Monday, June 30, 2008

Brass monkey junkie, that funky monkey

Did I forget to mention that I purchased some monkey puzzle tree seeds off Ebay and planted them? I did? Typical.

Well, they've sprouted. Or rather, four out of five have sprouted. It took about six weeks for them to do so, during which they just sat there, inert (or so it seemed) while I wondered if I had just blown 12 dollars on duds. But now they are actually showing signs of growth, which makes me happy.

I have no idea if they will grow successfully here, but I think they're just the coolest-looking trees, so I'm willing to give it a try. Of course, I'll be leaving them in their little pots for the time being, as I have no idea yet if we're going to be staying in Princeton or moving on. Apparently, they've very slow-growing trees, so hopefully I'll be able to cart them around for a while without having to commit to a planting spot.

We first saw a monkey puzzle tree at the Barnes Foundation, an art museum with extensive gardens in Philadelphia. While we (KB, my brother Kevin and I) were walking around the arboretum we saw this tree that looked like an escapee from a Dr. Seuss book, and when we read the little identification card it said, "Monkey Puzzle Tree." I had this faint recollection of reading an Agatha Christie novel as a teenager - something about Hercule Poirot approving of monkey puzzles because they didn't shed their leaves - and wondering what the heck a monkey puzzle tree was. And then there one was in front of me. They had trimmed it to emphasize its Seussian qualities, and it was really quite striking (I wish they had a picture of that specific tree on their web site, but of course they don't and I didn't have my camera with me when we went.)

So now I am the proud owner of four monkey puzzle seedlings and one inert seed (although it may yet sprout - apparently they can take up to two months). We'll see what happens!

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I said Ouch! This really hurts!

Well, the freaking out has commenced, of course.

I found out about the pregnancy much earlier this time than I did with Nolan (I think - I really can't remember exactly.) I just knew something was up and took the test much earlier, whereas before it was a definite surprise situation. And now since I'm feeling pretty okay and normal, other than some tiredness, I'm starting to worry that something is wrong with this pregnany. People always tell you that if you feel bad (nauseous, exhausted, irritable) when you're in the first trimester it's actually a GOOD thing, because it means the hormones are flowing and your body is doing all the things it's supposed to be doing - building a placenta, storing up energy, et cetera. So of course my emotional brain is ignoring the known fact that it's really early yet and is instead freaking out about the lack of sickness.

In other words, I'm feeling bad because I don't feel bad. Brilliant!

Some couples wait to tell other people that they're pregnant just in case something does go wrong and there's a miscarriage. We tell everybody we know on the theory that, should something go wrong, we'll probably need the support and good wishes of those very same people, so why not blab now? I'm not a very competent secret keeper anyway, and I'm certainly not very good at hiding it when I'm feeling bad (as KB can testify), so why even try?

That's one of the big ironies (or perhaps, to be grammatically correct and not fall into the Alanis trap, one of the paradoxes) of early pregnancy - you feel tremendously crappy, you're constantly exhausted, cranky and nauseous, but you don't LOOK pregnant at all. There is no way for anyone who doesn't already know to tell that you're pregnant, so no one treats you any differently. All you want to do is lie down on the floor and take a nap, but everyone else around you expects you to be acting normally - handling your workload, talking intelligently in meetings, not appearing to fall into a coma periodically.

This drove me crazy early in my pregnancy with Nolan - every workday morning I would walk the mile to the T station and if I failed to get a seat on the train, it was all I could do not to crumple to the sticky floor and weep piteously. But no chivalrous man would give up his seat for me because I didn't look at all pregnant (of course, truth be told, not many men gave up their seats even when I was hugely pregnant - it was mostly sympathetic older women who had obviously been there, done that) and I didn't have the self-possesion to say "I'm pregnant. Please can I sit down?" The time when you really need the break, no one will give it to you.

So that's the reasoning behind my tell-everyone-now strategy: Maybe I'll get some sympathy. It's all about me. (Actually, it might get KB some sympathy, too. Maybe I'll start marketing T-shirts: "I'm in my first trimester. Pity my husband.")

Of course, since I haven't started having any morning sickness yet and am torturing myself with the possibility that I've already miscarried and just haven't realized it, I can now also feel guilty (in this purely hypothetical future situation) for putting everyone on red alert, garnering sympathy and then failing to actually, you know, have a baby.

I can't win.

(Also, in case you didn't know, the reason you get so friggin' tired [besides the fact that you're growing a brand-new entire human being in your body] when you're busy placentasmithing: By the end of pregnancy, the placenta, on average, weighs between 2 and 3 pounds. That might not sound too impressive, but just you try spontaneously generating 3 pounds worth of blood vessels and connective tissue, and see how you fare.)

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Nausea, oh, nausea, and we're gone

Oh my.

(As KB said when I told him, "That didn't take long.")

I'm glad we had our Saturday night of sushi and beer before I found out.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sleep a lot, eat a lot, brush 'em like crazy

Hey hey! We got vegetables!

I noticed the first peas tentatively showing their faces a few days ago:

On Tuesday I coerced Nolan into going out into the garden to check out the peas, and we picked the first one!
(I love that picture - I love how solemn he looks, like he senses the gravity of the occasion: The First Pea From Our Garden.) Then, of course, we ate it:

Nolan does what he likes to do when he eats pea pods, which is open it up and eat all the peas inside one by one, then crunch the whole pod into his mouth and eat that. (Isn't that required when you're a kid? Some sort of kiddie by-law? "Article 9, Section b: Any child coming into possession of that vegetable commonly known as a pea pod shall hereby be compelled to split open said pea pod by insertion of the thumb along the seam and consume, one by one, all the individual peas contained in said pod. Consumption of the pod itself is optional and left to the gustatory inclination of the individual.")

So we should have lots more peas coming soon:
And the green beans and tomatoes have also started to get flowers, finally, so I'm expecting those to start fruiting (vegetabling?) soon.

Now I just have to figure out what exactly I'm going to do with all these vegetables. I really have no big plans, food-wise, so I guess I'd better bone up on my tomato/pea/green bean recipes. I'm going to make some Dilly Beans from the green beans (according, of course, to my mother-in-law's great recipe) which are basically like pickles, only with beans instead of cucumbers. They are excellent and addictive. But I only have twelve canning jars, which I have a feeling is going to account for about 1/3 of my bean harvest, so I'd better do some research.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Party time! Excellent!

So Nolan's party was last weekend, and it all went swimmingly. Literally. It was ungodly hot, unfortunately, and the humidity was about 99.999%, but the family and friends rallied quite well, much food was consumed and we had a good time.

I was running around like a crazy person most of the time (as opposed to my usual sanguine self) so I didn't get a whole lot of photos. Alas. But here's what I got:

Nolan asked for cupcakes instead of a regular birthday cake this year, so I made him two kinds: Vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting and chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. My mom found this cupcake display thingee at one of those humungous discount party supply stores, so I set them up on that and got some candles that spell out "Happy Birthday" to stick in the cupcakes. Of course, I have no photo of us singing and Nolan blowing out the candles, because I was holding him at the time. Alas.

Here Nolan is playing with some of his party guests, including cousin Nathan, whose 1st birthday party we went to last month. I only have this photo because my stepmother, who owns the exact same model camera that I do, accidentally picked up mine instead of hers and took a few shots with it. Which was fine with me, as now I have some pictures of actual party action. Note the highly realistic lobster bath toy my mom is holding. We plan to take that sucker to the community pool this summer.

Cut to: opening the gifts.

As you can see, he really scored, loot-wise. I think I'm going to sneakily spirit away a percentage of the toys and hide them in a closet, then see if he notices. If he doesn't then I can sort of portion them out later in the year, like for long car trips or plane trips for the novelty effect. I really need to go through all of his toys anyway and cull the ones that are no longer age-appropriate.

Opening a luau-themed book and a hawaiian shirt from Cool Aunt Jen. (Nolan's reaction to all clothes-related presents was pretty much the same: complete indifference. He also got a pair of socks from Grandma and Pappy that were tossed aside like so much discarded wrapping paper.)

Opening a kid's play tent from Auntie Erica and Uncle Jeffery. This was a big hit - because what you really want on a 100-plus degree day is a small structure you can crawl into to really concentrate the heat and humidity. Your own personal sweat lodge, really.

Thankfully, Pappy and Uncle Kevin set it up right away so Nolan and Nathan could commence sweating in earnest!

And that's about all I got.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

We'll eat a lot of broccoli and drink a lot of beer

Happy 3rd birthday, Pooter Man! I love you more each day.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The yard is nothing but a fence; the sun just hurts our eyes

On this rainy Wednesday I thought I'd share some garden pix with y'all, as promised, since I can't be outside working in said garden at the moment. (I took these a week ago.)

This is the kitchen garden, looking out from the barn-style doors on the back end of the garage. The house is on the left (duh) and the windows you see are the guest bedroom and the master bedroom and master bath. The open gate at the end goes out into the back yard. As you can see, the near end is a patio with paver stones, and then there are more pavers that make a path through the center of the garden (with a little island right in the center). The whole thing is fenced in, which is nice for keeping the deer out (we do see them, even in the middle of Princeton as we are).

This is the 180 degree opposite view, looking from the gate back towards the garage and the house. To the right are all the tomatoes - some in containers and some right in the ground. We (meaning KB's mom and I) weren't sure about the soil quality so we fudged by putting some in containers. This way we'll be sure to get some good tomatoes even if the ones that went in the ground don't make it. Also on the right you can see the potting bench - that was left here by the previous owners, along with lots of tools and empty pots, which is nice.

Here you can see what's behind the open garage door. Below the light on the left side of the frame is a clematis vine that was also left here by the previous owners (I wouldn't have known what the heck it was if Ann hadn't identified it for me). The window you see is the kitchen window right above the sink - I put the daisies in the window boxes. On the ground underneath are some containers with maple tree seedlings that I brought with us from Quincy - I wanted to put them in the ground wherever we settled, so we'd have a little piece of our first house with us. Guess I may have to wait and see before I do anything with them now! There are also a couple containers of herbs - sage and mint, which I understand (again, from Ann) you shouldn't put in the ground because they are aggressive and will take over your garden.

Speaking of herbs, this is the little island in the middle of the garden that I've christened Herb Island, seeing as how it consists solely of herbs. (I'm clever like that.) I've got rosemary right in the center, and then basil, parsley, lemon thyme, plain thyme, and cilantro all around it. Since I took this picture one of the cilantro plants bit the dust, leaving one survivor (but that one seems pretty healthy - although it's flowering - is that a good thing? If I want to use the leaves? Should I pinch the flowers off? I dunno.)

This is the right side of the patio - you can't really see it very well, but at the bottom of the frame there's a table there which, once I clean off all the accumulated gardening crap, we can use to have coffee or whatever out here in the mornings. The big container on the left has three jalapeno pepper plants in it, which seem to be doing well. The big plant is another leftover, which we believe (i.e., we have no real idea) is another variety of clematis - the woody portion of the plant is intertwined with the lattice of the fence, so it can't really be moved without hurting the plant.

These are a couple close-ups of that mystery plant showing the crazy flowers and an enterprising spider who decided to build his home there. Which is fine. We like spiders. They eat the bad bugs.

This is the left side of the garden under the windows - in front are a row of marigolds, which supposedly are good for repelling squirrels and bunnies and other critters (both of which we have in abundance in our yard) and in the back are green beans and peas that I grew from seeds in that little garden kit.

And speaking of spiders, here's a big daddy long-legs on one of the green beans. I have no idea if daddy long-legs count as spiders in the gardening sense (meaning they're good because they eat other bugs) but I'm going to leave this guy be, I think. The beans and peas seem to be doing well so far, so what the hey.

On the right, the lettuce seedlings awaiting transfer (which, a week later now, are HUGE and need to be planted!) and on the left, the tomato seedlings which I'm letting gather their strength (two of these have also bit the big one since the pictures were taken). Both of these I grew from seeds - the other tomatoes we cheated and bought as plants from the garden store. So we'll see how they do compared to each other.

And here's the above-mentioned tomatoes. The one in the back on the right is a volunteer, meaning he just showed up with all the other weeds that were in the ground already this spring. I decided to give him a chance, and didn't yank him out. As long as he doesn't give the other tomatoes any gross bugs, he can stay.

Alrighty, that's all for now. Lots more garden stuff to discuss, but this is enough pix for one post.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, June 02, 2008

I get up again, over and over

So here we go again; the interviews, the real estate tours, the lists of pros and cons about each city, the endless debates, blah blah blah. All the stuff I thought (or hoped) we were done with, all the things I felt such relief last year that we'd NEVER HAVE TO DO AGAIN...yes. We're doing them again.

Tomorrow we drive up to Valhalla for KB to interview (all I can think is, "Valhalla? Isn't that where Thor and Freja and Wotan and all those crazy Norse gods hang out?" and so that Led Zeppelin song that has the lyric, "Hammer of the gods" is stuck in my head. I don't even know which song it is; it's the one that goes "We come from the land of the ice and snow..." et cetera.) at the hospital there; Nolan and I will be heading down to Manhattan to Fort Tryon park to hang out.

Then Wednesday KB has another interview at another place right near where my grandparents used to live, and then Thursday he has ANOTHER one at a hospital in New Brunswick. He has a week of vacation this week, thankfully, so we have time to do all these interviews.

I know if I were a more optimistic person I might be excited about the possibility of seeing new places, meeting new people, blah blah blah, but I'm just not. I'm terrified at the thought of having to move again and start all over again.

I think I thought that if I just wanted this (this being Princeton) to work out badly enough, it would. Or rather, it didn't even occur to me that it might now work out - that's how much I wanted it to. My brain refused to even entertain the possibility that things might not work out here. And we see how well that turned out. Wanting something to be true does not make it true.

It's weird how I vacillate. Some days I'm like, "Ah, what's the big deal? We still have each other, we're all healthy, we're (relatively) young, KB's a friggin doctor, it's not like we're going to starve. What am I whining about? We'll land on our feet." and other days I just freak myself out hyperventilating about moving and selling the house and finding new doctors, dentists, dry cleaners, grocery stores, preschools, violin teachers, FRIENDS, et cetera. I guess I need to get better at this process, because who knows? It could happen again.

So anyway. Whine, moan, complain.

What else? Nolan is potty learning (that's right, kids, they don't call it potty "training" anymore) and doing surprisingly well. We started trying to motivate him with a calendar on the wall that he got to put stars on. One star for peeing in the potty, two stars for pooping. That lasted about four days, until he realized that he wasn't really GETTING anything. So now he gets candy. We just cut straight to the bribery. If he produces anything in the potty, he gets to pick either six M&Ms or one Hershey's kiss. He wears either Lightning McQueen or Elmo big-boy underpants (Ha! I initially typed "big-goy" underpants - I guess they're that, too!) and those seem to be an additional motivation for him. We have to bring the potty with us EVERYWHERE, and for long car trips and quiet time we wear pull-ups.

So that's exciting. For us. And pretty much no one else in the known universe.

And his birthday is coming up fast! Three years old, believe it or not. (By the way, if any of y'all sent us a gift for Nolan off his Amazon wish list, could you let me know? We got a couple things in the mail with no sender listed (other than Amazon) and no invoice included in the box, so we have no idea who they're from.) We're having a par-tay on Sunday, so I will be sure to put up some new photos from that shindig next week.

All right, that's all I got. Further bulletins as events warrant.

Thanks for reading.