy girl. The short version is that I labored for 44 hours ('active' labor for 22 hours) and pushed for 3.5 hours. My daughter was in what is called occiput posterior fetal position, or OP, or 'sunny-side up'. The OP position is when the back of baby's head is against the mother's back. This can cause painful "back labor," which I didn't have, but basically means the baby's head doesn't "head" into the birth canal in the most efficient way, meaning a longer labor and a higher chance of intervention. I learned that a 'successful' birth does not necessarily equate to an 'easy' birth. Although it was difficult and I STILL remember how it felt and how tired I was, it was an amazing experience I won't soon forget!

Birthing, and talking about birthing, can be a tricky thing. If you've ever been pregnant you know that everyone has an opinion (or a story) and wants to share it. Some people have very strong opinions on the topic. The opinions expressed are my own and I don't judge others for theirs. If you've never been through it, are pregnant or are considering getting pregnant, I would just like to say: It can seem really scary. It doesn't have to be!

Some friends had taken Bradley classes and spoke very highly of the experience. Early on in my pregnancy, I looked up and exchanged emails and phone calls with the three instructors in our area (I think there is now a fourth). Different friends had taken classes by two of these women, and they were all helpful and thoughtful in their communications with me. We actually settled on the third instructor, Susan; I just got a good vibe from her. We started her 12-week course in the Bradley Method in about my 12th or 13th week, much earlier than most but we were glad for the 'extra' time to learn. Her class was small, just three or four couples at a time, and I'd recommend it (the Bradley Method or Susan's class) to anyone.

The more I learned from class and from reading other books, the more I understood that birth is not something we can control. As the birth process became less of a mystery I also became less worried. I realized that there were two things that would go a long way toward giving me the birth experience I wanted: knowing my options and having a birth team on board with my plan. Having a supportive team of midwives and nurses, Susan as our doula and DH at my side, I could decide what was best for myself and my baby. When the big day arrived, I never felt afraid and DH never panicked because we knew the kinds of things to expect and how to face them head on.

I worked hard to stay fit during my pregnancy; walking our dogs (a lot!), practicing squatting, and trying to keep my body in alignment, all to prevent discomfort in my muscles & joints and encouraging good positioning for the baby. I ate healthy and, although I never had much nausea, stuck to higher protein and "whole" foods and lots of water! I continued to work full-time up until I went into labor but I didn't push myself unnecessarily and took naps when I needed them!

Later on in my pregnancy, I remember worrying about a long labor, that my endurance would run out and I'd wish for 'help' of some sort. I had heard stories of healthy, active women exceeding their endurance and experiencing problems due to sheer exhaustion. Our midwifery practice was the Women's Birth and Wellness Center, in Chapel Hill, NC, so medication was not really an option.

I woke with my first contraction at 2:30 am on March 29 (Day 1) and was able to sleep through most of the night, waking when the alarm went off and answering DH's question of, "how long has that been going on?" I had my 40-week checkup scheduled for that morning but spoke on the phone with the midwife on call, Leigh Ann, and postponed the appointment to see how I progressed at home. DH didn't want me to have to drive to his office (half way between home and the Birth Center) by myself, so he stayed with me and we ended up spending the day relaxing and breathing through steady but not truly 'hard' contractions. We walked our dogs (miles and miles!), I took a bath and a nap and we stayed in contact with Leigh Ann and our doula, Susan.

At 10 pm on Day 1, we drove to the Birth Center to have Leigh Ann check my progress, knowing full well that we'd probably be going back home for the night. The Birth Center won't admit a patient until she is 4cm dilated. Leigh Ann confirmed that I was 2-3cm dilated and recommended that we go home and that I try to relax and get some sleep. At about 12:30 am on Day 2, I had the first of what I then understood to be "hard" contractions. My body had been working for about 20 hours to build up to active labor!

I didn't sleep very well that night, waking for probably every third contraction and mostly waiting until morning to wake DH and start timing contractions again. We woke up on the morning of March 30 (Day 2), took showers and DH timed my contractions while I sat on my knees, facing the back of our couch to lean on it for support. We also spent a lot of time doing what is called the 'labor dance,' DH and I standing facing each other, my arms draped around his shoulders so he could support my weight as I relaxed with each contraction. We wanted to wait until the contractions were between 4 and 5 minutes apart, for at least an hour, before we went to the Birth Center. We waited until the contractions were consistently 5 minutes apart, and growing closer, then left for the Birth Center. It was raining and I felt every bump in the road but managed to doze for most of the 45-minute drive. I only wish I had thought to tell DH to stop and get himself some lunch. I had packed lots of snacks for labor but nothing really substantial for him!

We arrived at the Birth Center and were shown into one of four labor rooms they have equipped with a queen bed, a water closet and a large tub. Tamara, a midwifery intern, checked my progress and found that I was now 7cm dilated. We were excited and relieved at our progress! We unpacked some of our things, between contractions, and Susan arrived shortly after. We pointed out the things we might need from our bags and cooler and DH went over our camera's settings so Susan could help with the photos, as well.

I spent more time "labor dancing" with DH and leaning on a birth ball on the bed. We wanted to try to birth in the tub so Tamara filled it for us and I changed clothes. I'm a modest person, something that didn't really change even as labor progressed, so I had brought plenty of clothing changes so I'd be comfortable. I wore a tank top and skirt in the tub! I spent about 45 minutes in the tub, lying mostly on my side while DH and Susan took turns pouring water over my shoulders. Sarah, another midwife, came in to check on me and found that I was a "stretchy 9cm." She asked if I felt pressure "down low" and, if so, to try pushing. I realized, after the fact, that it was not the true "bearing down" sensation of the second stage of labor. I don't know that it would have saved me any time, pushing, but I definitely feel like I started pushing a little too soon. I've heard, since, that it is not uncommon... and frequently leads to long pushing stages or even interventions. We decided to get out of the tub to let gravity help move things along and never actually made it back to the water! Now that I have a better idea of what everything feels like, I hope to get another opportunity to try water birthing!

I had no sense of time while I labored. I had left any tracking or checking to DH and Susan so I could concentrate on breathing and doing what my body needed. I knew things were moving along, because I would occasionally think I needed to vomit. I had read that the body will sometimes eliminate anything extraneous, in preparation for birth. Fortunately I never actually got sick but the urge came and went up until I was very close to delivery. I think, after I exited the tub, I walked and labored for another 60-90 minutes before I actually felt the urge to bear down and begin the second stage. As I mentioned before, that process took about 3.5 hours. I tried leaning on the birth ball, sitting on a birthing stool, sitting on the toilet and lying on my side. Sitting was very uncomfortable, both because of the pressure "down low" and also because my baby was pushing back with her legs and it made my abdomen very sore and tender. Leaning over the ball was better, but what turned out to work best for me was to lie on my side with my knees to my ears! I leaned back against DH and he talked to me, telling me what a great job I was doing. He later confessed that he was mostly at a loss for what to say, so would repeat what the midwives and Susan said. His voice was often the clearest, calm and warm, against my ear. When a contraction started I would pull my knees back and groan loudly as I pushed through it, then relax and breathe as it subsided. Shifts had changed somewhere along the way so, although Tamara was still with me, Allison was now the midwife on call and Nicole was our nurse.

At some point, they discussed breaking the amniotic sac ("bag of waters") to try to make my contractions and pushes more productive. We knew I'd been leaking water, so it was only the sac itself that might have been between my baby's head and my cervix. I told them I wanted to wait a few more contractions and they were fine with that. Throughout my labor, they had checked my temperature, my blood pressure and my baby's heartbeat to make sure we were both doing okay. At no point were we ever in distress, so although they made suggestions to move things along, they honored my decisions. When I told Tamara and Allison that I was ok with them trying to break the bag, Tamara checked and said that it was actually already broken, she felt the baby's hair!

My birth preferences had very specifically stated that I wanted to avoid an episiotomy, so Allison, Tamara and Nicole worked diligently with oil and hot compresses to massage and allow my perineum to stretch in preparation for crowning. I was still, at this point, turning back and forth from one side to the other and also up on my knees, trying to get my baby's head to emerge. With each contraction she would move a little further down but when the contraction subsided her head would ease back upward a little! This was something we'd learned about in our Bradley class, that it is just part of how the muscles work and also allows the mother's body to accommodate the baby's head without tearing. Those last several contractions, Allison suggested I try to not vocalize but to put all that energy into the pushes. This was both hard to do but very satisfying to me, maybe just in the idea that I was finding new strength! Before her head fully emerged, the contractions were some of the hardest I'd felt, just knowing my baby was SO close. Having everyone cheering me on, telling me what a great job I was doing, helped me power through! Once the head was out, the midwives cheered me on even harder as they cleared her nose and mouth and unwound the umbilical cord, which was wrapped twice around her neck. It was wrapped around twice, something we'd also learned was fairly common and not always a sign of a problem.

They laid her on my belly and wiped and warmed her with towels. She smiled and gave a faint little laugh, and then someone asked if it was a boy or girl. We didn't know her gender until she arrived, so Shawn leaned over me to look and then announced, "It's a girl!" Allison offered Shawn the scissors so he could cut the umbilical cord after it had stopped pulsing (I'm not sure anyone was watching it, we were all distracted by the baby).

The midwives asked if they could give me a shot of pitocin, as a form of "active management" of the third stage of labor. They were concerned, after 3.5 hours of pushing, that my uterus would have trouble pushing out the placenta. I was ok with that, since the baby would not be affected in any way, and so agreed to the shot. They then asked if they could weigh her and clean her up a bit. They also wanted to make sure she would cry, to make sure her lungs were clear. My precious girl weighed 8lbs, 2oz and was 21" long.

They put a diaper and knit cap on her, swaddled her in blankets and gave her back to me to nurse and admire. When it was over and I could hold my daughter in my arms, with DH's arms around us both, I was so grateful for the whole experience.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Happy Birthday to my little one

Happy First Birthday!

Friday, March 9, 2012

From the vault...

I took a break. A L-O-N-G one. I had posts that were never published...

I was just... doing other things. Living life and learning how to be a mom. :) I'm publishing some things, in the order they were written.

If there's any chance someone had this on Reader or was otherwise keeping track... that's that.