July 31, 2014

Ready for the Peanut...

{* The Peanut's arrival is imminent! Understandably, I will be taking some time off while I figure out this whole new mama role once the Peanut actually arrives!  Please note that I won't be posting much in the near future, but rest assured, I'll be back on the blog, once I get into a routine. In the meantime, wish me luck on this new adventure and enjoy one last pregnancy post!}


Soon after I announced my pregnancy to friends far and near, I started getting questions about whether or not I've started on the nursery. 


What nursery?! 

While the Sailor and I joked that I'd probably get pregnant right after converting our second bedroom into the Princess Pad (AKA my office/craft room), I knew even if we did have a baby, I didn't want kid stuff taking over an entire room, let alone the whole apartment.

From the start, we agreed on baby minimalism. My theory was that everything had to serve at least a dual purpose. No crib or changing table for this Mama... I bought a Pack 'n Play instead that serves as both. Bottles for when the Sailor wants to feed the baby? I purchased glass lifefactory ones that can be converted to sippy cups later.

I had the sense to at least pick some sort of theme, since I knew people would want to buy us gifts... and after seeing this crochet pattern, I knew that the safari theme would work perfectly for the Peanut whether or not we had a boy or girl. Who doesn't like safari animals?

But the nursery.... surely the nursery is something that is for the parents more than the baby, right? I mean, the baby can't even see that far in front of his or her face for a few weeks.

I have discovered that here in America, baby stuff truly is a racket. 

Throughout my pregnancy I've been remembering a young gal I met in Ukraine nearly a decade ago. I stayed with her family one night since my train was due to leave super early in the morning and conveniently they lived right around the corner from the station. 

She was due with her first baby literally any minute... and she asked if I wanted to see 'the room'. 

Of course I said yes, so she led me up the staircase to her and her husband's bedroom. She then proceeded to show me a small bassinet next to the bed, along with the smallest shelf possible with only a few diapers (I'm assuming cloth, because I don't ever remember seeing disposables sold anywhere in the country) and one small bottle of baby powder. 

I vaguely remember seeing a small pile of clothes -- the key word being small
Photos by my fabulous friend, Angie, taken about four weeks ago.
(I am a LOT bigger now!)

That was IT.

And this Ukrainian gal was so proud of it all, she actually exclaimed: 'We're all ready for the baby's arrival!'

I will never forget that evening, or the look on her face. She was totally serious. They didn't need anything else. They had a place for the baby to sleep... a few diapers and clothing items that they would probably need to wash by hand, and a little luxury in the form of baby powder. Most of all, they already loved this baby growing inside of her and were prepared to offer him or her their version of the world.

I haven't been back to Ukraine since that trip... I have no idea whether she had a boy or girl and by now the baby would be about 9 years old. I would love to return though to find out how she fared with such a tiny amount of 'stuff'. I suspect she did just fine. It's amazing that women around the world give birth in far less ideal circumstances, with far less 'stuff' and less fanfare than here in the States. 

I know that I don't live in Ukraine. But I also know that I'm not planning on being a 'typical' textbook American mother. I have already gotten the hairy eyeball from more than one person by stating that the Sailor won't be anywhere near me in the delivery room, or that we'll be using cloth diapers from the start. I feel like people are continually watching us to see how much we're going to change as parents. 

I'm sure we'll eat some words. Toys and 'stuff' will creep into our lives and I guarantee you that disposable diapers will find a way into our life on things like road trips. But overall, I want to continue to remember that Ukrainian gal... and when I look at the clothes, diapers and the few things we have for the Peanut, I have also exclaimed to people, 'We're all ready for the baby's arrival!' 

July 29, 2014

Missing Loch Lomond

Summer camp has started on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond... and even though it has been four years since I've made it to that part of the world (and let's face it -- I have one of the most legitimate reasons on the planet for missing it this year) I'm still a little nostalgic for that field and the view. 

Last year, I wrote about what brings me back there year after year, here.  

Many of my foreign friends have converged on the field by now and are giving a slew of young people the summer of their lives by introducing them to new skills, new friends and a new environment. Someday, I hope to take the Peanut there to show him or her the place where I first fell in love with travel and foreign experiences.

To my friends there now, may the rain be sparse, the midgies* be few, and may you take the time to enjoy every single stunning sunset Loch Lomond has to offer you in the next few weeks. 

{*The most awful little bugs on the planet... 10,000x worse than mosquitoes in my book. They are so tiny you can't see them coming until one bites you on the face. They will not be missed...} 

July 26, 2014

Cloth Diapers

I always knew if I had a baby, I'd use cloth diapers. Perhaps it's because I wore them as a babe and my mom swore by them (and I still have one of the old-fashioned pins in my sewing kit) or maybe it has to do with the fact that I was a bit of an environmental freak back in high school. 

Then I discovered that cloth diapered babies generally get less rashes, are exposed to less chemicals and on average seem to potty train quicker than those in disposables. Even more reasons to go with them! 

I'm betting though the real reason I set my mind on it though was once I saw the monetary savings. A few hundred bucks versus thousands over the years? You bet I'm going to cloth diaper the Peanut. And, having lived overseas and witnessed the lack of disposables in many of those places... I perhaps have an easier time than others imagining that cloth diapering is totally plausible, especially in this world of convenient washing machines. 

Over the months, I've gathered enough supplies from online vendors and even Walmart and when people ask if we're ready for the baby to arrive I tell them we have a place for the wee one to sleep and we have diapers. I'm pretty sure those are two things that are high on the list of necessities. 

The convenience of washing machines aside, for the first few weeks, the Sailor and I decided to cash in on my winning streak and use my coupon for a free diaper service. We'll still be cloth diapering, but we'll simply be letting someone else wash the dirties for us for a few weeks. 

(Even if you're convinced that disposables are the way to go instead for convenience, who can resist the cute owl pattern on the cloth diaper cover above?)

July 23, 2014

TV Freedom

Yesterday, the Sailor and I canceled our TV service. After a year of subscribing on a special, we decided that it wasn't worth our time and money to keep both the TV and the Internet once the price went up. So we canceled the TV and kept the Internet. 

Frankly, it wasn't much more expensive to continue with the TV service, but we stopped it out of principle. It's so easy to just channel surf and watch mindless TV in the evenings.

Now don't get me wrong. We love our TV time. (How do you think I get so much knitting and crocheting done?!) But we realized that most of what we watch we can find online. We also realized that we were just wasting time watching stuff that we weren't all that interested in.

It's not the first time we've gone without TV. Before we moved, we only had our DVDs and the Internet. And for half the time I lived in England, I didn't even own a TV. There, you pay an annual TV license, even if you never plug your TV into the wall. After a year and a half, I decided that paying a few hundred bucks a year wasn't worth it for the four channels they offered back then. 

This past year was a little bit of a luxury, but now we've decided that cable TV is a luxury we can live without. Yesterday, after canceling our service, we felt a certain sense of freedom.

I have a feeling with the Peanut on the way, we're not really going to have time to veg in front of the TV in any case. At this point, it seems better for us to veg out watching the flowers grow... maybe we'll even spot another hummingbird.* 

{*The same day I published this post, the Sailor saw a hummingbird on our porch! I missed it, but apparently it was hovering around the red flowers. Hooray!

July 20, 2014

Weekend Knitting

What's a weekend without a little knitting? 

The Sailor and I are enjoying the quiet time at home before the arrival of the Peanut (every once in a while we say things like 'Do you hear that? That's the sound of silence...' usually right before one of us erupts into laughter.

I bought this green Berroco yarn at the Local Yarn Store's annual sale and I decided to make this hooded jacket for the Peanut. (I also made this cute cardigan with yarn acquired from the same sale.) The Peanut will be warm in all seasons.

There's definitely something sublime and fulfilling about knitting small things for a baby -- it's so easy to finish a mini-sweater in mere days! Or... maybe even over a weekend.

July 17, 2014


I am not a big bird fan (ask my mother...) and while I do love the sound of birds in the morning, I didn't want to deal with the mess of cleaning up seeds on our porch from a conventional feeder.

Earlier in the Spring, I noticed that hummingbird feeders seemed to be in all of the garden shops around the area. Enter my perfect no-seed solution to bird watching: I bought a hummingbird feeder. 

The Sailor promptly installed it for me and I planted some red flowers nearby to attract the birds. 

So far though... nothing. Not a single hummingbird. A few weeks ago I saw one out at our garden, so I know they're around here, but they don't seem to want to frequent my porch. 

I'm a total hummingbird novice... but I did buy hummingbird food and I did plant red flowers. I'm thinking the air conditioning units that are so close to the porch might be scaring them off. 

Any other bird people out there... what other tips can you offer to attract hummingbirds?

July 14, 2014

The Literary Library Baby Shower

Summer definitely seems to be both wedding and baby season. I'm not sure if it's the heat (and thus less layers of clothing, revealing bumps...) but I've certainly noticed more pregnant ladies out and about in town.

A few weeks ago, I shared with you my Skype non-shower baby shower. This week, I'd like to tell you about the Book Shower my local friends threw me here: B is for Books, Babies and Brenda! 

The hostess knew I didn't want a traditional shower with goofy games, although we made an exception for the 'game' part and actually watched the US play Portugal in the World Cup during the shower. How non-traditional is that?! Sadly, none of us managed to get a photo of the TV in the background as proof! 

The invitation asked everyone to bring a book, and specified that thrifted ones were absolutely fine. In fact, several thrifted books were used to create super fun vintage-like bunting, and many of the thrifted books were classics that are difficult to find these days. 

In keeping with the theme, the food spread matched the books.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit inspired veggie crudites, complete with hummus on bottom of the 'planters'. 

The somewhat infamous Orange Marmalade Poppyseed cake even made an appearance. This has been my no-fail cake for years now and I agreed to make it for my own party. (I'm hoping to finally share the recipe with you if I can get permission from the magazine publisher!

And Blueberries for Sal gave way to a delightful blueberry drink concoction! (I'm super excited about this book. I loved Make Way for the Ducklings as a child and I never knew that the author, Robert McCloskey, wrote this one too!) 

Of course books were also involved... 

I loved the library as a child (and I still do!) but there are a number of these books I'd never heard of or read, so I'm excited that the Peanut already has quite a stash of reading material for the years to come! 

I don't remember ever reading The Sailor Dog -- a Little Golden Book about a dog named Scuppers who wants to sail on the sea. 

But as soon as I got home that evening, I read this one aloud to the Peanut before bedtime. And as silly as I felt reading a book to my belly, I'm pretty sure this might become one of my favorite books to read to the Peanut, especially when the Sailor is away to sea. 

I'm super thankful for friends far away for the Skype Shower, and the local ladies who know me well enough to host a Book Shower for Baby. 

(And an extra special thank you to my friend and the evening's hostess, Tianna, for making the latter happen! She and I shared creative spaces together while working onboard a hospital ship many moons ago... and it's super fun to live in the same city as her now. Most of these photos were taken by her.)

July 10, 2014

Watermelon Summer

The Sailor arrived home a little earlier than expected this week. I'm certainly not complaining, but my already sporadic schedule was thrown off slightly by a happy homecoming! I know I promised a post here on my recent Library Baby Shower and I promise it's coming soon.

In the meantime, since I didn't have time to make a milk tart for the Sailor, I bought a watermelon. (I actually think I still have some milk tart in the freezer from the last time I made it, in any case.) The watermelon caught my eye, because let's face it, my belly is about the same size at the moment, and probably weighs the same! 

Besides, nothing spells summer like a good dose of watermelon, and bare feet -- even if I can't actually see mine at the moment.

July 7, 2014

Newborn and Mama Vertebrae

What's nicer than a little cardigan (that actually fits in with the current state of my belly...) to ward off the chill?

A wee matching one for a newborn. 

 Cuteness overload.

My local yarn store just had their big annual sale... resistance proved futile. I managed to only buy a few skeins of yarn -- one of them being a German sock yarn for this little newborn vertebrae. The newborn pattern is free, although the baby version is not. I'm thinking that I will need to invest in the baby version though... this thing was so fast to make and I'm sure the Peanut will outgrow it about the same time he or she finds these baby jeans too tight. 

(Yarn: Regia Angora Merino / 50 grams / roughly 200 meters and I had plenty leftover.) 

My cardigan is the Mama Vertebrae pattern found here. I mentioned that I was making it here way back in March, but never showed you the final project. While summer is in full throttle at the moment and I have no use for a cardigan at the moment, I know I will wear this all the time as soon as chillier weather rolls in. And let's be honest here.... I want to make one in my size in the same luxurious angora merino blend as the Peanut's! 

July 4, 2014

Happy Fourth & Fireworks!

My city missed the memo that today is the Fourth of July and instead planned their fireworks for last night... along with a free concert at the park.

When we first moved here last year, the fireworks got rained out, and the Sailor and I spent the Fourth of July watching old movies, while I crocheted this red rug for the bathroom. This year, I had full intentions of going to the concert with a group of friends, but sleep called my name louder than the firecrackers. 

I was in bed by 9 pm.

Over the years, I've missed out on a lot of Fourth of July celebrations since I spent so many summers overseas.

One year, I found myself in Budapest, Hungary during their own national holiday. Budapest is a combination of two former cities, Buda and Pest, on either side of the Danube River. I had planned to meet some new friends across the city to view the fireworks, but I found myself stuck in Buda, since the bridges were closed due to the fireworks display. 

I climbed up the hill and headed back to my hostel, somewhat dejected. I had looked forward to simply experiencing a little bit of Hungarian nightlife with the locals and now I was stuck on this side of the river. Instead, I steeled myself for a night in with a 25 cent cup of a coffee from the vending machine, hoping that I might catch a glimpse of the display out my window.

One of the hostel receptionists saw me and asked if I wanted to go up onto the roof to view the fireworks. (We could climb onto the roof...?)

Sure enough, a group of us clamored up the access ladder to the flat roof of the five-story building with no railings, where we had one of the best views of the fireworks that night. 

I have since forgotten the name of that hostel and the names of the people on that rooftop. But I'll never forget that night, or the view. It reminded me a little bit of being a kid again.. of the anticipation of nightfall and the excitement of simply holding onto sparklers. 

I wondered last night if there was perhaps a Hungarian or two in town who would be missing their own fireworks display in August. Hopefully they made it to the park last night to at least see ours. 

Happy Fourth of July! Be safe... and invite someone out to see your town's fireworks with you this year. (Unless of course, they'd rather be asleep before dark.