Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Django Might Still Be Chained: Date Interrupted

This week has been rough! Any weekend that you find yourself at Walgreens at 2:00am is either great or terrible and leans toward the negative.


Saturday night, Nick and I went on a date. We went out to eat at Prime Bar in Uptown and then went to see Django at the Lagoon. It was fun until about two-thirds into the movie.

I started having stomach pain. It got too uncomfortable to continue sitting so I got up to figure out what was wrong. I went to the bathroom and then called my Mom to ask what contractions feel like. I had never had pain like that and was hoping to rule out anything serious. 

For a little comedic relief:
Kerin: "Hey Dad, can I talk to Mom? Nick and I are at the movies watching Django but I have to talk to her."
Dad: "The movies? Bingo? What's that?"
Kerin: "Django. The new Quentin Tarantino movie."
Dad: "Dingo? I've never heard of that. What's it about?"

After telling him about the movie's recent accolades and that I was calling because of something medical, she got on the phone.

She was concerned about the pain (naturally) and was not able to rule anything out. After talking to her and trying (and failing) to get in touch with my doctor, I realized I would have to go to the emergency room. As I came to this conclusion, I turned to find Nick standing over me. I tried to keep him calm and told him that it was not an emergency but that we did need to go to the hospital.

Nick told me later that he ran as fast as he could to his car. (so much for me keeping him calm). We went to the hospital where we will deliver and I was wheeled to what they kept referring to as Mac ( found out later it stands for Maternal Assessment Center). They performed a number of tests including an ultrasound, monitored heartbeat, looked for contractions, checked to make sure my water hadn't broken, and a few other not fun tests. They did not find anything and sent me home with medication for a possible bladder infection. Cue the late night Walgreens.

On Monday, I still had the pain and received a message from my doctor that I do not have an infection and to stop taking the medicine. Normally not having an infection would be a good thing. But in this case, it left me with mysterious pain. What made it worse, I was having trouble getting in to see my doctor. The physical pain mixed with the frustration was almost too much.

When I woke up Tuesday, the pain was gone. It's now Wednesday night and has not come back. I am cautiously optimistic.

What saved my sanity on Monday were the voices of wisdom that I was able to reach out to. My Mom is a nurse, my best friend is a doctor, and her husband is a doctor. Between the three of them, I have access to priceless knowledge. I would give anything to have them down the street but I am so grateful to have them a phone call away. Mom, Kris, and Steve - Thank you!!!

As for the movie, I really want to see the end!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Observation: Writing on the Wall

The other night I was up really late. Nick and I had gone upstairs relatively early and we were both reading. Nick was reading from his Calvin and Hobbes anthology and I started reading The fault in Our Stars.

A few years ago for Christmas, I bought Nick the complete works of Calvin and Hobbes. Yes, the comic. It came in a box set. There are three hardcover books and I would guess that each book weighs twenty pounds. He loves it! That night he carried the entire set upstairs and said this is what he planned to read to our baby.

As he laid beside me holding up twenty pounds of cartoon, he was laughing out loud. Every once in a while he would ask me to read a section. They are funny, I like them, but he likes it to another level.

In a completely different mindset, I was beside him with The Fault in Our Stars. It pulled me in early on and would not let go. I finished the book in less than 24 hours. The story is a little dark as it is dealing with teenagers who are battling cancer. It is beautifully written. The dialogue is so sharp that the characters easily come to life. I was up reading long after Nick fell asleep.

 At 2:30am, I got up to use the bathroom. I was washing my hands when I noticed writing on the wall. In blue marker, Nick had labeled the items on the sink and had drawn arrows pointing to them. My first thought was how strange that I had not noticed this when I first walked into the room. My second thought was why on earth had he written on his bathroom wall?

 I stepped back to think about this, when I noticed more writing! On the wall directly across from the toilet (the wall you look at if you are sitting on the toilet) was an assortment of strange quotes and a drawing of Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes.

My tired mind started thinking about ghosts again. I could not process that I had not noticed all of this when I first entered the room. But really, I knew my husband was to blame. I still thought there must be a reason. His engineer mind must have thought up some practical application.

I woke Nick up to ask him about the midnight scrawling. He just laughed. When pressed on why he covered his bathroom in blue marker, "It was fun. As soon as I realized that I could write on the walls, I decided to do it."

"Are you going to erase it?" I asked.

"I don't know. Maybe. Maybe I'll get a different colored marker and add to it."

 And people think that I am the goofy one??

After note: I am bothered by my lack of observation. I took this quiz and failed. What other things am I missing? You should take it too!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Reaarange: Beds and Characters

First, thank you for all of the kind words that came from my last post. It helps tremendously to know that I am not alone in how I feel.

On the night I published that post, Nick and I stayed in and rearranged furniture. We moved our bed to a different room to make space for a nursery. I love our rented house but it has a very strange layout. The upstairs is somewhat of a master suite with a large main area, a smaller room set apart by french doors and another room on the side that has a traditional door. Our closet is off of the room with the french doors so we moved our bed in there so that the baby can be in a room that can shut off entirely.

The steep stairs up. I hear that I will hate these when the baby first comes.

New bed space. Needs a little color but I love the coziness.
I have wanted our bed in the french door room forever because of this picture. Now to find that light fixture. :)

I will take pictures of the other rooms upstairs as progress is made. I am currently working on a new system to store clothes. I am really bad at keeping clothes neat. My family makes fun of me for it constantly. And the baby room is not much to look at yet. I will keep you posted.

My goal today is to work on my novel as much as possible. I started the morning by reading through all of it out loud for editing purposes. Toby is now the only one who has heard the whole story. I think he liked it but he's not hard to please.

 The story does not make sense as is. There are still huge sections that only live in my mind. So after I read through all of it, I pick individual sections that need to be flushed out and begin typing as fast as I can. I try not to edit myself too much in the initial phase. The story already exists in my head so I am attempting a translation of something that I know but have not yet seen. Often, the main points remain but the longer I type, the more the story takes on life and I just try to keep up.

Before I can vigorously type, I have to get my mind to the right space. Getting to that place can be one of the most challenging parts of the process. Sometimes I do not feel inspired and the words seem forced. When this happens, there are a number of tools that I try.

Music is my most powerful tool. It can instantly change my mood and transport my thoughts. Often a single song is played on repeat while writing an entire scene. Today I was working a lot on the romantic relationship between two characters and music alone was not enough. That is when I pulled up this amazing video and then found this one.

How much better would music videos be if they were more like that? Love. 
Sums it up perfectly.
And now back to work I go.

What do you use for inspiration?


Friday, January 18, 2013

Being Honest: 22 Weeks

Kaleb and Colin letting me practice.
I have been so tired all day today. I went grocery shopping and bought a latte. I have been sipping on it for three hours. I am trying to find that sweet spot between caffeinated and jittery. It is harder than it should be.

I try not to complain about pregnancy too much because I know that I am lucky to be able to experience this odd journey and I know that plenty of women have it a lot tougher that I do. That being said, my truth is that I really dislike being pregnant!

My best friend has asked that I document this journey so that she has a personal reference when it is her turn. I don't think complaining is what she meant but there is a lot of this process that goes unsaid and I want her to know that whatever she is feeling, is okay.

I am very excited to be a Mom, to have a daughter, to watch Nick be a Dad. I know it will be tough when she is here. I know my life will change in ways I can not grasp. I know that I will be exhausted and pushed to my limits. And as Nick's Dad likes to remind us, I know I will get poop under my fingernails.  Being a parent will have challenges and I am sure I will write all about it. But now I am strictly talking about the nine months of carrying baby.

First ever instagram photo of self. Harder than I thought it would be.
 Being pregnant is strange and foreign and more difficult than I expected. It is different for everybody. But for me, it is hard. My friend Abbie was the first person to tell me that is was okay to not enjoy pregnancy. She admitted that she hated it and her honesty brought me so much relief.

To put it simply, I do not feel like myself.

It is a challenge to both the mind and body. My emotions are all over the board. Tears are brought on by the stupidest things. I have cried on more than one occasion just from singing along with the radio, song subject is irrelevant.

My clothes do not fit right. The body I am working with is not the body that I know. If you lose or gain weight, you still know your shape. Pregnancy changes that. It leaves me not knowing how to dress myself and that creates frustration.

Food could really have it's own post. It is such a struggle! I have always thought that would be a fun perk of pregnancy. But I almost never know what I want to eat and when I do make a decision, it is a gamble as to whether it will actually taste good. Something that was appealing yesterday, today might make me gag just thinking about it.

The first trimester felt like I had the flu all of the time. I never wanted to eat. I carried gingerale and saltines with me at all times. My appetite started coming back around 12-14 weeks and for a while after that Nick would tell me that seeing me eat made him happy. I guess things were rough for him too.

Everybody will tell you that the second trimester is better and it is. Fewer stretching pains and less nausea. The second trimester also brought a lot of headaches and a rarer pregnancy side effect, intense itching when I try to sleep. Yes, itching. It is my body's reaction to all of the hormones.

The best parts, so far, of this process also happen in the second trimester. I started to feel her move around 18 weeks and now at almost 23 weeks, I feel her everyday. I love it so much. It is comforting and makes me feel connected. The other best part was finding out that we are having a girl! 

The ultrasound that shows gender, is much more. It is really an extensive look at all of her development. It was amazing! My favorite was seeing the 3-D image of her rib cage and spine. I could not help looking over at Nick and reminding him, "Hey, I built that!"

A few hours after the appointment, my doctor called. She let me know that baby is perfect but that I have placenta plevia. It means that my placenta is too close to the cervix. There is a strong chance, that as I grow, it will move away. If it does not, I will have to have a c-section and I may end up delivering earlier than expected. It also increases the risk of bleeding. I will know more at 28 weeks when we have another ultrasound.  Until then, I have to take it easier than I would like. As my doctor put it, I am not on bed rest but my cervix is.

It is a complication that I can handle. I am grateful that we have the technology to detect these problems and I remind myself that years ago I would not know to change my habits.

I am figuring this out and it helps to share some of my struggles. It is Friday evening and Nick just got home. I am going to fill up a wine glass with juice. Have I told you how much I miss wine? Because I miss it SO MUCH!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

PSA: More than Just Loose Change

I recently said to a friend that I wonder if our house is haunted. At night I hear noises as though someone is moving around downstairs and things have started to go missing. My Nook disappeared out of thin air. It has been gone since March. I have torn the house apart looking for it and, nothing. The day after I was talking about the possibilities of spirits in my living room, the AppleTV remote went missing. The product does not function without the remote so Nick and I went crazy looking for it. It's is small and skinny and we only keep it in a five-foot radius of the television.

I started moving the television and pushing cables around. I pulled out a flashlight and investigated our media console. Nick sat on the couch and dug his arms down into the material. The couch is a leather recliner and has really deep pockets and lots of hidden space. He pulled out a sock, a dryer sheet, and then his eyes lit up. "You'll never believe what I have my hands on." He said, arms buried to his elbows and twisted to his side. Slowly he released his arms from the grip of the couch to reveal my Nook! In disbelief, I lifted it out of the turquoise case and turned it on. The story I was reading last March, flickered on before the battery shut off.

I gave up my post at the console and took a seat on the couch, digging my arms into each crevice. Within moments I had my hands wrapped around the remote. It was jammed between some bars and took some maneuvering but I was able to remove it from the jaws of a convertible abyss.

It is hard now to sit on this couch with the same comfort as before. I wonder what else is in there, what has fallen to a spot that I have not yet reached. Nick and I joke about taking it apart but i don't think we actually can.

I am relieved the mystery to our disappearing items has been resolved but now I don't trust my couch and that is stranger than ghosts.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Christmas Vacation: Our Little Distraction

As I mentioned in my Christmas post, Nick and I did not get around to see everyone we wanted when we were in Boston. We tried, we drove across states and saw so many friends that thinking back now, I get confused at who said what at which party. But still, high school and college friends were missed.

The parties, and a large number of loved ones are not the only reasons we did not complete our rounds. A lot of the blame really can fall to one person. She never means to, or maybe she does, but when she is around, everything else falls away.

2012 Christmas card.

My sister and her family live an hour from Boston and decided that instead of driving back and forth from my parent's house all week, stayed over. The house was crowded and a little hectic but totally worth it. It was the longest continuous time that Nick and I have spent with Kaia and we took full advantage.

Kaia showing Uncle Nick how to use an iPad.
Kaia climbed on my lap and requested that we have our photo taken.

Kaia helping Uncle Nick choose a microbrew at the Yard House.
As you know, kids say the darnedest things and this little one is no exception. She chatters constantly and makes up incredibly detailed stories. On Christmas morning, she opened the nightgown from Nick and I and exclaimed, "Oh my dosh, dosh, dosh! It's gorgeous!" And proceeded to strip down and pull the nightgown on. Once she was dressed in her new pajamas she suggested that we all stop opening presents, go upstairs, pretend it is nighttime, share our beds, and go to sleep. 

Kaia in her new nightgown with Cookie.

 She was upset that we were not up for her idea so I suggested that she open the Christmas present that Nick and I bought for Cookie, her teddy bear and constant companion. She put on the high-pitched voice that she uses to talk for Cookie and sat the bear in front of her. She used the stuffed paw to open the wrapping paper. It took awhile to get the tape off but it was adorable to watch.  

On Christmas Eve, after we announced the gender of Baby Valley, Kaia and I were playing on the floor. I asked her if she was excited to have a girl cousin. She responded by kissing me on the lips. She then started bending her little body down. I realized what she was doing and lifted myself to my knees. She then kissed my belly. It was the most precious moment and I could hardly believe the sweetness of my little niece. 
Christmas Eve

Kaia watching The Nutcracker. Shortly after this, she lifted her leg in the air and said "These moves are tricky."

Kaia playing with new Princess stickers. What a lovely crown!

Kaia, a little confused after waking up from a nap in a new place.

Monday, January 7, 2013

2012: Something Else

Photo c/o
This year is harder to sum up than I thought it would be. There are a few obvious changes that have taken place but I don't think the shift will be completely realized until I am further away from now.

Nick and I started 2012 in such a major way that the year had to be one worth remembering. We were on the roof of our condo in Sydney with some of our greatest friends watching the most amazing fireworks explode over the harbour.

In the weeks that followed Nick and I traveled around Australia visiting old haunts and discovering new treasures. I navigated around Sydney as though I'd been gone for seven days, not seven years. I sat in front of the Opera House and was mistaken for an Australian (woohoo).

Standing in front of my old apartment.
We traveled to Maggie, a tiny island close to the Great Barrier Reef. We hiked to see koalas in the wild and swam on a secluded beach. Nick and I fell in love with the country all over again and made promises to return as often as possible throughout our lives.

Our park on our last night in Sydney.
 A few weeks after Nick and I returned home, I was able to make the final payment on my car loan and my credit card, making 2012 the year that I got to declare myself debt free! It was a goal I worked on for two years and it was incredible to finally check it off.

 In April, we traveled to Mexico for a friend's wedding.  It was beautiful and crazy. Much of our time was spent swimming and drinking but we also took time to visit caves, read in our hammock, snorkel, eat great food, and dance to techno. It was fun to be at a resort with friends and I hope for more trips like that (less tequila) in the future.

I bought a bike this summer and accomplished a 40 and 50 mile ride. Those were a little rough but the shorter trips on the local bike paths were really fun.

 In July, I ran my first 5K. I do not think I could have picked a better first race. We ran/walked the color run! It was a blast. Post-baby, I hope to make races a bigger part of my life.

Elise, Sam, and I. We biked to the run and went swimming after so it was our own version of a triathlon.

Also in July, I took a huge leap and quit my job in order to write full time!! It was awesome! I miss a lot of the people but not my job at all. I have written about it a number of times so I will keep it simple and say- we made the right choice.

With my new schedule, I took ten days at the end of July and beginning of August to go down the Cape with my Dad and help him take care of my Nana. I wrote about that here.

At the end of August and beginning of September, Nick and I went to London and Paris. You can read more about that here. It was our first time in either place and we loved every minute of it.

At the end of September, I found out I was pregnant. It rocked our world. Seeing her ultrasound for the first time, pushed the fear aside to make room for excitement. Disbelief still tries to sneak in, but a steady heartbeat and a growing bump, tell us it is real. We welcome Baby Girl in May!

Mixed with our wonderful news, the fall also brought loss. In October, Duke passed away after being sick for only a few days. It was heartbreaking and we miss him still. At the end of the month, Nick and I flew to Ohio to spend time with Kris and Steve.

The day I returned home from Ohio, Nick's grandmother had a stroke. We spent the next few weeks visiting her in the hospital. She lost the ability to communicate but could hear us and was able to squeeze our hands. A few days before Thanksgiving, she succumbed to her injuries and the world truly lost an angel.

In December, we were able to find out the gender of Baby Valley. Grandma Valley, in the weeks before her stroke, told us emphatically that we were to have a girl. When we went to visit her in the hospital, Nick whispered our girl name. When we went in for the ultrasound, the lady asked me if we had a name. I told her we did if it was a girl and explained. She responded, "Grandma was right!"

Of course she was, how could it be anything else. It was a moment of Grace and knowing that we are to have a little girl is so amazing. It makes me smile, it makes me cry. A few days later, we went to visit our families and shared the news.

Home for Christmas with my parents.
 I wish I had an eloquent way to wrap up this year, to make the loss and the change all mean something. Someday I will look back and see it more clearly. But I have never been so excited to welcome a new year!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Christmas: Baby Valley is a....

It is sort of my first day back after an extended break. Nick and I were in Boston for six days over Christmas. It was longer than the majority of our trips east but it was probably the busiest. We had something planned every day. It made the days fly and though we did our best to see everyone, it just was not possible.

Probably my favorite moment of the trip was surprising my family with the gender of the baby. Nick and I found out the news on Thursday (three days prior to arriving in Boston) and I wanted so badly to celebrate with them in person. I told them they would know on Christmas morning. I planned the surprise for Christmas Eve but technically, they did know on Christmas morning. 

Every year we attend a party at my Aunt Tina's house. It is the part of Christmas I look forward to the most. The house is filled with extended family and old friends. My Great-Aunt Jeanne plays piano and we sing Christmas Carols. Santa shows up and hands out presents to the little kids. When we arrived at the party I quietly went upstairs and found Santa's bag of presents. I slipped in the card, addressed it to my Mom and Dad, and rejoined the party.

A short time later, Santa's bells started ringing to announce his arrival. It's the same every year. Everyone stops what they're doing and gathers in the living room. You can hear every child saying his name in anticipation.

It was the first time since I was a child, that the jingle jingle gave me butterflies. I was so nervous. When Santa called my parents up to sit on his lap, they did not think anything of it, convinced it was a joke by one of my uncles.

Half in conversation, my Mom tore open the wrapping paper to find a sealed envelope. Still she had no clue. I gestured to my sisters that they should pay attention. They did not catch on right away but started to suspect something was up.

My Mom barely paying attention to her "gag" gift. I'm trying to remain calm, my Aunt Tina, knew what was up.
 As my Mom opened the card and read the words, She yelled out and pushed the card shut. She was smiling and wide eyed staring at my Dad, who had not yet seen what it was. My sisters realized what was happening and rushed to find out for themselves.

"What? What is it?" My Dad shouted, trying to pry the card from her hands. Quickly my sisters were at their side. My Mom, still stunned and hugging the card yelled out, "It's a girl!"

My sisters reacting to the news!

Dress hides the bump well but not my tired eye.
Merry Christmas!! 

PS: A special thanks to Ellie who knew to have her camera ready. All Christmas Eve photos c/o Ellie Rice.