Friday, December 22, 2006

Happy Festivus

This post will be short, as Richard is patiently waiting for his laptop back. But I couldn't go another day without showing off the fab Christmas stocking I made for him:

Isn't it awesome? I'm very proud of myself, and don't mind showing it off. Red ultrasuede and bronze vinyl, with gold ribbon star. No pattern used, just freestyled it. Hee!

Christmas is almost here, and for the first time, family is coming here, rather than us traveling to San Jose. I'm planning a Mexican-themed dinner, with a corn chowder and roasted peppers, chicken & pork tamales, chicken enchiladas, stuffed acorn squash, rice, and beans. My sister Jenny is planning on handling dessert: tres leches cake. Yum. Hope everything turns out well.

Christmas is typically an idealized, overly commercial, high anxiety time of year. We all feel such pressure to be happy that we usually end up feeling miserable. After the year that Rich & I have had, I'm trying to just focus on the joy of everyday pleasures: family, friends, home. That's all I can ask for. I hope that all of you have a joyous and stress-free holiday season.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

It's Alf!

This may be my favorite Christmas present that I've ever made. It's Alf, the Scary Elf!

Alf is about 36" long, and is a Christmas card holder! Just what everyone needs. Alf is destined for my dear friend, Carrie, who has a penchant for scary elves. Alf will be the "big" brother to the original scary elf, Kippy, who is a demonic looking poseable elf from the late 1960s.

I got the pattern for Alf from the 1966 edition of McCall's Christmas Make-It Ideas, one of my many vintage craft magazines. The minute I saw him, I knew I had to make him. Richard decided his name, as he looks slightly alien. He may not be quite as scary as Screech, the frightenly crocheted screech owl, but he does have sequins and pom poms. And he'll have a loving home, where his creepiness will be truly appreciated. I can't wait for Carrie's reaction.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

It's beginning to look a lot like...

One more Christmas present done and checked off the list! I'm feeling very positive about my progress on knitted & crocheted gifts this year. I've finished 7 presents, started 3 others, and need to start (and finish) 2 more. For the record, this list includes 1 vest, 1 shell sweater, 2 scarves, a knit kerchief, 6 pairs of slippers (3 felted, 3 not), 1 afghan, and 1 jacket (sewn). Hurrah.

And when Christmas is over, I get to officially knit something for me! I think my first project will be the Bombshell Sweater from Big Girls Knits. For my birthday, my lovely sister Jenny gifted me with a shopping spree through the yarn store, and I picked up 4 skeins of Malabrigo Worsted in Melilla (brown to white to sky blue). So droolworthy.

Last weekend, Richard and I got the fattest Christmas tree ever. This is seriously a plus-size tree. We decided to go to Home Depot for the tree, because we were burnt out on over-priced Christmas tree lots. So, the experience didn't have the same ambiance as wandering through the lot, searching for just the "right" one, but for ease and cost, I'll do Home Depot again next year. Most of the trees were 6'-7' Douglas firs, which seemed awfull small to me, but they were at least 1/2 the price of similar trees at specialty lots. We ended up getting a 7 1/2' Noble (which we'd never had before, because Nobles are generally at least $100 at lots), and I'm in love. The line was ridiculously long, but the HD guys cut the end of the tree off (the better for it to absorb water in the stand) -- something I could never get the lots to do, and they bagged it in mesh to make it easier to transport. This tree is so fat that they had to get 2 guys to lift it onto the cutting table, and it almost didn't fit through the mesh-ing contraption. I love the fact that every day, when I come home, it just smells like Christmas.

This weekend, I have to work on Richard's new Christmas stocking. He specifically requested a stocking that looks like a cowboy boot, which should be fun. I'm sewing it, so it shouldn't take long. I'm taking the next two weeks off, so there is plenty of time for craftiness (and sleeping in). Photos to come!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Long time, no post

It's been a while since I've posted. I'm mainly here just to let you all know that I have not, in fact, fallen off the face of the earth.

This holiday season is hard for Richard and I, but we're pulling through as best we can. We're staying busy, and just trying to do whatever we feel comfortable with. I am almost done with my Christmas shopping, and about half-way done with my Christmas crafting. This weekend, we're going to go get our tree, do our Christmas cards, and maybe even start baking.

Because I don't really have much to talk about (can't even show off all my completed projects, since they are all presents!), I present a meme, sent to me by my sister Jenny.

1. What time is it? 4:57 pm
2. What are you most afraid of? If you've been a reader of this blog, you probably know
3. What is the most recent movie that you've seen in a theater? yikes, Wordplay? It's been a while
4. Where were you born? CA

5. Ever been to Alaska ? No
6. Ever been toilet papering? Yes
7. Loved someone so much it made you cry? Yes
8. Been in a car accident ?Yes
9. Croutons or bacon bits? Bacony goodness any day of the week
10. Favorite day of the week? Sunday
11. Favorite restaurant? hmm, hard to think of just one. I guess I'd say Luna Park
12. Favorite flower? Gardenia
13. Favorite drink? does a nice glass of Syrah count?
14. Favorite ice cream? Ben & Jerry's Peanut Butter Cup
15. Favorite fast food restaurant? Jack in the Box, but only when I’m really desperate.
16. What color is your bedroom carpet? No carpet, light Pergo
17. How many times have you failed your driver's test? once
18. What do you do most often when you are bored? I have to say, I'm not bored very often -- I always have a project or two on hand.
19. Bedtime? midnight
20. Ford or Chevy? Ford, but just because I happen to drive a Ford, not out of some burning loyalty
21. What are you listening to right now? New York Times audio edition
22. What are your favorite colors? orange, brown & green (you know, those 70s kitchen colors)
23. How many tattoos do you have? none, yet
24. How many pets do you have? 2 cats and a turtle
25. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The egg.
26. What would you like to accomplish before you die? Have a great life, surrounded by family & friends.

Monday, November 20, 2006


The holiday season has officially begun, even if the thermometer yesterday read 92 degrees. For me, it doesn't begin with when department stores break out the Christmas trees (sometime around Oct. 21), nor even on the day that KOST-FM starts its all-holiday music format (a few days before Thanksgiving). No, for me, it begins with the all-food, all-wine, all yummy day called Friends Thanksgiving. Oh goodness, this weekend was carb-heavy heaven. We started eating at about 3:00 p.m., and we finally finished dessert around 9:00 p.m. Now, to be sure, there was a long break from 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. when we all laid about semi-conscious, only expending energy when USC scored a touchdown.

Good times.

Pictures of the feast to come. For now, here are my first two hats for Stitches from the Heart. On the left is a hat, sized for a newborn, crocheted in TLC Amore. On the right is a preemie-sized hat crocheted in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted. Finishing these two feels good, like I'm providing added meaning for Eliza's life. Definitely more to come.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet

Right now, I am on a quest to see just how long a person can go without sleep before they become certifiably insane. I know that the military has found that someone can stay awake for weeks without developing serious medical problems, but you can develop "dementia or develop permanent personality changes within the first few weeks." I'm really only on about 30 hours or so, but I'm working on it. Woo!

This Saturday is our annual Friends Thanksgiving, a tradition that our group of college friends has had for the last 7-8 years. We get together at someone's house/apartment the weekend before Thanksgiving and go nuts with the food, with just about everyone contributing a dish or two. Here's the menu for this year:

Bacon & Carmelized Onion Tart
Kalamata Olive & Goat Cheese Tapenade
Goat Cheese Stuffed Cherry Tomoatoes

Fennel & Haricot Verts Salad w/Mustard Vinagrette
Brown Butter & Shallot Mashed Potatoes
Molasses Horseradish Sweet Potato Spears
Stuffed Acorn Squash
Ryan & Sara's Famous Cranberry Sauce

Main Course
Cider Brined and Glazed Turkey with Andoullie Cornbread Stuffing and Sage Gravy

Pumpkin Roll
Vanilla Spice Gelato
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Fudgy Chocolate Layer Cake

This all for a total of 8 people. There is going to be so much food, I'll think I've gone to heaven. Aside from the food, I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone. As I've written here before, this year has shown me just how important the love and support of good friends are to me. So, bring on the tryptophan! Maybe I'll finally be able to sleep.

And just because this post is a bit lacking in pictures, here is my handmade item of the day:
Corset Belt from Stitch n Bitch: Happy Hooker
Crocheted in Fiesta Yarns Watermark in Coyote and felted

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

it's a sunshine day!

For the most part, anyway. Of course now, the Dems actually have some power, and have to come up with some real policy, instead of just saying that what the Republicans are doing is wrong. But it would be awfully hard for them to screw up worse than this administration already has. So, in some measure, it can only get better.

Here's an actual knitting update. Last night I finished Eliza's Christmas stocking. It's the cabled stocking from "Handknit Holidays." It turned out exactly as I wanted, and I'm so happy that I made it, but there was something bittersweet about finishing it. Knitting this stocking was something concrete that I felt like I was doing for her, and now it's finished. When I showed it to Richard last night, he just held my hand and said that he knew it was made with a lot of love. And it was.

I guess now, I just have to translate my desire to make things for my daughter into making things for charity, like Stitches from the Heart. When the nurse brought Eliza into me in the hospital, she had a handknit hat on and a handmade blanket wrapped around her. It meant so much to me, and it still does. And I want to provide the same kind of comfort to another mother. So that's what I'm going to do. Anyone want to join me?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Dear Abby

Happy November. Not necessarily a phrase that comes naturally, but it means a lot this year. I survived October, which I knew would be a tough month. I just kept telling myslef, "I've just got to bear down and get through October." And I did.

The Preeclampsia Foundation gala was great -- emotional, but reaffirming at the same time. Before dinner was served, they showed a tribute slide show that honored the families that had been affected by this horrible disease. When our photos came up (a photo of Rich & me a month before Eliza died and then a photo of her tiny foot prints), I almost broke down, but I held it together, mostly because of the support I had at the dinner from Richard, and our wonderful friends, Grant & Mel. Seeing the photos and reading the stories of the mothers who passed away was a reality check for me. I've had a hard time accepting that I could have died because of what happened, but seeing those women's photos made it real.

We got to hear from high-level pharaceutical execs who are funding a lot of research -- research that is really very close to finding new diagnostic tests and treatments. It gives me a lot of hope that, while Eliza died from this disease, my future daughters won't have to fear it.

I have more to write about this last weekend, but I should probably try to get some work done today, so I'll leave you with this column from Dear Abby. It articulates just why everyone (in California) needs to vote NO on Prop. 85. Forcing communication within abusive families is NOT pro-life.

DEAR ABBY: I am extremely shaken by a recent experience, and I want to share this with other parents who may one day find themselves in a similar situation. My daughter, "Mary," is almost 18 and in the 12th grade. We have always had a close relationship. She has always come to me to talk about what's going on in her life -- friends, crushes, school, just about everything.

A few months ago, Mary told me about a terrible situation concerning one of her classmates. "Jill" had just learned that she was pregnant and was frantic. She told Mary that she couldn't tell her parents because she was afraid of a violent reaction.

Mary was so worried about Jill that she came to me for help. After hearing the story, I encouraged my daughter to tell Jill to talk to her parents. I never imagined what would happen next.

I knew from things Mary had said that Jill's parents were hard on her, but I didn't know the extent of her problems at home. When Jill took my advice and told her parents she was pregnant, her father beat her so badly she ended up in the hospital and lost the baby.

Abby, you can't imagine how terrible I feel about this. Jill will never be the same, and I feel I am to blame. I wish I had known how to protect her from a dangerous and violent situation at home.

I hope you will share this letter with other concerned parents and give your thoughts on this heart-wrenching problem. -- SHOCKED AND SADDENED IN SHERMAN OAKS, CALIF.

DEAR SHOCKED: Please stop being so hard on yourself. You advised your daughter's friend to do what most other parents would have. What you failed to take into consideration was the fact that many teens live in homes where there is violence, abuse, drug problems and incest.

A year ago here in California, there was an attempt to legislate "parental notification" into law. Fortunately, it was voted down. It's teens like your daughter's friend who would have been harmed by this kind of law. They certainly cannot go to their parents -- and I have never believed that the law can successfully force this kind of communication with the home.

Of course parents want their children -- regardless of age -- to come to them if there is a crisis. And I am told that seven out of 10 teens who find themselves pregnant do exactly that. However, those who don't usually have a good reason for not doing so. Teens like the girl in your letter need counseling and care, not laws forcing them to face abusive parents. I'm glad you wrote to me. Your sad story is a lesson for other well-meaning adults.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

what's going on

What's going on? Well, my 31st birthday was yesterday, and while it wasn't a "hurrah!"-type of occasion, it was nice. Rich and I went to La Taquiza, a yummy hole-in-the-wall by USC, for dinner (their mulitas, described by LA food critic Jonathan Gold as "quesadillas on steroids," are to die for). I received several lovely emails, calls & cards from friends and family, letting me know that they hoped I had a great day, and an even better year to come. 30 certainly was not the year that I expected, but I've survived, and am looking forward to 31. I have many hopes for this year.

This has been a particularly tough couple of weeks for me. Eliza's due date came and went, but I don't think it really hit me until this weekend, at a friend's party. I don't know why my reaction was so delayed, but all of a sudden, the grief and disappointment and frustration hit me again like a ton of bricks. And I have to be honest that I really wasn't looking forward to my birthday -- it seemed so loaded with meaning. 30 was going to be the year we had a baby. We found out I was pregnant on Richard's 30th birthday. Eliza's birthday was supposed to be only a week before mine. And Halloween is just around the corner: my favorite holiday (I grew up always having costume birthday parties, and I dreamed about Eliza's). And this weekend, we are heading up to San Francisco for the Preeclampsia Foundation gala -- a positive event that I know will raise a lot of money to fund research, but also one that I know will make me cry.

But I also know that we are getting ready to start trying to get pregnant again. And I need to be ready to be happy. I want to be able to tell our future children that I was joyful, and not consumed with sadness, when we decided to create them.

On that note of positivity, I'd like everyone to send good thoughts to Allison, whose labor is being induced today. Allison & I announced that we were pregnant on the same day back in February. She & I bonded over the happy, and the uncomfortable, aspects of pregnancy. When we lost Eliza, she was incredibly supportive, and she even understood that I couldn't be comfortable with her in person, simply because of what we had shared. I hope her little (big) Mr. Roly Poly comes into the world happy and healthy. I already know that he has two great parents waiting for him.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

the science of sleep

I'm so tired. I remember being a teenager when sleep was so easy. Sleeping late on a Sunday was my favorite thing to do. It was comforting. My first experience with insomnia occurred about 4-5 years ago, at a time when I was really stressed about work. I've described it as if my brain was having a conversation with itself and it wouldn't shut up! It's a conundrum: I'm stressed and so I can't sleep, but because I can't sleep, it's stressing me out.

Ever since everything that happened this summer, I have had trouble sleeping well. I can sleep (eventually), but I'm just not getting a high-quality sleep. I have been taking a prescription sleep aid, but it's unfortunately not as effective as I would have hoped. I have to do so much just to ensure that I can get a good night's sleep -- exercise, not eat too late, take a sleeping pill, have a glass or two of wine, take a warm bath, and maybe even add a Tylenol PM on top. One silver lining: I really appreciate when I do get a good night's sleep. I just wish I could have more of them. At least Dr. Dave (my psychologist) understands, and encourages me to do whatever I need to do to sleep well, including the wine drinking. Gotta love when your doctor tells you to drink more wine.

Speaking of wine, I'm going to a friend's bachelorette party on Saturday. No Chippendales are expected (thank goodness), just lots of melty cheese (at the Melting Pot) and lots of wine. Here's another thing you just don't expect your doctor to tell you: "try to get a good hangover this weekend." Dr. Dave, I think I love you. Really, I think he wants me to enjoy the kind of stuff that I can't partake of when pregnant, like red wine and sushi, before we start trying again. So I'm working hard to get my fill of alcohol (have yet to go out to sushi, but that's on the agenda).

That wine drinking has impacted my knitting, and not for the better. I'm making a Christmas present, a sweater, and was working on the neckline last night, when I realized I had to rip the whole thing out because I had accidentally knit across the shoulder. This was after unknitting a couple of garter stitch rows that I thought were a mistake, and reknitting in reverse stockingnette, only to discover that it was supposed to be garter stitch afterall. Three glasses of rose does not lead to efficient finishing. Only after drinking a Coke Slurpee could I pull myself together enough to complete the neckline correctly. Pathetic.

So here are a my handmade items of the day (from yesterday, actually):
Necklace that I strung on Monday night while watching Horatio Hornblower DVDs -- goldstone, red tiger eye & agate drops

Yet another Teva Durham Ballet Tee sweater, done with two strands of merino wool (charcoal gray & light brown) from a long-ago Yarn Lady sale

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Just be yourself

Well, I'm still here. I survived. The day I had been dreading for the last 3 months, Eliza's due date, came and went. And I survived. It was sad, and we cried, but we got through it. I really thought that I would want to just burrow into my couch and knit, but I realized that I needed to get out and do something, anything. So we went out for tacos (our latest obsession is following the Great Taco Hunt) and then hit a couple of Goodwills. Rich picked up some old school Nintendo games and I found some fabulous amber-colored glasses and an avocado green pyrex casserole dish (for the ongoing 70s kitchen). It felt good. Not that we weren't thinking of Eliza, and her place in our lives, and what we lost when she died, but it felt right to just be ourselves.

So, we're still here. I took yesterday off just to have to myself and I had a really good day. I hit 7 thrift stores in one afternoon, and scored some vintage Mikasa dessert plates and a pottery wine decanter (?) and 4 matching cups. Not only are we hosting Friends Thanksgiving next month, but it looks like we're also hosting Christmas for the first time, so I'll actually get a chance to use my 70s kitchenware.

I also went to the plant nursery and came home with two hanging Wandering Jews. The apartment seemed to be missing that homey element that plants can bring. Now we just have to see if I can keep them alive.

I was fairly crafty over the weekend, starting a new Christmas present, stringing 3 necklaces, and sewing a new purse:
It's a dark teal green corduroy, and a perfect crap bag (you know, a purse so big you can fit all your crap in it, i.e., lunch, sweaters, small cat, etc.). Another stash-buster!

And here I am, in my handmade item of the day, the Cable-Eight sweater in Rowan Cork:
Also, I just sent off my mom's birthday present, so once she gets it, I can post pictures. Tonight, Rich & I are going to Cues 2 Choose, a Planned Parenthood Young Professionals fundraiser. Play pool for choice! So, all in all, I guess we're just trying to keep going -- being ourselves and doing what we do. I guess we can't do any more.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

under pressure

Yesterday was the day of a thousand doctors' appointments. or maybe it just seemed like that. Actually I had three -- 1) primary care doc to monitor my blood pressure; 2) psychiatrist to monitor my antidepressants; and 3) psychologist to keep from going crazy (and talking Richards ear off). Good news first, blood pressure is doing so well that my doc is cutting my meds dosage in half, with the ultimate goal of getting me off them entirely. Iffy (not bad) news next, antidepressants are being upped since I'm still not sleeping well. Eh. I haven't had any bad side effects yet, so I'm not too worried about the increase. We'll see.

Financial issues have been worrying, of late, adding to my anxiety levels. It just seemed like, all of a sudden, things were really tight, and I thought we were just being stupid, wasting money. And then I thought about all the doctor appointments Rich & I have had, and all the medications we're now on. We realized that we are spending about $500 a month just on office visit co-pays. Add in another $100 in medications, and it suddenly became clear why we're leaning a bit more on the credit cards lately. Well, I'd rather be well, physically and emotionally, than flush with cash, so it's worth it. But the realization did make us feel better that we aren't just being stupid with money -- there is a legitimate reason. So things are a bit tight, but we're hanging in there and taking care of ourselves.

Just because there is less available cash around, doesn't mean that I have let up on the knitting at all. I still have quite a stash going, and I'm doing my best to decrease it. So here is my latest creation, a sweater of my own design (although the lace pattern is from the table runners in Handknit Holidays). I used La Lana Wools (from our last trip to New Mexico), Forever Random Fines for the top and Dos Mujeres for the ribbed bottom.

Doyle is particularly interested in this sweater -- he wants to make it smell more like him.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Friends & food

It is officially autumn (well, technically, it's been autumn since September 23, but just go with me on this one). There is a slight chill in the air (even if there is a bit of an LA Story-ting going on -- "It got down to 58 degrees! What did you do?"), and I'm breaking out all the sweaters I knit this summer. As a way of celebrating fall, as well as our informal entrance back into the world, Richard & I invited our friends Catherine & Brian over for dinner (and to suck Catherine in to the world of Battlestar Galactica by forcing her to watch the original miniseries) on Sunday.

It was lovely. It was such a welcome respite to be able to concentrate on something fun and positive for a change. We cleaned (moving boxes are at least out of sight, if not actually out of the house) and I spent most of the weekend cooking. Martha moment: I actually made my own chicken stock. According to every celebrity chef with a cookbook to sell, homemade stock is the building block of everything good. So, setting aside 4-6 hours of my life on Saturday, I boiled down 6 pounds of chicken wings & livers, leeks, carrots, celery, onions & spices, all to get 2 quarts of precious stock.

Sunday's menu consisted of beef short-ribs braised in red wine (+ the all-important stock), garlic mashed potatoes and fennel & haricots vert (French for green beans, but it sounds prettier that way) salad with a mustard vinegrette. Everything turned out exactly as I could have hoped. The ribs were achingly tender -- no knife required. The salad was fresh and tangy. The potatoes were suitably garlicky (could have been creamier -- I'll use cream instead of milk next time). The only snag was in reducing the braising liquid into sauce, it separated very strangely, with all the winey goodness balling in the center and the oil on the oustide -- eww. So no sauce. But it was fab anyway. Catherine brought a wonderful pumpkin gingerbread and Brian brought two really good bottles of wine and some yummy Brie, crackers & bread. I was very excited that I finally got to show off some of my treasured 60s/70s kitchen wares -- smokey amber wine glasses, Bicentennial glasses, vintage Mikasa dessert plates.

It was a great night -- just sitting around the table, telling stories from college and drinking wine. It felt... normal. Something I haven't felt in a long time. And that's a feeling I want to hold on to. So Rich & I decided to host our annual Friends Thanksgiving, our annual tradition where a bunch of us from college get together from all over the west coast and cook too much food, drink too much wine, and generally have a good time.

This year, I've learned how important my friends are -- both old and new. There are the friends who were with us in the hospital, as everything came tumbling down. There are the friends who came to visit me at home, who tried to make me laugh and sometimes just let me cry on their shoulders. There are the friends who let me pour my heart out to them over the phone, the ones who knew that what I needed was someone who would listen to me. And there are the friends who sent me cards and flowers and emails, just to let me know that they were thinking of me, and Richard and Eliza. My friends, you all have helped me keep going. You have helped me get to the point where I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. I will get pregnant again soon, and I will bring home a healthy baby. It won't be Eliza, but it will be her little brother or sister. And I'm looking forward to that. But until then, I know that I have great friends who will laugh with me, cry with me and eat with me.

And just so this post isn't completely maudlin, here's a pic of my handmade item of the day: my 2nd Matador sweater (love these things!):
knit in Classic Elite Gatsby (sadly, discontinued, but it can be found on ebay)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

think lovely thoughts

I'm trying really hard to be happy. I want to be happy. I've been sad now constantly for 3 months (as of yesterday), and it is exhausting. I want to feel happy, and I want positive things to look forward to. And yet, I don't want to minimize or gloss over what happened, or Eliza's place in my life. My therapist calls it survivor guilt (god, I'm becoming one of those pathetic people who only talks about what their therapist says). I know that Eliza, like any child, wouldn't want her mom to feel guilty about being happy. I know I have to give myself permission to be happy again, that being happy does not mean that Eliza doesn't still matter. But I can say these things, and know these things in my head, and still not feel them.

So, I try to at least appear happy, the thought being that if I can look happy, then maybe the feeling will start to seep in. I've put up my Halloween decorations in my office. I'm going back to my old habit of always wearing at least one thing that I've made. I made a list of the home improvement projects that I want to undertake (oh, say like actually finally getting all of the moving boxes out of the house). I've started making Christmas presents. We're
planning our annual Friends Thanksgiving get-together. And next month, I'm going to make an appointment with my OB for a preconception check-up. Getting pregnant again is going to bring up all kinds of emotions, I know, but they are ones that I can't even fathom right now. So I just have to leave that kind of worrying for when it happens, and for now, just think lovely thoughts.
My handmade item of the day is the matador bolero from the Spring/Summer 06 Knitscene (knit in Rio de la Plata carried with's Baby Cashmere)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Shopping helps ease anxiety

At least that's what I've found. Nothing releases stress like hunting for bargains. A lovely friend of mine asked me recently, "what are you stressed about, work?" I love this friend, but when she said this, I just looked at her blankly. Gee, I don't know, what could possibly be stressful in my life recently? Hmm, let's see, losing my daughter when I was 25 weeks pregnant? Having my hopes & dreams crushed? Almost dying myself? Trying to function at work and at home so I can keep getting a paycheck and keep a husband? Coming up on my due date, a day when I should have a healthy baby at home in her nursery, instead of an empty "guest" room and a crib packed away in the garage? Oooh, how about the fact that we are starting to think about trying to get pregnant again, and I'm wondering if I'm emotionally capable of doing this again? Are those enough things to be stressed about?

See, according to my therapist, the lovely & talented Dave, aka the man who keeps me sane, I'm entering the "irritated" phase of post-traumatic stress. Little things, like a co-worker's Valley-girl-esque voice, or another woman's insane cackle laughter, are driving me insane. I'm trying my best to hold it together, knowing that this month is going to be hard, and that once we get through this, it will hopefully get a bit easier.

To relax after a particularly trying hour at the Apple store on Friday (love how my iPod crashes 1 month after the warranty runs out! But somehow, it miraculaously fixed itself, so I'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth), we headed over the the "International" bar at the Farmer's market. We had some beer (Peroni was their daily special) and yummy pizza, and after only 2 drinks, I was a bit toasted (I'm a bit of a lightweight now, especially after not being able to drink for 6 months). For whatever reason, this "here's the beef" sign struck Rich & I as funny. Simple strokes for simple folks, I guess.

Saturday night we went to Cinespia to see "Dawn of the Dead" with Julia and some of her friends. It was the first time we'd been back to Cinespia since everything happened. I wasn't sure if being in a cemetary would feel weird, and for the most par, it didn't, but about half-way through the movie, I started to feel panicky. Maybe it was the anxiety of watching a scary movie, maybe it was watching the main female character be pregnant, getting bigger thoughout the film (but yet continuing to drink wine & smoke -- it was the 70s), I don't know.
I got a major headache, and just kept feeling like I did not want to be there. But we were in the middle of hundreds of people, in the dark, so I was not going to make Richard leave. I hung in there, and was able to calm down enough to enjoy myself by the end.

Sunday, we headed out to the Pasadena City Flea Market with Julia & Faith. I had never been, and what can I say but, wow! We barely scratched the surface, and I still left with more goodies than you could shake a stick at (what does that mean, exactly?). By the time we left, I carried off this booty:
1 (deleted in case he reads this) for my dad's birthday
1 1966 Stitchery & Crafts book by McCalls
1 fabulous vintage black curly lamb coat (in great shape, totally fits, for $5!)

6 vintage plastic belt buckles
2 vintage knitting pattern magazines (Spinnerin -- which has the best photography -- and Bernat)
Multiple skeins of vintage yarn -- 7 of Pingouin Astrakhan in beige and 6 skein of a fluffy Bernat extra bulky mohair/wool blend in mocha
and (drum roll, please...)
a new chair!
Yes, Doyle has already claimed it as his own. It's a very mod-looking orange sherbet-colored vinyl chair that is super comfy. The vinyl is in good shape (and the cats have new Soft Paws on, to keep it in good shape), and it just needs some Mr. Clean Magic Eraser-ing to get it tip top. It's perfect for our living room, with our yellow tropical brocade couch and seafoam green recliner. And it was only $35! How can you beat that?

After successful shopping eased my anxiety levels, we headed out to a late brunch at the Green St. Cafe with Julia, Faith & Brantlea. It's been so good to see friends lately. It's really helped me come back out of my shell. I'm hoping I can get back to Stitch n Bitch soon, and really feel like I'm resuming my life.

Just to leave this post on a good note, this is the most recent press conference from the Awesome Helicopter Ninjas, Richard's kickball team: For other AHN videos, go here. Always good for a laugh.

Friday, September 29, 2006

more photos

Here are two photos of the Stitch Diva Newsboy cap. I love hats because they help camoflage bad hair days and add style to an otherwise lacklucter dressing day.

On other project related news, I'm happy to report that two Christmas gifts are finished, two others are started, and two more have materials purchased ( has great stuff on sale -- Noro, Debbie Bliss, Lorna's Laces, etc.).

The project I'm really working myself up for, though, is knitting Eliza's Christmas stocking. I told myself this is something I wanted to do for her, as a way to acknowledge her place in our family. I want to be able to hang her stocking every year, even just as a decoration. When our other children ask about the stocking, we'll be able to tell them that it belongs to their big sister, and even though she isn't here with us, she's still a part of our family and our traditions. I'm using the Aran Stocking pattern from Handknit Holidays, and after much searching, found a perfect off-white Van Dyck wool blend for the body and a dark green for the cuff. I've had the yarn for a couple of weeks now, but have yet to cast on. I think I'll probably wait until after her due date, which is fast approaching (Oct. 15).

The next few weeks are probably going to be tough emotionally, and I am just doing my best to take care of myself and Richard. We are going to persevere, and we will get pregnant again (cross fingers that we get sign off from doctors in the next couple of months), and we will bring a healthy baby into the world. Until then, I'm just knitting (and crocheting, and sewing, and probably knitting some more).

Thursday, September 28, 2006

actual photos of my projects

Yes, I have been busy. It has helped me immensely to have something tangible to focus on. Here are a couple of my actual photos, as opposed to the idealized photos from patterns.

This is the raglan sleeve sweater from the Fall 05 Knitscene. So easy, and it will be perfect comfy sweater for when it cools down here. The sleeves are a little too long (I forgot to take into account the fact that my row gauge was bigger than the pattern called for), but I figure that just adds to the comfy factorn (they are just long enough to reach the tips of my fingers, not clownishly long).

This is the Teva Durham ballet tee (the version with sleeves from Interweave Knits). Please note that this photo was taken late at a night, right after I finished the sweater. I added a crocheted picot edge to the bottom to keep it from rolling (also, I'm long-waisted, and the pattern ended right at my waist - not a good look).

And this is a purse of my own design (it's not lopsided, I promise - just not pulled up even in the photo). It's an off-white velvet with a navy lace panel. I liked the velvet purses shown in the current issue of In Style, and decided I needed one right now, so I made this Tuesday night. I just lined it in muslin, since all the lining fabrics I have are insanely slipperly, and take care not to end up all bunchy. I needed instant gratification.

So, not all my completed projects by a long shot, but a couple.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Knitting post

Over the last 12 weeks, knitting has been the one thing to keep me sane. For the first six weeks, I wasn't working, so I just sat at home and knit. Well, cried and knit. Anything to keep me from pulling my hair out. So, I've ended up burning through my stash (plus some new yarn purchases) and creating a whole new fall wardrobe. Some of the projects that have kept me busy (obviously, these are not my photos. Maybe someday, I'll get around to posting my actual project photos, but don't hold your breath):

Snowy Triangle Scarf from "Handknit Holidays"
2 (1 for me, 1 for a friend to be named later)
On the one for me, I used the lovely Artfibers Satori yarn that Mel gave me last year for my birthday

Stitch Diva's Crocheted Clogs
Christmas gift for a friend to be named later
Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride

Stitch Diva's Crocheted Newsboy Cap for me (because who else do I know that actually wears hats?)
Stashbuster (Trendsetter random silk/acrylic/linen blend from Yarn Lady sale)

Interweave Knits Spring '05 Cable-Eight Top for me (finally used that Rowan Cork in Sour that I've been hanging on to for a year)

Knitscene Fall '05 Raglan sweater for me (stashbuster -- ivory Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece & grey blue Debbie Bliss Cashmerino)

Interweave Knits Summer '06 Seaberry Shell
for me (Cascade Pima Silk in fern)

Knitscene Spring '06 Matador Bolero
2 for me (stashbuster -- Classic Elite Gatsby in orange and Rio de la Plata in red/black/green)

Interweave Knits/Loop d Loop Ballerina tank 3 (1 3/4 length sleeve and 1 cap sleeve for me, 1 cap sleeve for Jenny)
Total stashbuster (Cotton fleece & RYC Cashcotton, random merino wool, Rowan Calmer & Tootsie P rayon tape ribbon)

Knitting (and a bit of crochet) has been very therapuetic for me through all of this. I guess I've felt that so much of my life has been out of control lately, and one thing I can control is what I produce with yarn and two sticks (or a hook).

Thursday, September 21, 2006

ramble ramble ramble

Thank you to everyone who left the wonderfully kind and thoughtful comments on my last post. Sometimes it's easy to get tunnel vision and think that I'm the only person who thinks about what happened, but your comments helped to remind me that I have wonderful friends who really care.

As I mentioned in my last post, I really am seeing more doctors now than I ever thought possible. My primary care doc (to help get my blood pressure under control), a new high-risk OB, a psychiatrist (for the happy pills and the sleepy pills), a psychologist (for therapy), and, as of today, a nephrologist (to evaluate my kidney function and see if the PE and HELLP caused any lasting damage). Apparently, my echocardiogram came back ok, so no need (as of yet) to see a cardiologist. One less doctor.

All of this to get my body (and mind) back into a place where we can try again to have a baby. I'm hopeful that if today's tests come back ok, and we can get my blood pressure under control, that we can get the go ahead in a few months, but we could be asked to wait until this spring, which would be difficult. I know that the holidays are going to be hard this year, as we were supposed to be celebrating all of Eliza's firsts: first Christmas, first picture with Santa, etc., and I think they would be a bit easier to get through if we were already trying again. Of course, the primary goal is to have a healthy pregnancy and bring home a healthy baby, but I guess I would just prefer that goal was fulfilled sooner, rather than later.

Wanting to get pregnant again doesn't mean that I've "gotten over" Eliza's death -- I don't think that you ever "get over" the death of your child. But I was cheated out of being a mother to a healthy baby, which is now something I want more than ever. Eliza will always be my first born, and now I want to give her brothers & sisters.

Just because I didn't get to know Eliza outside of my body, it doesn't mean that she wasn't a person, a child, my baby. I knew her intimately, and I miss her every day. But somehow, over the last few months, I've learned how to function, despite that loss. I get up in the morning, take a shower, get dressed, take my meds, record my blood pressure, go to work, eat, knit (oh boy, do I knit), see friends (occasionally -- I'm working up to that more), joke with my husband and generally try to keep going. I think that's what Eliza would want.

If you're still reading this, thank you. The more I talk/write about what happened, the better I am able to deal with it.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Who am I?

I've been thinking a lot about this question lately. Who am I?

I am:
a wife
a daughter
a sister
a college graduate
a professional
a knitter
a crocheter
a mother who lost her baby
a preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome survivor
a woman who often feels like she's coming apart at the seams
a person who is trying to regain some semblance of normalcy after her life has been turned upside down
a patient who now sees more doctors than she ever thought possible
a mother who is desperately sad that her baby died, but is hopeful that, with knowledge and proactive medical care, she can bring home a healthy child someday

In loving memory of Eliza Pearl Manfredi, born/died July 4, 2006.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Pregnant stuff, and then some knitting. I promise.

In a nod to Crazy Aunt Purl, I just need to "hold on for one more day-ay." Tahoe is coming, or rather, I'm going to Tahoe on Saturday for a whole week. And I need this vacation like never before.

I feel like I've been on an emotional & physical roller coaster for the last couple of weeks. Emotionally, I've been feeling down & out. Mostly depressed and self-centered. Physically, I'm still nauseous (I now have my "special" puking place in the driveway as I sit in my car trying to leave for work) and for the last week, I've been swollen beyond belief. By the end of the day, my feet literally feel like they will split in two, or at least get horrid stretch marks. At least my hip & back pain has died down and I'm sleeping better, because I might just kill somebody if I wasn't.

Last night after work, I decided to rest my tired feet in a cold bath. It felt fabulous, but then I
heard my cell phone ringing in my purse in the living room. I got up and *thought I dried my feet* and walked out into the hallway (the hallway now known as the Slip 'N Slide of Death) and promptly fell on my face. Well, my knee and hands, actually. Falling as an adult is a bit weird, especially a pregnant adult. My weight has shifted so much that my sense of balance is just a *bit* off -- not enough that I notice it all the time, but when I start to fall, I can't necessarily catch myself. So I laid on the floor and whimpered for a few minutes before I got up. And then I got the Headache of Doom, which refused to go away all night, and even into this morning.

I've just decided that I hate happy pregnant women*, and all those nonpregnant women who ask, "don't you lurvvv being pregnant?" No, I don't love being pregnant. I love Figalina, but process of bringing her into the world generally sucks.

*Not individually, but more as a class of people. Really, I'm just jealous. I just hate the fact that the general assumption is that pregnancy is wonderful, and it's only abberrant, grumpy women that can't enjoy this beautiful time of their lives. From my tally, the happy pregnant women are the abberrat
ion, not the norm.

Ok, I promised knitting, so here we go. I've decided that I want to make the Seaberry Shell by Wenlan Chia (of Twinkle by Wenlan) from the Spring 2006 issue of Interweave knits. I love her designs, and I thought it would be a fun beach project. However, the pattern calls for her yarn, Twinkle Cruise (70% silk, 30% cotton). Ok, so where would one find this yarn? Good question! Interweave directs readers to the Twinkle website, Ok, sounds reasonable. On the site, there is a tab for "twinkle handknit yarns," but when you click on it, all you get is a pretty slide show of her runway shows. Um, ok. Not so helpful. I've emailed both Interweave Knits and Twinkle by Wenlan for more info, but have yet to hear back (to be fair, I just emailed them yesterday). But um, this magazine came out more than a month ago, people. Make sure that the recommended yarn is actually available by the time the mag goes to print! If I don't hear back (and even if I do, frankly), I may just head down to A Mano and get Shannita to recommend a substitute yarn. Grr.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Whatever happened to those blissfully happy women who just love being pregnant? I've met some of them, and I used to hope that I would be one of them. Now, I think they are the spawn of Satan, sent here to make us normal, crabby pregnant women feel guilty and self-loathing.

It doesn't help that things here at Nonprofits 'R Us are less than fun. And I'm not sleeping well, because I can't get comfortable (hip, back & shoulder pain make sleeping a chore, especially when sleeping on your back isn't a comfortable option due to baby compressing your lungs and spine). My feet are beginning to swell, which somewhat limits my shoe choices. And truth be told, I'm getting a bit bored of the pregnant talk, but at the same time, I can't think of anything else.

I'm happy to be going on vacation at the end of next week. One whole week in Lake Tahoe, which is positively my favorite place on earth. Beach, trees, water and friends. Maybe I'm just in a rut, and need a change of pace.

I will admit that it's hard, not having any family around to help with the planning of the big and little stuff. It's ok in that Rich & I aren't told what we should do and what we shouldn't do, but at the same time, if we don't do it, no one else will. And that makes even the littlest thing seem overwhelming.

At the same time, I feel like I shouldn't be complaining, because so many people are raising families with less support than I have. My friend Lynn is raising 2 little boys on a whole different continent than her family. Allison S. is also pregnant, and is the opposite side of the country from her family, and she's running her own business while combating nausea. I feel like I don't deserve to wallow in self-pity, not when I've got a great husband, wonderful friends, and family that love me (even if they aren't in the immediate area, which is my fault anyway, since I'm the one that decided to stay in LA instead of moving back to the Bay Area). And then I feel dumb for feeling guilty, since for god's sake, I'M PREGNANT! I'm hormonal and I can't control every single emotion that I have.

You see, people, this is what I was saving you from. The crazy rants and mood swings of this emotionally disturbed pregnant woman. But you asked for it.

Just so this isn't a completely wasted post, here's a baby update:
Your baby is more than 11 inches long and weighs just over a pound. Her skin is red and wrinkled. Blood vessels in her lungs are developing to prepare him for breathing. She can swallow, but she normally won't pass her first stool (called meconium) until after birth. Loud noises heard often in utero — such as your dog barking or the roar of a vacuum cleaner — probably won't faze your baby when she hears them outside the womb.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Crabby pants

I haven't posted much of late, I know. Bad blogger! But to be honest, I've been in a crappy funk lately. I'm a crabby, bitchy pregnant woman, and who the heck wants to read about that? So, if you notice that I'm more not here than here lately, just assume that I'm in a very bad mood, and that really, I'm just saving you from having to read my rants. Really, it's all about you.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


June gloom is firmly ensconced here in LA, and I'm actually loving it. It's cool and breezy and about 74 degrees. I think I've slept more in the last few days that I have in weeks, which has been a luxury that I appreciate all the more because I know that, in a few months, I won't have it.

Figalina is going strong. For the first time ever, I actually felt her move on Friday night. I was up late, reading "What to Exepect..." when I felt something weird in the pit of my stomach. It felt like Figgy was... purring, for lack of a better description. Rich said she muct have her cell phone on vibrate. Since then, I've felt the occasional poke, prod or flutter. It has been so reassuring, since for the last 2 weeks, everything I've read has said I should have felt the baby move. And now I finally can. It's lovely, even though I know sometime around week 30, I'll be moaning about heels in ribs, etc.

It's finished! Yes, the granny square dress for Figgy is done. And, if I do say so myself, it is adorable. It's a large size, so it should fit her between 9 months - 1 year old. But it turned out as cute as I could ever have hoped for. Now, I'm working on a little cardigan from the book, "Candy Babies," by Candi Jensen, who writes the best crochet books for childrens clothes & blankets (other books include "Candy Blankies" and "Candy Tots"). I'm really enjoying making stuff for Figgy now, since she's so obviously real.

I'll end this post with an update from, for week 22: Your baby now looks like a miniature newborn, checking in at 10.9 inches and almost 1 pound. Her skin will continue to appear wrinkled until she gains enough weight to fill it out, and the fine hair (lanugo) that covers her head and body is now visible. Her lips are becoming more distinct, and the first signs of teeth are appearing as buds beneath her gum line. Her eyes are developed, though the iris (the colored part of the eye) still lacks pigment. Eyelids and eyebrows are in place, and her pancreas, essential for hormone production, is developing steadily.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Old School

Anyone remember back when this blog was about craftiness, and not about pregnancy? Me neither.

But really, ever since I found out that we're having Figalina, rather than Fignacio, I've regained my craftiness! I knew instantly that I needed to make the adorable granny square bib-front dress from one of my recently purchased McCall's Needlework & Crafts magazines.

And in less than a week, I'm almost done with the skirt (I'd be further along, but we had our big fundraising walk for work on Saturday, and Sunday was so hot I felt like melting). I've updated the color palette and yarn selection a bit (no primary colors in itchy acrylic). I'm using Blue Sky Cotton, which is my absolute favorite cotton yarn. I love their colors. I'm making the dress in a size 1, so it will be wearable in time for our Indian summer.

On the baby front (because Lord knows I can't go through a whole post without mentioning her), I still can't feel her movements yet. I'm trying, but nothing yet. We signed up for our childbirth classes today. 5 weeks long, 2 1/2 hours each. I guess there is a lot to learn! The only bad thing is that they are on Thursdays, 7-9:30 p.m., so I'll miss the WeHo SnB for the entire month of July + first 2 weeks of August. Bummer! But I'm excited. It's all so real now.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

It's abird, it's a plane, it's...

a baby!

And according to the doctor, it's definitely a girl! Figoberta! Figalina! So many crafting possibilities! I'm already fast at work on an adorable granny square dress from one of my vintage McCall's Needlework & Crafts.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Scariest Moment of my Life (to date)

I'm sick and it sucks. I first noticed a tickle in my throat on Friday. I just felt like I constantly needed to clear my throat. And then Saturday, when I was supposed to get up early to go with Faith & Cory to an estate sale up in the valley, I felt like crap. Mostly I thought I felt tired because the cats were being especially obnoxious at 3 a.m. (pulling down the kitchen and bathroom garbage cans and chewing on plastic).

I had also lost my voice, but I just chalked that up to yelling at the cats too much. I managed to have a lovely time at the estate sale (bought 3 vintage dress patterns from the mid-60s) and then we had lunch and headed over to A Mano Yarns. We got to see Shannita & Peggy, both of whom were working and Faith & Cory bought some great yarn, but I really started to feel lightheaded and exhausted. I went home & vegged for a few hours before deciding that I was too tired to head out to Cinespia (a first for me this season). We watched march of the Penguins and I started to notice a sore throat. I took some cough drops and felt ok. But at about 11 p.m. I started to feel really crappy. My head was pounding, my throat was killing me and I had sinus pressure building in my ears. I took a Chloraseptic throat strip but it didn't seem to help enough.

This is when I lost it. I cam into the living room crying because I felt so icky. I knew I was acting like a 6 year old, but I couldn't help it. Rich was awesome, getting me water and tissues and storking my back to make me feel better. He told me to take a hot shower because the steam would help with the sinus pressure and I'd be able to sleep easier. So I did, and it actually seemed to help. Until I started feeling nauseous.

Being pregnant, nausea is just something that comes with the territory. So while it definitely sucks, you almost get used to it. So I started throwing up in the shower, just mucus, which I knew was from the draining of my sinuses.

And then I saw red. Throwing up blood is definitely a no-no at any time, but especially when you're pregnant. And so when I saw red mucus coming up, I freaked. I called out to Rich that I was throwing up blood, and he immediately said we needed to go to the hospital. I got out of the shower, calmly dried off and asked Rich for some clothes. I felt strangely calm, sort of like "I know that I need to get from point A to point B and if I think about what is actually happening, I won't be able to function." I was trying not to think about what was really going on, but the thought of losing Figgy was too much to bear. I know people who have lost pregnancies in their 5th month, so I know it can happen, but I couldn't fathom it happening to me.

As I looked for a shirt to put on, I saw the cough drops I'd been taking -- bright orange. And that's when the calm part of me said, "hey, could that red just have been coloring from the cough drops?" But Rich was the one who realized that the Chloraseptic strips I'd taken were bright red, the same red that I saw in the shower. Waves and waves of relief spread over me. I wasn't going to lose Figgy. I didn't have to go to the hospital. I apologized to Rich for scaring the beejeezus out of him, and sat on the edge of the bed, breathing deeply.

My friend Allison, mom to Baby Maggie, wrote me something in an email in response to my happiness that I'd passed my AFP test. "It is a huge weight off the mind but remember, worrying will now be a perpetual state of being for the rest of your life." I guess it already is.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Proud to be a Californian

It's nice to be first.

California Leads in Prevention of Unintended Pregnancies

Ok, so the public education system here may not be so hot, but at least students here attending sex ed classes "learn medically accurate lessons about both abstinence and contraception." Because as we know, abstinence-only sex ed is worthless. So way to go CA!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Good day, (no) sunshine!

What a lovely weekend I've had. No, seriously. I know I was down on Friday, but a little downtime really helped pick the spirits back up. Saturday morning, I went to Heather (former co-owner of A Mano)'s garage sale, as she & husband, and impossibly cute baby are moving back to Portland. Sad to see her go, but I did get to buy some insanely inexpensive yarn from her (7 balls of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in light grey and 10 skeins of Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in ivory) and an adorable sweatsuit for Figgy: black with a baby-size skeleton in white on the front. Since Figgy is due on Oct. 15, it's Figgy's first Halloween costume!

After the sale, Faith & I had a lovely breakfast at Cafe 50's, and then I came home. Rich & I have finally reached our breaking point with boxes (as in, we've lived in this place now for 2 1/2 months, and half of my clothes were still in boxes in our bedroom). So we went through (most of) the boxes and were able to move in the very stylish small dressers that we bought from Faiths sister, Shannon. And now our room looks like a real bedroom. Our living room is now overrun with a multitude of empty boxes, but we're going to take them all to the recycing center on Saturday.

We wound down with the organizing in time for Cinespia, which was showing the classic film-noir, Detour. This 1945 gem was obviously done on the cheap (shots are fliplopped so cars are driving on the left side of the road), but it was really interesting. And the crowd was relatively small and not annoying (ie, unlike last week's showing of The Birds), so it was very enjoyable.

Today, I decided not to take the usual Sunday walk to the Farmers market (Rich was nursing some nasty sinus issues that kept him from sleeping well, so he needed to sleep in), and instead, I headed out to the Melrose Trading Post at Faifax High. I love this flea market. It's the perfect mix of vintage and new, classics and crap. And it's large enough to be worthwhile, but small enough to see everything and still have the rest of your day to yourself. I lucked upon a stash of vintage knitting/craft magazines, inlcuding multiple copies of McCalls Needlework & Crafts, my favorite vintage mag ever. Last year, Ellen directed Faith & I to the motherload estate sale of vintage mags: the Fern Smith sale. While I didn't score anything near as big as the Fern Smith sale today, I did pick up 1 Vogue Knitting magazine (Spring/Summer 1963), 2 Spinnerin knitting pattern magazines (1961 & 1967), and 5 McN&C (1968-1972). Spinnerin magazines are known for their beautiful color photography and fully styled photo shoots (the 1967 mag seems to be shot in a ski lodge). And McN&C is just chock full of every craft you can think of: needlepoint, knitting, crochet, macrame, sewing, string art, latch-hook, embroidery, etc. My Fern Smith collection of McN&C wxtends from 1950-1968/69, with a couple of 70s mags thrown in, but now I'm good through to early 1973. There are some really fascinating items in here, the best being a needlepoint lunar landing, complete with a mini-Earth against an American flag instead of the night sky! I love this stuff.

When i got back, we headed out to our kickball end-of-season "pool" party at the Loews Beverly Hills. Despite the facts that a) it was cloudy and windy and even sprinkling (definitely not swimming weather), and b) I can't drink, it was still a lot of fun.

And on the baby front: it's week 19 and all's well! Annika had her baby (Congratulations, and welcome Samuel William Klein!). Allison has given me permission to out her, as it were, as a fellow October-mama-to-be! I have my next doctor's appointment on Wednesday to get my results of the AFP test (it's all going to be fine, and even if the tests come back positive, something like 80% of those babies are born with nothing wrong). And I get my ultrasound on May 31 to find out Figgy's gender (along with a bunch of medical stuff). With all the male babies around here (Annika's Samuel, Allison's baby-boy-to-be), my conviction that Figgy is male is starting to wane. I guess we'll know in a week and a half.

For now, I'll leave you with a update for week 19: Your baby weighs about 8 1/2 ounces, and he measures 6 inches, head to bottom — about the length of a small zucchini. His arms and legs are in the right proportions to each other and the rest of his body now. His kidneys continue to make urine, and the hair on his scalp is sprouting. This is a crucial time for sensory development: Your baby's brain is designating specialized areas for smell, taste, hearing, vision, and touch. If your baby is a girl, she has an astonishing six million eggs in her ovaries. They'll dwindle to fewer than two million by the time she's born.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Baby Blahs

I feel icky.

I've been feeling icky for a good portion of the day, actually. I helped my intern organize a HUGE stash of work videos (b-roll betas, VHS copies, some 3/4" tapes, etc.), and I lifted some big boxes, which didn't feel too heavy at the time, but that, plus standing for 1 hour+ in not the most supportive shoes, and a stuffy office made me feel dizzy. I sat down for a bit, had some yogurt and water, and felt better, but not 100%. I finished with the videos (no more lifting, though. That's what interns are for, even if they're cute little Asian girls), and sat at my desk to play some solitaire for the rest of the afternoon.

I felt good enough to go to SnB, and was ravenous, so I went to the Brazilian place, which is fabulous, but also really, really filling. I didn't realize how stuffed + bloated I was until I got up to leave and touched my stomach (which felt really tight) and almost puked in the parking lot at the Farmer's Market.

What have I learned from this experience?
1. Take it easy. If people want to act concerned, let them. Take advantage of the next few months, because after that, most people will not care if you feel icky.
2. Eat more frequently. And eat smaller meals. I was doing well with that during the first 14 weeks when my morning sickness was pervasive. I had to eat small things all the time just so I didn't puke. But now that the nausea is mostly gone (except for the mornings), I've fallen back on my habit of 2-3 large meals, which certainly is not good, given that I have heartburn and gas anyways, and large meals only make it worse.
3. Wear more supportive shoes. It's only going to get worse from here, so be prepared.

Speaking of be prepared, Annika is in labor right now! And a good friend who is also pregnant just found out she's having a boy! So much pregnancy activity right now. You'd think I'd be feeling more excited about my own, but right now, I'm feeling very blah. I've made 1 baby booty (which was supposed to be for 3-6 months, but my gauge was off, so it's more for a 1-2 year old), and I've done about 2-3 inches on a knit baby hat. That's it.

And I have no motivation to do any more. Maybe it will change when I find out if it's a boy or girl, but maybe not. So I'm moving my crafty mojo back to me. I've always been happier crafting things for me than for gifts for other people, maybe just because I know I'll appreciate it. So for whatever reason, I'm happy making another crocheted shrug from my favorite vintage pattern. I have a few months left to get excited about crafting for Figgy. And I only have a few months left to be selfish. So I'm going to take advantage of the time I have.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The times, they are a changin'

Figgy gets more real to me every day. And not just because I'm still puking (wasn't this supposed to go away by now?). On Wednesday, before Pizza Club, my lovely friend Lynn brought over a bunch of baby stuffy for us.

Including a crib.

One that looks very much like this:

And now it's in our spare room, which now that it has a crib in it, I guess is officially the nursery. It's so bizarre. We've been accumulating stuff (mostly from Lynn) for a while now, a car seat here, an activity mat there, but a) most of those things are in the garage, and b) none of them are quite as big as this crib. It's huge. Lynn's husband, Marty, actually had to take it apart just to fit it through our hallway. It's really kind of freaking me out. It all goes to my friend Allison (mom to Baby Maggie)'s point that babies take 9 months to get here for a reason: you need that long to wrap your head around the fact that everything is about to change.

On the up side, we had a mini preview of how the cats may react to Figgy's arrival. Lynn brought her 2 very well-behaved boys (Jack, age 4 and Ryan, 18 months) with her to drop off the crib. They were both very excited to see Deano, Doyle & Nigella. But's let's just say that Doyle was not so glad to see them. He took one look at those kids and ran into the bedroom, where he cowered around the side of our bed. But Deano was so friendly and gentle! He rubbed against them, flopped for them so they could pet his stomach and even played with toys with them. I was so impressed with him. Doyle's reaction was a bit surprising, as he is normally super friendly and in your face about how happy he is so see you (when our insurance agent came in to show us all our paperwork, he jumped in her lap and wouldn't leave her alone). But I guess kids are different.

On Saturday, I'll be 18 weeks along. Only 2 more weeks and I'll be 20 weeks, which is the official half-way point through the pregnancy (of course, if you want to get into semantics, the first two weeks are technically pre-conception, but blah, blah blah). I know there is so much ahead of me, but it's scary because I feel like the first half has just flown by. There is so much to do and get ready for, and it's a long time and not very much time at all at the same time.

Kendra had the ingenius idea of giving Figgy (if Figgy is a boy) the middle name "Newton," as a little in-joke. Is it terrible that we're actually considering it?

Monday, May 08, 2006

New to me!

It's been a whirlwind last couple of weeks, let me tell you. I've been bad with the not updating, but there is a lot going on.

#1 Baby update. I'm getting big. Probably not so big that other people notice it much, but I totally notice. My waistline is slowly disappearing. It's strange to see it positively melting away before my eyes. I've been getting weird, almost stitch-like pains in my lower right abdomen. I don't think they're major, but they've been around for the last few days. So I'm officially at 17 weeks. And what size is Figgy? Well, last week (despite my nonposting), he/she was the size of a small avocado. Now:
Your baby weighs about 5 ounces now, and he's around 5 inches long — about the size of a large onion. He can move his joints, and his skeleton — until now rubbery cartilage — is starting to harden to bone. His sense of hearing is also developing. The umbilical cord, his lifeline to the placenta, is growing stronger and thicker. An onion! 5 inches is pretty big. And that's actually not counting the length of the legs (until 20 weeks, they don't count since they are curled up so tightly).

#2 Car Update. We bought a new car! Well, new to us, anyway. A 2001 PT Cruiser, with only 22,000 miles, for less than $10,000! The car has automatic everything, leather interior, and it's just awesome. It will be a good family car, which is what we really needed.

#3 Knitting Update. The mohair Tie One On is coming along, altough I didn't pick it up all weekend, which is bad, because I've got to mail it off by Wed/Thursday, and I haven't even gotten to the ties yet! But darn it, it's going to be finished.

#4 Social Update. Cinespia started this weekend! The screenings at Hollywood Forever Cemetary are awesome, and just a fun, communal experience. They started the season on Saturday with The Maltese Falcon, and next week they screen The Birds. I encourage everyone to come out, bring a picnic, some blankets and pillows and enjoy clasic movies under the stars.

That's it for now. I promise pictures of Tie One On once it's finished.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Creative Juices are Flowing

Yes, I actually cast on for a new project last night. Mother's Day is coming up, and while my gifts for my mom are good to go, I didn't have anything yet for my grandmother. So, based on recommendations from Tuesday SnB (thanks Theresa!), I cast on for Tie One On, with some yummy mohair that I found on ages ago (K1C2 Mousse in a dark & moody black, blue & indigo colorway). I'm doing the mellow green version, so it's all garter stitch -- hopefully I can get it done in time to send it off before May 14 and I don't have to remember where I am in a stitch pattern. I'm using size 13 needles, although since I knit combination style, it's really tight, so it's more the equivalent of size 11s. It's going quickly, so I'm optimistic.

I think I was in a good mood last night because a) Richard comes home late tonight, and b) I had a doctor's appointment last night where I didn't get chastized about my weight or my poor intake of water! Hurrah! Everything seemed normal, which is good. I had to give blood, which is always a pain as I have really narrow veins, but it's for an AFP test, which screens for neural tube defects, Down's syndrome, etc. A bit scary, but I'm trying not to think about it. But on the positive side, next Wednesday, I get to schedule my level 2 ultrasound to find out (among other things) Figgy's gender! So sometime next month, we will know whether it's Fignacio or Figoberta. It's exciting and overwhelming at the same time, as most of this pregnancy has been.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

What's making Sara puke today?

Well, this morning it was a combination of my cat's dried herring treats and dirty dishes in the sink. Now, since Figgy has taken up residence in my abdomen, Richard normally takes the dirty type of chores (i.e., most of them), but he is in Las Vegas right now for a trade show. So feeding the cats, taking out the trash, carefully cleaning the cat box, theoretically doing the dishes, are my duties until Thursday night when Rich gets back. I learned on Sunday that opening a can of wet cat food (which Deano needs regularly because he has a tendency to get constipated) in the morning is a bad idea. I didn't think that cat treats would do it to me, but I opened a new bag (and basically these treats are freeze-dried pieces of fish and a new bag is particularly stinky) and I just couldn't handle it. Blecch.

I have been feeling more rested the past couple of days. I'm trying to get to bed earlier than normal. In bed by 11 p.m., read for 1/2 an hour and going to sleep at 11:30. And imagine this, I got in to work before 9 a.m. (8:45 actually), the first time I've done that for a regular, nonmeeting day in a long, long time.

My elbow is still bothering me a bit from the sanding & ironing I did on Sunday. I hope it goes away soon because otherwise, it might interfere with knitting & crocheting. As for the power tool goodness, yes, they are worked with outside. We have a garage and a driveway with the new place, so the garage has become the home of the table saw, the power drill, the sawdust, etc.

K8 asked whether we are going to find out Figgy's gender. Answer: hell yes. I know that some people feel that the gender of your child is one of the few real surprises left in this world, so they leave it until the birth. But I feel like it's a surprise whenever you find out, so why add to the suspense?

I don't have a preference in terms of boy or girl -- they both seem pretty scary to me at this point. Girls are obviously more familiar to me (two younger sisters), and girls seem to be easier when they are younger, but you have to deal with the sex/pregnancy issue, mean girls, etc. Boys are unfamiliar (older half-brother doesn't count because he is so much older and didn't live with us growing up) and can be scary destructive when they are little and then just plain scary with the teenage rage issues and Columbine alienation. I know I'm focusing on the bad bits, but it's all overwhelming. Sometime within the next month or so, we will find out Figgy's gender, and it's just one more step to making this all real. Scary.