Enjoying lately

37 weeks of pregnancy today: Technically full term! Plum can come any time before 42 weeks and we will [likely] be able to birth at the birth center. It’s a relief to be at this point—and that Plum is head down, which we had confirmed this week by ultrasound—but really I have plenty left I could do pre-birth. Plum, you can come whenever you want, but feel free to stay in there and grow a little bit more. And in spite of increased slowing down and discomfort (mainly with sleeping and getting up from sitting), I am not at the “get this baby out” stage that some people feel by now, and I am so thankful for that. Plum’s movements have changed from big movements to what feels like stretching and some kicking. It’s pretty nuts to watch my skin move as Plum moves underneath, and I feel delighted with feeling him/her through my skin and being able to identify what is a butt, foot, knee, etc.

Nesting activities: Hubs and I did an amazing living space rearrangement that opened everything right up in our open plan apartment. Some of the changes included him mounting the TV on the wall, finding a loving home for the TV stand my dad built for me in college, and me ordering a cozy new runner rug from Overstock. It’s starting to wear off since the initial rearrange two-ish weeks ago, but for a while, every time I walked into our living space, I thought, “Wow! I just love this!” Things are also mostly together for Plum’s room, including a new rug, which now has a rug pad and got rolled out this week.

Rug on top and opening up living space + Tonks on bottom | InvitingJoy.net

Rug on top and opened up living space + Tonks on bottom

Time with loved ones: My dear friend Sarah was here in early January for an amazing weekend of talking, walking, and eating copious amounts of cheese. Tomorrow, local friends are hosting a mother blessing party for me, and several out-of-towners are also joining us. I am feeling so well loved and supported by our community!

Swimming: It feels so good to put my [much heavier and more unwieldy] body in water and move around. I’ve been trying to go to our indoor community pool at least once on the weekends and on MLK Day, I even got to do aqua aerobics with the senior citizens.

Our new Roomba: We named it Kreacher, and after some fits and starts figuring out how to set him up so he will do his best work, it is amazing to live in a less furry house. Occasionally Kreacher has trouble finding the dock after he does a cleaning cycle, but I think that’s because Tonks lays on the floor and blocks his path. Bonus video of Zeda meeting Kreacher:

Pregnancy at 32 weeks

Physically, I am still feeling pretty good. I’ve had a bit of heartburn, and I am finally past the point where I can sleep on my stomach (so sad!), so sleep is getting trickier. A nearly-weekly happening is very early morning insomnia, where I wake up sometime between 2 am and 4 am and can’t go back to sleep for at least an hour. But I’ve continued walking (I aim for 2-4 miles daily), prenatal yoga classes (three/week), and acupuncture, as well as started seeing a chiropractor, which I think has all helped my body relax and prepare.

There’s absolutely no doubt that I’m pregnant and the comments from strangers have increased accordingly. Weirdest yet: I was going into the bathroom at some rural Tennessee McDonald’s, where we’d stopped for a break on our way back home from Christmas. A guy coming out of the men’s restroom stopped me, and said “Congratulations. Do you know what you’re having?” I answered that we were going to be surprised, and then excused myself because I HAD TO GO TO THE BATHROOM. I guess it could be weirder, but how funny that he thought I needed to stop and talk to him about my pregnancy.

The mental/emotional shifts that I’ve experienced over the course of the past seven-ish months feel like the most striking things I’ll remember about this time (even more than the terrible nausea early on). As a strong extrovert, I am pretty used to wanting to do all kinds of social things. But during this pregnancy, I have been happiest at home by myself, with Hubs, or in a one-on-one scenario. In larger groups, I feel dull, and as though I can’t quite keep up with the conversation. My fear of missing out, which used to be really strong, is now nothing compared to my desire to go to bed early or cuddle a cat or dog. It’s an interesting change for me, and one that makes sense, given how internally focused I am on myself and on Plum.

Speaking of Plum, s/he continues to have a strong heartbeat (135-145 beats per minute) at midwife visits, measures right on schedule, and according to my favorite pregnancy app is the size of one of those sit-on scooter boards that I played with in PE in elementary school. I also love that I am already getting a sense of Plum as an independent person: Monday morning, Hubs woke up early to go to the gym, but reached over to feel my belly before getting out of bed. Plum was kicking up a storm, all while I slept peacefully. It’s pretty fun to imagine that it won’t be more than 10 or so weeks (and maybe fewer) before we meet this person on the outside!

Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats

The only time I tried to make steel cut oats on the stove, it was a burned disaster. I was not (nor am I ever) in the mood to constantly stir the oats for the hour or however long it takes them to cook. (I actually don’t know since I’ve never been patient enough to find out. I may have been doing something wrong). Belated apologies to the ladies who had to eat slightly burny oats at my house that morning.

But I love steel cut oats. Their fibery healthfulness is matched only by their creamy yet lumpy texture (so pleasant to the palate) and their affordability in the bulk section of your neighborhood grocery. I also love how filling and warming they are, especially as the weather turns chilly.

Enter slow cooker steel cut oats! I made a batch of these once a week last winter, and we just recently started up again. I modified the recipe to make it even simpler (see below) and because I like to add a banana and some nuts to mine, but skip the sugar. I always use a can of coconut milk because it gives a creaminess to the oats that is missing if you just use regular milk or half and half. I cook them on Sunday night and then divide them up (or aliquot them, if you will) and we reheat them all week and eat them. (High five from my future self!)

Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats

8 cups of water
2 cups steel cut oats
1 can coconut milk (don’t get the lite kind)

Butter the crock of your slow cooker REALLY well. The oats will probably still stick, but buttering really helps them stick less. Add the rest of the ingredients, give them a stir, and then cook on low for 8ish hours. Enjoy in the morning or whenever you want!

Pregnancy at 26 Weeks

I am definitely looking pregnant now (and not just like I ate a few too many donuts), which is mostly good. It’s led to some comments from strangers, but I don’t mind them as much as I did early on. I’m not sure whether it’s because I’ve had time to adjust to how my body is changing or for some other reason, but I am glad to not feel so annoyed. And interestingly, it’s only strangers that see me often (like fellow bus commuters) that have commented. Most people that I’ve never met before still can’t seem to decide baby vs. donuts, so they’re largely not saying anything.

I can also feel Plum moving around most of the day. It’s especially weird at night time when I lay down because that usually means A LOT of movement, so much so that last week Hubs could see my belly actually moving. Kind of like an alien.

I stopped taking the anti-nausea meds (without puking) around week 22, which was an awesome development. I’ve also been truly hungry and am finding the balance between wanting to eat sugar all the time and getting a good mix of foods that are satisfying and healthy.

I definitely feel a change in my center of gravity, which has led to differences in how I walk and how easy it is to do things like get out of bed. I also am more winded after less physical activity, but I usually feel really good after walking (especially in the awesome fall sunshine we’ve had).

Also, nesting is totally real. I’ve been clutter clearing and reorganizing to make way for Plum in our second bedroom. And I’ve scored some great deals on used gear/furniture from Craigslist/an insane estate sale, so I am excited to start getting the space ready.

Better luck next time

2015-10-29 01.20.01 pmIn an effort to avoid the madness that for me usually accompanies the lead up to the holiday season and the season itself, I created this iCal reminder for myself last year. But if I’m going to make iCal reminders that are in any way useful, it turns out that I need them a little bit sooner than October 30.

Hubs and I are currently in the midst of a three month stretch where something involving travel is planned for every weekend except three. My problem is that when most of these plans were made, it was summer, which meant that my life felt expansive and the days felt long. As we move into fall, my tendency is to turn inward, curl up, take it easy, and be cozy. During this pregnancy, I feel this need even more strongly, but many of our upcoming plans feel as though they leave little room for that.

I could probably cancel things, but I don’t want to! The plans that would be schedule-wise easier to miss (with dear friends and family, who would surely understand) are the ones that will fill us up in the midst of the required/work-related activities and travel. My solution? A new calendar reminder for next year:

2015-10-29 01.48.35 pmHere’s hoping that putting it in July—rather than October—and clarifying the language actually works! (Given that there will be another person involved by then, it had better)

Easy, hearty pasta salad

With the arrival of fall, this pasta salad is nearly out of season. But I made it on Saturday for a picnic dinner because it’s such a good take along dish, and I wanted to share it here.

1 lb of pasta (I like colorful, spiral pasta)
1 log of salami
Pecorino romano cheese (we buy it in a wedge from Trader Joe’s)
1 or 2 sweet bell peppers (any color is tasty)
1 bag of frozen peas
1 bottle of creamy balsamic dressing (the Trader Joe’s one is legit)

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. While it’s cooking, chop the salami, cheese, and peppers into small pieces and add to a big bowl. Drain the pasta and add the still-frozen peas to the strainer. Stir the peas and pasta around, which will thaw the peas and help the pasta cool down. Add the pasta and peas to the bowl with the salami, cheese, and peppers. Pour the dressing over the top. (You might think you don’t need a whole bottle of dressing, but it will taste much better if you add it all). Stir to combine well and serve immediately, or refrigerate until you’re ready to eat.

2015-10-19 09.13.28 am


Therapy dog retirement

About a month ago, sweet Tonks did her last visit as an official therapy dog. We visited for two years at UNC Hospital and before that for two years at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. Through it all, Tonks has been a master therapy dog. She tunes into what people need, expertly goes from person to person in groups, and seems to take pride in her work. I am so proud of the training that she and I did together to be able to work as a therapy team for four years.

We’re hanging up our therapy badge, based on a few minor aging-related issues that Tonks is experiencing—cataracts and stiff joints—and due to the difficulty of being re-evaluated, which you have to do every two years. But she continues to give out therapy to people we meet on the street or sitting on the lawn at the bar, and I know that won’t ever stop. No one can resist the fur!

Enjoying retirement on the couch

Enjoying retirement on the couch