Friday, December 31, 2010

photo noir

Before my baby is born, i wanted to make sure i took some last-minute photos of my belly.




I've been looking for a good excuse to experiment with this aged photo application.




I love aged things.




I also love my belly.




I'm going to miss it.
Monday, December 27, 2010

the greatest christmas gift

What a wonderful Christmas we had this year.

Not only did i spend it with a very pregnant belly, and lots of snow...i also received a very special Christmas morning surprise: my brother. Though he could only stay for two days, the important thing is that he was home - with family - for the holiday. And that's the greatest Christmas gift any of us could have asked for.

Abigail has decided to hang around a little longer. She is due in ten days, and i am trying my best to appreciate every single one of these last precious moments with her snuggled up inside me. For the first time yesterday, i literally started to cry thinking about her not being in there anymore! I have been fairly anxious during this final month to get to the hospital and deliver, as the exhaustion and back pain have been almost too much to bear. But i can sense that my time with having Abby all to myself is coming to an end very soon, and i never anticipated such an emotional response to the end of pregnancy, but alas, here i am lamenting it.

Still, i am excited. The car seat is strapped in tightly, our bags are packed, and we're ready to go at a moment's notice. As i sit and watch the snow falling magically outside, i can't help but hope that the world will look much like this when Abby is born.

White. Beautiful. Pure. Just like her.
Sunday, December 12, 2010

not a creature was stirring...well, maybe a mouse

This morning at 2:30am i awoke to a very loud rustling noise. At first i was rather perturbed; i had finally almost made it through an entire night without waking up to a horrendous case of heartburn, and now this.

But then i was just curious. Jeremy was still on the couch, where he'd fallen asleep hours ago, so i sat there in the dark, alone, staring into the kitchen. The rustling went on for several minutes, at which point i grew slightly irritated. It sounded very much like someone wrapping Christmas presents, but who would be doing such a thing at 2:30am? And couldn't they keep it down??

Finally, i got out of bed (not an easy feat these days, but this mystery needed to be solved - besides, now i had to pee and Abby was awake and squirming about). I stood in the bedroom doorway and stared straight at the trash bag tied up on the kitchen floor, for that's where i eventually decided the noise was coming from.

How odd, i thought. Could there really be an animal rustling through our trash?

I have to admit, the thought was amusing. Mostly because all i could think of was Templeton, the gluttenous rat from Charlotte's Web, rolling around drunkenly after over-indulging on scraps at the county fair. Except that our visitor, i was certain, was a mouse. I couldn't even be mad at it - how could i, when it was clearly enjoying itself so? But it couldn't stay in our kitchen. I had to get up for work in two hours, and knew i'd never fall back asleep with that ruckus just a couple yards away.

I could tell my husband did not feel like doing a thing about our dilemma when i woke him from a very deep sleep. But mice nest in people's clothes, and chew them, and poop everywhere. Mr. Mouse would have to finish enjoying his meal outside - and so out Jeremy went with the trash, so that i could get a little more shut-eye. And i do emphasize the term little, as Abby was now ready to eat and my heartburn was acting up again.

I've suffered with heartburn throughout most of my pregnancy, but in the last week or so it has officially progressed to a full-blown case of Acid Reflux. I looked it up online, and apparently (according to one website, anyway) about 50% of pregnant women experience this problem. It is horrible. It seems that nothing i eat can stay down, but instead comes shooting back up my esophagus like a ball of fire searing my throat. And it burns on and off all day, but the worst of it comes at night. As if getting comfortable in bed and falling asleep isn't hard enough these days!

This ninth month is brutal. I'm trying not to let it overwhelm me, but instead to continue enjoying being pregnant while i can. Reading back on how i felt when i first found out i was pregnant, i feel sad that it's all coming to an end. I know, i know - this is only the beginning, really, and much more wonderful, sweet moments are coming. But i will miss my belly, and especially Abby inside of me, mysteriously making me fall in love with her more each day despite the fact that she's completely hidden and soundless.

Our Christmas tree is up, all the lights hung with care
In hopes that our Abigail soon will be here...
Friday, December 3, 2010

just the two of us

It's been over a month since i last posted. I have to say, it's been a lot harder to find time to write during my pregnancy than i expected. But i think this is a good thing. Because it means that i'm accomplishing what i set out to do from the very beginning, which was to make sure that i truly made an effort to enjoy every bit of my pregnancy - including just sitting on the couch sipping tea and feeling Abby move inside of me instead of sitting at the computer writing about it.


But i have a moment now, and i do feel that it's important to document a few things whenever possible. Such as what i've learned from this experience. Naturally, there are a lot of things i could contemplate, but the one i have been focusing on lately is simplicity.


The last few months have been a whirlwind, to say the least. The chaos and stress involved in getting ready for a baby can certainly make your head spin, but i was determined not to let that happen for us. One way that i tried to stave it off was by simplifying our home as much as possible. By focusing much of my energy on cleaning and throwing things away, i've been able (for the most part) to keep myself sane. You would think that living in a tiny, one-bedroom apartment would be enough to stop us from amassing the type of extraneous items that most house-dwellers tend to collect over time - but this is not the case. We still managed to find a ghastly amount of STUFF lying around, collecting dust, subliminally adding to our overall feeling of anxiety. So we've adopted the whole "when in doubt, throw it out" rule, deciding that anything that didn't hold special meaning to us had no place in our home anymore.


Anyone who knows me well knows that the start of this process was difficult for me. I've been a pack rat all my life, forging theories like "well, i might need this someday" or "someone gave this to me, i can't just get rid of it" or "wouldn't it be wasteful to throw this away?" And the answer, of course, is no. It is not wasteful to throw away Stuff. It is far more wasteful, i've come to realize, to throw away the opportunity to have peace of mind and a simplified, stress-free home. Without all the piles of Stuff lying around, hiding in corners, in closets, under beds, i can focus on what truly matters. I can spend more time enjoying my husband instead of sorting through junk papers and cleaning out drawers. Life is about Us instead of Getting To Us.


The same idea will apply once our daughter is born. Now that we've de-cluttered our home, there is nothing to distract us from the most important thing in our lives - loving our daughter. Watching her play and having the freedom to explore, instead of discouraging her every move because there's too much Stuff in the way. Granted, when weather permits, we intend to spend as much time as possible out of doors. But when we come back to our nest, we know how good it will feel for it to be a clean one.


And now, some updated photos of the nursery...


























Monday, November 1, 2010

a shower of love




It's been a while since i posted. There is a lot to encompass. But i wanted to start this post with that picture, taken right here in Falmouth on the night before our baby shower. Very rarely have i ever seen a rainbow, and this one (though we weren't able to snap a complete photo) happened to stretch into a perfect arch somewhere relatively nearby. We could literally see from one end of the rainbow to the other. It was stunningly beautiful. It was also very special to us, as it seemed to capture exactly how we're feeling at this stage in our lives together.


Peaceful. Happy. Content. Overwhelmed with love and joy.


We still have our rough patches, of course. Days when we let certain things stress us out, mostly finances. Nights when we don't get much sleep. Mornings when we wake up a little nervous about all the what-ifs ahead of us.


But there is a child growing inside of me. And that's always what it comes down to, what we remember as we're finally drifting off to sleep, as we listen to the leaves blow around us on our walk, as we stumble upon a beautiful rainbow.


Amidst all the chaos, a miracle is happening. Is this how Mary felt as she faced the birth of her Son? While our circumstances are obviously vastly different, i can't help but surmise that she still likely felt much of what i'm feeling on a daily basis. Fear. Anxiety. Elation. Wonder. Could she get through it? Would she be good at it? How would she handle it? What of the dangers, the risks? For back then, for Mary especially, they were certainly far greater than mine. And yet, she knew her fate and saw no other option. This baby was coming, and he was going to bless the world. Her son. And suddenly, those strange little kicks and pokes in her belly meant so much more. The labor pains were worth every danger and risk they could, and would, ever face. And on that clear, crisp night long ago, our Savior was born. A single star outshined all the others in the sky. Shepherds, kings, and sinners across the land looked up and were at peace. It was a sign of a promise fulfilled.


A rainbow.


While most rainbows are preceeded by a shower, ours was followed by one. On October 30, 2010, my mother threw us the most wonderfully special baby shower a daughter could ever ask for. There were at least 30 friends and family members, all women (except Jeremy, who wins Husband of the Year for sitting by my side all day helping me open gifts and making sure i ate well), all easily the most beautiful people i know, inside and out. My mother had decorated the house with the colors of autumn, warm and inviting. There was hot apple cider on the stove. The dining room table was laden with pies, cookies and fruit. The whole scene was right out of a Thomas Kinkade painting. And we were, quite literally, showered with gifts:








The greatest gift of all, though, was simply having all of our friends and family gathered together in one room to celebrate the arrival of our little girl. I know i'm extra emotional anyway these days, but the overwhelming feeling of love and support in that house honestly brought tears to my eyes. Every little book or sock or bath toy that was purchased was wonderful, but just a symbol of something greater that can only be felt by the presence of those that love and care about you.


So thank you, Mom, for making another dream come true, and for loving my little girl already as much as you've loved me. :)
Saturday, October 23, 2010

nesting

It's been a long time coming, but the nursery is finally (officially) The Nursery. Why? Because Jeremy and i spent our entire two days off painting, cleaning, throwing stuff away, storing other stuff in the basement, and putting together the crib. Yes, the crib! It arrived so incredibly fast - and the mattress just a day later.



I apologize for the darkness...we set up the crib late afternoon. While this is only one half of the room, you can see how little space we have to work with! Still...it's a start.



Beautiful crib courtesy of Jeremy's amazing parents!



And here you can see the awesome wood-paneled ceiling that reminds me of a ship...which was actually one of the reasons we fell in love with our apartment. After deciding this room would be the nursery, i kind of wished i could paint the ceiling white. How SUPER cute would that be? Not to mention that it would brighten up the tiny space quite a bit. But since we've taken the liberty of painting all the other walls and trim (and more!) in the house, we didn't feel right touching this.



For now, the crib provides storage for the beginning of Abby's shower of gifts (okay, so most of the clothes have been bought by me...i can help it! I have a problem). Blankets were made by my grandmother. :)



I also had to get the bunny. Adorable and SO soft! Abby will love her.


That's all there is so far. Pretty soon i will share some of the inspiration for my vision of this room. For now, i am planning a yummy cake for my baby shower, which is only a week away! I can hardly believe it. By the way, is it weird to bake a cake for your own baby shower? Sometimes i wonder if there isn't a little bit of control freak in me. I like to think of it as more of an interest in being involved. In the same way, i could never see myself hiring a wedding planner, or a planner for any kind of party for that matter. I like to be a part of the things i care about.


Speaking of baking, that seems to be all i'm doing lately! That, and cleaning. In the last week alone, i've made banana pecan bread, pumpkin bread, chocolate chip cookies and fudgy double-frosted brownies. In between all that, i've ventured off on several deep-cleaning sprees...vacuuming, washing dishes constantly (i can't stand for a single utensil to be left in the sink), scrubbing the bathroom, rearranging the bedroom...the list goes on and on.


I suppose this means the nesting process has officially begun. I think i'd feel a little crazy if Jeremy wasn't right there with me every step of the way. I may be slightly more obsessive about it, but he's been extremely proactive in getting things done - not to mention very supportive of my baking endeavors. Despite all of our concerns, which i think every new parent has before the arrival of their first child, he seems so ready for Abby to be born and to be her father. Needless to say, i am more in love with him now than ever before. And this is only the beginning of the good things in our life to come.


Just 75 more days until we welcome our little girl into our family.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010

the method to my madness

I am taking a break from an insane evening cleaning spree to talk about my cleaning products.


Yes, you read that correctly.


Is anyone else as in love with their cleaning products as i am? Because i've been using Method's toilet bowl liquid and shower scrub for over a year now and i absolutely cannot imagine giving them up - EVER. Not only do they get the job done, but their eucalyptus mint scent is simply divine. Crack open a window to let that fresh, clean scent blow through the house and suddenly, everything is alright (at least until you notice that pile of dishes in the sink...).






So much joy from something as simple and mundane as a cleaning product. Who knew?


I should also mention that i use Method's sea mineral-scented liquid handwash in our bathroom too. Devoted For Life.





I don't know why i love to clean. I guess i find it therapeutic. And at 7 months pregnant, since i seem to be obsessed lately with cleaning everything in sight (and even some things that aren't), i can only view this as a good thing.


Okay, back to the madness! Or rather, dinner. I hear a good old-fashioned homemade macaroni and cheese with garlic bread calling my name...
Sunday, October 3, 2010

nap time

It is after noon. We are about to take a nap. But we just wanted to say hello.






3 months, 3 days left to go...
Saturday, October 2, 2010

you belong here

Little Abby,

How can i have so much love for someone i've never even seen or met before? I ask myself this question every day.

Yes, i've seen you in ultrasound pictures. But those don't tell me what your hair smells like, what color your eyes are, or what your laughter sounds like. I've felt all your movements - boy, are they getting interesting. Every morning i wake to a hardened stomach, and i look down and put my hand on my belly because there is your sleeping body, head on my left side and bum on my right. You must be sleeping pretty well to still be stuck in that position when i stir, and you stay sleeping now even while i shower. I imagine you enjoy the soft patter of rain on your little roof. You wake up for breakfast, of course. Then, as i begin my work day, before the sun rises, you like to sit on my bladder and kick for a while, making me run straight to the bathroom. Generally, you are lulled back to sleep as i'm constantly in motion for the next six hours. Sometimes you wake for lunch, especially if i put the phone to my stomach during my break and Daddy says hello to you. You love fruit. After work i take another shower and this is when you start getting really anxious for Daddy to come home. He walks in the door and gives you a kiss, and then you are ready for dinner. And i do mean READY. You are a big fan of food like me, which is unfortunate for both of us right now because as you keep getting bigger, room for all that food is getting smaller - so as hungry as we are, we simply can't fit as much in there as we used to. But that's okay. You seem to be satisfied, and proceed to kick and poke and squirm about for the next couple hours, much to our happiness. There is nothing we enjoy more than feeling you right there with us.

So i suppose, in a way, i have met you. Still, i can't wait for the real thing.

I can't wait to take you to all my favorite places. The little nooks and crannies in our world that hold special meaning to us. I can't wait for you to meet your extended family - they are so excited to welcome you! I can't wait to hear you giggle for the first time. To see your reaction when you finally get to touch a dog, a flower, the ocean. To watch your face light up as you pick me out of a crowd of other mothers. I never imagined what that kind of moment would be like until yesterday, when i saw a little girl recognize her mother at a daycare center. I started to choke up. Because that will be you and me someday.

I'll love you forever, i'll love you for always,
Mommy
Saturday, September 11, 2010

break of day

The sun is waning, the tourists are gone, and i'm starting to enjoy living on the Cape again.


As anxious as i am for fall to arrive, i can't bring myself to begin celebrating it just yet. Pumpkins and candy corn are already lining the shelves in stores, but i'm resisting the urge to indulge. Their time will come, but not now. Not this year.


This year, September is a month to reflect for me. A lot has happened in the last year of my life. I left my apartment in Plymouth for one a little closer to my dreams on the Cape. I married my best friend. I got pregnant. And then there's all the inbetween stuff, like planting a garden, trying out new recipes, buying my first tent, rearranging the furniture in our house AGAIN, and bringing home more sea glass, shells and rocks than any two people should ever amass in a lifetime, nevermind a year.


Unfortunately, much of the inbetween stuff never gets photographed. I think this is true for most people, and i find it sad somehow. Most of the things we capture on camera are milestones or major events like birthdays and weddings and vacations. But these aren't the things that make up who we are. And these aren't the things that we will be remembered by when we pass away. No one will remember that amazing margarita we drank in Mexico, or that we swam with dolphins in Anguilla. They won't remember what hor d'oeuvres were passed at our wedding or who won playing limbo at a party. What they will remember is the smell of our skin after we've been hard at work in the garden all day, the way we made them laugh during bedtime stories, and that there was always a warm, sweet confection mysteriously waiting for them at home after a bad day at school.


Like anyone else, i might never be able to capture all of these kinds of moments on camera. But some of them do turn up, and in the spirit of reflection, here they are - snapshots of summer 2010.



Jeremy at a Red Sox game




Just one of many amazing treats we've discovered at our favorite bakery, Pies a la Mode. This thing is so good that i don't even remember what it's called. One bite and you'll instantly forget all your problems!




A handful of peas from Mom and Dad Brown's garden. We also scored a truckload of pickles, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes and asparagus from them!




Our front door, and a great "free chair to loving home" chair that i ransacked from my favorite antique store, Salvage Chic Antiques. It hasn't done much since i stuck it there (aside from providing a lovely place to drop things like mail, groceries, etc. while we struggle with finding the right key to open the door), but i think you'll agree that it looks very happy in its new home!




A harvest of cucumbers from our own garden - SO much better than store-bought! We were also able to grow a few tomatoes, a zucchini and, currently, an acorn squash. Not bad considering our planting conditions!




This just says summer to me.
Sunday, September 5, 2010

week 22

Dear Abby,

This weekend a hurricane passed through Cape Cod. Thankfully, we weren't affected much. There was a lot of wind and rain that night, but you remained blissfully unaware. Instead of being afraid of the storm, you happily indulged in your very first pomegranate - my first of the season. Pomegranates are best in November, but this one was still pretty good. I LOVE pomegranates. I also love Autumn, and i'm waking up more easily these days just knowing that it's almost here. My favorite season. I can't wait to share it with you.

You are moving around a lot these days. So far, though, you've been gentle with me. It doesn't hurt when you kick, and you seem to be resting enough. I am still fascinated every time i see my belly pop up and down with your movements. Daddy has been able to feel them, too, which makes me so happy. Usually this is in bed at night. During the day, it is harder to enjoy your antics. Every time i lift my shirt or remove a blanket from my belly to show him, you stop moving. It's almost as if you're doing it on purpose - like a game. Are you playing hide-and-seek with us? One thought that i had was that maybe you don't like the quick transition from darkness to sunlight. I think you rather enjoy being snug and warm in there. One of my co-workers suggested that you might be shy when you arrive into this world with your own personality. Whatever the reason, you are certainly keeping me entertained!

Right now you are the size of a papaya. The rate at which you are growing astounds me. It seems like just yesterday we were calling you our little blueberry! I don't know why the world likes to compare babies to fruit, but i'd much rather consider you a peach or banana than a rusty nail or a telephone! They are nice examples. Still, i wish it were possible to get an ultrasound of you every time we see our midwife. Nothing compares to watching you stretch and swim on that screen - except, i imagine, seeing it all happen in person. Daddy will tell you, i am very anxious for this. We both are. There has never been a more exciting wait for anything in our lives than this wait to meet our little girl.

I pray for you every day. I hope you are safe, healthy, and happy.

Love,
Mommy
Saturday, August 21, 2010

joy of the father

I'm so filled with emotion these days that it's hard to know where to begin to describe it all.


We are having a little girl.


Just days ago, when this information was given to us, the concept seemed so foreign to me. All along - throughout the beginning of my pregnancy, throughout my life, it seems - i always assumed i'd be having a boy. First, i mean. I always wanted a girl, but kind of daydreamed that the boy would come first.


But God, as usual, would have other plans.


Our ultrasound technician is wonderful. She didn't tell us right away what the sex of the baby was. Instead, she simply asked if we wanted to know, inquired about the names we'd picked out for either gender, and then began to take measurements of the baby, starting with the head. With every measurement she would explain to us what we were looking at. Most of it was obvious...her arms, her little fingers...and all of it was perfect and more adorable than i'd imagined. Nothing, however, compared to seeing that little heart beating, each of the four chambers entirely visible and in working order. There was a life growing inside of me, and i was watching it. And nothing else in the whole world mattered.


"It's an Abby!"


The declaration awoke me from my stupor. The technician had been pushing hard on my belly with her instrument, trying to get the baby to move so we could get a view from under her bum - where, of course, i was expecting to see some little boy parts.


They were girl parts. No doubt about it.


Jeremy and i exchanged astonished glances. Really? We were having a girl?


But of course. Her face looked more like mine now, her movements more feminine. She was cross-legged, the way i sit indian-style most everywhere. And as soon as we saw her defining girl parts, she seemed to become shy and settled in for a little nap.


I rolled onto one side, then the other, in order to allow the technician to take more measurements - beautiful legs, tiny toes - but it wasn't easy. Little Abby was asleep.


I remember tearing up in the waiting room as we prepared to see our midwife, the realization that we were having a daughter striking me for real for the first time. They were joyful tears, mind you. I was going to have a little mini me, only a much better version. A tiny, pink, innocent, helpless version.


Still, it took a couple of days to get used to the idea. I was prepared for a boy, and especially knowing the sex of the child, our concerns had been somewhat minimal. How would i afford maternity leave? We'd cross that bridge when we got there. What kind of parents would we be? If it was a boy, Jeremy would teach him how to swim and fish and play baseball. Where would we fir him or her in the house? Any old corner would do; after all, babies don't take up that much space.


When we found out we were having a girl, all of this changed. I panicked about maternity leave; i work at Starbucks and can barely afford my bills. I panicked about being a good mother; suddenly i felt all this pressure to be crafty and womanly and enjoy shopping. And i panicked about where we'd put the baby's crib and rock her to sleep.


But with each day that passed, i've grown more and more excited about having a little girl, and all of these problems seem to be melting away. Though i don't have insurance through Starbucks, i found out that i still qualify for short-term disability, which will alleviate some of the financial stress that comes with taking time off from work. I may not enjoy shopping very much, but i can't wait to read my favorite children's books to my daughter, teach her how to comb the beach for sea glass, and lick the spoons with her after we've selected the perfect pumpkin for pumpkin pie. As for where she'll sleep? A plan to transform the sunroom into a tranquil nest for her has been weaving itself together in my mind.


I feel her presence more each day. Her little fingers and toes that graze my belly. The way i get emotional just holding a pink onesie. The fact that her name was chosen long before she was even conceived.


My beautiful Abigail Grace.








Tuesday, August 10, 2010
August 10, 2010






Jeremy's dad was a medic in the coast guard, and every now and then he pulls out his old stethoscope to see if we can hear the baby's heartbeat. Today was the first time i could actually hear it...veeeery faintly, but it was there!
Saturday, August 7, 2010

pitter patter goes my heart

My darling baby,


Daddy and i returned home today from Maine. We were very sad to leave this morning, torn emotions compounded by a long and tiresome ride home (thanks to lots of weekend traffic, a bikeathon, a blues festival, and the fact that mommy needed to stop a few times to pee).


Every moment of our time in Maine was wonderful. The quiet, lazy days at the campsite. The exhilarating days at the beach (Daddy was the only one there who knew how to bodysurf; he's the best wave rider i know). The visit from Jeremy's parents that led to indulgent dinners and one very long, interesting walk along the Marginal Way in the dark. The way Daddy and i loved each other's company and were always cracking each other up.


We love pointing out all the children that we think resemble what you might look like in the future, whether they're one year old, five years, or ten. Especially in Maine. "There she is," Jeremy will say, nodding at a tiny girl with curly hair splashing around at the beach, "that's our little girl." Or "That's you and our son," I'll say, watching a boy and his father building sandcastles. "He's going to love playing with you. You're going to be the best dad in the whole world."


The most pleasant surprise, though, came on the very first day we arrived. We had unpacked our car, set up our campsite, and showered. We planned to go out to dinner and walk the Marginal Way, but first we wanted to take a nap. So we crawled into the tent (it's brand new and VERY big; we bought it knowing that we'd be taking you with us next year), sprawled out on the air mattress, and closed our eyes, enjoying being peaceful as a warm breeze blew through the tent and soothed our souls. And that's when i felt you move inside me for the first time.


You came alive for us in Maine. Your movements were small, just gentle pokes in my belly, but they were enough. Daddy placed his hand on me, and although he couldn't feel anything, he smiled. We both agreed that you must have been able to sense that, finally, after working so hard for so long, i was starting to relax, and that maybe you were already enjoying Maine as much as we were. Certainly after i began eating things like lobster and steak and fried clams. It seemed that you quite liked those, and proceeded to let me know when you were ready for more (which these days is basically all the time!).


I'm not sure if you can hear my voice just yet, but i hope you can feel my love for you. When i feel you moving around inside me i smile, and when i think about seeing your face for the first time my heart swells and my eyes fill up with tears. You were real to me before, but now i know that you're happy and well, and i couldn't ask for anything more. On the 18th we will find out your sex, and though the thought is exciting, no matter what you are - boy or girl - we will be overjoyed knowing that God has chosen you specifically to make our family three.


Love always,
Mommy
Sunday, July 25, 2010

the meaning of night

I am helplessly in love.


I have been captivated, whisked away to another world "full of great country houses," as the New York Times Book Review puts it, "epic loves, fierce anger and viscious habits." I have stepped through the looking glass, fallen down the rabbit hole, and landed head over heels in the arms of something both magical and frightening at the same time. And there is no going back.


No, i'm not talking about the Twilight saga. I have no interest in bloodthirsty vampires or natives who turn into wolves when provoked - these are the game pieces for child's play. I'm referring to The Meaning of Night: A Confession by Michael Cox. I'm referring to its 695 brilliant pages of pure seduction, thrilling deception, unrequited love and secrets so dark that only the dead dare whisper of them.


I must confess, even for someone generally enthralled by the challenge of long novels, i myself was fairly intimidated by such a lengthy tale, especially one that seemed to be strictly devoted to one man's drawn out confession leading up to one solitary moment in his utterly tragic life. But who could resist such an ingenius opening line: "After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn's for an oyster supper."?


The words melted through the nooks and crannies of my poor, unsuspecting brain like butter on toast.


Who is this man? He's having oysters for supper? My, how i'd love to join him for - wait, wait, he's just murdered someone! And not even a specific someone, just any old someone! Insinuated by the description, "the red-haired man." If he must be so indifferent, then why such a detailed and intimate confession?


Thus began my obsession with Edward Glyver..."booklover, scholar, and murderer."


If you haven't yet had the privilege of meeting this man, i urge you to head to the nearest bookstore and purchase it immediately - or snatch it from Amazon, where you can get it for about 30% less than what i paid for it.


Furthermore, you can check out the website dedicated solely to this novel, the existance of which i was sadly unaware of until today. Though i'm nearly finished with the book myself, it was a pleasant surprise to discover maps of important places in the story, images that inspired certain characters and locales, and a Q&A with the author (one of the questions pertained to the possibility of Night ever being made into a film; mainly, who would play the main characters? And i realize this blog will likely never be read by Mr. Cox, or anyone affiliated with the making of such a film, but i'd like to put in my very strong vote for Edward Norton - in my mind, he simply IS Edward Glyver).


Even furthermore (i know, i know, how can this revelation get any more enticing?), Mr. Cox has since written a sequel to this unforgettable tale, entitled "The Glass of Time." How he could possibly manage to draw me in again so completely beats the Dickens out of me - but i look forward to him trying.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010

heartbeat

Our baby is growing so fast already.


We finally got to hear the heartbeat today. I couldn't believe how strong it was beating, or how clearly we could hear it! At one point the beat got even louder, to which our midwife smiled and said, "Whoops! It just swam a little closer."


Just knowing that my baby was so near and hearing its little heart beating so strong made me feel a thousand times better. Especially after learning that we weren't going to find out what it was for another four weeks.


We were disappointed at first, but now we just have something to look forward to. Sometimes, after admiring our first ultrasound and noting how very perfect our baby is already, i honestly don't even want to know what it is. It doesn't even matter. What matters is that it's healthy, and happy, and safe.


The real shock came when i stepped on the scale at the office and realized i'd lost nearly two pounds since my last appointment. How was this possible?! I was clearly bigger and my appetite has been out of control. After talking it out with our midwife, i can only assume that the hot weather, combined with sufficient work and excersize, is to blame. This left me with a bit of anxiety, and i actually felt as though i had failed my child for the first time. As though i've not been providing the right amount of nutrition that he or she needs. Now all i can think about every time my stomach growls is my baby suffering in hunger - silly, i know, but i can't get the image out of my head. I just never thought that eating enough would ever be a problem for me!


I am hoping that our vacation will help push me out of this rut. In about a week, we'll be driving to Maine, where we'll do nothing but exist as regular beach bums and eat all the lobster, steak and ice cream we want - Jeremy, myself, and our hungry little caterpillar.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010

the bump

I finally have a bump. Technically, it's been around for about a month or so already, but now there's no hiding it. I can't zipper my pants anymore; i think that's the official rite of passage into the 2nd trimester of pregnancy. In other words, getting fat.


It's still hard to believe there's a little person growing inside of me. But i know he or she is there, because the hard, round bulge that is my uterus is growing all the time. I can feel it, and i won't lie, it kind of freaks me out. It's like having a very large baseball lodged in your lower belly.


But i can't help being in love. I work in a very faced-paced, sometimes stressful environment, and i don't feel like i get enough time during the day to just BE pregnant, and enjoy it. So at night, before falling asleep, i lie awake in bed holding my belly and relish in the quiet. One of these days, i know i'm going to feel the baby move. But for now, i love just knowing that my body is still and that all he or she can hear is my heartbeat. It's nice that i can have this kind of intimate moment with my child before it's even born. I never really imagined that it would be possible until i could physically hold it in my arms.


When Jeremy comes to bed, he talks to the baby. I always thought one day i would adore watching my husband talk to my belly when i was pregnant, but it's even more wonderful than i was prepared for. He even sang a little song, one that i'm certain will aid in helping the baby fall asleep someday.


Next week, we find out what the baby's sex is. We struggled with this decision for a while, but finally concluded that we'd never be able to wait 6 more months to find out. I'm sure we could - and i think in the future we might try it. But our first ultrasound left us feeling like the baby is already a part of our family...and we want to know what to call it!
Friday, July 9, 2010

that's how strong my love is

Today we received our wedding rings in the mail. They are beautiful!





First, let me tell you who made them. Her name is Lisa Hall, and she owns a little bait-shack-turned-studio in Northeast Harbor, ME. A few months ago, i mailed her a pretty white piece of sea glass that Jeremy found for me and asked her to use it to make my wedding ring. I was so in love with her jewelry, and working with her was so fun and easy, that i asked her to make Jeremy's wedding band as well. I wanted them to be simple but mine feminine and his manly, to resemble eachother but not be too matchy, to appear weathered but still seem regal.


They are perfect.


The sea glass has much significance for me. In essence, Jeremy and i fell in love at the beach, and spent many an evening strolling the sand in various places in search of sea glass. These tiny little treasures seemed to represent us both very well. We had been through a lot of storms in life and were a little worn down, but it seemed that God had still chosen to render us smooth and beautiful for one another. Out of all the different interesting objects washed ashore, we were drawn to the one that would make us glisten while remembering all we'd been through to get to that very moment.


When i look at my ring, i remember our trip to Maine last summer (where ironically our rings were created), when Jeremy got down on one knee behind the Colonial Village Resort and proposed to me. Behind the resort is a long, valley-like depression separating it from the ocean that floods with water when the tide rises - so high that the resort provides canoes to get across when necessary. Earlier in the day, the depression was nearly dry, and we simply walked across to the other side. Later, however, as my feet were blistering from breaking in my new sandals and Jeremy's recently injured back was sore and we were both sweaty and tired and needed to pee, the water had risen so high that we would have had to swim to get across. This was not an option; we had chairs and towels and sunblock. Rowing was not an option; we had no canoe. About a hundred yards to the right was a very long bridge, which we would have to cross and then wait at the bus stop for a ride to our hotel...our hotel which was RIGHT THERE; i could have tossed a stone to it if i'd had the energy. All of this processed in my head, and i believe i whimpered.


That's when Jeremy, still shouldering the chairs and carrying the towels, got down on his knee and asked me to marry him. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect proposal. I said yes, and we made the laborious journey together through soft, burning sand to the bridge, waited for the bus, and finally made it back to our hotel.


Even though the sea glass on my ring doesn't come from that vacation (there is, in fact, NO sea glass whatsoever at Ogunquit Beach, oddly enough), it still reminds me of Maine and of our love - strong, fun, and able to overcome any obstacles that are presented to us. Whatever the future holds, we are in it together, no matter what.




Some people they call me crazy
for falling in love with you
Well, they can take me and lock me away, baby
cause there's nothing those bars can do


I'll be the rising moon after the setting sun
just to let you know you'll always have someone
I'll be the clearest day when the rain is done
So you'll always know


Through the shake of an earthquake
I will never fall
That's how strong my love is
Like a ship through the storm,
we can risk it all
That's how strong my love is


I used to feel kinda lonely
cause the world, it can be so fake
All that matters, I'm telling you
is you and me only
and the fortress from love we make


I'll be the water you need
in the desert land
just to let you know you'll always have my hand
I'll be the woman you need
to be a better man
So you'll always know


Through the shake of an earthquake
I will never fall
That's how strong my love is
Like a ship through the storm,
we can risk it all
That's how strong my love is


ohh, can't nothing break us down
ohh, cause we are heavenbound
like a mountain standing tall, immovable
we're here to stay
ohh, can't nothing get in the way


Through the shake of an earthquake
I will never fall
That's how strong my love is
Like a ship through the storm,
we can risk it all
That's how strong my love is


Through the deepest waters
i won't let you drown
That's how strong my love is
It's a balloon in the sky
that will never come down
That's how strong my love is
That's how strong my love is
That's how strong my love is

- "That's how Strong my Love is" Alicia Keys
Monday, June 28, 2010

happy birthday, gram-mary

You were the glue that held our family together. You were the laughter, the sunshine, the spark. You were the reason birds gathered at your kitchen window, why flowers nodded as you walked past them in your yard, why popsicles melted all over our faces and poolside barbeques felt like a day spent in heaven.


Thank you for loving me so enthusiastically. Thank you for listening intently to everything i had to say, as if every bit of it were of utter importance. Thank you for the porcelain dolls, named Mary, Laura, Carrie and Grace. Thank you for checking the closets before tucking me in at night. I'm sorry Papa Dick let me have soda instead of milk at the diner that day; i rarely drink soda at all anymore (just thought you'd like to know). And thank you for stressing the importance of acidophilus; since then i've always eaten lots of yogurt - especially now that i'm pregnant.


Welcoming my own child into the world is a strange feeling without you around. I have lots of mixed emotions about it, as with every major event that's happened in my life since i turned 14. It's hard to imagine you not knowing who i've fallen in love with, or that i got accepted to a good college (even though i didn't go), or that i've been to Colombia 5 times, or what career path i want to follow. But i know that you'd have been just as captivated by each of these things as you were by my losing a tooth. Because that's just your wonderful, grandmotherly way.


I think you'd be proud of me, and i know you'd be proud of my mom. She's still my best friend. She's amazing, and i can only hope to be half the mother she's been to me and my brothers.


I hope your memories of us are just as warm and beautiful as ours are of you. Save a place for us next to you in heaven's backyard...we've got lots of good stories to tell.


Love,
Audrey
Sunday, June 27, 2010

a little miracle

This year, one beautiful day in the month of my very own birth, Jeremy and i found out that we were pregnant.


Sitting there in the bathroom, waiting to find out what my fate would be before Jeremy returned home from work, my chest was filled with butterflies. How many women, whether hoping for a positive result or not, come face-to-face with this moment each and every day, their bodies nearly numb as that throng of emotions starts to take over? One life, or a pair of lives, forever changed by the presence of one or two pink lines on a stick.


Two pink lines.


I think my heart swelled, and my skin tingled, and my mouth went dry. Sounds like the symptoms of an illness, i know, but these were good symptoms. I was happy. I was BEYOND happy. I was ecstatic, and scared out of my mind.


Jeremy walked in within minutes, leaving me very little time to contemplate matters on my own - which i think was a good thing. We were thrilled...nervous...content...anxious. More than anything, it just felt surreal. Naturally, we spent time trying to let the news seep in. But pregnancy doesn't change your life too drastically until you start to grow and feel your baby moving inside you and suddenly you're ready to deliver. The first few months (unless you spend them hanging over the toilet, which i, thank God, did not) are spent doing the same old things you did before you got pregnant: Going to work, cooking meals, playing outside, etc. You often look at each other and wonder, "Is this really happening? Are we sure the test was accurate? Is there really something growing inside here?" Because you don't look much different, and if you're lucky like i was, you don't even FEEL different.


So you book your first appointment with an OB/GYN. I've done lots of reading about what to expect during each appointment, and i've talked to a lot of women who are pregnant or have been pregnant, and i've come to the conclusion that these appointments are simply different for everyone. I chose a midwife as my doctor, and i felt comfortable with her right away - which was a huge relief for me. She gave me a blood test and a urine test and a papsmear, and she felt my cervix...but she never actually told me i was pregnant! My husband and i left saying, "Well, she didn't say we're NOT pregnant..." which is kind of funny, but i wonder how many other women out there leave their first prenatal appointment without confirmation of their pregnancy!


Finally, four weeks (and 4.5lbs) later, we got our confirmation. We were supposed to have our first listen at the baby's heartbeat, which my midwife attempted to find with a Doppler device. This little instrument works just like a stethoscope, except you don't have to put it in your ears to hear. It's a little handheld box connected to what looks like a tiny microphone by a single wire. You lie down, the jelly-like stuff goes on your stomach, and your doctor rubs the microphone around, trying to locate the heartbeat. Except that MY doctor couldn't. She kept rolling the microphone all over my belly, saying "that's your heartbeat...that's yours...that's you too" until Jeremy started to look nervous. It didn't occur to me at this point that anything could be wrong or that nothing was in there (i kind of assumed it was just too tiny), but apparently it was occurring to him. My midwife informed us, however, that sometimes the uterus still hasn't risen above the pelvic bone this early, and that she would send us to the ultrasound technician. Now THAT was a lady i couldn't wait to meet!!


Her room was small and dark, and i'd never seen an ultrasound done before (maybe on TV, but you don't really pay attention to these things until they happen to you). The machine looked like a giant copy machine with a monitor on top. Onto another table, more jelly stuff, more microphone-rubbing. Suddenly, there it was...our baby, moving around on that computer screen like it was learning how to dance. "You've got an active child here," the technician said, "it's no wonder she couldn't find the heartbeat!" And Jeremy held my hand and we watched the screen in complete awe and adoration. Here was the little miracle we created together, alive and active and well. Bouncing up and down and kicking its tiny legs up in a pool of amniotic fluid. Oblivious to anything going on outside of its safe, secure, perfect little world. Completely unaware that we were watching it, and falling in love.


The picture we received doesn't do our baby justice. Nevertheless, i haven't stopped staring at it since it came home with us that day. It's the last thing i look at before falling asleep each night...which makes getting up every three hours to pee a whole lot easier to endure. :)


Thursday, June 17, 2010

beach day one

Anyone who knows me and Jeremy knows that we have "beach days" all year round. But Beach Day One is a title belonging only to the worthiest of first true beach days of the year - and that, for us, was today. Though the weather was slightly fickle for our taste, it managed to stay hot and sunny long enough for us to enjoy the best of what our favorite beach has to offer - privacy, a little sea-glass hunting, and a lot of fishing.























Saturday, June 12, 2010

shooting stars

Does anyone ever feel like everything's exactly where it's supposed to be in their life? That everything around them is moving in one fluid motion towards the same goal?


I can remember when life was perfect; i don't think i knew it at the time, because when you're a kid you don't really ponder the meaning of your existence or whether or not everything's going according to plan. There is no plan. You just ARE. And when everything's perfect, you don't necessarily realize it, you just feel happy. I had lots of these moments as a kid. They involved fat, juicy slices of watermelon...the scent of cotton...laughter, often followed by grass stains...the cool splash of water and a loving pair of arms to wrap you up, dry and warm and safe.


Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of these moment in the adult life (the only difference being that perhaps the loving pair of arms are now yours). But still, not everything is in sync. And it seems a little backwards, because as soon as you become an adult, a time when you're supposed to have a lot more control over everything in your life, it suddenly appears that you have absolutely no control at all. You can make decisions, you can say yes or no to this or that, you can ignore a phone call or take a vacation or plan certain events in a day. But you can't control the weather, and that's a metaphor that transcends much of the brain power i use to try and comprehend that fact.


What do you do when life throws you a curveball? Do you try to dodge it? Work around it? Swing at it? Or curl up and the plate and cry?


Timing is everything, and yet it's a big part of that uncontrollable weather that dominates us. It's waiting a very long time for something you really needed months ago, and all you can do is have faith that there's a reason it's not here yet. It's enjoying something right away when the rest of the universe hasn't quite caught up to share it with you. And it's figuring out how to pretend you're oblivious to it all, like when you were ten years old at that huge family cookout one hot summer day not too long ago.
Friday, May 28, 2010

back on track

Well, hello!


I bet you weren't expecting to hear from me. Neither was i, but surprise - here i am! And on my birthday, no less. Being able to write again is one of the greatest birthday presents i could have received. I've had to lock that part of me away for a while in my little treasure chest of things that make me happy, and i feel rather detached, even clumsy - like someone learning how to walk again.


The apartment looks great, and i do have a couple collages to share, and i look forward to posting photos of these things perhaps next time. But i'm just as eager, if not more so, to write about matters of the heart again. Deeper things, like Nature and Ignorance and Belief.


Where would we be without these topics? In a world void of wonder and conversation and soul? What kind of day is a day without opinions or personal convictions? How can one breathe without conjecturing where that breath might have come from?


I won't take a walk down that road today (reflecting on my birth and existence in this world is heavy enough for one day, thank you), but let's just say that i'm happy. I'm thankful for friends, and family, and love, and everything in between.


Happy Birthday to me.
Monday, March 22, 2010

it's a turtle! it's a slug! it's a big fat limbopotamus

Hi.

You're probably wondering by now WHERE THE HECK i've been. And the answer is this: without internet.

Just like most electronic devices in my life, the laptop my mother was letting me borrow (off of which i was jumping onto unlocked wireless connections from my uninformed neighbors) suddenly stopped working. It actually got a virus, which is as of yet unfixable, thus leaving me with nothing.

Sad face.

It's been frustrating, to say the least - but i'm trying not to think about it. In the meantime, i've been working like a crazy person trying to find myself another job and finish making our apartment feel like home. It looks SO much different than when we first moved in, and i can't wait to post photos! Hopefully, in the near future, we will get our internet back.

I'm not gone, i'm just in limbo.
Saturday, February 13, 2010

on writing, and windows

Okay, so, remember how two days ago I was ranting and raving about Nicholas Sparks and how I swore up and down that I would soon present to the world a love story better than his?


Yeah. That's not going to happen.


It's not that the challenge isn't compelling enough - especially if I could actually pull it off, and even more especially if I could sell it the way I fantasized (with newspaper titles deeming me the newest uneducated, coffee-making, hole-in-the-wall loser-turned-competitive-novelist ("Watch out, Nicholas Sparks!"), which still sounds almost fulfilling enough to give it a shot.


I just can't do fiction very well. Not for long periods of time, anyway. I have written it, in small doses, and I've helped other people write it. It's fun. But it's not interesting. Because I can't relate to it. No matter how realistic or taboo a story may be, I still find myself questioning the author: But have YOU been through this? Then you don't truly understand it. The story is nice, but I can't relate to YOU.


Obviously, I am a big fan of relating to things.


I don't know if I will ever end up publishing a work of fiction. I certainly hope so, at least for my future children's sake. One of my greatest dreams has always been to create a book for a child so that I can read it and pass it on as a gift to my own someday. Something I made with my hands and my mind, something I love. Something just for them.


In the meantime, I've had this other idea brewing, an idea which isn't quite yet concrete, but in the end will probably be a compilation of things. A semi-autobiographical guidebook of sorts. The topic? Colombia. Understanding kids. So-called "mission trips." Anger. Take your pick, it will all be in there. Currently, there is a title. But the rest is all just notes and scribbles (and mutterings, of course, in between steaming milk and counting grimy change).


Even when I'm writing, I'm making collages. It's weird.


So anyway, I will probably need some encouragement in this area, because even though I love thinking and talking about my history with Colombia and jobs I've had working with young people in the past, diving deep enough to retrieve essential memories and bits of wisdom (which is what I'd have to do in order to accomplish this endeavor) is always an emotional task. If I know there's a significant pool of interested readers for it, I will probably make a better effort to get it done.




P.S. (I love p.s.'s, don't you?) One of my new favorite blogs to follow is Door Sixteen. We may not have the same taste in home style (she prefers to paint everything black or white and furnish with clean, sleek objects), but we share the same enthusiasm for salvaged goods, budget-friendly ideas, and do-it-yourself projects (after creating a shelf in her bathroom that perfectly displays four rolls of toilet paper, which apparently had been a childhood dream of hers, I get the feeling she nearly cried with joy - hello? Remember this bad boy? RELATABLE!).


Anywho, this morning upon reading back on some of her old posts, I found this! Nearly word-for-word the post I just wrote about MY old sash window project. And I absolutely love that she painted the locks too, which kind of inspires me to try it out on mine. Readers, take note: There is absolutely NOTHING illegal in the world of home renovation. Especially when paint is involved!


I think this girl and I may be long-lost sisters. Since I have no sisters, the idea of it is kind of fun.
Friday, February 12, 2010

bedroom blues

I'm talking about a good kind of blues, of course. Because my bedroom is FINALLY painted. Hooray! Now, before I show you the after photos...in order to truly appreciate the time and effort I put into this project, you absolutely must see what I was up against:



Yes, that is MOLD. Creepy, cruddy, horrifying mold (and a spider, which is, in my book, just as horrifying). And the scariest part about it is that these photos were taken AFTER I had spent days trying to scrape, scrub and otherwise get rid of it, to no avail. This poor window had the worst of it, and I vowed to give it a makeover if it was the last thing I ever did...and I believe it almost was!

Undoubtedly one of the toughest challenges I've ever faced, this project, which included running out of painter's tape at the most inconvenient moment, as well as hours of painstaking, meticulous brush work, is without question one of my greatest feats and I'm quite proud of the end result!





As you can see, I got new curtains. They still need to be hemmed, but don't they fit perfectly with my pirate ship theme? And for both the curtains and the rod, I spent only $35. That's the magic of IKEA.

Obviously, our room is still missing a few essential pieces...like, say, a bed. But I think this is a good start, and at least it's no longer the Ice Hotel.

me

My name is Audrey. I'm just a twentysomething learning how to master the arts of cooking, cleaning, working and being in a relationship, same as you.In between all that, I like to collect sea glass and salvaged furniture. Occasionally, I cut and paste scraps of paper together. In the end, I am hoping that all of these things together will somehow amount to something good. This blog is a journal of my efforts to get there.

contact

thesalvagedbride at gmail dot com