This is 40 (weeks)

Tags

,

Much like the Judd Apatow movie, This is 40, my pregnancy has been filled with ups and downs and plenty of big life changes. Also like the film, it’s too long.

Nolan was born at 38 weeks and while labor didn’t come as a complete surprise, it was early enough that I hadn’t been sitting around wondering, Was that a contraction? I’m peeing so much, could that be my water breaking? Is this it????

With this pregnancy, everyone told me, “You’ll probably go early.” Even my midwife warned me to be prepared. Well, fast forward to 40 weeks and here I am. Still pregnant. While the second half of October was filled with me keeping my fingers (and legs) crossed hoping I wouldn’t go into labor, now I’m so used to expecting it that I’ve almost forgotten it’s really going to happen. I kind of feel like I’ll just be pregnant forever.

These extra few weeks have added another layer to my pregnancy experience. Something new this time around is that nothing fits. Not even my maternity clothes. It’s like my maternity clothes need their own maternity clothes. The general recommendation when purchasing pregnancy clothes is that you buy them in your pre-pregnancy size. While this looks adorable at six or seven months, 40+ weeks doesn’t look cute in an XS tee-shirt. It’s like I’m a beer-bellied truck driver whose shirts don’t cover the bottom of his gut.

Worse than the shirts are the pants. With the exception of two very thin and sort of obscene pairs of maternity leggings, every pair of pants (and underwear) hurts. Anything that puts even the tiniest bit of pressure on my hips or pelvis is torture.

I have taken great enjoyment in seeing people’s faces when I answer the frequent question, “So when are you due??” The cashiers’ expressions at Home Depot and Target had a mix of horror and disbelief yesterday when I answered them, “Today.”

We prepped Nolan so much that I think he’s starting to wonder if I made this whole baby thing up. Starting a new school was tough for him, so although I’ve been home resting for the last few weeks, we have been telling him that I go to work after I drop him off in the morning. Lately I think he’s starting to doubt me. In the past week he has said things like:

Where’s your blue school bag?

What are you bringing for lunch today?

You’re wearing those pants to work? 

Now that I’ve put this in print, I’m sure I’ll go into labor tonight and wind up skipping my post-40 week testing at the doctor tomorrow. I’ll be relieved, but I will miss my coffee shelf.

coffee shelf

10 things you don’t want your contractor to say

Tags

, ,

IMG_3623

Things are well underway at our new house. It’s a massive construction zone and we’re very grateful we have my parents’ house to crash at until everything is completed. Because I watched an obscene amount of HGTV when I was on maternity leave with Nolan, I was prepared for the contractor and his crew to find unexpected expenses. We selected a company whose bid was really low and did so knowing that he would probably add lots of expenses along the way (“Oh you want the molding painted, too?”), and he has. In the interest of saving money, here are some of the things you DON’T want to hear:

10. “I didn’t realize there was plaster under there.”

9. When referring to existing work in the house, “The guys who did this really screwed it up.” See also: “They didn’t know what they were doing,” and “They were really lazy.”

8.  “That’s not to code.” See also: “That’s illegal.” This implies it needs to be redone. $$$$.

7. “That’s a pain in the ass to install.” This implies it takes a long time. $$$$.

6. When attempting to replace an old rusty-looking piece of baseboard heat, “There isn’t any heat going to your bathroom.” This implies you need heat (duh) and it has to be completely set up and connected.

5. “Wow, there isn’t any heat in the upstairs bathroom either. How did this lady shower in the winter with no heat??”

4. “That’s not cheap.” This implies it’s really expensive. $$$$$$$$.

3. “They had this whole thing on one circuit!” This implies you need more circuits. $$$$.

2. “You can’t just leave it like that.” This implies more work needs to be done. $$$$.

1. “That’s custom.” See also: “That’s not stock,” and “That has to be specially made.”

french door

the best time of year to have a baby

Tags

, ,

Are certain times of the year better than others for having a baby? What about the best time of year to be pregnant? Having now been pregnant at two opposite times of the year, I’ve noticed some definite pros and cons to both.

After having Nolan in late April, I declared that I wanted my next baby to be born in November. Little did I know that three and a half years later, that’s exactly what would be happening. Having a spring baby last time meant I wasn’t pregnant for the hot summer (yay!), but I was losing my pregnancy weight and feeling lumpy and squishy during the summer months. Sheer, clingy tee shirts and jersey dresses were not kind to me when I was dealing with a post-pregnancy pooch. Also, who knew that you can’t use sunscreen on newborns and young infants?? With Nolan being only 2-4 months old during that first summer, we were limited with where we could go and what we could do. Sweltering hot cars weren’t a breeze to deal with either, but on the flip side, it was nice not having to worry about toting my newborn around in the snow and ice.

Being pregnant in the winter was good for cuddling up at home in comfy sweats, but winter maternity clothes aren’t very cute. All in all, I give spring a thumbs down for having a baby.

This time around, my awkward bloated first trimester was late winter/early spring so it wasn’t terrible hiding that. On second thought, all my students figured out I was pregnant weeks before I told them, so maybe I wasn’t hiding it so well…

Summer maternity clothes are much more flattering. Skirts and dresses are comfortable and help keep you cool. With the exception of a good pair of maternity jeans and black pants, I’ve stuck to buying regular bottoms with elastic waistbands.

I’ve been living in these comfy Nike shorts in a few colors. You might be surprised to know that I’m the model in that picture. No, really… [Edit: my mom thought I was serious about this picture being me. She even asked Matt if he took it. So just to be totally clear. That’s not me.]

I bought a bunch of maternity tops and dresses from Old Navy, as well as a few pull-on skirts from the regular women’s department like this one. I was pleasantly surprised by the very cute maternity dresses!

On the other hand, there are bathing suits. Because bathing suit shopping isn’t hard enough, a summer pregnancy means you struggle through that with a giant belly. My only advice there is get two-piece suits. Wrestling a one-piece bathing suit on and off every hour when you have to pee would be torture.

Weather, maternity clothing, post-pregnancy clothing, holidays … what else contributed to your liking or disliking the season you had a baby in?

an anniversary mini-break

Tags

, , , ,

Last weekend Matt and I celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary. We always try to do something special, whether it’s a short trip or even just a fancy dinner out. In the past, we’ve gone to Nantucket, had dinner at Daniel, and spent a night in Atlantic City. This year, Matt’s parents generously volunteered to keep Nolan for a sleepover at their house, and we planned a night in the city.

For somewhere that’s a 30-minute train ride away, NYC has so many things to do, places to see, restaurants to eat at, hotels to stay in… I found this one night away harder to plan than other week-long trips. To book our hotel we ended up with a good price through Travelocity’s mobile site. Believe it or not, the same exact room was $10 more expensive booked on the computer than it was on my phone. It was a special “mobile rate.” We also considered using Hotel Tonight, but in the end found that the Travelocity price was on par with or better than the deals they had.

We stayed at the Soho Grand, which was lovely. Very cool decor, lots of brushed brass and dim lights. The staff was friendly but no one looked a day over 24 and most are probably struggling actors and models. It made me feel old. And round.

The hotel kindly upgraded us to a room with a great view of the Freedom Tower, but it overlooked Canal Street and was so loud in the morning. I’d say they need to reevaluate the windows because it was way too noisy after 6am.

We got tickets to see Once through TDF (a $20 membership gets great prices on tons of shows). It’s luck of the draw with seating and you don’t find out where you’re sitting until you arrive, but once again we lucked out. We had mezzanine seats on the aisle (the pregnancy bladder gods were with me!) and paid only $40 a piece for them. Those seats regularly sell for $142! The show was wonderful and hearing the music from a live band made me like the soundtrack even more.

The rest of our 24 hours or so were pretty much focused on food because that’s my favorite part of any trip, even one that’s just across the East River. We started with delicious brunch at Schiller’s Liquor Bar on the Lower East Side.

After the show we had a snack (dinner #1) at the bar in the hotel, and ended our night with a delicious dinner at Hudson Clearwater.

 The food was definitely delicious, but I wouldn’t recommend sitting outside like we did. It was beautiful but the seats were uncomfortable and all the tables wobbled a lot on the bricks. Plus, there were some furry friends who scampered about…

Before heading back home on Monday morning, we finally visited Clinton Street Baking Company to try their famous pancakes. I love pancakes, but I’m kind of picky about them. Most of the time when I order them in restaurants, I find that the toppings and extras are all good, but the pancakes themselves are usually pretty bland and lackluster. Well, these were not bland at all. I went with the popular Maine blueberry pancakes and they were as good as I’d hoped. I would never wait hours and hours for them as is the case on most weekends, but ten minutes on a Monday? No problem.

Even though I was hauling around my big belly and couldn’t partake in the gallons of wine and cocktails that were everywhere (being pregnant in the summer is hard!), it was a very rejuvenating day away with my favorite man.

DSCN3563

photo (1)Marking our anniversary in a special way is important to us; what do you do to celebrate yours? Next year I have my sights set on a night away at the Maplestone Inn in New Paltz. Is it too early to plan anniversary #8 and reserve some babysitting?

Images from: Soho Grand Hotel, New York Magazine, Once the Musical, A Cup of Jo, Hudson Clearwater, and me

planning an IKEA kitchen – phase 1

Tags

, , , ,

After shopping around and reading A LOT online, we settled on using IKEA cabinets in our new kitchen. While I don’t always have good luck with IKEA furniture (to be fair, some stuff has lasted years and years), I have read blog after blog with positive experiences and helpful tips.

We haven’t made any final decisions and won’t order the cabinets until we close on the house and the other necessary work is done (wall removal, demo, floor refinishing). But that’s part of the beauty of this. Unlike a lot of other kitchens that need to be ordered months in advance, ours will be delivered 1-7 days after ordering.

For a lot of people, the DIY flexibility is a big part of the appeal. You can bring home your kitchen from the store and assemble and install it yourself. But be warned…the amount of cabinets we’re ordering (for a small kitchen with very few upper cabinets) is estimated to be over 200 boxes. Probably something like this. Multiplied by four.

Matt and I are not handy people and we also don’t have weeks to sit there and assemble these. Most importantly, this is a kitchen, not a nightstand. There isn’t room for error because this furniture is the groundwork for the most important room in our house. Installation runs around $120 per cabinet. It adds a lot to the cost.

Like I mentioned in an earlier post, I have taken a tremendous amount of inspiration and ideas from Dana Miller’s blog House Tweaking. Just the other day she shared more helpful information about the planning and installation of her family’s kitchen and it’s definitely worth a read.

So what have I done so far? Googled, emailed, pinned, and gone to the store several times. When I honed in on what I wanted, I made a design appointment with an IKEA rep. For $199 a contractor-type person comes to the house to take the measurements and then sits with you for up to three hours to completely design the kitchen. Again, there is a free version of this. Take the measurements yourself and enter the info into the IKEA software on the website. It’s the same software the designer will use to specifically select what can fit where. While I’m pretty computer savvy, I again was thinking about the importance in getting everything exactly right. The rep I sat with answered my dozens of questions and offered a lot of helpful information about ways to reconfigure and the most logical choices for certain spots. So do I think it’s worth $200? Definitely. Another thing I really liked about him is that although he is contracted by IKEA, he doesn’t actually work for the store. He was very upfront about what items he thought I shouldn’t get from IKEA (most of the sinks and faucets).

At the end of the meeting I had a 14-page document with all the info I need for our contractor to demo and prep what he needs to, and for me to order all the pieces. Here is an example of what one of the images looks like.

Screen shot 2014-07-12 at 12.56.38 PM

That whole storage/work area off to the right is up for debate in our house right now. I’ll get to that in another post…

Oh! One more thing, you need to have purchased, or at least selected the appliances you’ll be using. The exact measurements are necessary to plan the space properly and order the correctly sized cabinets.

preparing kid #1 for kid #2

Tags

, , , , ,

As an only child in my 20s, I had definite ideas about how I envisioned my future family. Most importantly, it involved more than one child (and Matt. Duh). I never really minded being an only child when I was a kid. I had cousins to play with, tons of friends who thought their siblings were sooooo annoying, and I was always very close with my parents. Once I became an adult and I started noticing the relationships my friends now had with their sisters and brothers, that’s when it started bothering me. Seeing my parents and husband’s parents care for aging and ailing parents also reminded me that I don’t have siblings with whom I can share that job. (Thankfully, my parents are two fresh-faced crazy kids themselves, so I don’t have to worry about that for a while. Hi Mom and Dad! Thanks for letting us live in your house!!)

So back to having more than one child. After Nolan was born, I made up my mind: I am DONE. No more kids. I had a difficult delivery, and he wasn’t the easiest baby. By the time his first birthday rolled around, I turned a blind eye to all that and remembered all the reasons I don’t want just one. Fast forward a few years and here we are, expecting baby #2!

Nolan, like most toddlers, tends to be, let’s call it…persistent. He doesn’t forget anything and he loves nothing more than to repeat himself. For that reason and a few others, we decided to wait about 4.5 months before we told him. The conversation was pretty amusing:

Me: Have you noticed that my belly looks kind of big and round?

Nolan: No, I don’t think your belly looks big.

Me: Oh, well it is. What could be in there that’s making it so big?

Nolan: Ummmm… food? Milk? Yogurt?

Needless to say, he never guessed correctly and we just came out and told him.

That was about a month ago and he hasn’t been too curious since then. He sometimes talks about teaching his baby brother to play hockey and baseball. He periodically rubs my belly and says, “There’s a baby in there?” And tonight he told me we should name the baby Moonaganna.  I think the two books we put into the bedtime rotation have helped quell his curiosity.

The first is a classic that I loved as a child, The Berenstain Bears’ New Baby.

I remembered very little about this book other than Brother Bear outgrowing his bed just in time. Upon rereading it, I was surprised to find that (spoiler alert!) Mama Bear delivers the baby alone in her home while Papa and Brother are out building a new bed. I’m still not sure if I feel empowered or degraded by that.

The next book I bought after seeing it recommended on Rebecca Woolf’s blog. It’s Sophie Blackall’s The Baby Tree.

The Baby Tree is narrated by a little boy who finds out his parents are expecting a new baby, and he doesn’t understand where the baby will come from. He asks people in his family and neighborhood and gets all sorts of backwards and roundabout answers until he asks his parents who finally explain it. At first I was worried that the book was too old for Nolan; not in the sense that it’s inappropriate in any way, but I wasn’t sure he would be interested in the story or understand enough of it. Well, I was wrong and he loves it. The illustrations are beautiful and there is even a page after the story with more specific answers to kids’ questions about conceiving and delivering babies.

How did you prepare your children for new siblings? Did you find that they were excited or did the jealousy begin before the baby even arrived?

decisions, decisions

Tags

, ,

In buying this new house in Greenlawn, we are embarking on a project I have always wanted to tackle: buy a house that needs a new kitchen but isn’t a complete dump.

This is the kitchen as it stands:

IMG_3392 IMG_3393

So…yeah.

The plan is to gut the whole thing and remove walls (or as many of the walls as we can without the second floor falling down on us) to open up the kitchen to the living and dining rooms. The wall where the breakfast bar is will be an island for more counter space, seating, and storage.

To save money and aggravation, our initial plan was to put new applianaces exactly where the old ones are. Looking more closely though at the layout, I’m wondering if it’s worth the savings. While I’m not looking to put in a 36″ double farmhouse sink, I do want a larger sink than what’s there, but with it being so close to the corner, how would that work?

With the exception of a tall pantry cabinet next to the refrigerator and an upper cabinet above the refrigerator, we won’t be using wall cabinets. Instead, we’re opting for shelving to keep the room as open and bright as possible.

Pinterest and I have rekindled a passionate (and time consuming) affair and I’ve been pinning away to my kitchen and home boards to gather ideas. Here are two that I’m really drawn to:

I love the mix of cabinets and the openness here, although I think a few shelves would be helpful.

I’m taking a lot of specific ideas from Dana Miller of House Tweaking. This is her family’s kitchen, which uses IKEA cabinets. The space we are working with is much smaller but the layout is similar. Our refrigerator area will look a little different, but the plan is to use many of the same products and colors in our house.

We’re in the process of getting estimates from contractors, but the whole thing is messy since we don’t actually own the house yet. The homeowner has let us come in from time to time with people, but it’s still sort of awkward and unnatural. Plus, the whole house smells like pee. Did I mention we’ll be refinishing the floors?

Have you renovated a kitchen? Any tips to share?

 

#YOLONOMO

My last post was in March, nearly four months ago. And holy moly, has so much happened.

Goodbye, old house!

Goodbye, old house!

1. We put our house on the market.

2. The day after our first open house, we accepted an offer.

3. The day after that, I realized I was pregnant (!!!!!!!).

4. Having no success finding a house right away, we decided to put most of our belongings in storage and move in with my very generous parents.

5. We went into contract on a new house, and are busy planning renovations, finding a new school for Nolan, and growing this big old baby in my belly. Seriously, my belly is double the size it was at this time in my pregnancy with Nolan.

Moving back in with your parents when you’re 32 and bringing your husband, toddler, fetus, and dog, might sound like a recipe for disaster, but so far it hasn’t been. We’re approaching the one-month mark since we moved in and the biggest issue we’ve had is the dogs. They play too roughly, my parents’ dog steals my dog’s food, my dog barks to get in and out of the crate where his food is kept, etc.

Staying with my parents has not only been a lifesaver in ensuring we didn’t have to settle on a house we didn’t really want to buy, but it’s also been a huge money saver, which leads me to YOLONOMO. I reclaimed the incredibly annoying acronym for you only live once, and made it fit my temporary freeloading lifestyle. YOLONOMO is you only live once with no mortgage. Now don’t worry, we aren’t really spending up a storm, but when I treated myself to iced coffee pretty much every day of Regents week at school? YOLONOMO! I have to cram this pregnant belly into a bathing suit and the only ones that fit well are overpriced? YOLONOMO!

So come on, 30-somethings! Sell your homes! Move in with your parents! YOLONOMO!

 

homemade pizza in 20 minutes

Tags

, ,

I’m home sick today and wishing I still had some of this pizza left.  Calling it “homemade” might be a bit misleading because I don’t make the pizza dough; however, I still thinks this counts as homemade because believing that is good for my self-esteem.

Back to the pizza. I’ve made a bunch of variations but this one was my favorite.

pizza

Ingredients:

Pizza dough

Tomato sauce (if you use jarred sauce, Rao’s is my favorite)

Shredded mozzarella

Thin slices of prosciutto (about 2 ounces)

Dried figs, thinly sliced

Arugula

Olive oil

Whole Foods sells whole wheat pizza dough in the freezer section and it takes about a day in the fridge to defrost. If you remember, leave it out for a half hour or so before you make the pizza because it’s easier to stretch dough when it’s close to room temperature.  I never remember to and it always works out fine.

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Spread a little olive oil on a sheet pan and place floured dough in the center. Gently stretch it out and flatten so the dough takes up most of the pan.

Spread a very little bit of sauce on the dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge. Sprinkle the cheese, again leaving the border. Lay strips of prosciutto on top of the cheese.

Cook pizza for 12 minutes and then place pieces of fig on top and return the pizza to the oven. When the cheese is bubbly and the crust is lightly browned (probably another 2-5 minutes), it’s done! If you want the arugula slightly wilted, add it and return to the oven for just a minute. Otherwise, you can add the arugula just before serving.

Enjoy!

cranberry white chocolate chip cookies (plus a few baking tips)

Tags

, , , , ,

Snow day #4 and counting…

These cookies are definitely among my favorites to bake (and eat). The dried cranberries make me think fall/winter but obviously they’re great all year round. Deb Perelman of  Smitten Kitchen modified the standard Quaker Oats recipe and came up with my favorite oatmeal raisin cookies. I made a few changes to give them a wintry twist and I hope you like them!

cookie

This recipe makes 50 small (think two or three bite) cookies

2 sticks of salted butter, softened but not melted
1 and 1/3 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of one orange
1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt (regular table salt, not coarse salt)
3 cups rolled oats
1 and 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 cup of white chocolate chips (more or less to taste)
 
Mix butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy.

Add eggs, one at a time and mix until fully incorporated.

Add vanilla and orange zest.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

Gradually add dry ingredients to wet on low t0 medium speed until fully mixed.

Stir in oats, cranberries, and white chocolate chips.

Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour.  Colder dough makes thick, chewy cookies. If you use the dough right away, the cookies will be flatter and crispier (this is the case with pretty much all cookie recipes).

Preheat the oven to 350.  Scoop out rounded teaspoons of dough about two inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake cookies for 12-15 minutes until they’re lightly browned on the edges. Try really hard to let them cool a little so as not to scorch your mouth. Good luck with that.

For the ones that you’re not immediately eating, cool for five minutes on the sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack.

A few baking tips:

  • If you don’t have the time to soften butter by leaving it on the counter for hours and hours, microwave it in a bowl in ten-second increments until it’s very soft to the touch.
  • Never measure out an ingredient over the stuff you’re making. For example, don’t pour out a teaspoon of salt over a bowl of flour. Whatever you’re pouring out will inevitably spill and then your measuring is shot.
  • Make sure the baking sheet is cool before you put the next round of dough on it; otherwise, the butter in the dough will start melting before you’ve even put it in the oven and you’ll end up with weird, flat cookies.
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 421 other followers