Friday, August 30, 2013

Progress report

Now, for starters I want to reiterate what a terrible idea it is to have work done in your home if/when you are pregnant. Do it before, or after, is my suggestion. Although you won't listen to me, and you know how I know? Because I was told THIS EXACT SAME THING by smart women who went before me. And I stupidly went against their advice.

Because what's happened is I have hit week 28 -- the start of the third trimester -- and it's like a switch was flipped. The cankles are on a whole new (painful) level. My back hurts so much it hurts to lift my left leg just to put on a pair of pants. I'm almost certainly waddling. And I'm much too tired to deal with a full week of strangers arriving to my house at the crack of dawn for home improvements. There isn't even a comfortable piece of furniture to sit on because everything's been centered in each room and tarped over.

This is quickly becoming a "first world problems" post, isn't it?

In any case, they tell me the painting is going to be done today. I have some doubts, but they might pull it off. They've done a great job, much faster and much better than I ever would have been able to do myself. Painting is totally a skill; one I do not possess.

So here's a bit of a teaser, just a progress report on where we are right now.

You might remember the family room. We had both walls on either side of the fireplace demolished (because it was really just wood paneling with no insulation), insulated, drywalled, and textured, plus a couple of small patch jobs in the room, then painting the whole kit and kaboodle.

Here's where we are today. The fireplace has been primered, the walls have been painted. Today they're doing final coats and obviously going to cut in with the gray near the fireplace so it looks nice and tidy. They still have to spackle and paint allllll the baseboard in the whole house, so you can see where I might be a little skeptical.

In any case I really love how the gray is turning out, and the blue in the baby's room is totally adorable.

And now, a question for you. Originally I'd planned to replace the carpet in the family room with laminate, but after talking it over with the husband, we've decided to put in new carpet so there's a soft floor for babies to crawl around on. My question is -- what color carpet do you think would look good in there with the gray walls and white fireplace? I don't really want to do white because there WILL be stains, another shade of gray seems like a lot of gray. I think I'm going to have to browse pinterest for a while.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The paint saga continues

When I imagined the work taking place in my house this week, I estimated it would take like five hours for a team of dudes to demo a couple walls, insulate, re-drywall, and texture.

This is a thing I often do -- underestimate the amount of time a project is going to take -- because of sheer ignorance.

Lessons learned: 1) Baseboard needs to be removed and re-installed as well. Easier said than done. 2) Sheetrock needs to be smeared all over the drywall cracks. Twice. Hahahahaha. You know, I thought drywall and sheetrock were the same thing, but sheetrock is, like, this gooey stuff they shove in the cracks so your walls don't look stupid when they paint them. Texturing, on the other hand, takes like 5 minutes. 3) Painting hasn't started but considering how the painter asked me three times if I wanted the baseboard painted while he stared at it forlornly, I'mma go ahead and guess painting is gonna be a bit more of a project than I anticipated as well.

So after I mentioned how I thought my gray options looked blue, and a couple of commenters were like: Yeah that looks blue/green, I started doing some googling and realized this blue-looking gray problem is a common thing. So I did some Pinterest research and found a few grays that swear they don't look blue, and went out and got some samples of those.

I put the new samples up in two different rooms and you can see how different they look in the different rooms. Partly due to lighting and partly due to the existing paint color. I noted the new colors with numbers so the 1s, 2s and 3s are the same colors, believe it or not.

We are going with Number 1.

Then while I was browsing the Sherwin Williams site I saw they have a Pottery Barn kids collection, so I went ahead and grabbed a sample of one of those colors, even though I'd already chosen the blue that I wanted for the baby's room.

Crappy lighting but the new color is at the bottom. Also, all the samples are in a semi-gloss, unfortunately. They can't give you flat samples, for whatever reason. We're sticking with our original decision, which I will wait to tell you about until the nursery is done.

So that is pretty much all the excitement over here, aside from everything -- everything -- on my body being swollen and me eating a whole bag of mini milky ways in 24 hours. Maybe tomorrow I'll have some paint pics! *orgasm*

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Because why not start new home improvement projects when you're 7 months pregnant?

So for starters, I passed my glucose test! Quite a relief.

Now, on to business.

My husband and I have been talking for years about making various improvements to the house, and there are many reasons we haven't done so.

1) We are unskilled and lazy, so DIY projects are out. We've tried stuff in the past and it just never works out.

2) Hiring people to do stuff for you is expensive, and then there is a strange man showing up at your house at 7:30 a.m. and then he's making a lot of noise and sweating.

3) Sheer procrastination. We are really, really good at procrastinating.

Now, the house needs an overhaul. New kitchen and bathrooms and everything. Months ago, when I first learned I was pregnant, would have been a good time to get the ball rolling on those kinds of projects. 'Twas not to be (See #3 above). So now we are down to what absolutely must be done before this child arrives to live in our house.

And we have somehow decided what absolutely must be done is:

1) Demo two walls, insulate, drywall, sheetrock, and texture. So we discovered there are these two walls in the house that were really just wood paneling that had been textured over. Verrrry tricky, former homeowner. Eventually the paint and texturing started to bubble away from the paneling, and it was revealed that not only were a couple of walls wood paneled, but they didn't have a shred of insulation.

2) Paint. Specifically the rooms in which the new walls are going up -- the family and living rooms -- plus the hall and the baby's room.

 Paint options in the baby's room. I would have chosen yellow over blue but I've heard from a couple sources that babies hate yellow? It makes them angry or something? Whatever. Can't risk it.

 Paint options for the living room/family room/hall. These are all variations of gray, although they look bluish to me. I'm worried that once the paint goes up it will look blue and I will freak the eff out.

3) Can lights in the living room, kitchen, and family room. This place is kind of a cave. Let there be light!!

4) Ceiling fans in the master, office, and baby's room. I recently read that babies with ceiling fans in their room have a much lower incidence of SIDS, so I was like: Done and done. 

So here are a couple "before" pics. I've got a lot more and once everything is done I'll put up before and after photos.

 The infamous green wall. I've always sort of loved it but I am pretty sure I'm the only one. The contractor who came by to give us a bid looked a bit traumatized by it. Pardon the piles of baby paraphernalia. They don't have a home yet.

 The family room. The plan here is paint the walls gray and the fireplace white. Then install a mantle, replace the flooring, probably with a faux wood/laminate, install window coverings, can lights, art, yadda yadda. 

The baby's room. I know what you're thinking: "I really love what you've done here!" Stay tuned. ;)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Drink me

I guess it was in the milliseconds after the phlebotomist handed me a bottle of lime-flavored liquid with 50 grams of glucose in it and then told me I should sit for one hour -- "no walking around!" -- that I became extremely irritated.

Yes, today was Ye Good Ol' one-hour glucose test, to determine if I have gestational diabetes. And I gotta say, I kind of think this test is bullshit. Because it's not testing you in a real-life situation. In real life, I would have eaten breakfast, and it wouldn't have been loaded with sugar. So having me drink 50 grams of glucose on an empty stomach in under five minutes and then simply sit there for an hour is completely ridiculous.

Which makes me feel that pregnant women are sort of set up to fail this test. It's obviously unnatural. As soon as you drink it, it hits your system like speed. I felt shaky and wired for about ten minutes, and then I crashed hard and wanted to sleep, eat, and vomit at the same time. Some other poor woman was in the midst of a three-hour test (which they force upon you if you don't pass the one-hour test) and she'd become so faint she needed to lie down.

I just want to know: Where are the tests that are grounded in real medical science? Where is the medical care based on scientific results rather than fear, unproven beliefs, and cover-your-assism? I worry that it's too late for standard medicine -- liability will always be the greatest concern, and the best way to reduce liability (at least in the eyes of medical institutions) seems to be to run a variety of unnecessary tests in order to prove that everything possible was done to help the patient. When, in fact, everything possible ought to include only those tests actually proven to help patients.

Today's test comes on the heels of the release of a new book by Emily Oster called Expecting Better: How to Fight the Pregnancy Establishment with Facts. In it, Oster debunks what I'll just go ahead and call myths -- that you can never drink alcohol or caffeine or eat soft cheese or deli meat during pregnancy. In excess some of these things are obviously not a good idea, but the actual facts as Oster discovered them are that women who drank the occasional glass of wine and a couple cups of coffee every day had perfectly healthy children who, years later, often scored higher on IQ tests than children of women who abstained throughout pregnancy. (Color me bitter -- I've abstained this entire time)

I haven't read Oster's book yet, but you can bet it's at the top of my list. What whet my interest was this article she wrote that appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

I hope her book addresses a number of questions I have. Is it entirely necessary to check for dilation in the final weeks of pregnancy when doctors themselves have said it's not at all an indicator of impending labor? Are internal fetal monitors at all necessary during labor? (pretty sure I already know this one is total bullshit) What is the deal with kegels? Please, I need hard evidence here.

It's a bit irksome to have to rely on outside information during pregnancy, when in theory, doctors know best, and they ought to have the latest and greatest information. And I really do like my doctor, but even doctors who don't necessarily believe certain tests are necessary are obliged to follow protocol. So I take everything said and done to me with a bit of a grain of salt.

And I know if I wanted to be a militant anti-medicine hippie I could have simply hired a midwife and I know she would be completely on the same page with me. Except for the pain management page -- I am 100% certain an epidural is in my future. I've done the research on natural birth and read several books and I think vaginal is the way to go, if possible, but the benefits of reduced pain outweigh the risks for me. I mean, modern medicine's got to be good for something, right?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

On being bigger

The responses from folks who've read Bigger have been really positive. Of course, they sort of have to be since I "know" pretty much everyone who's read it, even if I only know them via the blogworld. You've all always been very supportive, and I'm so glad I decided to start this little blog seven years ago.

What I really hoped with regard to the book was that women would relate to my main character, Nicky. She's a plus-sized beauty who wasn't always plus-sized, so she's experienced the world in a variety of dress sizes. And the world is a weird, sometimes cruel place for women of all sizes, for a variety of reasons.

Several people have told me they were even uncomfortable reading about Nicky's experience as an overweight woman, and that's pretty much what I was going for. Even thin women experience raging insecurity, and I think everyone can relate to feeling as though people are staring at their flaws. The difference is people really are staring at obese people and judging them. Harshly. Doesn't matter how brilliant or kind or wonderful they are as human beings. 

Nicky is pretty much me. I've never been as big as Nicky got, but I needed her to be a little extra chunky for plot purposes. Anyone who's been reading my blog for a while knows I'm a little obsessed with my weight, new diets, new exercise programs, all of it. My weight fluctuates like a mofo, so for the book, I drew from personal experience.

And my personal experience is that there are certain weights that, for me, make me practically invisible to strangers. I've been weights that made strangers behave rudely toward me. I've been weights that made strangers behave deferentially toward me. And none of it makes any fucking sense, because I've always been the same exact person. I'm kind and polite and quiet. I return shopping carts to the shopping cart stand. I let people merge in front of me. I always tip 20%. I'd understand being treated like a leper if I, say, stopped bathing, or wore clothes that had poo stains on them or something. But, there's something about an extra layer of pudge that some people find repulsive.

All of my past experiences with weight fluctuation have made being pregnant an interesting time in my life. At first, when my stomach started growing, it felt wrong. I felt guilty for looking semi-pregnant, as though I'd been binging on brownies rather than growing a human. Before I looked really pregnant, and before I could feel the baby kicking, I just felt mostly like I needed to hide myself. Which is sort of terrible, right? But I knew people could see something happening, and I imagined them thinking I just had a really bad muffin top. (For the record, I am firmly against muffin tops on women of all sizes.)

Now, at six and a half months, I am undeniably pregnant and strangers behave in a whole new way. They seem more patient with me, more kind, more understanding. There's always been something about pregnant women, right? You just don't treat them like another asshole on the street who's trying to cut in line. You might even encourage them to cut in line.

And I feel really unapologetic about how I look right now. Maybe all pregnant women get this self-righteous feeling? I am growing someone inside me. It's not easy. But it's amazing, therefore I am sort of amazing, and so is any woman who's done this. I want to bump fists with other pregnant women I see in public (but I just smile at them instead). 

This unapologetic feeling is going to change after I have the baby, of course, and that should be a whole other sociological experiment. Are people more forgiving of a little extra weight on moms? If the media is any kind of indicator, the answer is no. How will Kate lose the baby weight? news programs were screaming the day Kate Middleton stood outside the hospital holding her son, who'd been born only 24 hours earlier. Who the fuck cares? I want to scream back. Look at what she just did! She grew a person and then pushed him out of her body!

(Let's not even discuss stretch marks, which famous people don't seem to get, for some reason.)

So you might guess what future books in the Nicky Beets series will include, if I'm continuing to base Nicky on myself. And -- spoiler alert -- I am. Weight issues fascinate me. Always have, and I'm afraid they always will. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

It's all about perspective

Happy birthday, Husband. And don't fret -- you're not old.

I mean, you're 37 now, and you might think that seems old, considering that 40 is only three years away. And yeah, your dad is probably wondering how in the world he has a 37-year-old son, when he fondly remembers torturing you when you were a mere toddler, as though it were yesterday. And yeah, 37 years is a lot of sunrises and sunsets and and drives on the freeway and can you imagine how many times you've brushed your teeth in your lifetime? (Not enough, I assure you)

Yeah. You're 37. And you've accomplished a lot. There were all the years of schooling, of partying, of generally horsing around in situations when you shouldn't have, and all those moments have become oft-remembered stories, and I never tire of hearing them. You've driven too fast for far too long, you've stumbled romantically (until obviously landing the gold-mine that is your current wife), you've tried things you probably shouldn't have tried, and that leaves you where you're at -- you're a 37-year-old man, and soon you're going to have a son and you'll remember all those garden gnome statues you snatched with your friends as a teen, not to mention all the other tomfoolery you were up to, and it's going to be worrisome, my love. Because your son shares your DNA and it will be all we can do to keep him alive and fed.

Whenever I think I'm feeling old, or you say you're feeling old, at 37 -- 37! -- I don't know why, but I think of my departed grandfather. Maybe it's because his stories from when he was 37 (and older) are really something else. He may as well have been a kid, you know? That one story about all the margaritas and the dancing and then blacking out and waking up on the ship? He was probably 37 then. By the way, remember the story about Linda barfing on him when he was driving? That has nothing to do with being 37; I've just always really liked that story.

I guess the point is there is still time for any number of shenanigans. I mentioned Julia Child the other day -- she didn't attend Le Cordon Bleu until her late 30s, and was 39 when she began to teach cooking. She'd had a whole other career before that, doing some kind of top secret research shit for the government. So if you want to become a chef, or race cars, or run 5 miles, or volunteer at the animal shelter, or travel to Tahiti, or move to Boston, or learn to play the piano, or work as a car salesman -- there's time for all that. I think, actually, you could do all of that, if you wanted to. You're a smart cookie -- the smartest I know. And you're funny, compassionate, and generous, which makes you popular among your peers. Lucky little extrovert.

And I know there's this child on his way and you've entered some heretofore unseen stage in which you're pretty much a caveman sitting in front of his cave with a big club and a look that warns death to all who approach me and our progeny with meat that has not been cooked all the way through. Which is one of the reasons I know you'll be a good dad -- that pure protective instinct that makes you see red. Although, truly, you've always been ready to punch someone's lights out on my behalf. Thanks for that. But that isn't the only reason I've always known you'd be a good dad. You've got these deeply ingrained morals and ideas about right and wrong that I've always been sort of in awe of. You're certainly a better person than I am when it comes down to personal behavior, and I'm no slouch in the morality department (if I do say so).

So when I look at you and your beautiful 37-year-old eyes (still good vision, by the way!), I see new beginnings and future adventures and comfort and a well of love I haven't reached the bottom of yet, lucky for me. There's a lot behind us, and even more ahead. Bad, good, hard, easy, whatever. Take my hand, birthday boy. The sun rose again and will keep its promise tomorrow, too.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

I stink

I smell.

Like, not continuously, and not despite showering or anything. But what basically happens is if I perspire even a little -- and mind you, I'm pregnant, and it's summertime, and I have two words for you: maternity pants -- something bad happens.

It takes about an hour, but my sweat turns into something that smells like a cross between dirty feet and burning charcoal. And it's making. Me. Insane. Because I don't normally stink. And if I do, I don't smell myself. The fox doesn't smell its own hole, as my dad likes to say. But I smell it. Oh, brother, do I.

Really, I should be showering like three times a day to prevent this. But my current modus operandi is to just suffer through it until, by the end of the day, I am just straight up pissed off. It can pretty much ruin my mood.

This is one thing I never realized about pregnancy -- that you don't feel all beautiful and clean and lovely and like a glowing Earth Mother all the time. No. You feel like an oozing, overheated manatee. Who stinks, and probably has bacne.

Just tell me the B.O. goes away after the baby's born. Please.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Project # 1 - The yard

So as part of spawning life, I feel a need to complete certain projects around the house. There are many -- oh, so very many -- on my list. I'll probably post about those as they get completed.

Currently we're redoing our yard. Well, our gardener Oscar is redoing our yard. Some time ago, the previous homeowner installed their own sprinkler system, and suffice to say it was super jacked. As many of their home improvement projects have proven to be. Nay, all. Not a single one was done correctly. Some day I will show you my beige guest bathroom. Everything that isn't brass is beige. Everything.

So our sprinklers sprayed pretty much everywhere except on the lawn. There was no irrigation for the border plants, which began to die because Hello, Black Thumb over here. And the sprinklers that did exist were not automatic, so then of course Black Thumb proceeded to kill the small patches of lawn that actually did get sprinkler coverage. And then one of the valves broke, and long story short IT ALL HAD TO GO.

So now Oscar is taking care of that bizzle. He's torn out both lawns, rototilled, and torn out lots of border plants. Next up, he'll install bendaboard (which is a real thing and is exactly what it sounds like), then new sprinklers and bubblers, compost, sod, and new border plants.

Which is where I need help. I have pretty much no idea what to plant. Help? Pictures below show the areas that will need filling in.

Ok. The backyard. That corner area with the weird birdbath -- the birdbath needs to go bye-bye and then I was thinking of putting a small Japanese maple there. There are no trees in the backyard. We used to get shade from the walnut tree in the neighbor's yard but as you can see, it's super-dead and has been for a few years.
Two of those bushes on the right that look all hacked up have been removed, but the three rosebushes (one out of frame) are staying. No idea what to put in place of the bushes that were removed. 

 More backyard. Almost all of the plants along the fence were removed except for the jasmine and a camellia bush (at least I think that's what it is.). No idea what to fill it in with. 

Front yard. We had the aggregate concrete along the sidewalk removed and plan to install sod. You can see we're on a corner. I'd kind of like to put in some kind of grouping of plants in that corner area to create a buffer, but no idea what kind. 

 Front yard. I need to figure out what border plants will look nice near the house. That little corner area that still has plants is going to get revamped, too. And you can kind of see in that same area there's a brick planter box that needs some sort of plants in it. 

 Border plants will sweep across the front and over to the side of the house and then also along the fence. Tell me if this is a crazy idea -- bougainvillea climbing up a trellis on the side of the house? I know it's super thorny and grows like a weed, but I love how bright and hardy it is. 

Help me, plant people! You're my only hope!