The Pregnant Identity

The Pregnant Identity

The yin and yang of being pregnant is that it’s a journey so intimately personal, yet unavoidably public. It’s a time in your life when you know people are watching you, observing how you’re handling all the changes being hurled your way. Am I being graceful enough? Real enough?  Cute enough?  Do people expect me to be excited even though I really just feel like crap as I try  to survive the first trimester? Am I overdoing the joy and gratefulness and excitement and becoming that smug pregnant woman parodied in this YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJRzBpFjJS8 ?  It really is quite funny if you haven’t seen it.

They say women compare themselves a lot. This is certainly true in pregnancy. We feel guilty because we weren’t as sick as someone else, or minimize our own experiences in light of someone else’s more extreme scenario, a reminder to just be thankful for what we have. Being thankful is certainly important, but it’s also important to own your own experiences – regardless of how they stack up to those around you. My good times are mine and my bad times are mine, and they are real and valid, and shape who I am. They don’t merit apology or explanation, they just are what they are. To me, just embracing that fact is empowering.  Though I admit it’s easier said than done.

The only “right answer” here is to own your own experience – whatever is real to you. I remember feeling constantly nauseous in the early weeks, and getting texts from well-meaning friends saying things like “I hope you are feeling AWESOME!!!” Well, what if I’m not feeling awesome?  Do you want to hear how I’m really feeling, or just the good stuff? On the flip side, I’ve had an overall pretty great second trimester, but don’t always feel comfortable shouting from the rooftops, “I’m feeling AWESOME!!!” especially when I have pregnant friends who are not feeling so amazing. I guess there’s a balancing act between being honest and sympathetic.

If I had to choose one word to describe pregnancy, for me, it would be empowering. It’s shown me I can do hard things.  Now, there have certainly been other choice words that have come to mind during moments of pain, hugging the toilet, and not sleeping – but without those struggles I also wouldn’t feel as strong for surviving them.  Pregnancy has proven to me that I can endure new and foreign transformations, and that while I can’t always control what happens to me and my body, I can choose how I respond to it.  Most days I feel somewhere in between this:

and this:

And that’s okay.
At the risk of sounding smug, I really wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.  I know it’s helping to mold me into a better, stronger, more compassionate, capable woman, and I’m up for the challenge.  That’s the inner identity part.  As for the outer identity, I’m one of those women who actually really LIKES the weight gain and the growing baby bump and filling out my maternity clothes – I am proud of my pregnant shape and embrace it, yet I respect that is not how all pregnant women feel.  I also haven’t hit the third trimester yet, so we’ll see if I start singing a different tune.  🙂

Christmas Decor on a Dime

Christmas Decor on a Dime

So, I’ve really really been wanting to start decorating our home for Christmas, but have had a few obstacles….

1) My SUV is in the shop

2)  Because my SUV is in the shop, we are left with Aaron’s sexy yet very un-SUVish sports car, which pretty much makes hauling a Christmas tree home anytime soon out of the question.

3)  On days Aaron works and I am home, I have NO car.  It has been this way for almost a month now, and my saving graces have been that A) we were traveling half of November anyway, and B) Amazon Fresh delivers all my groceries (I could write many a blog entry on my love affair with this genius shopping system – I am an addict).

So this morning, after reading Accuweather.com’s 25-day forecast (yes, the “accuracy” of any 25-day forecast is highly debatable, but we’ll leave that for another day…) – I was delighted to see 4 (FOUR!) days of SNOW on the horizon.  Once it was clear that snow AND Christmas were officially on their way, I felt I could hold off on this home decorating no longer.

Normally, I would beeline it to Target for my decorating needs, and maybe Pier 1 Imports or a bit of Pottery Barn for good measure.  But today, carless and on a mission, I limited myself to a 4-block, within-walking-distance shopping radius, which included this fine retailer:

and this one:

Sure, there are some upscale boutiques in my neighborhood with fabulous candles, ornaments, table runners and more – but I thought limiting myself to Safeway and Bartell’s and seeing what I could come up with would make for a much more interesting story.

Between these 2 stores, I ended up purchasing just 5 items that I can use to decorate most of the main rooms in my house:  dry, whole cranberries, in-the-shell mixed nuts, cinnamon candles, one fresh poinsettia, and a stunner of a Nutcracker that I scored on sale at Bartell’s for $9.99.  Sure, I still have more decorating I will want to do once I have a car and a tree, but considering my limited resources today, I don’t think this was a half-bad way to kick things off.

I gathered some glass vases and jars, candle holders and basic white tea lights and candles that I already had at home, and used the nuts and berries to add some festive texture and color, creating several attractive centerpieces and accents.

Exhibit A (dining room hutch):

Exhibit B (coffee table):

Exhibit C (bathroom):

Exhibit D (bathroom):

Exhibit E (dining room table):

Here’s my new nutcracker hanging out with one of my creations.  Isn’t he cute?

And a poinsettia for the porch:

TOTAL COST:

Nutcracker – $9.99 at Bartell’s

Cinnamon candles – between $4 and $5 each at Bartell’s

Cranberries – $3.49 a bag at Safeway

Mixed nuts – $7.99 a bag at Safeway

Large wrapped poinsettia – $13.99 at Safeway

I must say, I like my decorations even more than my neighbor’s:

And it looks like he dropped some dough on his.

What am I doing here?

What am I doing here?

It’s a rainy Black Friday, the house cleaners have come and gone, husband is on the couch watching boy shows about gold mining and pawn auctions (I think, is that a thing?) and here I am, starting a blog.  I’ve been wanting to start one for a while, and today seems like as good a time as any.  This day after Thanksgiving I don’t have much going on aside from eating leftover pie, not showering, sleeping late and recovering from a turkey coma.  So….write I will!

Maybe this first post can be a smorgasbord of a) why I’m simultaneously scared and excited to have a public blog, b) what I plan to write about, and c) a recap of my Thanksgiving week (seems like something in this post should be time-sensitive)

A) WHY I’M SIMULTANEOUSLY SCARED AND EXCITED TO HAVE A PUBLIC BLOG:  Well, I’m excited to have a designated place to organize my thoughts into words, and keep myself accountable for writing on a (hopefully) somewhat regular basis.  I hope this experiment molds me into a better writer,thinker, and communicator.  I think it’s easy to think that your own life isn’t interesting or unique enough for others to care to read about (other people are married!  lots of women have babies!  your blog title is so cliche Seattle!), but alas – I’ve learned that some of the best blogs/musings/books are about un-exotic everyday life, and things that lots of people can largely relate to, with the writer’s personal twists thrown in for good measure.  I am scared that too few or too many people will care to read my blog, that it will be either too safe and boring, or too opinionated, and that I will not live up to my part of the deal…actually making the time to WRITE!

B)  WHAT I PLAN TO WRITE ABOUT: marriage, pregnancy, having a baby, domestic life, family,  friendships, faith, travel, identity and personal growth.  I may or may not post pictures of: my growing baby belly, meals I attempt to cook, my home (only when it’s spotlessly clean and photo-worthy of course ;), my husband, my dog, my travels….bottom line, I think pictures make for a better blog, and I will try and post them regularly.

C)  A RE-CAP OF MY THANKSGIVING WEEK:  For the sake of introducing readers to something current about my life, and a topic that I have photos to support, I give you Thanksgiving 2012.

I spent Wednesday, or “Thanksgiving Eve” baking 9 (yes, NINE) pies from scratch with my mother-in-law, Sue and sister-in-law’s sister-in-law/friend, Brooke.  I thought it would be a fun yet daunting task, and to my pleasant surprise it was more fun than daunting.  I will attach some photos…  We baked and mixed and poured and perfected until my kitchen smelled like heaven and my table was filled with pies.  In my never-ending quest to further master domesticity, I quite enjoyed the day, and felt quite proud that I could take even one-third of the credit for such an epic baking feat.

Thanksgiving itself was spent at my sister-in-law, Lyla’s house (her husband, John and their two children live there, too :)).  They have a BEAUTIFUL home and made (with the help of potluck-ing family members) a FABULOUS meal, which we all stuffed ourselves with, before lying around comparing bellies of the pregnant and non-pregnant variety (photo attached – see, I’m on it!).

We may or may not have been over-ambitious with the pie-making, and I can neither confirm nor deny whether 5 of the 9 were untouched by the end of the night.

I fell asleep two nights ago counting things I am thankful for.  I think I surpassed 50 by the time I drifted off, starting with the bed I was lying in, and ending somewhere around the democratic process or a  good OB, can’t remember for sure…  But I know those that made the cut definitely included:  a loving and amazing husband who allows all the other parts of my life to make sense, family and friends who enrich my life and make me better, a healthy baby, a warm home, and the freedom to carve out a life that I love.

In closing, a few “rules” to go along with this blog….

1)  Please, never, ever feel pressured to read anything I write.  EVER.  Whether you’re my husband, parents, best friend or college English teacher, please follow my musings exactly as rarely or often as your heart desires.  I promise never to ask you to read anything I write, support me, challenge me, or indulge me.  If you find yourself wanting to read my words, great!  If not, great!

2)  I welcome your support and engagement and just ask that you respect this space as a platform for me to express MY experiences, MY views, and MY thoughts.  I don’t think they’re all right, but they’re all MINE, and I reserve the right to write from exactly where I find myself in that given day/hour/minute, and to change my views accordingly.

3)  Know that I come to this place thinking I am an expert on nothing, but may have a little worth sharing about a lot of things.  Again, as my life has  been enriched by others who have shared openly and honestly with me, if I can do the same for anyone else through this blog, then that is all I could ever ask for.