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An agent of erosion
 
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Below are the 17 most recent journal entries recorded in gaffall's LiveJournal:

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Sunday, July 28th, 2013
12:14 pm
Singapore day
I took a leaf home on the SMRT, a large one that lay darkly on the main path home through the botanical gardens. Clearly the authorities mean you to use the main paths at night - they were also the most frequented in the day, by people with strollers and families. The small and side paths were followed by ones and threes, while the twos cuddled at most secluded benches.

Since I am alone, I brought my friends with me in my mind.

I walked with Sarah through the Healing Garden and speculated about whether our maple varieties were as difficult for Asians to tell apart as all these broad and fleshy leaves were to me. I demanded over and again for her to feel each trellising vines and not-evergreen, because they all felt unexpected. We slyly bit false lime leaves together and laughed at the appropriately named Devil's Cotton. I followed her nose to find the source of the honey smell... but couldn't by myself.

I walked with John as I read every sign and felt the wet air. I thought that the breeze would not have been enough for him and asked him what he'd like to do instead, feeling slightly resentful and ready to let him go so that I could enjoy the gardens as long as I wanted to. But then we walked a remembered forest instead, and I thought of those first walks, how he slipped into the stream and surprised me into first love with laughter. I had forgotten how he also takes joy in what he is doing. We held hands to listen to the tree fountains.

When I walked through 6 hectares of preserved rainforest, carefully set aside but so close to the traffic noises, I excused myself past a family concerned about their stroller and the stairs. I found myself walking with Frederic, a Frenchman who admired me as I admired him over several meals and walks in the last foreign city I visited. It was good to be strangers to the place together, but he was only half there. First, my shoes in my bag, I thought of the email I might write to him and how he might react to its appearance in his inbox, and then I sat by his side and looked over the edge of the wooden walk into the dappling forest. In silence, we watched the head down squirrels double jump between trees, the spider strand swing in the sunlight, the forest floor, covered by fallen leaves in one shape but all colors of the forest. I alone imagined drawing one of the even brown leaves, with defined and regular veins of dark lines and light. Together, we breathed the forest in, and delighted in another delicate frisson between the two of us so far from home.

Nora advised me on fashion in the gift shop, disapproving of my final choice in the most sisterly way.

I was alone when I encountered the giant lizard warily watching, the unconcerned rodent, and the secretly nesting swan. I built a moment in memory of tropical lily pads on reflective muddy water. The waterfall was the same temperature as every other water I touched.

The lights came on and frogs said a high-pitched and strangled 'no no no' at the other end of the park. Saturn and I rounded the lake and crouched with a family throwing bread to the dark fish, catfish, koi, and turtles underneath a tree hanging new roots toward the water. The littlest in the stroller seemed uninterested in the seething lake life, focusing occasionally on me or her mother but mostly on the world. I took a picture in my mind of bright koi, small turtle, and translucently brilliant line of red ants. Saturn failed to fall in the water.

Frederic, who dislikes dining alone, joined me again for a fabulously expensive dinner in the darkness and jazz band of the ginger restaurant in a ginger garden. We might have talked while waiting, but I read my book instead. Zack stepped in briefly to admire the presentation and fresh textures of the aperitif with me, and to promise that he would surely use radishes and pearl onions so well next time. Fred and I shared an affogato, cheerfully ignored the price, and savored our final mouthfuls of sharp wine and vanilla.

When I stepped outside again to head home, my love was there with me in the darkness. It took 4 hours to wander one direction through the park, but only twenty minutes to walk the main and lighted roads back to the station, pausing to pick up a mushroom-velvety leaf. We talked about the things we love to do that the other does not love so enormously, and also about the loves that we share - like opening our lives to our family of friends. Like being part of a workplace that is a community and being a valued member. Like hearing stories. Like harmonizing. Like being unequivocally there for each other.

On the train ride back, I appreciated again how riding a foreign city's rail system makes me feel masterful and understanding. I fit my fingers into the smooth grooves underneath my leaf, wondering how I'll get it home, and finished my book just as I reached my stop.

(plink)

Thursday, April 11th, 2013
9:28 am
Tomatoes I have started this year.
Comment here with what you'd like, and I'll reserve them for you. The seedlings will be ready to leave the greenhouse in 2 weeks(ish), and you can put them in-ground May 15th to be absolutely sure, but I usually plant mine at the beginning of May.

All varieties are heirloom.

I will be exceedingly grateful if you give the pots they are in back to me.

Current status of claimed tomatoes

=== Small tomatoes (5) ===
blue berry (7)
- have never grown.
- http://www.rareseeds.com/blue-berry-blend-tomato/?F_Keyword=blue%20berry%20tomato
german lunchbox (6)
- Have never grown
- http://www.rareseeds.com/german-lunchbox/?F_Keyword=german%20lunchbox
yellow pear (6)
- Grew these once 2 years ago. Abundant.
- http://www.theherbcottage.com/Bot_Interests_Pics/1info_pages/tom_yell_pear.html
riesentraube (6)
- from Carol last year. Egg-shaped, pinkish.
- Came from amishseeds, but can't find them there. http://www.rareseeds.com/riesentraube-tomato/
mayberry (6)
- from Carol last year. Small, pinkish, abundant
- search on this page: http://www.amishlandseeds.com/pink_tomatoes.htm

=== Roman tomatoes (2) ===
yellow roman (6)
- not juicy, very solid. Startlingly beautiful. Grew last year.
- http://www.rareseeds.com/roman-candle/?F_Keyword=yellow%20roman
striped roman (6)
- not juicy, very solid. Grew last year.
- http://www.rareseeds.com/striped-roman-tomato/?F_Keyword=striped%20roman

=== Slicer tomatoes (5) ===
rei dos temporoes (3)
- early, red. Grown last 2 years.
- http://t.tatianastomatobase.com:88/wiki/Rei_Dos_Temporoes#tab=General_Info
moneymaker (6)
- red. Grown last 2 years.
- http://www.rareseeds.com/moneymaker/
hillbilly (6)
- stripey orange, large. Grew last year.
- http://www.rareseeds.com/hillbilly-or-flame-to/?F_Keyword=hillbilly
german pink (6)
- from my grandmother last year. large, pink.
- best guess: http://heritagetomatoseed.com/heirloom-and-op-tomato-seeds/hege-german-pink/
prud? purple (3)
- from AMB this year. Have never grown these.
- best guess: http://www.glacialridgegrowers.com/speciesDetail.asp?SpeciesID=617

=== Crazy tomatoes (1) ===
reisetomate (5)
- Weird, weird, weird - irresistible. Have never grown these.
- http://www.rareseeds.com/reisetomate-tomato/

(30 plunks | plink)

Friday, August 26th, 2011
1:21 am
Baby post #4 - breastfeeding
My mother asked me, maybe in the context of asking many people at the same time, if I was enjoying breastfeeding. I said yes, but I may have answered too quickly. I know that I feel really good about it, but I don’t really know if I enjoy it. Let me tell you some things about breastfeeding.

I find it a little annoying when people ask ‘Breast or bottle?’ because the question is really ‘Breastmilk or formula?’ - you can feed breastmilk from a bottle. Just so that’s out of the way.

I knew I would breastfeed since forever - I remember walking home from the bus stop in elementary school, and my mom met us halfway there carrying my younger sister, and I chanted ‘Nurse, Nora, nurse!’ to make her start crying for food. Sorry, mom. As I’ve had a baby for a bit, some of the disadvantages of formula have become clearer - how expensive it is, especially, as I’m not working for a couple of months and we can feel it in our budget. The other difference that’s big for me is convenience. But originally, there wasn’t really a question. Breasts are how you feed babies.

I smell like milk all the time. It smells warm and sweet. I catch it when I get up or sit down or turn or change how I’m holding Saturn, and of course especially when I pull down my nursing bra to feed him. When I sweat, my sweat smells like milk. I rather like it, which is good, because I don’t think there’s much I can do about it. John says he can smell it too, but no one else has mentioned it.

I have milk on me all the time. Handtowels (sometimes crusty ones), wet shirts, and a succession of different types of nursing pads have become a way of life for me. My other breast leaks when I’m feeding on one side; the breast I haven’t fed on for a while starts leaking if I’m away from Saturn too long; both breasts start leaking if I try to sleep on my side. Occasionally they both decide to provide milk for the entire world while I’m in the shower, and I ignore them and keep washing.

If it’s not milk on me, it’s baby spitup, or just baby spit from him drooling or rooting. I miss being clean for longer than a half-hour or so. I wash my chest along with my face before I go to bed.

Saturn makes it pretty obvious when he wants to eat, which is pleasant. I don’t know that he’s ever really cried for food - instead, he starts sticking out his tongue and testing things near him to see if they’re good to eat. Or he sucks furiously on his own tongue, making ridiculous sounds. Or his fists. Or he headbangs on my chest (or John’s), searching for the nipple that he just knows is there somewhere. Early on, if his head had migrated to the armpit of the person holding him, that meant eating time. When John’s holding him and he wants to eat, John says, ‘Do you need me to tell her? I can tell her...’ John is fantastic at taking care of Saturn, but I am the only one who can feed him. That is terrifying and wonderful and also just ok.

He’s been very patient with eating from the beginning, which is also very pleasant. The hardest day for breastfeeding was the third day after birth, when my milk came in, and also when I went home from the hospital. I was going to take a shower, so I took off my bra - and my breasts were so full of milk and swollen with extra fluids that they seemed basketball sized. The pressure of them just lying against me made them start dripping. The change from slowly growing breasts during pregnancy to these new enormous (and painful) monsters was sudden and startling... and feeding that night was so difficult. There was so much milk that Saturn couldn’t handle it - I ended up basically squirting it into his mouth when he ate that night. That required this weird position where both of my hands were available, and that made my back, shoulders, neck, and arms hurt. I think we were all pretty weary that night (John was helping, too.) But Saturn just kept on trying to eat - he didn’t give up, and he expressed amazingly little frustration.

We’ve had problems with too much milk for the baby to handle since then, although at two months, it’s not as bad as it used to be. He will start eating, then pull off and complain while my breast lets down and squirts him in the face, sometimes with multiple streams. Sometimes there’s so much that he starts choking, gasping, coughing, and crying. I’ve tried different positions, removing some milk before feeding him, and attempting to restrict the flow of milk to his mouth, but sometimes I just have to stop for a while and try again later. The worst day for this problem was on day eleven, when we were in a wedding. He was excellent for the ceremony and pictures, and I fed him after that successfully, but when he needed more food after my dinner, I couldn’t do anything right. He was HUNGRY, but there was TOO MUCH at once. A lot of crying (more on his part, but some on mine) ensued.

I tried to fix that problem with a technique that involved cutting off the flow of milk with the edge of my hand, but that mostly led to pulling the nipple out of his mouth, and when I did that too much, my nipple started really hurting. That was an unfortunate time. Luckily, I haven’t had too much nipple soreness - and lanolin really helped.

So those are the problems that I’ve encountered - those plus smaller ones, like
- How am I supposed to breastfeed in a sling? It’s supposed to be possible, but I cannot figure out how I would get the head of this long baby and the nipple of this gigantic boob near each other while either one of them is in a sling.
- Some positions cause various muscles to hurt. Folding chairs are awfully uncomfortable for holding him in eating position.

Not a problem, but sort of helpful - babies vomit really easily and have an awful time trying to poop, generally. However, eating seems to help with pooping. He’ll often be eating, then pause and seem a bit distracted... then, with a satisfied expression, fill his diaper with poop. Then he goes back to eating.

There are all sorts of sounds associated with breastfeeding. For a while, Saturn made dinosaur sounds. Lots of growling. Those have calmed down to occasional little ‘mm’s and ‘rr’s. When he’s too excited to start eating immediately, he breathes really fast and hunts for the nipple, sometimes frantically. I have ended up with with several areola hickeys from too-enthusiastic attempts to start eating. Once he does latch on, his whole body goes still for a bit - the waving fists, the kicking legs - the only thing moving is his jaw. Sometimes there are little clicking sounds when he breaks suction. Sometimes I can hear his belly rearranging itself to accommodate all the incoming milk. Sometimes he gives a small satisfied ‘aahhh’ when he’s full and ready to go to sleep.

Saturn likes to ‘help’ with whatever hand is free (one is usually trapped underneath the breast). He’ll wave it around, generally interfering however he can, usually involving rubbing his eye and ear and pushing at my breast. Sometimes I hold that hand with my helping hand (the one that’s not on the bottom), and he’ll rhythmically squeeze my thumb and let it go.

In the morning, I wake up and feed him as it becomes truly light outside. When he’s done, he’s well-rested and totally ready for the day, and it makes him very happy - he usually finishes eating by letting go with his lips and smiling at me around my nipple. It’s heartbreakingly wonderful.

When he’s sleepy and eating, his helping hand gradually falls backwards behind his head until it’s resting. Suckling spurts happen farther apart. He occasionally fights off sleep slightly, maybe opening his eyes, maybe helping a bit more, but eventually succumbing. His mouth releases and he rests his cheek on top of my nipple with a completely satisfied expression. He loves to sleep while cuddling with the boob. I feed him to sleep several times per day - once or twice at night, and usually at least once for a dual-person nap during the daytime. Napping with Saturn is a lovely experience. He is a great cuddler.

When he’s more awake and eating, especially if we’re feeding in a laid-back position, he cocks his head and looks very seriously at me with his bright blue eyes.

John was holding Saturn against his chest the other night, sitting on the couch. Saturn began his headbop of hunger and eyed up John’s broad chest. He located a nipple through the shirt and began to suck on it with an extremely thoughtful expression. John said to me, ‘Please feed this child now.’

I’m not sure if I’m enjoying breastfeeding. I’m certainly way better at it than I was at the beginning. It is so much easier now. It’s also just a huge part of my life. I have to pay way more attention to my leaky breasts than I ever did before. I spend hours every day feeding Saturn - at this point he eats maybe 10 times in a day, maybe 20-30 minutes each time. Sometimes more, sometimes longer. I feel intensely satisfied when I can make him happy by feeding him, and when he looks so healthy as he gains weight. I was very happy to be able to soothe him with a cuddle and food when he got his 2 month shots - some milk made everything all better. Am I enjoying breastfeeding? Sometimes. Sometimes it’s just something we do, just part of the day. I intend to continue breastfeeding for quite a while, and I certainly will try hard to breastfeed any future babies. I think I was lucky to get off to a great start and have a lot of help available to me - it was hard enough at the beginning even with that help.

I guess what I’m saying is that I feel great about breastfeeding. What I think I enjoy about it, really, is time with Saturn where he and I are both feeling happy.

(3 plunks | plink)

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011
2:30 pm
Mom's zucchini bread recipe, by request and so that I will remember it
Mom's Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
1.5 cups sugar
1 cup oil (we use 7/8s, which is fine. Mom uses canola, I use vegetable)
2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini (laughable, we both use 4 cups, sometimes even a little more)
2.5 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons cinnamon (What? Why is this not 1 tablespoon? Who knows? This is a remnant from an original recipe, so I like to leave it in)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts (I like pecans as an alternative, but both are good)

Combine eggs, sugar, oil.
Mix all dry ingredients in separate bowl. Sift the flour if you feel like it. (I never do)
Add dry ingredients and zucchini alternately to egg mixture until all combined.
Stir in vanilla and nuts.

Put in greased (original recipe calls for 'and floured', but who does that?) pans.
Bake on bottom rack of 350 degree oven until done. Larger things take longer. Approximately:
- Large loaf pans: 45+ minutes (I never make these, so I don't know how long it takes. Use a toothpick to check for done-ness.)
- Small loaf pans: 45 minutes
- Muffin tins, small or large (my favorite way): 20 minutes

Both Mom and I usually make multiple recipes at once to get rid of zucchini in the most delicious possible way. This recipe comes out well even if you've let the zucchini grow too large. Results can be frozen or refrigerated.

(8 plunks | plink)

Friday, July 8th, 2011
4:21 pm
Baby post #3 - Saturn's birth story
So writing 'birth stories' is a big thing, apparently? Here's Saturn's!

I had planned to work until I went into labor, but slept in accidentally on Thursday (40 weeks, 6 days), and had a non-stress test planned for that Friday, and all sorts of appointments for Monday... I decided I wasn’t going to think about whether to go back to work or not, and called maternity leave early.

The last few days of pregnancy were fun and relaxing, although I did complain a bit about how often people kept asking me if I’d had the baby yet. On Thursday, John also played hooky, and we hung out. A great day. Friday, I played a lot of Sims and did some gardening - two of my favorite things.

On Friday (41 weeks), my Mom took me in to Mercy for a non-stress test that took an hour and a half instead of the 20 minutes I’d expected... so maybe a slightly stressful test? I was thankful that she was there, since she’s worked in ob/gyn for years and could tell what was happening - whenever he moved and they’d try to measure an acceleration, he moved away from the heartbeat monitor. Mom finally held it in place, moving it as necessary, and we were out 15 minutes after that. Ann happened to be at Mercy with some ladies in labor, and she stopped in to see if I had any questions. We talked about next steps (what if I don’t go into labor before 42 weeks?) and she checked my cervix - softening, but not yet open at the top, same as on the previous Monday.

The weekend was a suspenseful time. We had fairly big activities planned for both days. Saturday (41 weeks and 1 day), John was instrumental in arranging a bachelor party for a great friend of ours. They all drove out to Columbus (two and a half hours away) for the day, and had a fantastic time. Apparently, 2.5 hours wasn’t quite far enough to kick me into labor, although I did have some stronger and more regular contractions toward the end of the night.

I spent Saturday (41 weeks, 2 days) at home with a lot of friends, getting ready for Sunday - Alex’s going-away party. Alex is a 17-year-old German exchange student who has been our first ‘son’ for the past year. He was due at the airport on Friday morning (42 weeks), and was really hoping to meet his baby brother before he left. His going-home party was awesome - lots of friends and family - but no labor.

Man, that meant I had to keep all of those Monday (41 weeks, 3 days) appointments - I'd been hoping I could skip them. A non-stress test and an ultrasound said that he was very comfortable where he was.

At the Midwife Center, Theresa checked my cervix again - no progress. This baby had been measuring big since we started measuring, and Theresa estimated his current weight at 9.5 pounds. We weren’t comfortable with potentially letting him go past 42 weeks, so we scheduled an induction for Friday morning at Mercy in case it was needed. However, I was interested in laboring at the Midwife Center if possible, so we decided to try a ‘soft’ induction at the Midwife Center on Tuesday morning, repeating if necessary on Wednesday or Thursday.

For dinner, my friend Sarah made me a pizza famous for inducing labor - Skipolini’s ‘Prego Pizza’. It was covered with spicy meats and cayenne pepper, and while it didn’t induce labor, it did induce extreme baby acrobatics. Since I could theoretically kick into labor at the soft induction the next morning, I finished packing my bags, which had been in a half-completed state for weeks.

John and I called first to make sure that there weren’t already 3 ladies in labor, then showed up at the Midwife Center on Tuesday morning (41 weeks, 4 days). Theresa checked my cervix again - open at the top! Prego pizza for the win! She swept my membranes, and Diana checked the baby’s heartbeat. We started cycles of breastpumping and walking - 15 minutes on each side, then a half-hour of walking around the Strip. It was definitely making contractions happen, so we did 3 cycles and checked again - 1-2 centimeters dilated. They sent us home with instructions to call again in the morning. The contractions subsided as we headed home, and I had leftover prego pizza for lunch, with repeat acrobatics.

We had friends over, so I don’t know that I noticed immediately when the contractions started picking back up... but they did that afternoon. We took a nap, and I had trouble getting to sleep. I timed a few contractions, and they were very close together (4-5 minutes), but not very long or very strong.

By that evening, I was having contractions every 2-4 minutes and was ready to go into the Midwife Center. John, Mom, and I left a whole bunch of friends at our house and headed in around 10 pm. On the ride there, we counted contractions - I think we got to 10? Maybe 12? When we arrived, Theresa and Cheryl checked us in and checked us out - I was 3-4 centimeters dilated.

For the next few hours, labor progressed pretty normally and quickly. Contractions hurt my lower back and my cervix. They came fairly close together. I found standing and leaning on something while someone gently rubbed my lower back to be most helpful, but we also tried some other positions. We were excited to hear that there was another lady in labor, so we might both have babies that night.

At about 2 am, Theresa checked me and pronounced me in active labor, at 5-6 centimeters dilated. We started using the tub for pain relief, which was wonderful. I have always enjoyed hot baths, and the sensation of water pouring over my skin during a contraction was something totally different to focus on - I could still feel the pain, but if I tried, I could pay attention to the water instead. John was a champion... he poured water during close-together contractions for hours. Mom enabled him to stay with me by fetching things, asking questions, and generally being available. I entered a sort of dazed dream state, and would occasionally open my eyes to find a different group of people hanging out with me in the bathroom. Our friends Sarah and Zack visited at some point, bringing supplies.

I drank water during this time, but failed to ingest calories - any drinks with sugar in them seemed absolutely awful, and food was right out (I pitifully attempted to eat some Cheerios and got through about 6 of them). Contractions started to slow down, and they checked my urine and found that I was producing ketones, showing that I was not getting enough food and decreasing the effectiveness of labor. Cheryl hooked me up to an IV, which helped some.

By 7 am, I had regressed - Theresa said she could only honestly call me 4 centimeters dilated. We talked about some alternatives - we could try to speed up labor at the Midwife Center by breaking my water, or we could transfer to the hospital and try to speed up labor there. Theresa had said at my last appointment that because the baby was so large, she was going to be sensitive to stalled labor and recommend a transfer if it looked like it was happening. We agreed that a transfer was probably the way to go. It was also shift change time - Theresa had been on call for 24 hours, and Kathy was coming on duty.

John drove Mom and me over to Mercy. It was a bit shocking to come out of the Center into daylight - I don’t usually stay up all night. The three contractions and bumpy roads on the way to the hospital were not my favorite things that happened that day.

At Mercy, I was attached to an IV and some sensors (for heartbeat and contractions), then talked to Kathy a bit about alternatives. We decided to insert an intrauterine pressure catheter to see how effective my contractions were and decide if they were ineffective (and we could help them out) or effective (so why wasn’t I progressing?). I was not ready to have stronger contractions without the pain relief offered by the tub or being able to change positions frequently, so I asked for an epidural first.

The anesthesiologists were nice and rather fun guys. The worst thing about having the epidural put in is that I had to sit leaning over my lap, which put pressure on the bottom of my belly, and was not supposed to move, even during contractions. John and Mom were not allowed to be in the room while it was inserted. Kathy (the nurse) helped me cope with the contractions while they were inserting the epidural, and when the medication started to take effect, the contractions seemed shorter, and then felt like pressure, but not pain. I stretched out on the bed and took a nap for a bit.

Kathy (the midwife) came to break my water. She did so during a contraction, and it was shockingly warm. There was meconium in it - John said it looked like pea soup.

Shortly thereafter, my account of what happened becomes a bit confused - I’m not exactly sure what happened or in what order. That was a big change from before, when I was (although in pain) totally aware and informed and involved with decision making. Here’s what I remember:

A monitor started beeping differently.
Kathy asked someone to reach over and press a button on the wall.
More and more people started appearing, one by one.
Someone reached in and poked the baby’s head hard and repeatedly.
They turned me from side to side.
Someone pulled all of my wires out of the wall and threw them on the bed with me.
They wheeled my bed away and ran me down the hall, bumping into things a bit on the way there.

Kathy told me somewhere during this that the baby wasn’t responding well and they were going to try a few things, but if they didn’t work, I’d have to have an emergency c-section. I wasn’t panicking, but I was afraid.

In the OR, more and more people appeared. The same anesthesiologists were the primary people talking to me - they started putting more medication in through my epidural and checking to make sure I was properly numb. John was not allowed to come in until they were sure they weren’t going to have to put me out completely, but he eventually was there and holding my hand. They offered me some sort of pain reliever that would tone down what I was feeling but has an amnesiac effect - I turned it down.

The c-section happened very quickly. It didn’t hurt, but there was a lot of tugging and pushing and pulling that affected my whole body - John said that I was being shaken all over.

Our son Saturn was born at 9:28 on Wednesday morning, and hearing him cry for the first time was a peak experience in my life. John came and went between me and him - I could see where he was and flashes of skin if I turned my head and craned my neck a little. They put a footprint on the back of John’s hand so he could bring it over for me to see.

The first comment I heard anyone make about him was ‘My, that’s a chunky boy!’. He was born at 10 pounds, 2 ounces, and 22.5 inches long, very healthy and crying lustily. He calmed down quickly, I assume after they wrapped him up - cold is one of the few things he dislikes.

After they sewed me up, they transferred me back to my original hospital bed and gave me Saturn to hold.

I was pretty out of it for the next couple of hours. I don’t know what medication I had in me, but I was loopy and sleepy. I undressed Saturn and held him. Mom and John helped me to breastfeed for the first time - I knew I really wanted to, but was too exhausted to do it on my own.

When I could move my legs on my own again, we transferred to the postpartum ward. Everyone on the labor and delivery unit gathered to say goodbye - I think I recognized most of them from the OR.

Mercy was excellent to me for the next couple of days. Lots of people came to visit; Saturn stayed with me except for brief checkups and did really well. We got off to a great start with breastfeeding. I got to go home one day early since I was doing well.

Later I learned that the monitor beeping was his heart rate dropping precipitously to unacceptablly low levels. They made sure it was his heartbeat dropping, not just that they were hearing mine, and tried to stimulate him in a variety of ways, but that didn’t work. They thought perhaps he had fallen on his cord, which was what the turning was about, but that didn’t help either, so c-section it was. People were getting ready to surgically remove him while others were trying these things, so we didn’t lose any time on attempting to pick up his heartbeat again, but as soon as those measures failed, they were ready to start the c-section. It was very quick from the time things started to go wrong until the time when he was born - no more than 10 minutes.

Some of the first things that we noticed about Saturn -
* His slightly hairy ears and shoulders
* His wrinkly old-man hands and feet
* His excellent surprised pooping faces
* How soft the skin of his head was
* His lovely dark blue eyes
* How much he disliked heel-sticks.

Now we’re back at home and learning to be parents. It’s difficult and easy at the same time. Most days, I manage to have time for a shower!

I’m glad that we gave natural birth a try, and I’m glad that we transferred to Mercy when we did. I’m glad that I got an epidural so that I could be awake and aware for his birth and first hours of life. I’m glad that we had such a good experience with the staffs of Mercy and the Midwife Center. I’m glad to have had John and Mom with me - I couldn’t have done it without them.

Mostly, I’m glad to have Saturn.

(11 plunks | plink)

Thursday, June 16th, 2011
8:26 am
Baby post #2!
I have some more updates about pregnancy and baby life from the perspective of 9 months, so I thought I'd make a post.

My due date was last Friday (and I'm very sure of the date of my last period), so I'm 6 days late at this point, which is perfectly normal (especially for first pregnancies), but also apparently unbelievable. Mom, I know, and probably other family members, keep getting calls checking on me; I get a couple of texts most days, and always a few comments at work about still being there. I can understand - when you've been told that it could be any day now for 4 weeks, and that's still the answer for another week... well, why hasn't it happened yet?!

Me, I'm not mad. I would prefer for labor to start naturally before next Friday (42 weeks), past which they won't let me go - I'd be chemically induced at that point. If it doesn't, it doesn't, but it probably will. But it is absolutely not ruining my life to still be pregnant. I still enjoy feeling him kick - he responds even more to outside stimulus these days. I still have a few clothes that fit. I am still doing things in my normal life - going to work (well, most days. I'm taking today off due to feeling extra pregnant :P), going to the Arts Festival, gardening, attending work and friend outings, occasionally even the dishes. I am slower at all of these things than usual, but I am still enjoying them. So I'm not mad.

Let me tell you about my birth plans, in case you don't know! I'm going for prenatal care (which is all about blood pressure, size of baby, heartbeat, position, and answering any questions I have, and occasionally sending me out elsewhere for tests) to the Midwife Center of Pittsburgh, which is also where I intend to give birth if all goes well. I had an appointment per month for the first 6 months-ish, then one every 2 weeks until 36 weeks, and now one every week. My next one is on Monday (along with a post-dates ultrasound and nonstress test). I see different midwives when I go there - I've met them all by now. I started going to the MC for gyny care when my mom recommended it to me during college. It's very nice to go to a place that's dedicated to the normal life of ladies' systems. There's even free parking :)

Anyway, my intention is to work until labor starts. Since I spend my time sitting at a computer, it's not that strenuous. I'm still going to the gym, which feels great both physcially and mentally, although twice this week I went to the senior citizens' aquarobics class instead of swimming laps... it was kind of fun, and felt like an appropriate level of exercise. When I am in early labor (I know it takes a while), I'll be calling up John and my mom to let them know, and either going home (Sarah is on call to pick me up from work if necessary) or sticking out the day, depending on how I feel. I intend to spend early labor at home, then flit off to the MC when necessary. I plan to give birth there - then let everyone know through a phone chain that starts with Ally (for the Langes), Nora (for the Davidsons), and Sarah (for the friends). I'll stay there for 4-12 hours after delivery if all goes well, then come home, where I've been assiduously making icepacks for my perineum. I intend to spend the next few days mostly sleeping and breastfeeding. I feel right now like I'll be excited about visitors, but I intend to make a list of chores that you can help with before you get to hold the baby :P

An interesting proportion of the advice I hear is about getting the epidural as soon as possible. My intention is to go without pain medication, although of course that's subject to real life - I have no idea how well I'll handle labor! I mostly find it interesting because it's so assumed as a part of birth. One friend was shocked to know that someone would even consider not having one. Here are some reasons why I'm trying for non-medicated birth:
* I am not afraid right now.
* I know that many people have done it and I probably can, too.
* I want to go to the MC, and they don't have an epidural as an option. Although epidurals are commonly considered very safe, other pain medications can have depressing effects on the baby which I'd like to avoid if possible.
* I am interested in moving and changing position during labor for speed and pain relief, which an epidural makes harder.
* I am interested in being as present as possible.
* I am not a big fan of unnecessary medication?

Of course I know that what's right for me isn't right for everyone.

Another common thing that I've been hearing, upon telling people that I'm going to a midwife, is questions about water birth. Another interesting association to me - it seems like the common perception of what birth is is either hospital + doctor + epidural or homebirth + midwife + water birth. They don't have tubs that big at the MC, although I probably would have considered it as an option if they did :)

If anything goes wrong (the most common reason is failure of labor to progress quickly enough, although there are a few others), they'll transfer me to Mercy Hospital (possibly in my own car, although I won't be driving!), where a midwife will still be in charge (unless I need a C-section). They say they will probably be slightly quicker to recommend a transfer in my case, because it seems like I have a large baby in me.

I've been measuring large since they started measuring, but not for any apparent medical reason - everything is proportionate, and all of my systems are working fine - it's just that he's a big baby. I haven't gotten a weight estimate lately, but they were saying anywhere from 7.5 to 8.5 pounds a couple of weeks ago. A coworker inquires how 'the triplets' are doing, which always makes someone in earshot scold him and me laugh. I am always running into things with my belly, mostly John. It is a very solid extension of me at this point. Gravity is definitely acting on him now - when I get up in the night to go pee, I already had to go, but then I stand upright and his head drops a little, and then I /really/ have to pee. When I lay on my side, he kind of falls to that side and lays on the bed, too. When I laugh in that position, my abs pull my uterus up, and it's just more and more hilarious to see how it all changes shape.

John has suggested some humorous things about this pregnancy which I will share with you:
1. I have had better reflexes and been much warmer since becoming pregnant. John suggests that his genes are blending with mine through the baby and giving me John Lange powers.
2. We noticed fairly early that when I ate spicy items, he'd be a kick machine. John suggests that spicy food flavors the amniotic fluid enough that he's flailing because it's burning his skin. I find this mental image amusing mostly because I don't think it's true - he also kicks a lot when I eat sweet things.

Alex just came downstairs and asked me if I was planning to have the baby soon. Here I am, back to the beginning of this post. Seems like a good place to stop with baby updates!

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Wednesday, April 13th, 2011
8:16 am
Wet.
That's mostly what it's been lately.

I've been doing some swimming for exercise, which is also wet. Boy, am I ready for the sun to come back and puddles to be gone.

It also messes up my compost, which is not composting, but being all wet.

On a positive note, I haven't had to water the dahlias that I planted, and the rhubarb seems to like the wet. And hot chocolate helped restore me yesterday after work.

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Sunday, March 20th, 2011
8:58 pm
A lovely weekend to begin the spring
Today was an outside day at our house. It started with my body telling me it was HUNGRY at 8. So I got up, made a breakfast burrito, nommed it with might, and came back to bed (embroidery) and cuddletime until noon. Good. Clean sheets.

We showered (ahh), stood around in the kitchen and talked to people (ahh), and then trooped outside for a variety of activities including:
- deweeding the area around the blueberries
- digging out the base for the greenhouse
- repotting things
- planting seeds
- a bit more lawn cleanup
- enjoying the sun
- petting the neighbors' dog.

I was very happy to be outside and watch John, Zack, and Dan superdig. My compost is beautiful.

Later, we had Indian together and Rikki hung out with me while I planted bunches of seeds with great happiness. Ahhh.

Yesterday was a good day, too. It started with Oakland and happiness, proceeded with cleaning and happiness, and finished with partying and happiness. The cleaning was awesome - it involved our entire room and the aforementioned clean (yellow) sheets, plus sorting and filing the gigantic pile of receipts that had been building up. Oakland involved the Icelandic artist's exhibit at the CMoA and a French soda, and finishing the sweater sleeve I've been working on. Partying involved baking, especially baking bread, which was something I'd been wanting to do for a long time. There was baking and fun in one room, and death and fun in the other rooms. And lots of wings.

There have been a string of good days. Thursday we saw Rango again with Rikki and Dan. Friday, we went out to the Fox and Hound and laughed. All days, BFL is kicky in my tummy.

So I guess what I'm saying is mostly 'yay'.

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Wednesday, March 9th, 2011
8:51 am
A quick update to the last update -
I do not, in fact, have gestational diabetes, and BFL is still measuring large (or maybe I am? I'm not sure...), but they'll keep an eye on that and only do some more testing/considering towards 36 weeks if we are still larger than normal. *shrugs* Today is my last day of the second trimester.

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Sunday, February 20th, 2011
9:10 am
A baby post
BFL is doing well, to the best of my non-medical knowledge. He's about 5 months old, or -4 months, depending on how you look at it, and he's full of movement. The kicking has been going on (recognizably to me, anyway) since shortly before Christmas, and other people have been able to feel it pretty easily for the last month or so. Pokes and kicks and pressure move around a lot - they'll spend a couple of days right above my pubic bone feeling like really strong, weird, and non-painful gas, then slowly circle around to the right. Sometimes he's either doing a split or stretching out straight or something, because there'll be movement on both sides of the belly at the same time. Eventually it moves up to my right ribs and stays there for a bit. It doesn't hurt - it feels like there's a baby making sudden moves inside of me, and when it happens unexpectedly, it makes me really happy. I was standing outside last Sunday, pumping gas in the sunshine and wind with just a jacket on, and he kicked me to say hi, and the world seemed so beautiful I couldn't stand it. He seldom kicks on the left side, for some reason, but immediately circles around to the bottom.

I've had two ultrasound appointments and monthly prenatals where they weigh me, take my blood pressure, answer questions, listen to his heartbeat (Yes, I cried the first time I heard it), and check on my progress through my pregnancy checklist. Checked off:
- find pediatrician
- schedule blood tests and ultrasounds and go to them
- schedule childbirth education class
- read material about pregnancy and labor
- get flu shot

The ultrasounds are really cool - I've been going to Mercy at 7 am, where they squirt a large quantity of (warmed!) gel on my (increasing) belly and smoosh it all around with a probe, and then look at the baby, who is moving and opening his mouth and I can see him kicking at the same time as I feel it. Extraordinary. The second ultrasound was scheduled because I was measuring a little large - I'm not sure what that means, since it's usually an indication of extra baby or wrong dates, and I'm pretty confident about both the number of fetuses in me and my dates. They'll tell me what's up at my next appointment, which is the first of my every-two-week appointments, which will be followed by every-week appointments at 36 weeks. He's currently in the 78% percentile for size, the technician said (she was very perky for 7 am - and nice - and called the baby 'little one', as in 'Let's see if little one will cooperate for this!', which I think is a learned skill for not revealing the baby's gender), which means that he is larger than average, but not in the 90th percentile where they start worrying. Should I start feeling parental pride? :) I think that I and my siblings were fairly average sizes, but John was 11 pounds (born at home), and Teddy was 13 (also born at home).

Another thing that larger than average size could indicate (I think) is gestational diabetes - I just had my blood glucose tolerance test yesterday, so I'll know about that soon, too. In that test, I have to stop eating an hour before the appointment, so I was up at 6:30 on a Saturday making a breakfast burrito. The early morning and I are better friends - since when I'm sleeping in I'm in lighter sleep, BFL kicking wakes me up, and then I'm up! I was done eating by 6:58, and took my shower and did some house things, then got to Quest Diagnostics at 8 to drink a tiny bottle of the grossest orange gatorade (not really) ever. Then you have to wait for an hour. I brought entertainment with me, happily, and whiled away an hour in the waiting room (you're not allowed to leave the office) with knitting, occasionally talking to other people coming for blood tests (there was a steady stream, but the office took care of them very efficiently), and listening to music. An hour later, I had two tiny vials of blood efficiently removed. I think I have easy veins, because no phlebotomist has ever had problems with them.

We also went to our first childbirth education class, where a nurse from the midwife center splained mostly stuff that I'd read before - my mom gave me an awesome book called "Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn" by a lot of people, including Penny Simpkin, who is some kind of star in the ladies having babies world. A lot of the material in the class was stuff I'd seen before while reading this book. It was interesting to be hanging out with a bunch of other pregnant people - the other pregnants that I know are either on the other side of the world or people that people I know know, not people that I know.

I was reading this book when we were in Orlando. That's where I read the section on labor, which was very informative. I asked Barb about her labors, and that was very interesting to hear about. If anyone else is interesting in telling me about their labor experience, I want to hear it!

The main point of this class seems to be that fear of the unknown and lack of healthy birthing practices cause most of the problems that happen with giving birth. I feel pretty good on both of those scores. The class doesn't feel oppressive (like oh man, I have to go to class :(), but kind of just fun. I think the teacher knows what she is talking about and is prepared to make it pretty interesting. John and I have one more Saturday session next week, and I'm looking forward to it.

Let's see. Other baby things. I have felt really good throughout this pregnancy experience - I am definitely feeling changes in my body and needs, but none of them are unmanageable or frightening, and many of them are pretty cool. I am /way/ more aware of smells than I have been in the past, and smell faint things more easily and normal smells more strongly. This has been sort of a wonderful thing - bad smells are sort of the same bad they were before, but good smells are huge and delicious. My eating habits have been crazytown all over the place - in the first trimester, I couldn't eat too much at once, or I'd feel nauseous, and smelling coffee and baking bread also made me oogy (who knows? Maybe too much of good things?). I've got no smells that I've got problems with now. About Thanksgiving (almost 3 months), I started being hungrier, and I've been needing to eat very frequently since then, although it's calmed down a little as I learn how to deal with it. I have a morning and afternoon snack every day at work (usually celery/peanut butter and cheerios, these days) as well as three normal meals. My torso is bigger (belly and boobs)... and the rest of me is a little smaller, I think. Maybe. I've gained about 7 pounds so far, but I started out losing 7 pounds, so maybe I'm up 14? I love having an accurate scale to look at. I definitely look pregnant at this point, though only one stranger has commented on it. My joints are a little touchy - especially my hips and knees. I've cut down on the intensity of exercise that I've been doing, but upped the frequency. I walk for 30 minutes most days at lunchtime. I'm starting to think about it before I bend or crouch down, because it's a little harder than it used to be. I've stopped taking the stairs at work, which I've never really liked. I've always been a person who needed to go to bed on time, and that's that, but 'on time' has become a little less negotiable lately.

Disappointing things about being pregnant. I haven't gone skiing this year, or ice-skating, because I'm feeling like it would be a bad idea with the joints and the possibility of falling. But Alex is having a wonderful time skiing with Mark, and I'm very happy for that - I feel like my slower presence if I were unpregnant would just slow them down, so I'm glad that dilemma isn't even present! I gripe a bit about some of the things I'm not supposed to eat - rare meat and sushi are the biggest ones. I eat the steaks that we purchase and cook at home rare anyway - I feel like we have good enough food control to make it ok. Maybe not. Caffeine and alcohol restriction aren't a problem for me, although I have had several cups of wine since being pregnant. I'm not upset by it. I'm miffed by not being able to hot tub without feeling guilty - I love taking hot baths and hanging out in hot tubs. Mostly, I've been pretty good about that, but not entirely. I have occasionally "cooked the baby", as we call it. I try to, when I do so, keep the cooking to a minimum.

No strange stories about strangers feeling free to touch my belly or calling me fat (to my face, anyway!). People do want to tell me things about when they were pregnant, or about baby care, and I hear 'so how are you feeling?' way more often at work. It's interesting to see who is most interested in hearing baby news. I don't know that I would have expected all of them.

We're working on thinking about names. No front contenders yet. Last night, we thought 'Heck' would be a cool nickname, but didn't particularly like 'Hector', so spent a while thinking of other names that it could be a nickname for while waiting for our food. Heceziah. Heczebah. Hecatio. Heckle Freckle Lange.

The thing I am most apprehensive about is not being able to deal with not sleeping after the baby is born. I know that new parents don't get a lot of sleep, and I know that I'm bad at that. But the human race has survived so far - I imagine that I will also find a way to do so!

So there - there's some baby and me news all at once!

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Saturday, February 5th, 2011
9:29 am
Disney vacation
Barb, Ted, Alex, John, I, and briefly Allie hung out in Florida for a week of tank tops and walking around and eating oranges.

Boy, what a nice time. I especially liked seeing things that I saw the other time I was at Disney (when I was 13) and remembering them - the Honey, I Shrunk The Kids playground was still awesome as heck, and we did another terrified photo in front of the Tower Of Terror.

The hot tub was very tempting, unfortunately, but I spent most of the time I spent near it with just my legs in. The roller coasters were also a little sad to miss, but I got to see the parent version of a theme park, which was quite interesting.

Favorite things:
- tiny lizards
- identifying birds
- a bashful bird that didn't want us to look at its beak
- BFL kicking upon belly exposure to sunlight, enough that people could see
- peppermint foot rub after a long walking day
- bratwurst in Germany at Epcot
- Beverly (the soda)
- a parade

Staying in a house on vacation is, I think, the best way to go.

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Sunday, January 23rd, 2011
10:36 am
Why I've had a great weekend:
Friday: worked together with Andrew and made good progress on something good and cool. Had a nice time reading while walking at the gym. Enjoyed vegetable soup for lunch and felt righteous about it. Drove home on time with Tony, working on my knitting happily. Went to mall for dinner, had Subway with husband and exchange student, looked at interesting people. Had an ice cream cone that was exactly what and how much I wanted. Hung out briefly at B&N and bought a sketchbook, which I intend to draw pictures of plants in and am excited about. Friends arrived for RockBanding; I knitted some more and had small successes (and some failures, but in a supportive atmosphere) at singing harmony. Finished Christmas thank yous. Helped Sarah fix knitting accident; had right supplies and knowhow to do so. John got me unstuck from the snow pile when I attempted to drive out of the driveway; no one was mad. Took slightly tipsy Sarah and Alex (not tipsy) to FNI. Watched amusing games, showed off my baby belly (Liz, you can touch whenever you want, I have a lack of personal space with friends), got to play my favorite style of game. Drove home successfully and happily. Loaned a friend a heater to help out with coldest cold of all colds. Wore John's sweater and it was nice and warm. Came home to bed and was cuddled to sleep.

Ps, that was just Friday. Already the weekend is awesome!

Saturday: Slept in with John, took an awesome shower, wore my knitted leggings, went to lunch with Mark, successfully leaped out of the car without stepping in slush, had delicious milky chai, admired sugar crystals, cleaned the bathroom (boy, did it need it), said hello to Alex's friends that he invited over to play poker (boy, did he love explaining rules), folded laundry in the sunshine while listening to Indigo Girls, petted Kimahri, finished a candle (so I get to buy another one with a new smell!), came downstairs to clean dishes and John showing me things in a beekeeping magazine (tiny honey bears!), drove to sing, knitted happily, really enjoyed singing, got the 5-fold amen (or is it the 6?) right for the first time ever, leaned against John and listened to him harmonizing, played my flute a bit (tuned on the fly, /and/ I thought I sounded excellent, which I always enjoy), talked about happy things with relatives and friends, ate delicious dinner, went to the bathroom with a kitty (twice), examined a silver coin with a beautiful picture on it, followed the GPS to John's coworker's house, where he was having a party item in his new game room, met his parents (who were pretty darn cool!), knitted more, petted other kitties, had wonderful orange juice and salsa and the promise of the salsa recipe, watched John play air hockey and people hit some cool shots in pool, came home and was /all/ sleepyful, was put to bed on clean sheets, woke up later and rejoined the party when John, Drew, and Sarah came home from Fox & Hound, played real guitar along with RockBand, went back to bed with John.

This morning, so far, I have: enjoyed reading a book we were given for Christmas, eaten a lovely breakfast involving cinnamon toast, oatmeal (virtuous feelings, again!), and citrus tea, started the laundry, made a Costco list, and checked over the Internet happily. John obviously was perusing germination mats at some point for me, which was lovely to see. I found out that the noise we were hearing last night and couldn't figure out was the fan in the upstairs room.

Things that I think will happen today: a Costco trip, laundry doing and folding, lots of football, lots of knitting, lots of food. Hopefully I will remember to wear my Polamalu jersey!

Here are the things about this weekend that were slightly negative:
- My belly hurt a little bit for Saturday afternoon and I was slower than normal at doing stuff.
- I think I am making the sweater that I am making too large. But I have been advised to finish it and see what happens! After all, I will need bigger clothing soon :P

I think they are outweighed by the positives.

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Wednesday, January 5th, 2011
11:28 am
soup
I was working on soup last night, chopping up the vegetables for this recipe that involves ham, spices galore, and a millionty green vegetables. I wore my apron to dry my hands on (as I repeatedly needed to do). I find aprons most valuable as hand-towels, rather than as stuff-blockers.

I didn't finish it all last night, although I had an excellent time, so this morning, when Alex's alarm didn't wake him up, I listened to it for 2 minutes, got up, knocked on his door, and started my morning a little early. After breakfast, I had time to cut up the scallions and celery.

I chopped the green onions as a group, from bottom to top, and ended up with this beautiful pile of graded color, from white to dark and darker green. It was just a spectacular sight.

Soup is going to be cooked and eaten tonight - we'll see how it is!

Edited to add: John has told me in the past that sometimes I tell a story and then it's over and people don't know what just happened because I forgot to add a part that was completely obvious to me: "And it made me happy!". So. Consider that said for this little story.

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Monday, December 27th, 2010
8:22 am
Christmas 2010
What a great Christmas week-ish.

Tuesday: came home after a productive day of work and knitted until 3 am, very enjoyably. Also did laundry in the process, which was good, because it remained busy for the next several days.

Wednesday: slept in, knitted some more, wrapped a billion presents, felt better about the getting ready for Christmas that needed to be done. Went out to Bar Louie for dinner, long discussion with John, Alex, and Mark (a typical Alex discussion, which is enjoyable, but mostly for John), bed immediately upon arriving home.

Thursday: cookies all day with Sarah. We actually started out with some ingredient shopping and lunch out. Over the course of the day, I drank almost a half-gallon of milk. We made biscotti and many other things, and it was fun and good, and I also slipped in some knitting from time to time. This was a long and late and very fun day. Most of it was spent listening to all of my music on random.

Friday (Christmas Eve): knitting furiously. Started season 4 of BG. Almost to the episodes I haven't seen! Dressed up to go to dinner at Barb & Ted's; was there until 12 for presents and pictures and dinner and talking about baby names and a bit of singing. Fun, as always. Patty and Travis were at home when we got back; we talked a bit, but mostly I went to bed.

Saturday: over to my parents' in the morning for breakfast, Claymation Christmas Carol, presents, and hanging out looking at pictures from the past. Back home; we left Alex, Justin, Mark, Travis, Patty, and Timmy to amuse themselves while we stopped in at Dan & Carol's, where I met my cousin Hester and sang songs with the Langes. Good. When we arrived home, Justin and Alex were enjoying playing each other at Super Smash Bros. Later, they diagrammed the uncertainty principle. The rest of us made lasagna and hung out... I had a great time talking to Patty. Eventually the power went out and we talked by candlelight until bedtime, when all of the lights came back on (John had to be in charge of turning ours out; I just covered my eyes and said Heellllpppp)

Sunday: slept in. We all dispersed around noon to head our separate ways. P&T&T went back to Greencastle (great visit). John and Alex and I went up to Kit's and spent the day playing with them, the year-old puppy they're babysitting (Alex's favorite), and their new Xbox. A good time. I fell asleep in the car on the way home.

Today, John is off of work, but I am not, and I hope to get some good things done. I took the leftover lasagna with me, though... I hope he will survive.

Merry Christmas!

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Sunday, November 28th, 2010
12:12 pm
Good, busy day yesterday
Here's what we did yesterday:
Lucy, John and I went shopping in the Strip with Sarah and Zack (Alex was firmly asleep when invited). We picked up materials for root beer making, although not all of them. I saw Christian walking along.

We stopped by Brayton's to say hi, where we briefly said hello to Paul and Bird.

Person count (1 pm): 9

At home, we hung out and ate a bit. I played some Oblivion. Ian was there, having been sent home from work. We had early German Christmas so we could open our Advent Calendars, and said hello to Alex's parents.

Person count (4 pm): 12

It was eventually time to head over to Gramma's, where we were celebrating my uncle's birthday in grand dinner fashion. Boy, were those stuffed shells delicious. We knitted and played games and talked for quite a while with various family members: 1 gramma, 3 Davidsons, 1 Armstrong uncle, 5 Armstrong cousins (next generation up plus Elyce), 4 Langes (including Lucie and Alex), 1 AMB.

Person count (9 PM): 23

I dropped John, Lucie, and Alex off at home, stopping in to say hi to Mark, Sarah, Zack, Drew, and Ian, and then headed off to Hancock's for a puzzle party.

Person count (10 PM): 25

At Hancock's, I worked on the puzzle (2000 pieces, stained glass, pretty cool) with some other people until 1ish. I was so tired, but having so much fun. The broasted chicken was delicious. There were many questions and comments about baby. The folks present included: Hancock, Amanda, Mike & Melinda, Dana, Kelly, Justin, and Stephen.

Drove home all sleepyful and was put to bed hard.

Person count (2 AM): 33

Got up this morning several times and went back to bed happily each time. Ah, cuddling in the morning. No plans for today. I doubt there will be so many people.

Person count (today): 3

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Saturday, November 27th, 2010
1:08 pm
For my first post in quite some time
I thought maybe I should make it a memorable one!

As you may know if you hang out with me on Facebook, I'm a pregnant lady - due in June. John and I are super excited. We had a great time telling everyone at Thanksgiving, and I'm also enjoying telling new people as they appear :)

Other news:
Thanksgiving was familial and awesome.
I am knitting a sweater.
Alex is cool.
Lucie is hanging out with us for a while again, which is also cool.
The blueberry leaves turn a beautiful red color in the fall.

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Sunday, September 26th, 2010
7:23 pm
Thoughts on improv
I have gone to FNI (Friday Night Improv) for the past two weeks, something which I rarely do but usually enjoy, and I have some thoughts about the things that are called improv and what I'm good at and what I'm not. FNI is a all-audience participation improv show that's been going on for a number of years in Pittsburgh, and I know a lot of the people who are in charge of running it and attend often.

They play a lot of different sorts of games at FNI, and some of them really intimidate me, and some of them seem easy and fun and exciting.

Here are some characteristics of games I want to play:
- they may involve charades or some other sort of guessing
- the story involved is one that everyone (including me) knows
- I don't have to interact with a partner

I don't want to play games where I have to depend on a random person partner, or worse, where I could let a random person partner down by not thinking fast enough or responding correctly to their cues. I don't want to play games where I have to know who famous people are (because I often don't) or figure out how to be another nationality while making up some story. I especially don't want to make up a story - I'm into agreeing with stories, not coming up with them on my own.

I think that all of those things that I don't like are what improv is actually about. I'm not sure what the other things (that I do want to participate in) are... but they're not about writing a story collaboratively with a stranger and telling it on the spot, which is what I think improv is.

So while I rather enjoy watching FNI, and definitely like playing or thinking about playing some of the games, I feel like I'm cheating by not playing the other ones.

That's it, just wanted to write that down somewhere.

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