Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ahead of Schedule

Some good news that I needed translated to me as good news before I fully understood its good news-iness:

Friday I am 25 weeks. In Thursday's ultrasound the twins measured 26 weeks size. My first reaction was "whoa nelly"* because in a crazy way I am still confident that the twins will show up at some reasonable date and thus be huge at birth. BUT. Ellen reminded me that it is likely that the twins will show up early, and noted that any extra meat on their bones will be a blessing. Right! Way to prioritize the unlikely over the likely, Nora. And thank goodness I have a midwife as such a close friend, to remind me of the reality.

evidence babies are ahead of me
While the tech was out of the room doing her calculating and techy things, I got bored and started taking pictures.

And for those of you interested in such things, here is a picture of me as of today.
24 weeks 6 days

Several people asked me yesterday when I am due. They used that excited "it must be soon" voice that indicated that they had no idea that I was carrying twins. In other news, you can see the glasses I chose. I went with the black and green frames, which (although not as exciting as red) seemed liked the best shape option. My pal Stephanie** called while I was setting up the tripod, so I decided to take the picture while on the phone. Classy, right? This is seconds after Stephanie promised me that the twins would not have colic.

I am wearing one of the few shirts I have actually bought for this pregnancy. I was so lucky to get so many hand-me-downs, but as I get bigger I am running out of room in many of the shirts. This is exacerbated by my height, which itself is not a problem, but is causing lots of people to get a good look at my naked belly. I finally broke down and got a few shirts, including this wonderfully long one, which has the added bonus of not being too baggy but still having room for added belly-growth.

*No, "Nelly" is not among our name choices. Or rather, not among mine. I haven't looked at Chris' list yet. We need to swap name lists soon, since naming the twins (along with paint the babies' room, sell the Prius and buy a minivan, and settle the whole parental leave thing with my office) is right at the top of the prenatal to-do list.

**Linking to her will probably make Stephanie uncomfortable, because she'll be reminded how long it has been since she posted anything. To that I say: YOU HAD A BABY. You have other things to worry about, like what to wear to the math meetings.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

15 with wings

In this climate of serious issues, I am not going to go to bat over internal disputes in the berry community.

Oregon State Representative Vicki Berger

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

To Blogline or not to Blogline?

I need a little advice - I have used Bloglines as my blog reader for a good long while, but recently it is acting up more than usual. All of a sudden I see I have 700 unread posts. On closer inspection, 200 posts are from one blog, and these are posts I have already seen. A related problem is that if I check in with Bloglines several times in one day (I often use blogreading as a procrastination technique, so I will read 3 or 4 or at a time, then go back later for more) the feeds I have already read show up again as unread.

Then there is the problem of blogs not appearing on my feed. A couple of my favorites disappear for days, only to have the posts updated en mass at random.

I'm annoyed and ready to give up Bloglines. But what would be better? What do you use, and do you like it? Do you use Blogger's new "blogs I'm following" service? From what I have seen, it looks like that could be a bit annoying for someone who reads dozens and dozens (and dozens) of blogs. 

I would love to hear any advice or know how you read blogs - I am ready to make a jump but want something to jump to before I leave what I've got. 

Monday, February 23, 2009

40 is the only number whose letters are in alphabetical order.

Chris is:

  1. my favorite.
  2. the only person with whom I can imagine living through the twins' pending infancy.
  3. bacon-obsessed.
  4. funny is a wonderfully stealthy way.
  5. someone  who looks great with grey hair.
  6. generous.
  7. a great cook.
  8. beautiful.

    Chris on the beach

  9. constitutionally opposed to having a fuss made about him. 
  10. lovable despite his enjoyment of Battlestar Galactica.
  11. maybe the only person I believed when he said we would get through infertility.
  12. opposed to buying flowers but happy to make cookies. 
  13. athletic enough to enthusiastically try new sports and do respectably well at them.
  14. well-read and willing to tackle books that I find daunting (recent examples include the Aeneid and War and Peace).
  15. a wonderful parent. 
  16. not the tallest one in his family.

  17. good with languages but bad with accents. (I had to translate for him in Scotland.) 
  18. as likely as not to give me a report on the best thing he ate on a given day.
  19. more internet obsessed than I am. 
  20. happy to tell you his favorite joke: What's brown and sticky? A stick.  
  21. a coffee addict and goes through at least a pound a week (plus whatever he drinks at work).  
  22. almost never going to notice before I do that the tub needs cleaning.
  23. able to follow a basketball game by radio.  
  24. willing, with less prodding than you'd think, to put on a hideous wig and smooch his pregnant, costumed wife.

    our next holiday card?

  25. a tenured professor.
  26. kind enough to never complain about my out-of-control fabric stash. 
  27. hard to photograph because he likes to make faces to deter me. 
  28. amused by puns and math jokes. 
  29. a master mixer of classic cocktails and several newfangled ones. 
  30. much more accommodating and even-keeled than I am.
  31. a true Oregonian, who would rather deal with rain and cold than sun and heat.

    in santa monica

  32. an avid Settlers of Catan player, and almost always wins. 
  33. our Saturday morning chef: he makes pancakes for Ada almost every week, using a mix of white and graham flour. 
  34. hard to upset (not that I haven't tried once or twice). 
  35. gentle in a way that most people do not expect.
  36. halfway decent guitar player for someone who rarely gets time to practice.
  37. a fan of Sol LeWitt. He was entranced from the first time he encountered LeWitt's work.
  38. a great out-loud reader who has read many books to me and forgiven me when I've fallen asleep.
  39. sitting on the couch next to me, making it difficult for me to finish this post.
  40. 40 today. 

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Help for a Little Guy

I don't know this woman. Until this week I had never visited her blog or heard of her. But through another blog I saw a plea for help for her son Ike and her family. Ike was born 13 weeks early, which meant a lot of work and expense when he arrived. He did better than expected, but then his father was laid off and the family's health insurance was terminated with no warning. You can read about it here.

It touched a nerve for me, both because twin pregnancies are automatically on pre-term delivery watch, and because at work I am engaged in efforts to reform the health care system so that this kind of thing does not happen to people. (Well, that the loss of insurance doesn't happen and doesn't keep people from getting needed health care. Someone else is working on pre-term birth, I imagine.) Personally, every time I am gripped by a strong series of contractions I worry that the twins will show up before we or they are ready for them to be on the outside. I have read a lot about twins and NICUs and the scary process of parenting in the hospital. But yes, it was the loss of health insurance that pushed me over the edge. I am not an advocate for a "single payer" health care system - as nice as it might be, I think it is too late for the United States to go down that path. (for the wonks in the crowd, please see the great article by Atul Gawande in the January 26 New Yorker.) I do think that people should have access to health insurance and health care whether or not they are employed, and that people who lose their jobs should have an easy way to get connected to continuing coverage. (I will admit I am not sure what the situation is like for workers in Texas, where this family lives, but even with technical "access" via COBRA, that can be a prohibitively expensive proposition, especially for a family that just lost a wage earner.)

For those who just tuned out because I got all wonky on you: 
The point here is: these people could use some help. Even a few dollars would probably mean a lot. You can donate by Paypal (go here for the link) and in other ways. I sent them a little, and hope that by writing about this a few more people will too. I wish for the best for Ike and his family, and hope that my family will never have to face what they are going through.

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

Love is Always

Tim had a special appreciation of Madden's powers of observation, like Madden's admonition to hotel guests not to sleep on the side of the bed where the telephone is located because the mattress is more likely to sag from overuse.

Tom Brokaw
Role Model

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

One of the Things I Love About Ellen

I don't know how long this idea was brewing, but on Sunday afternoon Ellen suggested that we build a teepee from some of the willow saplings laying in a pile down the block.  Met with enthusiasm (from Monkey Boy and myself) and general restrained encouragement (from Ada) we went for it. Or rather, Ellen, Ada and Monkey Boy moved forward by heading down the street to shlep some saplings back. I took my pregnant lady prerogative to stay on the couch chatting with Jiro.

with saplings

Upon their return, the saplings were arrayed and assessed for size. While building began, Ada, Monkey Boy and I took a couple of quick three-wheeler spins around the block. We returned to see this:

Under Construction

Progress! The kids had a good time checking out the teepee and helping put on final touches. Almost as much fun as Ellen had building it.

Ada in the teepee


I think both Ellen and I were happy thinking about the play that this structure will house. The kids are just getting to the stage of full-blown independent "pretend" play, making this an excellent foil for their imaginations.

Monday, February 16, 2009

How Good is Good Enough?

(or: Who Gets the Shaft?)

I admit to being constitutionally lazy. But I am also a bit compulsive, and I don't like to leave things undone.

Today is a state and national holiday, but as a part-time state employee I only get 4.8 hours of holiday pay. To make up the rest of the day, I am working for several hours this morning. While working, I sent an email about an ongoing project to one of my bosses. I knew she was working today too. (The legislature is in session, so she is on the hook in case they want anything from our office. Nice boss that she is, she is taking this on personally rather than delegating to one of the staff so she could sleep in.) The boss, seeing I am working, emails to ask if I can attend a meeting tomorrow to talk to a key legislative staffer about some work I did.

So can I? I don't usually work on Tuesdays, which means I do not have established child care. But. I hate to let this woman down, and I hate not to be there to talk about my work. On the other hand, the legislative staffer already found one flaw in my analysis - I overlooked a section of bill that established a fund I suggested the bill be amended to establish. Easy to fix (and frankly, easy to overlook in a bill that stretches over 200 pages) but now I am nervous about what else I have missed. So now I am going back through the work to make sure it is not deeply flawed in other ways.

So do I ask my regular babysitter to be with Ada for half a day so that I can drive down to the capitol for a one hour meeting? Or do I tell my boss I can't come and just have her debrief with me on Wednesday? My guilt is compounded by the fact that I can't be in the office at all this week, in part because Chris has jury duty and can not take Ada to nursery school as he normally would.

Do I shaft my work with a lame "I don't work on Tuesdays" or do I shaft my child, knowing that she is deep into a "I need mama" period that will be abruptly interrupted when the twins arrive?  The latter option also shafts me to some extent, stretching my workweek and eliminating the daily nap I am realizing is increasingly necessarily to my mood and ability to function. But I am proud of my status as a professional woman, and in a deep and irrational way want everyone I interact with at work to see me as a talented, can-do person.

Oy. What would you do?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Photographic Dictionary

I love this.

Some of the pictures are funny, some are beautiful, others sweet.

I could spend hours perusing.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

your what is not alone?

When inspiration calls, you don't send it to voicemail.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cheerleaders, Cupcakes and Costumes

Jiro made the mistake of telling Ellen that he'd like cheerleaders for his 40th birthday.

I doubt he thought she would actually find some for him.

I think it went over pretty well.

(call and) response

After the professionals left, several of us took up the pom poms:

Birthday Boy

Who is that pregnant cheerleader? Oh. That's me.

That's Chris underneath Howard Stern's hair. 
I think we've found our next holiday card photo!

So number one!
Jiro is so Number One!

Happy birthday Jiro! I hope the rest of your year is just as funny, surprising and full of friends and love as your birthday party.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Parsnip Man

At our vegetable pick-up last week, Ada was thrilled by a special parsnip standing out from the box of regular roots. This large parsnip was dressed up, with a bit of root stuck through its "head" to make a jaunty mustache, and a friendly drawn-on face. (Sadly, I'd left my camera at home, so we just had to enjoy the parsnip in person.)

When it was time to go, Ada was disappointed that we could not take the parsnip with us. I explained that others would want to see this funny vegetable, and suggested we could make one of our own at home. Once home, Ada asked me to fulfill my promise, which I did. I will admit that I am a huge fan of parsnips and was loathe to sacrifice an entire one to this project. Instead, I took a parsnip with two root bases and snapped off one to make our own parsnip man.  I gave this little guy root arms, and then followed Ada's instructions for his other decorations.

Ada and parsnip man (3)

Ada and parsnip man (2)

Ada and parsnip man (1)

After a few days living in a container outside the fridge, Parsnip Man has suffered a bit of shrinkage but is otherwise intact. When Ada and I talked about why PM is shrinking (parsnips have a lot of water in them, when a parsnip is left out the water is leaves the parsnip and evaporates into the air) she got a bit worried that PM would disappear completely. Once I assured her that PM was made partly but not entirely of water, she relaxed.

I didn't mention that no matter what, in a few weeks PM is likely to disappear completely anyway, most likely into our compost bin. Don't tell Ada, or Parsnip Man for that matter. I want his time with us to be happy.

Friday, February 06, 2009


Rebecca recently gave me a Lemonade Award. Based on the idea of life giving you lemons, etc., it is sort of a "good attitude" award. Which recently is kind of laughable, but I appreciate the thought nonetheless.

Apparently getting this award means I am supposed to:
  • link back to the person I received the award from. No problem. (See above)
  • nominate 10 bloggers who are deserving of this award! (how about 4?)
This second bit is harder, not because I can not think of people who deserve it, but nominating people then requires them to post about it, etc. Did I mention I am bad about chain mail? Bad, but also easily guilted, so recently when my friend Ann sent me an email recipe chain, I emailed her that I could not do it but still send her a recipe because I felt bad about my response.

That said, I will give this a shot, but I have no expectation that the named bloggers will comply unless they want to. For various reasons, I appreciate the attitude these women bring to their writing:

Mayberry Mom

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

Note for Jacob

There’s a septuagenarian African-American man in an ermine coat and felt bowler. There’s a bouffant-haired woman with a hard twang leaning on a walker. There’s even a guy with mutton chops who looks like a rockabilly werewolf.

RJ Smith
Rocking Cincinnati's R&B Cradle 

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Kind of Dark

After reading a few books with me this afternoon, Ada decided she wanted to "read" some on her own. She plowed through three or four before asking me to find her another one.

"How about this one?" I asked, holding up a book.

"It's kind of dark."

"Dark? What do you mean?"

"It is dark. I want something lighter."

"Ok, how about Cars and Trucks and Things that Go?"


First, who knew that Ada classified books as light and dark?

Second, who would have guessed that Welcome Home, Big Bird would be considered dark?

Monday, February 02, 2009


I am totally becoming that woman - the one who walks in the door and immediately unloads her complaints. I hate being her, but in the moment it just feels so good to unload.

Between my growing stomach, my whiny, needy toddler, and pregnancy related annoyances and ills, I am a real barrel of laughs to be around. My big hope is that I can now really learn the lesson I only sort of understood from my first attempt at parenting an infant: ASK FOR HELP.

I suck at asking for help. I don't like to do it, and I am not very good at judging when I need it. Case in point - Friday morning I was feeling out of breath and out of sorts while dealing with run-of-the-mill morning stuff. Ellen called and offered to take Ada for a while so that I could get some rest. I hesitated, thinking to myself: really I am fine, and since it is only going to get worse, why ask for (or even accept) help now?

Can I just say: rejecting help is STUPID. Before I got off the phone, I told Ellen that I felt I should say no, but in the end I accepted her kind offer. After Ada ran off with Ellen and Monkey Boy, I ran an errand that would have taken twice as much energy with Ada tagging along. When I checked in with Ellen she said Ada was happy to have nap at her house. So I took a nap too. A long, lovely, middle-of-the-day, alarm-free, get-up-when-you're done nap. Which helped me realize how tired I have been feeling. (Well, that and a co-worker's comment earlier in the week about how tired I look.) So right, a little reminder that (a) I should think about when I need help, (b) I should ask for that help, and (c) I need more naps.

When Ada was an infant I was terrible about asking for help. My natural instinct is to refuse help, or to turn it into something that is not actually that helpful. People would offer to come over and take Ada for a walk, but I would suggest they just come and hang out. Then I would be responsible for entertaining and maybe feeding them, plus I didn't really hand Ada over to the visitor for long enough to make it useful.

Why I cling to this counter-productive trait is beyond me. I love to give help, so what is the problem with accepting it? Even though I know that people know I am not invincible, part of me wants to uphold the fantasy that I am so together that I don't need assistance, even in demonstrably difficult circumstances.
Maybe being socked by the reality of twins will force the issue a bit, but I know that I will need (ha!) help asking for help. My plan is to ask friends ahead of time to promise to come over to take Ada or the babies away for a bit, or to do other things for our family. I don't need matching infant sleepers or new stuffed animals, but knowing that I am not always so great at reaching out when I need the help, I am hoping that by pre-planning I can get people to ask me if they can help once I am in over my head.

(So yes, if you are my real-life friend and live in town, I am now officially asking for help once the babies are born. Thank you in advance.)

21 weeks
21 weeks

 In a mostly unrelated thought, the above picture is my belly at 21 weeks. I took a few pictures of myself, most of which just had the effect of showing off how dirty all the mirrors in my house are. I will get Chris to take one of me soon, but in the mean time I wanted to note that I am wearing maternity jeans I made myself. Thanks to Maggie, who sent me a link to a woman who blogged about making her own maternity jeans. I dragged out some jeans I never wear any more (from the photo you can see why, they are a shreddy mess) and sewed on a stretchy shirt that I have not worn for over a year. I used this set of directions. If not perfect, these home-made maternity jeans are at least as good and stay up better than any of the jeans I bought or got as hand-me-downs. Thanks again Maggie!