September 30, 2015


To celebrate our Squee's first, the day of we went for the first time to the Toledo Zoo, which is just a few blocks away from home.
We took a fairly quick tour around. Given the facts that Ida didn't quite get where she was or what she was looking at yet and that coming back is quite doable since it's a five minute trip, we didn't feel compelled to make a day of it. We did decide to get a membership as it is hard to argue the potential entertainment value for an increasingly active and aware toddler. And the Zoo is a big tourism draw for the city so it's also hard to argue against supporting it. We didn't make it into the Aquarium which is newly renovated as of this spring, decided to save it for a rainy day activity.  
My favorite exhibit was the architecture. This is the amphitheater. They hold a summer concert series here and actually get some fairly big name acts. 
The penguins were the first animals we stopped to say hello to...

which factored in when it came to choosing baby's birthday present/zoo souvenir.
The evening before we made these chocolate zucchini cupcakes to mark the occasion food-wise. They were a hit. Even sans the buttercream icing for the birthday girl. I didn't realize I was making a double batch, so as a one year old and her mommy and daddy should probably only indulge in so many cupcakes while they're at their freshest, tastiest, twelve of Greg's co-workers also got a treat.
The following weekend was Labor Day weekend, and we decided to go back to Illinois so that Ida could have a little celebration with family and friends. Good friends graciously agreed to host.
There were more cupcakes, this time not mommy and daddy made, but from Cream and Flutter a lovely bakery in downtown Champaign.
We put out snacks and adult refreshments too, because let's be honest, a one year old's birthday party is generally more for the benefit of the grownups than the kiddo.
Decorations were simple, just farmers market flowers and garlands from Elisabeth Nicole. I did a lot of hunting around and I can safely say that she has the prettiest, most unique garlands on all of Etsy. And the best part is, they are reusable. They are of such a nice quality, I can't wait to put them back up, possibly in Ida's room or maybe at the holidays.
We had a good crowd of twentyish all together, and it was really fun to get to see Ida interact with everyone, especially the other kiddos that came. She is such a people person.

All of that socializing led someone to need a mid-party nap.
Then we rallied for cupcake time. I mean, cupcake, what cupcake? Like mother like daughter. :D

After baby was tucked safely in bed, mommy and daddy got to enjoy a nice evening out with friends at their favorite restaurant in Champaign, Big Grove Tavern, followed by a nightcap at Quality courtesy of Grandpa (my dad).

The last few weeks have been fairly hectic and have included a battle against grubs set on devouring our entire front lawn, another trip back to Illinois to retrieve furniture being gifted to us by my family, and a visit from my family. So as usual, I've been neglecting things here and the backlog of posts continues to stretch off towards infinity. Hopefully we're coming up on a more peaceful spell. I am so ready to ditch being stressed and enjoy this lovely fall weather we've been having!

September 14, 2015

The Happiest of Days

(Happy Day 65)
This little peanut turned one year old on Sunday (Sunday, August 30th that is, turns out this one took a bit to write)! It is so hard to believe that it has been a whole year. I'm sure every parent on the face of the earth has said the same thing, but it is. This squishy little thing is now a toddler and for all of the things that were hard about having a newborn, I do miss the squishiness!
To mark the occasion, I thought I would write down for posterity her birth story. It was for the most part a really positive experience for me, and though I know I've already forgotten some of the details (perhaps for the better!) I'd like to recall what I can before it gets edited and compressed further. :)
I woke up around 4:30 a.m. on Friday the 29th of August (the Friday before Labor Day weekend, haha) feeling a little leaky. No big gush, more like a tiny trickle that stayed that way. I told Greg and then we back to bed till we could call the doctor at 8:00. When it was time, I called in and they of course told me to come on in to get checked out. My doctor's office was across the (West Seattle) bridge near downtown Seattle. Unless you absolutely have to, there's no point in battling rush hour trying to get out of West Seattle, during which a fifteen minute drive can easily become an hour drive, so I told them we'd likely wait a little while and be there a little later in the morning around 10:00 or so. To which I'm pretty sure I was told something like, "No problem, just get here when you can." Which in my mind made whatever time was said less than firm. I wasn't feeling any contractions yet and the leakiness seemed all but gone, making me unsure if what I had felt earlier in the morning was my water breaking or not. So we were pretty sure that upon being seen, we'd be told to go back home until things got more exciting. But at the same time, I could tell something was different. Namely, that baby, who we knew from previous checkups was already really low, was now REALLY, REALLY low. It kind of felt like any and all cushion between noggin and cervix was gone. So we decided, just in case I ended up being admitted, we should probably be safe and shower up, finish packing the bag, and get the cat and dog to their respective boarding locations, thereby sparing Greg a frantic trip back to West Seattle and then back in the event it really was time. 
10:00 came and went. When I finally looked at my phone, probably approaching 11:00, I had a missed call from the doctor and a message wondering where we were and if everything was ok. :/ Oops. I called back in explaining we were simply still in the process of getting there and that I had taken "when you can" to heart. So they said "Ok, well, when about do you think that will be?" By that time, we were probably shooting for 12:30.
We dropped the dog off at her spot downtown and it was in the process of doing that that I think I started to feel something akin to contractions. Nothing painful maybe more like a faint, squeezy tightness. We finally made it to the office. I had an exam (not with my regular doctor, she was away for the weekend) and if I recall, I was maybe just over two centimeters (I had been at one for a couple of weeks.) During the exam, the doctor said it looked like the amniotic sac was still intact, but she took a swab to check for the presence of fluid, and in the meantime had the nurse take me to be hooked me up to the monitor. I had been into the doctor for a routine check a couple of days prior and they had detected a slightly irregular heartbeat from baby, so I was admitted for some monitoring at that time (everything turned out to be fine.) I was having slight contractions then. My memory is already a little fuzzy, but I'm pretty sure that the nurse that took us to the room for monitoring this time could not get any sound to come out of the heart rate monitor at first. Not that she couldn't find baby's heartbeat, but no sound at all. On the verge of parenthood, reassurance is a nice thing to be forthcoming and when you have to wait for it, well that sucks. Finally she went and got my doctor's nurse who quickly got things up and running. Baby's heartbeat was strong and regular. Phew. I was still having contractions, and they were indeed stronger.  And by now, I was starting to be able to really distinguish the squeeze of the strongest ones. But they were still definitely more than five minutes apart and not all that regular. 
For whatever reason, it took the doctor FOREVER (ok, maybe a half hour or forty minutes, but come on, it was kind of important news to be kept on the hook for) to get back to us about what she saw on the slide in regards to the fluid. And in the meantime there we sat in that little room with the sound of the doppler CRANKED to max volume so the nurse could hear it from the other room. Just looking nervously at each other. We were pretty convinced based on what the exam showed, the fact I wasn't all that far dilated, and that my contractions weren't coming all that quickly, regularly, or intensely that we would be going back home to wait it out a little longer. Then just like that in came the doctor. There was amniotic fluid present. What had probably happened was a small rupture had occurred up high in the sac. This explained the sudden lack-of-cushion feeling. But the rupture was so small and the amount of fluid leaking out so slight, that baby moving further down blocked the trickle from actually coming out. We were being admitted to the hospital. This was it!
My doctor's office was connected to the hospital, so for me it was as simple as hopping in a wheel chair and all Greg had to do was hop the car from one parking garage to another a little later. (This is where we experienced extreme gratitude for following intuition and being ready to go.) It was kind of surreal and left me with pink cheeks getting the knowing looks from people we passed in the corridors on the way over. Me, hugely pregnant being pushed in a wheel chair with my (probably really nervous looking) husband right there at my side. I hate situations that warrant my receiving special attention or treatment. I always experience some degree of feeling awkward and uncomfortable. And doesn't it seem silly that you have to enter and exit the hospital sitting down no matter what the circumstances? Come on, in the case of labor, walking in would be way more appropriate and useful! And indeed, after getting checked and monitored for awhile (during which Greg moved the car, brought up our bag and finally got lunch. It was late afternoon by this point and we were both starving, but luckily, I again followed intuition and only had a few bites) we were sent out to walk around for an hour or two. This was in part because things were still progressing pretty slowly and in part because all the delivery rooms were full. 
The hospital was right next to Seattle University's campus, so we decided to stroll around there. It's a really beautiful campus with gorgeous landscaping, so it actually made for a nice way to kill time. Greg and I got to just be together in that peaceful little pocket of space in the middle of the busy city in a peaceful little pocket of time in the middle of a crazy long day leading up to the birth of our baby. As we walked I started to feel the contractions more and more until finally I had to stop walking during them. Still not painful, but a tight squeezing. And by the way I am totally taking credit for the fact that our meandering included Seattle-style hills that would leave non-nine month pregnant people huffing and puffing. We were starting to get a little anxious to get settled into a room, so we headed back in. It took a bit longer, and then there was finally one ready. We met our nurse (who was fantastic) and got our things put down. I got changed and we went through all the preliminaries and then we waited for the doctor to come do an exam. I believe Greg ate some form of dinner at some point. All in all, I was still feeling pretty calm, though the nerves were definitely there, as we faced the great unknown of the rest of labor and delivery. 
We had written up a birth plan that involved trying to avoid any sort of pain medication if possible, and of course c-section unless medically necessary. And we were very fortunate that our hospital was extremely supportive of a minimal intervention approach. That is to say that they provide tools to help women labor in the way that works best for them and lines up with their stated wishes, and while this can definitely include pain control, in can definitely not too. By this point in my journey to mommyhood I had reconciled my vision of the ideal labor and delivery with the fact that as long as I had a healthy baby at the end of it all, everything would be ok. I would not be upset if things didn't go as planned. At this point in labor, I was encouraged that the pain was still very manageable, so I was still determined to try my hardest to have a natural birth.
The doctor finally came (it was a busy evening in L&D!). He did an exam, after which he asked, "Are you sure your water broke?" Uh, yeah. Or so I was told. That's why I'm here. I think I was still only somewhere around three centimeters, so in order to get things moving, he went ahead and broke my amniotic sac the rest of the way and then left us to it. It was probably 8:00 or 8:30 by this point. After all the walking around we'd done, I wanted to rest a little, so I settled into bed and we turned on some football (again, it was Labor Day, so the college season was just kicking off. Greg is normally a fan, though he was a little distracted this particular evening. And because I've come to associate a football game on the television with relaxing with the husband, I find it soothing). Plus, as it turns out the gush of water breaking is not a once and done event. That stuff keeps coming. File that under "Things They Don't Tell You." Plus I had to receive intravenous antibiotics due to testing positive for mrsa at some point. Plus all of the monitoring. So even though I had envisioned a more mobile labor, staying in, on or at least around the bed seemed like the best course of action.
And get moving things did. Within probably an hour and a half, my contractions went from the squeezing sensation, to painful. I went from proclaiming "I feel this one!" at the stronger ones to having to stop, focus and breathe through all of them. When I'm in a slightly awkward situation I try to put myself and others at ease by tapping into my sense of humor (as it were) and making small talk. And for the first few hours that's what I did with Greg and our nurse, but my witty banter trailed off. All of the football games ended somewhere between 10:00 and 11:00 and by then I wasn't really into the distraction of television anymore anyway. 
Eventually I decided I needed to not be sitting anymore and turned around to be on my knees while resting my upper body on the back of the semi-upright bed. I had taken a yoga for labor and delivery class where the best positions for keeping things moving along were discussed and the crouching, kneeling ones seemed to be the winners, anything to open up the pelvis and utilize gravity to get that baby down and out. That's how I stayed for the next couple of hours with Greg kindly rubbing my back until I'm sure his hands and arms were about to fall off. Things had gotten quite painful. Not just the contractions, but the pressure of baby descending. I remember asking how strong the contractions looked compared to how they felt. The pain made me nauseous and I threw up a couple of times. This is why I was very glad I listened to intuition and only ate a couple of bites of lunch.
I think the doctor maybe came in once after his initial exam (like I said, it was a busy night in L&D). I remember being anxious for him to come back and check to see how far dilated I was. I needed some kind of reassurance that I was making progress in order to be certain I could carry on. I knew I wouldn't last forever. But something was telling me it was too late to go in for pain medication. I was getting really tired of being on my knees, however changing positions seemed like such a monumental task. After awhile our nurse who had been reaching underneath me to get to my belly to check baby's heart rate started to struggle to get a long enough read to be confident baby was doing alright (and it would soon become apparent why!) so she asked me to flip over. Moving was as hard I thought it would be. I was tired and holding myself up while feeling so much pain and discomfort was the worst. As I flipped over and tried to find some position that was tolerable I suddenly felt a sensation that I automatically had the words for because I'd read the description so many times. It was the "ring of fire" feeling of baby crowning. And through the pain came the sudden urge to push. I told the nurse and she checked me and I remember her words crystal clear. "Oh my gosh, that baby is right there! I see her head! I have to go get the doctor in here!" Hearing that was actually such a relief. So there had been progress! All of it apparently! I immediately started begging to push and she immediately started telling me to wait for the doctor. She ran out and came back a few moments later and a few moments after that the doctor appeared.
I managed to get settled on my left side. I was leery of being on my back as I had gathered that was one of the worst positions for tearing. As it turned out, this might not have been the best choice.
The doctor took a look and was reviewing all the vitals. I remember waiting for him to tell me to start pushing. When he didn't say anything I finally asked if it was ok now. "Yes. If you feel ready. Just listen to your body and push with the contractions." Um, yep. I. Am. READY. And so I started. I quickly discovered I was a screamer. Everything was so intense at this point that I was actually having a hard time feeling the stop and start of the contractions and had to keep asking when to go for it. But when I was, I was screaming. I'm sure it was quite unsettling for Greg, probably not so much the doctor and nurse, but that shit helps. 
And so it went for the next hour or so, the entire time on my left side because as before, changing positions at any point just seemed too hard. I kept asking for progress reports. There was much commentary about baby's blonde hair (it wasn't until it was all over and she was dried off we realized it was actually red.) Eventually her head came free. The doctor asked me if I wanted to look down and see baby and touch her little noggin. I remember thinking very clearly "Not right now. I'm BUSY!" My eyes were pretty well clamped shut, I had long since given up on any external focal points. I took a quick glance and that was all I could muster. It was probably another half hour of pushing and pleading to know if I was making progress. Then suddenly with one push that I distinctly remember wasn't one of the best efforts I'd given, at 3:14 a.m., she was born.
Straight onto my chest she went and it was love at first sight for me. Greg cut the cord. She was crying loudly. All those endorphins felt so good. I had done it! I was one proud mama. Proud of my beautiful, healthy, big, little baby. Proud of myself, proud of my strong, supportive husband. 
Baby weighed in at 8 pounds 15 ounces. And I got mad props for naturally delivering a nearly 9 pound baby. We realized her hair was actually red. We decided that the name we'd tentatively chosen, Ida Evelyn was a go. She nursed for the first time. I was so happy that I could finally, after all those months rest comfortably on my back. 
After an hour or so, it was time for me to get up for the first time after delivery and use the restroom. As soon as I reached the edge of the bed and had my feet on the ground I felt what I thought at first was a muscle cramp somewhere in the vicinity of my uppermost left leg/buttocks. I got moving and it didn't get better, only intensified. I tried and couldn't go to the bathroom, it was too painful. Laying back down only made it a little better. The nurse did a quick check, but didn't see anything amiss. I had had some very minor tearing that the doctor had repaired, but nothing serious at all. The nurse got me pain medication and said we'd wait a little while and try the bathroom again before resorting to a catheter. I had developed postpartum chills, so when I wasn't holding baby my teeth were chattering and I was shaking pretty badly too. I felt the medicine kick in, but it did nothing to alleviate the ache that when I wasn't distracted with baby brought tears to my eyes and left me whimpering.  The nurse looked again. This time she said she was seeing swelling and went to get the doctor. I am fairly certain the first time he examined me, he brushed it off with "Well you just delivered a 9 pound baby." 
I couldn't get up to go to the bathroom, so ended up with a catheter. The pain remained the same. Eventually the nurse checked again and saw even more swelling and again went to get the doctor. This time he got on board with the fact that something was really wrong and determined I had a hematoma or a ruptured blood vessel that was still actively bleeding. Probably due to the pressure from pushing on my left side the whole time. It was decided the best course of action was to try to stop it. While a hematoma isn't necessarily dangerous and will eventually resolve on its own, the blood loss can lead to shock in the meantime. Within the hour I was headed across the hall to the operating room normally used for c-sections. As they wheeled me over I remember seeing a baby incubator sitting in the hallway and just being so grateful that the issue that had arisen was with me and that baby was well and resting snuggly with her daddy. 
I knew going in that I was getting an epidural for the procedure and boy, was I totally ok with that. I had achieved a natural labor and delivery. That had been my goal. Check. I had known that the pain of childbirth would eventually come to an end. This, not so much. And as soon as it was up and running, there was instant relief from the pain. Somehow I don't think I fully appreciated that with an epidural, at least a full-fledged one, you are completely numb from the waste down and as such can't move your legs. I think every woman has every right to do giving birth however she wants and needs. But, I think not having physical control over my body nor being able to feel what was going on down there would not have worked well for me in the delivery room. But given these circumstances, it was WONDERFUL.
I think the procedure lasted a half hour or so and then I was headed back to the delivery room. Baby was sleeping in her bassinet and daddy was getting a little rest too when I returned. All was well. I rested too.
As it turned out, that wasn't the end of it though. An exam later determined that the procedure to close the vessel hadn't worked. So a little later in the day I had to go for a laparoscopic try at it. That did work. And I got to see my circulatory system down there blown up on a really big high def monitor. So that was special. 
In between all this, there was plenty of baby snuggling and feeding and resting. Even some football watching. We called our families and close friends to let them in on the good news. After the first procedure it was determined that I would be in bed and off solid food for at least 24 hours. The no food part was really rough. And after having managed the natural birth, I was bummed that I was ending up completely immobile. Being told I have to take it easy is never an easy pill for me to swallow. But I was just so happy to have my healthy baby girl in my arms.
It was early evening before we finally made it into the recovery room. It wasn't a restful night for all the reasons a hospital is not the place to go to get rest (all those little lights when the lights are off, all the beeping, the nurses coming and going to check on this and that, unbearably itchy automatic squeezy blood clot preventer cuffs on my legs inflating and deflating every five minutes, for Greg a mattress he described as straight out of a Chinese prison). And I chose to keep Ida snuggled next to me, which probably also kept me from falling too deeply asleep, but was the sweetest thing. She'd had a big day and I just thought she might want her mommy close.
The next morning I couldn't get the all clear to eat soon enough and when I did, I think we ordered the entire breakfast menu. We eventually found out that as suspected, we wouldn't be going home till the next day. I had to receive iron due to blood loss from the hematoma. And I hadn't even gotten out of bed yet and it was late morning at this point. The thought of getting it all together sounded pretty daunting, so even though we weren't looking forward to another night in the hospital, it was a relief that we could spend the day just resting. Eventually I did get up and moving which was rather scary at first, as I felt like I had totally lost communication with my lower half and that it had subsequently wandered off and gotten hit by a bus. The swelling and bruising from the hematoma were pretty unreal. But with each subsequent effort things got a little easier and I eventually realized that even though it might feel like it, I wasn't going to come to pieces. Of course the effects of the epidural were long gone, but I was managing my pain with ibuprofen at this point and it was definitely tolerable. Nothing compared to what I had felt initially.
Ida was good to go, so it was just about getting Mommy set. Finally, early the next afternoon I was discharged, It was Labor Day Monday so we didn't have to worry about traffic or any of that getting home. But we still took our sweet time. I finally had a shower. Greg ferreted things out to the car. It was going on 8:00 before we finally walked out. Somehow I escaped the wheelchair ride, which despite my discomfort, after the long stint in bed, I was actually glad for. Baby slept the whole way home. We arrived safe and sound and got settled in. We were desperate for some rest. We planned on getting Ida sleeping in her crib right away, but that first night we decided we would all curl up together on the pull out couch in the basement. And we snoozed as a happy new family.

The End  :)

August 29, 2015

Do This with Zucchini

A former boss brought this bread to work one day to share. And it was so good, I asked for the recipe. And she brought me a real live photo copy of the page from the magazine. Because this was way back in the dark days before Pinterest. I don't think I have the photocopy anymore. One or two moves ago I gave up on my recipe box and merged it with my iPhone, like every other aspect of life. But I do have it pinned now. And I think everyone else in the northern hemisphere experiencing prime zucchini season should too.
So here is the link to Yogurt Zucchini Bread with Walnuts from Food & Wine. I have done some experimenting and the only thing I really recommend doing different than as written is splitting the flour half all-purpose and half whole wheat. I think the best loaf I ever made (which just happens to be the one pictured), I used low fat, (6%) yogurt from this Ohio creamery, but non-fat as called for is just fine. However, do not use whole milk yogurt, I did the last time because it's what I had and the texture was way too heavy and crumbly vs light and fluffy like it comes with the lower fat percentage. Finally, I have grated the zucchini both coarse and fine. I think here in the best loaf ever it is fine cause it's kind of hard to even see those little green flecks. No real difference to note as far as quality of the bread. I think I like obvious flecks. Guess it just depends on if you need the zucchini to fly stealth or not. ;)

August 27, 2015

The Time is Now

Despite my intentions otherwise, basically the moment we began the whole moving process back in February, I put all my fitness goals on hold. I may have made it to the gym to run a few times and to a couple of yoga classes before we left Seattle, and I think I went to the gym in the hotel we were living in here while we worked on our house once to use the treadmill. But that's it. My baseline poor posture, bad mattresses in the hotel and our inability thus far to find a mattress for our new bed here at home that is supportive enough without being too firm, carrying around a healthy tot day in and day out, and just lots and lots of emotional stress with no exercise to counter any of it have left my body weak and in knots. (Well, weak except for my arms. Mom arms are a real thing.) 
I mentioned before that I found a wonderful online community Healthy Habits for Happy Moms (HHHM) earlier this year. And that group has changed the way I look at my own body and think about food and exercise. I can honestly say now that I am completely comfortable in my own skin. I have let go of the idea that there are things wrong with my body that need to be fixed. I will never again believe I should eliminate anything completely from my diet for any length of time, I accept that I know how to nourish myself and that as long as I pay attention to what my body needs, it's all ok. I am not coming back to exercise with any end goal. I want to be strong and have stamina for life. I have also learned that taking care of myself means a lot more than a balanced diet and regular exercise. I know I have to work at my mental and emotional health too, as I just discussed a couple of posts ago. Period. And that's all pretty amazing. EVERY WOMAN should join this group. 
But post-move after finally getting into our house we were still in survival mode with so much to do before we could even begin to function in our new space that regaining control over my diet and working out were distant dreams. So I decided to start with the most basic of measures just to be doing something to take care of myself. I set the goals of drinking four twenty ounce bottles of water each day and going to bed by midnight. I decided that once I had made those two things habits, it would be a good indication that I might be ready to move on to bigger things. And with these two most basic of self care measures, I struggled. At times mightily. In the meantime we did get our kitchen together and found a good, easy source for our groceries and were finally able to stop eating (so much) take out and start preparing our own food. But not succeeding at drinking the quantity of water or getting to sleep as prescribed made getting back to exercising feel like something I couldn't handle/didn't deserve. Even though overall I was making a conscious effort and doing better, I'd sort of set myself up to really feel my failures by making these things preconditions to move on to the next bit of self-care I wanted to tackle which was getting back to working out.   
Furthermore, I really, really wanted to get back into moving my body by going regularly to a yoga class. I've never really tried to have an at home practice because I love that sense of community that comes with going to a studio, that's just how I like to do yoga. And there is a nice-looking studio down the road that does the Ashtanga/vinyasa/power style of yoga that I love. My plan was to do a combination of yoga and running (some day weight training too), but my body was so sore and stiff, that jumping into running without spending a few weeks stretching it out first and then continuing to do so, seemed like I would just be asking for trouble. I had heard about a free online program, 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene via HHHM, that I was even willing to try in lieu of making it to a class. But every time I would consider moving forward, ounces of water or bedtime be damned, getting to the class wouldn't work out with Greg's work schedule (unfortunately the studio doesn't offer daycare or have any parent/baby classes) or there was some project that I needed to be working on rather than find time in the day to start the 30 Days program. So for the last couple of months, I've just kept being the martyr, either to my own causes or others', sacrificing any attempt at exercise to circumstances that just felt impossible. 

Until this week. Greg was traveling for work this week and I didn't want to end up feeling completely drained by the time he came home again (see link to post above for more on that). So to combat that feeling, I decided to make it a point to do a few specific things to take care of myself and resuming exercise was one of the things I decided to do. I am not a fan of the "No Excuses" thing. I think there are plenty of really damn good excuses for not exercising. A person has to be ready and able to come to it. They have to find a way around the things standing between them and working out. And sometimes that's truly impossible. But this week I let go of all my expectations and preconceived notions. For some reason I was craving running so badly that I decided not to worry about the "yoga first" mandate I'd given myself and started c25k at the beginning. I also started 30 Days (which I love so far). And right now I feel… sore and exhausted, though I do feel some unwinding happening. I started on Tuesday so I have two runs and three days of yoga under my belt. I had just come off a weekend that included some hard physical work in the yard. On top of the physical demands of single parenting a toddler for a few days (not sure if I mentioned, but baby became a crawler about a month ago), it's been a lot. But I know that if I also make sure to allow myself time to rest it will start to get easier. Of course that will be a whole other challenge. Making time for exercise has been hard enough, making time for doing nothing sounds like the next impossibility. :)

Pictured above are glimpses of the Maumee River (they don't call it River Road for nothing) on our (of course Ida has been my running partner) runs . And savasana and reclined pigeon (my favorite).

August 24, 2015

Architectural Archaeology

I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how things were in the past. That's my job when I'm working in my field (archaeology/architectural history) and I can't shut it off. Ever.
Likewise, I'm always thinking ahead, visualizing what I'd like to do with a space, be it a room or a garden bed. 
And sometimes all the time I spend standing, staring, spacing out pays off and I observe something meaningful. Sometimes it's that the light is just right and the knew bit of knowledge pops out where it was invisible before. Most of the time it comes by way of something I've seen time and again, just never given consideration too. This time I think it had to do with moisture content. 
I was working outside on Friday and I think it had rained Thursday night. I was taking a break near the front porch when a I noticed a little rust stain on the porch had a match a couple feet away. They are the two "L" shaped marks in the foreground and they mark the doorway.
As soon as I saw them, I saw the line extending away in both directions and then around on the side as well, just outside the posts.
Our porch was enclosed at one time.
The next question was whether or not this had been an original feature or something someone added later on. So I looked up, and saw the little overhang there extending out past the posts, and concluded that the soffit must have been constructed with that little overhang to accommodate the upper framing of the enclosure. So when it was built, the porch was most likely screened in. Side note: It makes me sad that at some point someone added these massive gutters that hide those sweet little corbels, though I do concede there is a lot of roof up there for the rain to hit.
This is our back porch sans that overhang and any indications on the floor that it was enclosed.
Starting in the 1930s and continuing into the 1960s the Works Progress Administration issued grants to municipalities to fund the photography of properties for tax assessment purposes. Back in Seattle, the Puget Sound Regional Archives held the collection for King County and many King County Assessor's property records, available here, contained the image(s). In Toledo, the Toledo-Lucas County Public Libraries holds the collection for Lucas County and they have digitized many, if not all images in their collection which are searchable by address here. Unfortunately our house is not to be found among those properties online, so I am really hoping that they are still in the process of making images available, and that I will be able to find a hard copy in the archive. And I hope that whenever our photograph was taken, the enclosure was still there as who knows when it came down. 
Because I can't stop wondering what that enclosure looked like exactly and how it would have impacted the overall look of the house. The living room takes up the entire front gable end of the house and the dining room the entire side gable with it's window (with the stained glass carnations above) facing out onto the porch. Though you can't see it in the photos, as you step onto the porch, the front door is there on the right, leading into a foyer that links the living and dining rooms. So surrounded by formal spaces, I would have to think the enclosure would have been designed to be in keeping. Nowadays front porches have fallen into disuse/nonexistance in our air-conditioned, non-face-to-face communication age. And screened porches are found at the back of homes in the private realm. But in thinking back in time, it makes perfect sense that here the front was screened in. Besides being larger than the back porch, the front porch faces east, while the back faces west, and I can attest that as the summer sun sets, it gets pretty hot and bright. The front porch would have been the relatively cooler place to be, so why not make it bug-free as well? (I might add reconstructing the enclosure sounds like a pretty good idea after some of the mosquito attacks endured this summer.) So there you would be sitting, sipping your Canadian whiskey, waiting for your friends or associates and hopefully not your enemies or the G-Men to call on any given summer evening. At least if you were one of the previous owners of our house. We just met a neighbor this past week who knew the next family to who live in the house, during the 1960s and 70s and she mentioned that the father (who was superintendent of the state mental hospital) was a man of few words who spent the majority of his time sitting on the front porch smoking his pipe or upstairs in the attic weaving on his loom. So maybe the pipe smoke kept the bugs at bay for him, or maybe it was still the screens. Hopefully the archives and oral histories will tell. :)    

August 20, 2015

Columbus Mini-Vacay (All the Good Food and Drinks, Please)

This past weekend we journeyed a couple of hours south, back to our former home, and I do believe our favorite city of all, Columbus. It was kind of all about the food. We drove down on Thursday and for dinner went to Marcella's for Italian. Marcella's is part of the portfolio of a Columbus-based restauranteur, and while it might not be the most innovative Italian in town, it is reliably delicious, doing all the staples to a T. This one proved herself a worthy member of the Family by digging on the meatball and gnocchi she sampled.
We stayed at Easton Thursday night, which is the large shopping/dining/entertainment/staying/living community on the east (I know. East?! No way! :D) side of Columbus. The area is very walkable, so this facilitated some post-baby bedtime shopping for mommy and a trip to Jeni's (which I did take back to the room to share). I had forgotten how Art Deco (Deco Revival?) Easton is. After getting more experience in architectural history since moving, after this revisit I was left with a new appreciation of the effort that went into not making the whole thing feel so mall-y and artificial by incorporating the details that they did.
It also facilitated breakfast the next day at Northstar which was a short walk away from our hotel. I miss this place terribly. Since moving two some years ago this has been the stuff of my dreams. So simple, but somehow impossible to replicate just so. I had the Cowboy Breakfast and Greg had the Poached Eggs and Prosiutto. Plus a Morning Glory Muffin and a scrambled eggy for the squee, who is a bit of an eggaholic, meaning when she is rejecting all textures but purées, baked things or cereal (like right now, since we came home from our trip) she will still happily slurp up a scrambled. 
We drove around town while baby napped until it was time to head over to the friends' place in our old neighborhood in Worthington with whom we were staying the rest of the weekend. We toured through Bexley, German Village, and Grandview before arriving in the Short North. By that time nature was calling and baby was awake, so we stopped in for a little refreshment at, erhmm, Northstar. Second of three locations, check. 
There was another slightly older baby at an adjacent table for awhile, then we had to resort to vigorously bouncing bunny for entertainment. Hit. 
We went up High Street through Clintonville on our way to Worthington and made a pit stop at Wholly Craft for a host gift for the one and three quarter year old of the trio with which we were staying. He does not drink coffee yet, so we got him a cute knitted raccoon stuffie from the Wiggly Bridge. But I do like these mugs and agree with the sentiment.
Next morning we all hit up the Worthington Farmers market. After gathering pretty much as many good things to eat and drink as we could carry, we grabbed a seat on the patio at House Wine and a bubbly rosé. Above: lobster rolls from Rivage. In the Sassafras (who opened a brick and mortar shop downtown Worthington moments after we moved away after only selling at the farmers market previously :/) bag, the quiche pictured below plus a not-pictured chocolate zucchini muffin. Also below, a yummy pour over from Ride Home.

Saturday night involved a babysitter (only the second time ever for us, that stat needs to keep climbing posthaste) and an adult evening out. We went for cocktails at Curio at Harvest in German Village. That is their Ramos Gin Fizz and this was my last picture of the evening which means I was having too much fun not to just be in the moment. Yay! We went on to dinner at Sycamore, by the same owner as Harvest, also in German Village. Then a nightcap at none other than Bob's Bar back up in Clintonville. 
Sunday morning we completed the Northstar trifecta by visiting the Clintonville location before heading home. 
It was a great weekend with great friends and I actually came home feeling recharged. I wish I could say that has lasted all week without flagging, but in truth it hasn't; there have been some (family, baby, house, sanity) bumps on this road to another weekend. But it's nearly behind us now (I'm going to role with this metaphor) and there has been some pothole patching along the way, so things are looking up again. :)

August 14, 2015

1000 Words

The last half of July was a little on the stressful side. We had family then friends visiting two weekends in a row. Greg traveled quite a bit for work around their visits. Then last week after having appointments in the evening two of the three nights he was home, he left on Thursday, not to return until Sunday morning after taking the redeye back from Seattle. By the time he left for that trip, I was in survival mode. Meaning because I hadn't had a break from baby care in days, because we were struggling and failing to keep our heads above water when it came to routine house and yard work, let alone make progress on the mile long list of projects both inside and out, and because I had let all my self care slide (which at this point pretty much consists of actively trying to drink water throughout the day and trying to go to bed before midnight, not exactly unrealistic goals in theory anyway), I was not in a good place. I was in a horrible funk. My head was filled with negative thoughts that were spilling freely out of my mouth. All of the reasons I should be feeling gratitude were abundantly clear as I looked around, but I couldn't internalize them. Like puffy clouds they just went away when I tried to grasp them and actually feel thankful. I couldn't focus on anything, it was the Buddhist/meditation/yoga concept of monkey mind in full effect. My eye was twitching.
When Greg got home Sunday morning, he took Ida for the day, which allowed him to not only get to spend time with her, but participate in nap time too to help him recover from his night spent in the air. Meanwhile, I got some time to myself. I ran errands then came home and worked outside cleaning Greg's car (in an attempt to make up for the bad attitude I directed at him before I left), mowing and gardening. I should state explicitly 1) Greg is a great father, he's a great husband. He helps me with all the things constantly. And when he's not being those things or doing that, he is immersed in his career, making it all possible for us. 2) I love being a stay at home mom right now. Ida is amazing and she could not be an easier baby in every way. And I am so grateful for her and that I get to be with her every day during these early years. But I am an introverted person and after all that's been written and discussed about introverted people in recent years, I finally understand that I recharge mentally and emotionally by being alone. Just me and the thoughts in my head without having to interact on a meaningful level with anyone else, not even my bright, sweet,  easy-going 11 month old. And if I don't get some alone time, my proverbial cup drains dry. And by last Sunday, that's exactly what had happened.
Crossing things off my to do list especially if that involves physical work, always helps me to feel better. Wrapping up for the day, the funk had lifted away, my mind had refocused, the gratitude came back inside.
My point in all this being that all of the perfectly focused, cropped and filtered photos presented on social media never tell quite the whole story for anyone. Everyone probably knows that deep down others not only have nice houses and pretty things, go interesting places, eat delicious looking food, and have adorable children, they struggle too, with any number of things, daily. But it's easy to forget when you're looking at the heavily edited highlight reels that there are hundreds of outtakes for every shot deemed worthy of sharing.  I've seen efforts by others in the past to acknowledge this, and so I just wanted to say "yeah, me too". I enjoy the pursuit of aesthetics and photography and writing, that's why I'm here and why this spot looks and sounds the way it does. But I do have even bigger problems than cutely deer-nibbled hostas. Generally, they are pretty minor as problems go, but that doesn't mean things don't stack up and overwhelm me from time to time. 

Greg was home all of this past week and now we are in Columbus having a little family mini-vacay. So things are definitely looking way up over where they were a week ago. Stay tuned for the highlights. :)

Oh and these are highlights from Sunday out in the garden 1) love this heuchera/begonia combo I came up with for a hanging basket, will have to repeat next year 2) Ida's sunflowers from seeds I put in her Easter basket on the verge of blooming 3) end of day boot wash 4) hoof prints as evidence