Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Our Thanksgiving was pretty quiet. Just us, my mom, and some close friends. I was struggling with some pregnancy headaches and such so I didn't even remember to get a picture of all the yummy food but we had turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry, green bean casserole, sweet potato with marshmallows (my favorite) and three desserts! Here are a few pictures.

Thanksgiving 2013
Family pic: Mom, me, James, Kevin (and Itty Bitty is 19 weeks in my belly)

Thanksgiving 2013
With our friends Tiffany and Mike (James is wearing Mike's hat)

Thanksgiving 2013
Kissy-face with Nana

Thanksgiving 2013
James snuggling up to Tiffany and her iPhone

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Andrew's 30th Birthday in Key West 2013

Sorry everybody's 30th birthdays. Andrew's won by virtue of being in Key West while temperatures in the Northeast dropped below the 30s. We stayed in these cute cabins called "Courtney's Place" with a pool and a breakfast that stayed open late. We were a two-block walk from Duval Street. We got in Friday afternoon and after some relaxing by the pool we had dinner and partied at Irish Kevin's, The Green Parrot, Smallest Bar, The Hog's Breath Saloon, and Sloppy Joe's. That was our warm-up.

Andrew's 30th in Key West 2013
Me, Kevin, Katie, Andrew, and Mike at Irish Kevin's on Friday night

Andrew, Stephanie, Corey, Ken, and Tatiana outside Irish Kevin's

 Andrew's 30th in Key West 2013
Andrew, Doug, Marisa, and Tana dancing at The Green Parrot

Everyone had a lot of beers and jello shots, and I sipped water like a champ. We easily walked 4 miles going up and down Duval Street. Who says we're old? Mike S. may or may not have danced on a table at Hog's Breath, and Kevin may or may not have unbuttoned all the buttons on his shirt at Sloppy Joe's. Suffice to say, I have pictures I am not blogging here. Kevin's mom got some fun drunk texts from various phones. Thanks for babysitting Ma!

Andrew's 30th in Key West 2013
Ken plus the cousins at Hog's Breath Saloon on Friday night

It took a while for everyone to recover on Saturday, even me, even though I only drank water. So we started the day with some Cuban coffee at Cuban Coffee Queen, a walk along the waterfront, and some light window-shopping on Duval. A good number of people made it over to the Hemingway House, and everyone regrouped at the pool at Courtney's Place by the afternoon.

Andrew's 30th in Key West 2013
The Clou men at Cuban Coffee Queen for coffee and Cuban sandwiches

Andrew's 30th in Key West 2013
Some mad posing at the waterfront: Corinne, Matt, Andrew, Mike M, and Kourtney

Andrew's 30th in Key West 2013
Contrary to appearances here, most of us went in the pool. 

We did a little walk to Southernmost Point, but the sunlight was bad for a picture. So after the boys stopped for cigars at the Dominican Republic Cigar Shop,  we all headed over to Mallory Square for the sunset. Some of us just missed the actual sunset but we were mostly there for the party. A few people were psyched for The Cat Man at the Sunset Pier so we checked that out too. Finally we gathered for a 22-person dinner at Finnegan's Wake! Andrew gave a really nice toast where he said he felt like he'd become rich by 30-- with friendship.

Andrew's 30th in Key West 2013
Me and Kevin at Mallory Square

Andrew's 30th in Key West 2013
Andrew giving a thank you toast to everyone who came out for his birthday

Andrew's 30th in Key West 2013
Everyone who went to Key West (except Dave who graciously took this picture)

After dinner, we would have liked to see some turtles race at Turtle Kraals, but they only do that on Mondays (!) so we settled for playing some really intense bocce. Kourtney impressed us with her kinetic super powers. If you'd seen it, you'd be a believer. There was much mischief at Captain Tony's Saloon, and thanks to Kevin, Katie met a man named "Bottom." Probably that's not going anywhere. We rejoined a bigger group at The Green Parrot and enjoyed some tunes from the band Xperimento. Google Maps tells me that means we walked at least 5.5 very fun miles on Saturday.

Andrew's 30th in Key West 2013
Kourtney, Mike M, Andrew, Stephanie, and Ken at Captain Tony's Saloon

Andrew's 30th in Key West 2013
Matt, Corinne, Tana, and Mike M at The Green Parrot

The weekend was epic, and will be hashed and rehashed for many years to come. Happy birthday, Andrew! Oh, and we had a little spa time before we came home from Florida, by which I mean:

Andrew's 30th in Key West 2013
I got Kourtney to walk on Kevin's back because I am the best wife ever. ;)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Three Years Since I Lost My Dad 2013

It's been three years since I lost my dad. I wasn't going to write anything because I've written a lot about losing my dad over the last three years, but I feel like I owe it to all of you I know who have lost someone in the last few years to tell you, it no longer feels like a crushing horror. I no longer feel the need to relive the worst moments. I'm not sure exactly when it started getting better, but it did.

My love for him didn't diminish. I didn't start to forget him. I still miss him. I still feel the protection of his love for me. It's just that three years have helped me push a lot of the pain away. Inch by inch, most of the pain is far away now. But not the good parts.

I don't expect it is exactly the same for other people. We are all different, with different losses, and different supports in our life. But maybe my experience can at least provide hope to those of you going through your own losses.

1988 01 winter new 848

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Museum of the Moving Image 2013

On Sunday, we met up with Sarah in her hood and Queens and took James to the Museum of the Moving Image. It was actually way better for kids than we anticipated. It's pretty small too so there wasn't too much to overwhelm or tire him out too much.

Museum of the Moving Image 2013
James made some terrible stop motion animation

Museum of the Moving Image 2013
Sarah and James picking different soundtracks for the movie

Museum of the Moving Image 2013
Kevin's dream job: editing live baseball games for a Red Zone-style channel.

Okay here's one that will make you feel super old, because, well, you are.

Museum of the Moving Image 2013
Trying an old Atari system-- because they're in museums now! (Broken and boring.)

Museum of the Moving Image 2013
Donkey Kong is way more fun, but he needs a boost from Dada.

Museum of the Moving Image 2013
Weird translation wall, translates from English to Japanese and then 
back to an ever less recognizable English and so on...

Museum of the Moving Image 2013
Having a good time (notice the sweater tied around my growing belly, haha)

Afterwards we hit the nearby Cafe Bar where we really should have gone for a delicious brunch, but no one was really that hungry so we got amazing smoothies instead. I made the mistake of ordering 1 berry smoothie for me and James to share. It was the right amount of smoothie for both of us, but kind of sharing battle, nonetheless.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Pregnancy Advice: Before Getting Pregnant

Since this is my second time, I feel like I have a lot of insight that I can share with women who haven't been pregnant before. I hope to do a few posts on pregnancy advice before Itty Bitty is here and takes all my attention. Obviously, none of this is medical advice because I am not a doctor. And equally obvious, I support your choice to do whatever you want. These are just suggestions.

Let's work our way chronologically through a pregnancy. Here are a few things I suggest doing before you start trying to get pregnant because you will have a lot of strange limitations after you get pregnant.

1) Enjoy one last party or trip where drinking is relevant to the celebration. I waited out Great-grandma Ruth's 90th birthday (Kevin's family can party), Brooke's wedding, and our trip to visit cousin Katie before giving up the party lifestyle. Not-so coincidentally, all those ladies are Irish.

Take a little time to recover from the partying. But don't wait forever! Draw the line somewhere reasonable.

2) Eat some of the following if you love it: soft cheeses, sushi, cold deli sandwiches, or maybe a medium rare hamburger, mmm. Then start getting in the habit of eating more fruits and vegetables and foods with fiber generally.

3) Get a regular and complete check-up. Don't just visit your OB, but go to a regular doctor and have him or her take your blood and check everything they can possibly check. I even got an EKG when I visited my doctor in February. Ask for the results of your blood test to be sent to you. Doctors like to act like they're the only ones that can read a blood test, but the lab spells out the normal range for everything they test right on the results. If anything is not in the normal range, call your doctor, Google it, do whatever you need to find out what's up. I am not a doctor, just someone who's been through a lot of nonsense. Your blood test is the canary in the cave- take it very seriously! Do this not just before getting pregnant, but every year.

Talk to your doctor about whether you should get off any medications while you're pregnant and how to do so. A lot of drugs are considered safe for pregnant women, but even many of these have not really been studied. Personally, I avoid all medicine during pregnancy because I don't suffer from any underlying illnesses and I don't want to risk the baby's health. But again, I don't have any illnesses-- some illnesses a mother has may actually be worse for a mother and her baby than the treatment. That's what your doctor is there to help you figure out. Do a little research on your own too, but check with the doctor before making any big changes.

4) Visit your OB sometime in the year before. Tell him or her you're going to start trying to get pregnant. They might have some words of wisdom, or not.

5) Start taking a prenatal vitamin at least 3 months before you start trying. There are a lot of choices. The big ones can be hard to swallow and might discourage regular consumption. Unfortunately, a lot of the natural ones are pretty big. Try to avoid ones that have crazy additives though. (My doctor gave me a sample that had really bad stuff in it- be careful and read the packaging.) Some women prefer vitamins without iron in it. It should specifically be a prenatal vitamin with folic acid and DHA though. This time I'm enjoying sweet chewable ones.

6) If you don't already exercise, start! It's not ideal to start a difficult exercise program while pregnant, and if you don't exercise while you're pregnant the experience is going to be much more painful for you. Your body will betray you in ways you can't even imagine, and being able to exercise will alleviate a lot of that suffering. I'm not a big exercise person myself, but I try to go for a long walk 3-4 days a week. Last time I didn't exercise much and it wasn't pretty.

7) Go to the dentist way before you plan on trying to get pregnant. Your teeth might be perfect, or you might have a bunch of stuff to deal with beforehand. It is difficult or impossible to deal with some dental issues while you're pregnant. Infections in your mouth can be bad for the baby, and anyway, you don't want to spend 9 months with pain in your head.

8) Start sleeping more. People will tell you to sleep while you're pregnant, but they're jerks. It gets harder and harder to sleep during pregnancy, so now is your big chance to store some sleep.

9) Don't buy pregnancy books. They are not helpful. You can find most of what those books provide on or Once you get pregnant, go ahead and buy books about baby's first year if you so choose: I recommend Baby's First Year because it was written by The American Academy of Pediatrics, and even though it has a section on pregnancy it deals with the infinitely more important details of what to do once you actually have a baby to care for.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

4 Months Pregnant 2013

13 Weeks, October 17-23
We went public with the baby news this week! A wee tiny bit early but after all the tests the baby has already had, and some light kicks I've been feeling, I just couldn't wait to reveal! Kevin and I are so excited about the baby, it was really hard to keep the baby a secret at all. This weekend we went to the farm with Rachel and Christina's families. We also told our immediate family the baby's gender. James turned 2 and a half, and we took him to the dentist to get his baby teeth cavities drilled.

Queens County Farm- Oct. 2013 
The farm with friends

Baby progress: Baby is the size of a peach. She has vocal cords and fingerprints. Her body is starting to catch up with her head,which makes up just a third of her body size now. She has more than 2 million eggs in her ovaries! Future grandbabies?
Symptoms: Sleepiness, acid reflux, mild nausea, sore boobs, bad skin
Cravings: Orange juice, Skittles, vitamin C generally, fish, cereal especially Wheaties
Anti-cravings: None really, but I still get really full really fast
My Weight Gain: 1.5 pound (Last time 5 pounds)
Compare to week 13 with James

14 Weeks, October 24-30
Second trimester! I finally started wearing maternity clothing part-time. I was already wearing the shirts a little, and I busted out the pants this week.

We visited with Jaime, Janice, and Darren in Arlington, Virginia, and we all took James out in his Halloween costume. We also celebrated Brian's 30th birthday!

The Red Sox won the World Series for the second time since Kevin and I have been together! Kevin drove up to Boston to watch the final game in the bar that lets you look right down to the field at Fenway. To paraphrase Kevin with a lot of license, "Someday my unborn second child will ask what I remember about her pregnancy and I will say, 'The Red Sox won the World Series!'"

Baby progress: Baby is the size of a lemon. She can now squint, frown, grimace, and possibly suck her thumb! Her kidneys are producing urine, which she releases into the amniotic fluid around her Her body's growing faster than her head. My baby's liver starts making bile this week and her spleen starts helping in the production of red blood cells.
Symptoms: Faintness, dizziness, sleepiness, acid reflux, mild nausea, sore boobs
Cravings: FIBER (Mini-wheats cereal, veggie burgers, veggies, fruit, cardboard boxes look alluring), ketchup, soy products, sugar candy (not chocolate so much as Skittles)
Anti-cravings: None really
My Weight Gain: 3 pounds (Last time 6 pounds)
Compare to week 14 with James

Halloween in Arlington 2013
Celebrating Halloween early with Fudgie, Darren, Janice, and Jaime

15 Weeks, October 31-November 6
Halloween! James went trick or treating for the first time! Next year he'll be going with his little sister (in the stroller). We announced to everyone that we were having a girl!

Baby progress:
Baby is the size of an apple or navel orange. She's moving amniotic fluid through her nose and upper respiratory tract, so her lungs can begin to develop. Her legs are growing longer than her arms. Her eyelids are still fused shut, but she can sense light.
Symptoms: Sleepiness, acid reflux, sore belly, stuffy nose at bed time
Cravings: Fish, fruit, sugar candy (not chocolate so much as Skittles), Grapefruit juice
Anti-cravings: None really
My Weight Gain: 4.5 pounds (Last time 7 pounds)
Compare to week 15 with James

16 Weeks 2013
16 Weeks!

16 Weeks 2013
James is starting to figure out what's up.

FOUR MONTHS!, 16 Weeks, November 7-13
I had my 16-week check up at the beginning of this week. I really look forward to my appointments so that I can have reassurance that Itty Bitty is doing well. The doctor spent a little while search my belly for the baby's heartbeat because she was on the move, and I might have started freaking out except that I was pretty sure I'd just felt her kick while I was sitting in the waiting room. It's like she wanted to give me a heads up that she'd be running from the doctor.

Ash visited for the weekend, and Christina and Sarah came over Saturday night for some girl time.

I finally started getting my energy back! I had been expecting the exhaustion would life like a curtain exactly at 14 weeks like it did with James, so it was a bit of a surprise to have it linger and extra week an half. But then suddenly one morning- gone!

Baby progress: Baby is the size of an avocado. She's starting to be able to hear so maybe she heard James say, "Hi baby!" to her the other day. She's also growing taste buds, so pretty soon she'll be tasting my food.

Baby Girl kicked me really hard on Tuesday. I don't remember James kicks biting quite like that! Even later in his pregnancy! Maybe she found a sensitive spot.

Symptoms: Light-headed!, exhaustion lifted magically, carpal tunnel hand- OW!, acid reflux, sore belly, stuffy nose at bed time
Cravings: Grapefruit juice, mandarins, cream cheese, strawberry jam, fish, seltzer water (but I haven't been drinking the latter because it gives me too much acid reflux)
Anti-cravings: Wheat bread that I have eaten for years is suddenly gross cardboard.
My Weight Gain: 5-6 pounds (Last time 8 pounds)
Compare to week 16 with James

I'm 17 weeks today! April is getting closer!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

First Snow- 11/12/13

We had our first snow here today. Also, people were pretty excited about the date being 11/12/13. I guess we missed an opportunity for a party.

First Snow of 2013
James: Snow! It's chilly!

More Snow:
First snow of 2012 came right after Hurricane Sandy

More Fun Dates:

Monday, November 11, 2013

Ash Visits and Girls Night- Nov. 2013

Ash visited all weekend much to James's delight. He seems to remember who she is and fawns all over her. I spent the better part of Saturday afternoon watching James successfully boss Ash around, making her sit on the floor with him, do puzzles, feed him snacks, and generally entertain him. I told her she didn't have to do what he said-- but he's hard to resist and she seemed to enjoy it a bit.

Ash Visits- Nov. 2013
Evidence of the love affair between James and Ash

We got some quiet time during James's naptime which we spent binge watching a show we started watching together in 2008! We continued through Sunday. We might have a little problem.

Then Saturday evening Christina and Sarah joined us for a night of sushi, apple pie and ice cream, and trash-talking the Miss Universe contestants. It was a lot of fun.

Girls Night In- Nov. 2013
How cute are we all snuggled? Ash, me, Sarah, Christina

Maybe trash-talking the beauty contestants sounds a little harsh, and not the sort of values I should hope to instill in my future daughter. But I submit here evidence in my favor:

Miss USA's idea of our national costume. What?

Did you even try Canada? Or did you just recycle your Halloween costume?

What is this supposed to tell us about Belgium exactly?

I think Miss Universe is officially my favorite pageant.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Kevin's Short Story in The Greensboro Review 2013

Kevin had his short story, "Funeral" published in The Greensboro Review, Fall 2013 issue. This one won't be in his short story collection coming out in May, We Were Flying to Chicago, so if you want to read it, you're going to have to get your hands on the literary journal.

2013 12 Fall Greensboro Review
Kevin's short story "Funeral.” Greensboro Review 94 (2013): 47-60.

Other recent publications:

Monday, November 4, 2013

It's a girl!

Since I will be 35 when the baby is born, we had some early genetic testing at 11 weeks. Actually, I might have been inspired to get the testing when the doctor told me I could find out the baby's gender early. A week later, on Monday, October 14th, the genetic counselor called and told me the baby was healthy and that she was a girl!

Sonogram gender
Welcome to this crazy family, little girl!

I had a feeling the baby was a girl, but it was a less definite feeling than I had with James when I was pregnant with him and thought he was a boy. Although, my strong feeling with James didn't come until later, and then he was confirmed a boy at 20 weeks. We got to find out much earlier this time! Of course we are thrilled! James even asked for a "seester" over a "broder."

This is how we told my mom over Google video chat:

Video chatting with Nana

And then I whipped out one of my dresses from when I was a baby.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween 2013!

James didn't understand Halloween (or much of anything) the last two years. This year, however, thanks to some very Halloween-themed Disney cartoons, he was talking non-stop about bats, spiders, ghosts, and witches. He wished me a "Happy Halloween," on an almost daily basis. He talked about his pirate costume, and other costumes the cartoons were wearing. He heard "Trick-or-treat" a few times, but had no real sense of what that meant. Kevin played Halloween music for him to dance around to.

Costume Test 2013
James trying out his pirate costume before Halloween

It is November 1st now, and even though we have told him several times that Halloween is over, he continues to wish us a Happy Halloween, ask us to wear his costume, and ask to go trick-or-treating. It's going to be a long November.

Adding to his confusion is that he was lucky enough to get to celebrate Halloween twice this year. First, he spent Saturday afternoon in Arlington, Virginia with Jaime, Janice, Darren, and Fudgie, wearing his costume at a local kids' Halloween festival.

Halloween in Arlington 2013
Walking over with godmama Janice in Arlington, VA

Halloween in Arlington 2013
I just love him so much.

I didn't want to be creepy and photograph kids I didn't know, but here's James and his favorite dog Fudgie.

Halloween in Arlington 2013
Fudgie as a spider- James is showing him his parrot

We let him enjoy the playground in costume too, which resulted in some wear-and-tear on the costume. But whatever, pirates often look a little castaway.

Halloween in Arlington 2013
Pirate on the swing

Halloween in Arlington 2013
Digging for treasure in the sand pit

Halloween in Arlington 2013
Enjoying Janice's candy stash with Darren, Janice, and Jaime

Then on the actual day of Halloween, James got to go trick-or-treating in our neighborhood for the first time ever! We had a little practice run before we left the house, asking him to say "Trick-or-treat!", take only one piece of candy, and say "Thank you," but that's a lot of steps and he didn't get the whole system correct at any of the houses we went to in our neighborhood. We ended up saying it for him mostly.

He loved every minute of it though, and he had no complaints about the number of houses we visited. His main issue was that he was able to take the candy himself and put it in his bag without assistance. This sometimes took forever, but he had a little fit if we tried to help.

Halloween 2013
Practice run at our place

Halloween 2013
The careful art of putting candy in your bag

Halloween 2013
Heading out

Halloween 2013
James really enjoyed the decorations.

We lost his hat from Saturday, but since I used to be huge into Halloween myself, I had another hat from my costume in 2006. Kevin said, "It's a little disorienting that last time I saw this hat it was on a sexy pirate girl."

Halloween 2013
James leading the charge.

Halloween 2013
So cute, his bag hardly has anything in it but it's "too heavy"

He still didn't totally "get" candy. While he was pleased checking out and counting his little stash when he got home, he seemed to think the pieces of candy were actually toys. He understood the popcorn, pretzels, and the lollipop from past experience, but the chocolate was mostly a mystery, and his favorite item was a Halloween-themed Ziplock baggie.

Halloween 2013
Checking out his candy haul

Halloween 2013
Fell asleep early but didn't want to give up his lollipop before bed!

Happy Halloween from the 3.5 Clous!

See James's first Halloween 2011 and the Hurricane Sandy Halloween 2012.

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