Tuesday, December 31, 2013

one month

dear sweetpea,

it's the morning of new year's eve, and you and daddy are still sleeping upstairs while i savor my coffee and watch the snow flurry and dance around our backyard. you turned one month old this week, and i'm still in happy disbelief that you're actually here. after several false alarms, you were born the day before Thanksgiving and the moment we laid eyes on you, we fell in love! 

you have already grown and changed so much since you were born, and part of me misses your tiny newborn self, but i love watching you thrive. you have always been very alert and attentive to your surroundings, and now you easily track toys and follow us with your eyes if we move out of your line of sight. last week, you started to smile on purpose, especially if we're talking to you. and when daddy sings to you, you make your lips into an "O" shape to mimic him, and coo along. 

Kaiser loves you and tries to give you kisses. he'll be so excited when you're old enough to actually play with him. when he barks, you don't even flinch and someday i think you'll be best friends. 

right now you are on a flexible routine of eating for between 20-40 minutes, awake time for about 40 minutes, and sleeping for an hour or a little more, then doing it all again! most nights you still wake every 3 or 3 1/2 hours to eat, but sometimes we get 4 or 5 hour stretches. you sleep in the co-sleeper bassinet right next to us, so you have your own bed but i don't even have to get up to feed you in the middle of the night - such luxury! and i think daddy's snoring helps you sleep :) 

we love you, Greta Kathleen. you will always be our sunshine! 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

hello, sweetpea!

at long last, our Sweetpea has arrived! we are overjoyed to announce the birth of our daughter, Margaret Kathleen. our sweet Greta weighed 7 lbs, 5 ounces and was 20 inches long. she is happy, healthy, and has us both wrapped around her perfect little fingers :)

she did keep us waiting, though, arriving ten days past her due date and after two days of early labor that felt like twenty! i had been having mild contractions starting the week before her due date, some of which would come 5-7 minutes apart for over an hour and had me thinking that we'd be seeing some real action soon. November 17 came and went without any fanfare. at my 41 week visit with the midwives, they did a nonstress test (which she passed with flying colors!) and we started to talk induction. at this point, Mom had already been in town for a few weeks and was scheduled to fly back to Seattle on November 30. i knew how devastated we both would be if she missed Sweetpea's birth, so i asked the midwife what our options were. we went over some natural induction methods, but decided to go ahead and schedule a hospital induction with Pitocin for Wednesday, November 27 (the day before Thanksgiving!) just in case things didn't kick into gear on their own by then. 

and boy, they seemed like they were going to! on Monday, November 25, i was having steady contractions 3-4 minutes apart that lasted for about a minute each. they didn't seem to be getting progressively more intense, but given the timing and duration, the midwife asked me to come in to be checked that evening. she then sent us out to walk for an hour, so we walked down Penn Avenue past the closed shops and bars, stopping every few minutes so i could lean against Nick. i soon realized that i could actually walk through most of the contractions though, and suspected this wasn't quite the real deal yet. my suspicions were confirmed back at the midwife center when she checked me again and nothing had changed. back home we went! 

that night was probably the worst of my life. i couldn't sleep at all. every four to five minutes i was up with another horrendous gnawing in my belly, rocking back and forth on all fours. i had my hypnobabies CDs playing, but i was too exhausted to effectively concentrate and to top it all off, i started getting sick. it was hard to drink as much water as i should have been when i felt so nauseous, and i couldn't hold down any solid food. Tuesday morning came cold and clear, and i was able to lie in a hot bath for half an hour and relax a little more through the contractions. we then headed back to the midwife center. as we walked into the Ocean Room (my favourite room!) i kept imagining how amazing it was going to be to meet our baby! 

lo and behold, the verdict was that i was significantly dehydrated, which made the contractions more painful and less effective ... with the result that there was no progress. they hung a bag of IV fluids, gave me some Zofran, and i was able to eat an English muffin with some peanutbutter. at that point i was actually glad that i had some time to recover before the truly active phase of labor, but i was starting to wonder when the saga would ever end! when the IV had finished infusing, i did feel much better and the contractions quieted down. we went home again to rest and wait to see exactly what Sweetpea had in mind for her grand debut.

Wednesday morning dawned, and we were off to the hospital to start the pitocin after all! even though i felt like i was coping with the contractions better than i had been on Monday, i was still worried about making it through augmented labor, but i was thrilled that one of my favourite midwives was on call that day, plus i knew that our doula would make a world of difference in helping me use all my hypnobabies techniques.

Nick's parents met us at the hospital and settled in to the waiting room, while Nick, Mom and i got set up in the delivery room. our labor nurse was fantastic. she asked how long i had been in active labor, and we all looked at her and laughed -- i didn't know whether to say "two days!" or tell her that it hadn't started yet. the pitocin started running around 9 a.m., along with an extra bolus of fluids as i was still a little dehydrated. 

and from that point forward, labor was amazing. i'm still in disbelief about just how phenomenal that experience was. the contractions were intense, especially towards the end, but they never once felt painful (a far cry from what i had been experiencing the past few days!). the nurse hooked the fetal monitor up to telemetry so i could move around the room, sit on the ball, lean over the bed or whatever felt right at the time. i felt both incredibly connected to and simultaneously freed from my body, in a way that i imagine marathon runners must experience. Nick was my rock, giving such blissful counter-pressure on my lower back, and sometimes literally holding me up off the ground as i moved the way i needed to in the moment. and our doula was incredibly encouraging, giving me peace cues and whispering "good job!" with every wave. in between contractions we were talking, laughing, or just resting. the mood in the room was so cheerful and anticipatory!

around noon, i started to feel like i needed to push. i was petrified that the midwife was going to say i was only dilated to 6 cm, because, well, wouldn't that just be my luck. but hallelujah, i was at 9 cm, and less than an hour later, things were ready to go! i pushed for forty-five minutes on my hands and knees, and that was definitely a workout, especially considering that i hadn't been exercising much during the last few months. i will never forget the incredible feeling of my baby finally (finally!) being born! the midwife quickly laid the baby under my stomach so no one else could see, and while i was still gasping with the shock and joy of delivery, Nick exclaimed, "It's a girl!" i have never heard his voice more full of happiness and pride.

i scooped her onto my chest and the nurses covered us with several warm blankets as we snuggled together with our daughter. the instant we saw her face, i thought, "of course! of course, how could i not have known what you look like?" 

i will never forget how amazingly good she smelled and how perfectly she fit, nestled on me. we were able to cuddle skin-to-skin for about an hour, and then my curiosity about her measurements got the best of me and i handed her off to the nurse to be weighed and footprinted. 

seven pounds, five ounces, twenty inches long, with Apgar scores of 8 and 9. after the nurse had stamped her official footprints in her chart, she stamped Greta's feet on the inside of Nick's forearm ... the sweetest tattoo. 

our beautiful Greta. we love you more than words can tell! your birthday was the happiest day of our lives and we treasure every day we have with you.

Monday, November 18, 2013

40 weeks!

bump watch: sweetpea is officially head down, thank goodness! annnd apparently not quite ready to debut in the outside world yet. i'm trying to relax and just enjoy these last days of pregnancy, but we're getting pretty impatient to meet this little one! 
sweet pea: is more active than ever the last few days, with lots of kicks and squirms. at my 39 week appointment, baby landed a sucker punch right against the doppler wand that made the midwife jump (and made me laugh!). 

Fetal Development Week 41

best moment: finding out for sure that sweetpea is vertex (aka head down), as that's a prerequisite for delivering at the midwife center as opposed to a hospital birth. it's been quite the mental challenge trying to make informed decisions about our birth preferences, while still holding everything loosely knowing that the birthing process is unpredictable, and in the end, our goal is to have a baby, however that happens! i just read an interesting article about the danger of focusing on "successful" births, with the implication that there is such a thing as a "failed" birth for women who don't try hard enough or aren't well prepared. i certainly don't discount that birth can be traumatic, disappointing and frightening, but we don't need to pile guilt onto that, just as an easy and comfortable childbirth (the Hypnobabies goal!) is a blessing and not something that we can completely control. the semantics are tricky, since the more informed and prepared you are, the better the birth experience should be, but the fact remains that it is a powerful phenomenon and at a certain point, we have to relinquish control and let go.

symptoms: we had a little contraction action on Saturday night that got everybody's hopes up, and then petered out after several hours. every little bit helps, though!  

cravings: orange juice for sure. can't get enough of the Simply Orange juice with mango! 

what i miss: getting dressed without feeling like an eighty-five-year-old. (this encompasses both the compression stockings, which are now an essential part of my daily wardrobe, and the gyrations and grunting required to put them on.)
looking forward to: baby time! if Sweetpea is still cooking next Monday, we'll do a non-stress test to measure baby's heart rate in relation to movement and make sure that the placenta is still functioning adequately. til then, we take one day at a time!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

39 weeks!

bump watch: dropping on down! and hopefully head first. at my appointment last week, the midwife couldn't definitively feel the baby's head, and so i'll be getting an ultrasound this week to rule out breech position. i thought i had gotten pretty good at identifying baby's back and butt, but there has been so much wriggling around the last few days that i just end up more confused. plus, i think Sweetpea's getting sick of all the poking -- every time i feel what i think might be a head (or a knee! or a foot!), baby moves again! 
sweet pea: just keeps on cooking! brain development is still going strong, which will help baby with easier breastfeeding and motor skills. i'm so excited to actually meet this little one! 

Fetal Development Week 40

best moment: Mom's here! she arrived on Saturday night, and it's such a relief to have her here. and the nursery is finally done! we're ready for you, Sweetpea -- come join the party!

symptoms: still with the puffiness by the end of the day, and more lower abdominal pressure. no consistent contractions (or pressure waves, as per Hypnobabies) yet! 

cravings: not much this week. we did have an end-of-season CSA fling on Sunday that featured an assortment of acorn, butternut, delicata and spaghetti squashes stuffed with sweet Italian sausage and mirepoix  -- which, Amy Boots cheerfully informed us, is the actual term for sauteed onions, garlic and celery. so delicious! 

what i miss: fitting into my normal clothes. even some of my maternity shirts are not quite doing the trick at this point. thank goodness for camis!
looking forward to: well, there's not exactly an original way to put this. meeting Sweetpea!!! 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

38 weeks!

bump watch: i don't think sweetpea has fully dropped yet, but the bump definitely looks a little lower this week. things are moving the right direction! 

sweet pea: is the size of ... A BABY!!! thanks to the hilarious Amy at pregnant chicken for pointing out that at this stage of development, the produce comparisons are pretty useless. the midwives estimate that our particular baby weighs about 7 pounds now, and are predicting an 8 pound birth weight if baby comes near the due date (only 14 days to go!). i'll be curious to see if they're right, since birth weight predictions made by ultrasound are notoriously inaccurate, but they are basing their estimate off of direct palpation. 

Fetal Development Week 39

best moment: this is long overdue, but at the end of september, Sabrina and Becca threw the most adorable Sweet Pea-themed shower! every detail was planned out, from the cupcakes decorated with little sweet peas, the decorations, green deviled eggs, and packets of sweet pea seeds for favors. and they included one of my favourite baby shower activities -- having guests write funny or encouraging messages in Sharpie on disposable diapers! best of all, i was able to spend time with family and friends, some of whom i hadn't seen since we moved back to Pittsburgh two years ago. 

love this family, craziness and all! 

symptoms: a little more aching in my lower abdomen, especially when i first stand up after sitting a while. intermittent numbness in my left hand depending on how i sleep. and as much as i can't wait to meet our Sweetpea, i'm selfishly treasuring these last days of just me-and-Nick. 

cravings: heath bar ice cream. although i can't really relate that to pregnancy, since it's been a favourite since about age 7. 

what i miss: my ankles! although i have been quite impressed with the Futuro compression dress socks i bought last week. they're like an all-day massage for the lower leg, and they look just like normal women's trouser socks. by the end of the day, though, some puff is bound to set in. 
looking forward to: mom's arrival next week. so glad she will be here to help us prepare for and welcome Sweetpea! 

Monday, October 28, 2013

37 weeks!

bump watch: definitely growing by the day now! at my last few midwife appointments, i've been measuring anywhere between 1 to 1 1/2 weeks ahead, although there's no talk of changing the due date. baby's just chubbing up and that is a good thing! 

sweet pea: is FULL TERM!!! the ideal time for delivery is still as close to 40 weeks as possible, but it's reassuring to know that baby is developed enough at this point to thrive in the outside world. sweetpea weighs an estimated seven pounds (probably a little more if he's a he, according to the gurus at What to Expect), and will keep adding ounces on over the next few weeks. baby's lungs are producing more and more surfactant, which lowers surface tension on the alveoli to support normal respiration. 

Fetal Development Week 38

best moment: last night, Nick and i and sweetpea enjoyed an organ concert at our church. any time the low pedals sounded, baby started kicking. and for one incredulous thirty-second span, those kicks were exactly in time with the music. even though we're 90% sure it was a coincidence, it's still fun to imagine our baby's own future forays into music-making. 

symptoms: more intense Braxton Hicks contractions! i had the first few uncomfortable contractions at work last week (previously, i've just felt my belly tightening but it wasn't actually painful). there were only three of them, but they were 10-15 minutes apart and i started to think we might be meeting Sweetpea sooner rather than later! now they're just sporadic, and an excellent way to practice my hypnobabies techniques before the real deal. it is amazing how you can literally feel the tension melting away. 

also, i have random bursts of energy. i don't know if it qualifies as "nesting" -- i think it has more to do with the Reminders app on my phone that (shocker!) reminds me of all that's left to do before baby arrives. plus, it's way more fun to stuff and fold cloth diapers than it is to mop the floor. sweetpea's bum is gonna be stylin'!

cravings: back to the sweets this week. and i've started drinking red raspberry leaf tea, which one midwife had warned me tastes "like artichokes", but i find it very similar to green tea and quite delicious with a little honey! 

what i miss: being able to roll over in bed without feeling like i'm making a 15-point turn in a schoolbus. 
looking forward to: snuggling this little one. i've run the gamut of typical third-trimester emotions, from being so excited for baby to get here, to terrified of how much will change once we become a family of three. but over the past few weeks, i've come to truly believe that we'll figure it out and that, apart from the inevitable self-doubt and over-reacting of first time parents, we'll settle into a family routine that works for all of us. we love our sweetpea so much already! 

Monday, October 14, 2013

35 weeks!

bump watch: this week marked the first time i got the "swallowed a watermelon?" comment (at the mall, from a young man determined to sell me salt scrub for $129. his persistence did not pay off.) sweet pea is measuring right on track ... cantaloupe, watermelon, or whatever you want to call it.

sweet pea: in the past month, baby's development has mostly focused on brain growth and chubbing up. at my 32-week appointment, the midwife estimated that sweet pea weighed 4 1/2 pounds. now baby weighs around six pounds and has reached his or her birth length, between 19-21 inches long. sweetpea's circulatory and immune systems are fully developed. every week from here on out ensures that baby's lungs are mature and that the brain and nervous system are well-regulated. keep on cooking, baby!

best moment: taking the stroller out for a walk with Kaiser. granted, i was pushing around my purse and not a baby, but it was still a fun glimpse into the not-so-distant future. and Nick got instant daddy points when i couldn't figure out how to disengage the locking system to unfold the stroller (and had brilliantly folded up the instruction manual inside the stroller caddy before folding it, because after reading it cover-to-cover three times i thought i had everything down pat). i hadn't even finished typing "how to unfold chicco liteway plus stroller" into my phone's internet browser when he (having never seen the instruction manual) popped open a lever and voila! the stroller sprung into action. daddy magic already!

symptoms: shrek feet. that is the most apt description i've heard yet for the sudden onset of puffy feet and cankles. unfortunately, the best technique for getting rid of the swelling (apart from lots of water and walking) is lying down and elevating the feet ... and sweetpea is currently facing posterior with his or her face towards my belly instead of towards my spine, so to encourage baby to spin into the most optimal position (occiput anterior), i'm supposed to lean forward and keep my knees lower than my hips. 

cravings: not so much, recently. i've definitely reached the stage where i feel full faster and sometimes have to wait a bit for things to digest before finishing my meal. 

what i miss: a full wardrobe of clothes that fit. i've hit an unpleasant point where my belly is too big to fit many of the shirts that have served me well throughout the pregnancy up to this point, but too small to convincingly fill out the fall maternity clothes i bought. definitely a first world problem! 
looking forward to: finishing up the nursery! the stroller, carseat, swing, pack'n'play, co-sleeper and bouncer are all set up; baby clothes, blankets, towels and sheets are washed; diaper bag and my birth bag are packed; and now we just need to set up the changing table and crib, and hang the pictures in the nursery. i'd like to have it all ready by 37 weeks so we can just relax and wait for baby! 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

30 weeks!

bump watch: at this stage of pregnancy, it's not only bump-watch but also stretch-mark-watch. so far so good when it comes to the tummy, but i spied an unmistakable angry purple line on my thigh the other day ... oy. as for the bump itself, sometimes it takes on a life of its own with sweetpea's rolls and turns! 

sweet pea: weighs 3.2 pounds and measures 18 inches long, the size of a very hefty head of lettuce. baby is busy, busy, busy -- hiccuping, swallowing amniotic fluid, sucking that little thumb, and twisting and turning every which way. now that baby's starting to run out of space, his or her movements are usually less dramatic, but occasionally a wallop of a kick makes my stomach look like something out of an alien movie. 

best moment: passing my three hour glucose tolerance test with flying colors! and meeting with our new pediatrician, a diminutive Russian woman who achieves just the right balance of empathetic listening with unapologetic evidence-based recommendations. we're also signed up for a newborn care class and breastfeeding class next month ... it's all becoming so much more real! 

symptoms: return of the first trimester fatigue, check! weird popping and clicking in my hips as the ligaments loosen, check! a smidge more shortness of breath, check! crazy hormones (one night last week i felt ridiculously PMS-y), check! 

cravings: i was obsessed with the idea of chicken tenders earlier this week, and then lo and behold the very next day they served them for lunch at the hospital cafeteria! dipped in honey mustard, they definitely hit the spot. 

what i miss: my abs. and my Crest Whitestrips. 
looking forward to: making final arrangements with our doula, who happens to be none other than our Hypnobabies instructor! i think she'll be so helpful to both Nick and i during delivery. initially i wasn't sold on the idea of a doula, but studies have shown that the presence and expertise of a doula can help labor progress faster, improve pain control, reduce the change of c-section and improve breastfeeding in the immediate postpartum period... all while allowing the new daddy to provide emotional and physical support. sign us up! 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

28 weeks!

bump watch: i have to say i greatly enjoy watching people subtly try to figure out if i'm pregnant or just fat. you can just see the wheels turning. my favourite of all was a patient who just could not look away from my belly. i was about to jump in and put her silent question to rest when she said, "you look like you're glowing!" how clever was that? still, it's mostly the 90-year-old ladies who beam up at me and ask if i'm "expecting" without a qualm. it won't be so great when i'm rocking the postpartum belly, but for now, i'm loving it.
sweet pea: is a rocking, rolling, jiving dance maniac! part of my childbirth class weekly assignment is to do daily kick counts (you mark off a box corresponding to the time it took to feel 10 kicks -- normal is up to 2 hours). without fail, sweetpea gets those kicks in within 20 minutes -- sometimes 5 minutes if he or she really gets going! at 17 inches long and 2.9 pounds, there's not quite as much room in there for wriggling but that doesn't seem to slow baby down. 

best moment: making it to the third trimester! in some ways it seems ridiculously long ago that i was announcing my pregnancy on a cake, and yet i can't believe we're already in the home stretch. i'm getting more and more eager to actually meet this little one ... to rock and snuggle and, yes, inhale that delectable baby smell. i still have moments of PRENATAL PANIC as was so eloquently coined by Amy Boots, but deep down i know everything will be just fine.  

symptoms: it's definitely getting tougher to put on my pants and shave my legs, and i've found that instead of bending at the waist, i naturally just drop into a squat. much easier and actually fantastic for preparing for labor, but i fear sometimes it looks like i'm actually about to pop out a baby on the floor. at least i can still get up unaided! 

cravings: not so much this week! i'm definitely filling up faster than before. still, whenever a craving does strike, it's more of the sweet variety. i did my 1 hour glucose challenge last week and get the results tomorrow, so we'll see what that reveals ...

what i miss: well, i'm still enjoying a full night's sleep, but am already sad about the future lack thereof. how come they can't make babies who sleep through the night from day one?
looking forward to: starting prenatal appointments every 2 weeks! i just can't believe we're to this point already. next one's tomorrow and i can't wait! 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

26 weeks!


bump watch: helloooooooo, belly! it is large and in charge for sure. and my belly button is such a weird shape. it looks kind of like a big grin. no stretch marks yet (all that protein is good for something!).
sweet pea: is as long as a cucumber at 15 inches from head to foot, and weighs 2 lbs 4 ounces. baby is continuing to kick and flip, and this week's new trick is hiccups! the first time i felt them, i thought it was a series of kicks at first, but quickly realized they were too regular and all in the same place to be anything but a hiccup. (does it make me a bad mother that my first thought was "go home, baby, you're drunk"?) 
Fetal Development Week 27

best moment: definitely, without question, the surprise baby shower that my amazing friends and family threw on Saturday! it was so great to share that afternoon with family from out of town. and Sweetpea got some pretty sweet swag :) it was also wonderful to have Mom come along to my midwife appointment last week! 

symptoms: baby frequently gets wedged way up into the bottom of my ribcage, so the past few days especially i've felt the need to lean back when i'm sitting. last week i was actually wondering if something might be going on with my gallbladder since i would have so much pressure on the right side after eating, but since i haven't had pain or nausea, the midwife said it sounds more related to baby's position than anything else. and i'd much rather deal with the upper stomach discomfort than a tapdance on my bladder. 

cravings: we had quite the indulgent week with family in town and all the festivities. the one thing that definitely hit the spot was a Heath blizzard ... we passed a Dairy Queen while on the search for lunch for Kira one day and i managed to convince everyone to hoof it back over there after she got her Jimmy John's sandwich (with a huge pickle!). 

what i miss: seeing my toes.
looking forward to: touring two more daycares next week! we visited one on Tuesday that i really liked, but they won't have openings in the nursery until April 2014 (aka lots of other parents like them too). i'm planning to return to work part time in January or February and will feel so much better once we have a definite childcare arrangement figured out. although i don't like to think about leaving baby with anyone else besides Nick and me, i'm so glad that we're on the same page! 

Friday, August 16, 2013


can i just explain how dearly, dearly i love surprises? from my perfectly pulchritudinous purple 18th birthday party, to Nick visiting me in Ireland over Thanksgiving break of sophomore year, to Nick's amazing proposal, to my bachelorette party, it seems that almost every special occasion in my life has been preceded by several weeks of intense planning on the part of my friends, and somewhat embarrassing cluelessness on the part of yours truly. the past month has been no exception. and truthfully? i don't want to start snooping around or suspecting that when people invite me to estate sales or take my picture next to a statue in the park, they have ulterior motives. 

long-haired Nick with pajama-clad me, in Galway circa 2005!

short-haired Nick with a very shocked me, in New Orleans circa 2009!

Gordon Ramsay's gun show with a horrifyingly-pleased me, in Shadyside circa 2012!

bottom line, there is just nothing quite like a well-planned surprise to make you feel loved. a few weeks ago, our beloved Pirate Wench Amelia was visiting from California and so we had all planned to meet for brunch at up! in Shadyside. this was not a shocking choice given their lauded breakfast buffet, including all-you-can-drink bloody marys for $6. (oh, pittsburgh, how i love you.) what was shocking was that one of the waiters congratulated me when i walked upstairs. in typical Kate fashion, i didn't think too much of it because Jeremy works there and i rationalized to myself that he must have said something about his group of friends, including the pregnant chick, coming in for brunch that day. and then i turned the corner and saw a table covered with gifts and the cutest baby-shaped balloon i've ever seen in my entire life. before i could say a word, a tiara was slapped on my head and my baby shower had begun! 

we had a marvelous time and i thought that was that. fast forward to last week, when Mom, Dad & Kira flew in from Seattle to spend some time seeing the Pittsburgh sights (and getting acquainted with Kaiser!). before they arrived, i had been brainstorming weekend activities and Blair mentioned an estate sale taking place in their condo on Saturday which was purported to have plenty of baby things. normally i would have been all. over. that. business, but i figured it wouldn't be much fun for my family so didn't mention it to them. fail #1. finally, on Saturday morning, Mom asked when we were going to see my friends and i spent an hour texting Jon various ideas about when we could get together, which he systematically shot down with a nonchalant "oh! i have work!", "oh! we have a housewarming party to go to!", "oh! the first pre-season Steelers game is tonight!". we finally stumbled upon the plan for me to drag my (surprisingly willing) family to the tail end of the estate sale, followed by happy hour before Jon, Blair and Amy attended to their other social obligations. (ha.)

so as the afternoon wore on, i began to get a little antsy about actually making it over to the estate sale "before all the good stuff was sold". my gentle efforts at prodding my family to get out of the house were not too successful. by the time we actually arrived outside the condo, we were running 45 minutes "behind schedule", which - of course - was all part of the plan. we took the elevator down to the party room, which seemed to be a rather festive place for an estate sale, but what do i know about these things? i hesitated for a minute outside the door because i could see through the glass that there seemed to be a whole contingent of people at the far end of the room, and i didn't want to barge in if the auctioneer was in the middle of displaying a particularly fine object. fail #2. finally i just opened the door, and ... 


i was so confused, and then ecstatic, and then confused again to see Kelli and Krista! 

the devious party planners (dressed in gender neutral colors, of course)

when my poor brain finally comprehended what was going on, i was overwhelmed all over again at the thought and detail that went into this shower. (apparently the brunch shower was a "decoy" baby shower. WHO DOES THAT?!?! best friends ever.) the theme was "Once Upon a Time" and all of the guests (who included Nick's family traveling from Altoona and Washington DC, and my aunts traveling from New England, in addition to my sisters traveling from Seattle) had brought children's books. the whole room was decorated with said books along with a vast collection of Disney movies on VHS. the tables were decorated with paper pinwheels made from book pages and little bags of candy garnished with a "library card" tag with the date of the shower in place of the bar code, and a note explaining that a donation to our local library had been made in lieu of prizes for the shower games. melt my heart! a literal tree stood in the corner decorated with "leaves" also made from book pages, and the walls were hung with baby pictures. the delicious food (all homemade!) was paired with signs tying each dish into an appropriate book (my favourites were apple crisp with a book about Adam & Eve, and an empty plate with The Emperor Penguin's New Clothes. yes, just like The Emperor's New Clothes but better because PENGUINS). the icing on the cake was that Jon painted a gorgeous pallet-board with the "Once Upon a Time" motif ... in our nursery colors. ridiculous, i'm telling you. and some smart cookie figured out that the inflatable ducky infant tub could be filled with ice and drinks. now that's what i call multitasking.

so, the moral of this story is that i love surprises. and most of all, i love that our Sweetpea is surrounded by such caring, creative people who truly make our lives a Happily Ever After.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

csa night

if you haven't yet had the immense pleasure of watching a KitchenAid pasta extruder attachment in action, let me tell you -- it's surpassed only by the gustatory delight of eating the homemade pasta that results. in this case, bucatini tossed with a plethora of sauteed vegetables and coated in a homemade cream sauce. and what better to serve as a palate cleanser than homemade lemon basil sorbet? nothing. that's what. 

bucatini with vegetables and cream sauce
made up by our very own selves!

  • 12 oz bucatini, cooked and drained
  • 1/2 of a large onion, chopped
  • 8 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup cooked corn, cut from cob
  • 1 cup green beans, trimmed
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 3 shallots, minced
  • 1 TBSP minced garlic
  • 1/2 TBSP crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 3 TBSP flour
  • 2 cups milk, room temperature
  • 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 TBSP salt
  • 1/2 TBSP pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium skillet. Saute onion, garlic and shallots for 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add the mushrooms, green beans, and bell pepper. Cook until softened, 15-20 minutes. Add corn and stir until heated through. 

Meanwhile, heat a saucepan over medium heat. Melt butter and gradually whisk in flour to create a roux. Cook 2-3 minutes or until browned and fragrant. Slowly whisk in milk and cook over low heat for 15 minutes, until thickened. Add Greek yogurt, salt, and pepper. Continue to cook over low heat until the sauce coats the back of a spoon.

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain. Toss pasta with vegetable mixture, then toss with sauce. Add seasonings to taste. 

lemon basil sorbet
recipe from Cuisinart
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 TBSP lemon zest, divided
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • pinch salt
  • 2 cups fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
Combine water, sugar, and 1 TBSP lemon zest in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook until sugar is fully dissolved, then remove from heat. Add basil and salt. Let steep for 30 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate 2-3 hours, or overnight. Strain the chilled mixture through a fine mesh strainer.

Turn on the Cuisinart ice cream maker. Pour mixture into the frozen freezer bowl and let mix until thickened (about 15-20 minutes). Add reserved zest and churn until combined. Serve topped with blueberries and additional basil.