21 July 2010

Waxing and waning

Yesterday at the gym I weighed myself for the first time in nearly three months, and was quite shocked to discover that I weigh less than I did before I got pregnant over a year ago. I knew that breastfeeding meant easier weight loss, but I didn't think that the scale would actually tick negative, if "zero" is what I weighed the moment we got the little plus sign on a pee stick.

It's not like I'm exercising much: I have gone to the gym maybe four times this summer (whereas last year I was in better shape than I've ever been, due to gym classes and swimming). It's not like I'm eating less: I am always hungry and require generous portions of food. The only conclusion is that the baby is quite literally sucking it out of me. I'm fine with that system.

I've been thinking this week about how it felt to be pregnant, and caught myself really missing it. I can't quite mentally recapture that sensation of movement in my belly--it's so physical and so fleeting and so normal all at once--now that it's no longer there. I loved the wondering and waiting; I loved the roundness and fulness and heaviness of my body; I loved pressing the Mister's hand to me to feel our baby move. It's hard to explain, but when pregnant, I felt so rooted and so... sure.

That, combined with Gabriel living up to his name and being a giggly, smily, squealing little angel (the other day after waking up at 9, he napped from 11-2, 3-4, 6-8, and then only woke once during the night), meant that when the Mister raised the question of when we should get pregnant again, I just about said: as soon as we can! I mean, I know we probably shouldn't get pregnant when our first child is only five months old, but as far as M. is concerned, the sooner the better, and I'm almost inclined to agree.

(Disclaimer: much more discussion is needed, and the future is uncertain, and I know these things don't happen just because you want them to, even if we had an easy time of it the first go-round...)

20 July 2010

Cloth on the road

I packed Gabriel's cloth diapers for a week's vacation in France, and although I had been told by the owners of the apartment we were staying in that there was a washer available, I did not know the details of layout and access. Turns out the washer was in their private home rather than in the apartment. They were terribly nice, and offered to take the laundry and do it for us (before they knew what it was), but as awkward as it is to show up with a bag full of your child's poopy diapers and be escorted to a cluttered laundry room, it would be even more awkward to expect someone else to handle it.

Plus, negotiating all of this in French was tricky (I didn't even know the word for "diaper," but now I do: la couche bébé). They did insist on taking the laundry out and bringing it over to us, so I was relieved when the woman told me that they had done cloth diapering for a few months when their babies were little, too. (They quit because of rashes.)

I only ended up doing the one load, though, relying on disposables for the middle part of the week, and back to cloth when we were close enough to departure to make them last until we were reunited with a familiar washing machine. Because the other thing I hadn't taken into account is that washing the diapers cuts into sightseeing time; the two hours needed by the durn European machines meant waiting around instead of heading out for the day, and in this case we had to try twice before we found our innkeepers at home.

Other trips have been fine with cloth, because we were in the homes of family or friends and could do laundry easily, and the agenda mostly included hanging out in the house. In other cases, we've brought them along for jaunts of a couple of days (Valencia, the Costa Brava) that were short enough that I didn't need to wash them before heading back. But in the future I'll think twice about doing cloth for longer trips where I'm not sure of the laundry situation, or to hotels.

Besides the travel snafus, I've really loved cloth diapering so far. It's easier than you think when you're contemplating it (the choices are overwhelming and the ick factor is bigger in imagination than in reality), and I find the little bright-colored bottom of a baby so darn cute. Plus, for me it's hugely satisfying to know that I can avoid creating massive amounts of waste, reduce the factory and transport demand of disposables, and skip all of those chemical-laden plastics and fibers next to my baby's skin. Oh, and the cherry on top: it's way cheaper!

The find

I love interior design magazines and blogs, love drooling over images of other people's homes--people with great taste, innovative personal style. I love the "sneak peeks" feature over at design*sponge, because the homes are loved and lived in, not the ones in the glossy magazine spreads devoid of all signs of actual human habitation. I'm a sucker for casually but tantalizingly arranged vignettes, and especially those involving vivid typography of some sort...prints with words, old signage, rusty letters, vintage letterpress blocks.

But what gets me every time is the text that accompanies the image. "We found the [adorable, perfect, just-worn-enough item] in a flea market in France!" Or, "We stumbled across that [awesome mid-century piece] on the street!" The words "flea market find" get real old real fast. (Also overused: "I'm obsessed with..." Really? Obsessed?) Here's a perfect example: In a lovely budget redo, somebody airily mentions a print they "picked up at a Paris flea market."

Sure, I think. "Picked up," as easy as an errand to the dry cleaners. As if we all rummage around in French flea markets every day. As if there is anything besides cracked and water-swollen particleboard furniture on our street.

But then. We went to France, see. Last week, on vacation, with my parents. We rambled around Provence, bought bunches of lavender, lived in a little apartment in a town so small it didn't have a boulangerie (just a madcap baker who showed up with deliveries from the next town over, beeping his horn like the roadrunner at 9 am). And we went to a flea market. And behold! The flea market had woodblock letters, in big ramshackle piles, in which I could rummage to my heart's content, smudging my fingers with dusty ink.

We came home with a lovely selection of letters, and it's like candy to me. But I heretofore promise that I will not be the jerk who says offhandedly, "oh, we just picked those up in a French flea market." I will instead admire the letters, and point out how, among the other letters we picked just because they looked funky, we chose a tall mommy R, and a bold daddy M, and a little baby G.

Now I need to figure out how to arrange them in my own little vignette. On a table? A shelf? On a wall? I think this project is so cool (and yes, the words "a flea market in France" appear once again), but I don't have enough of them to pull it off. I'll have to experiment a little, which of course is half the fun.

04 July 2010

Books and baby

One of my greatest worries before becoming a parent is that I would never read a book again. Unless it was called Your Child and You: Techniques for Eating with One Hand and How to Do Midnight Feedings without Waking Up, or something. Oh, of course I knew I'd read books for work; it's what I do, after all. But what about "fun" reading? I worried that, like movie-going and fine dining, I'd have to wait until the baby was in elementary school before doing it again.

But I've been more than pleasantly surprised, in that I've plowed through more "for-fun" books lately than ever. In the early weeks, when I spent a whole lot of time nursing, I read a few hefty novels while feeding the baby (the only trick to which was how to turn pages when at least one hand was occupied). But the main thing is that my bedtime reading hasn't really changed; if anything, I read more because we're home more often.

Plus, we don't have a TV, either in Bloomington or here in Barcelona, so the lure of a random television show doesn't affect my decision to read a book.

And finally, my mom lent me her Kindle, loaded with a bunch of great novels, and I've been gobbling them up. The Kindle is FANTASTIC for nursing (see one-handed problem above) and travel (lightweight, barely uses battery, pack many novels at a time). The Kindle will never replace that big stack of novels I have by my bedside, but it sure is great for the airplane, the train, or the metro.

As with many aspects of parenting that I find easier than I thought they would be, I am acutely aware that when we add another kid (or two or three?!) into the mix, all bets are off. But for now, I am so pleased that I am able to continue, post-baby, one of those things that defines who I am, which means--surprise!--I am still the person I was pre-baby. Just with a baby.

02 July 2010


In the spirit of relaunching regular blog posts, today I am writing from Valencia, Spain. When the Mister suggested that Gabriel and I tag along on this business trip, I couldn't resist, even though our lives have been very busy lately, and my parents arrive for a visit the day after we get back. It's a whole new city! A whole new Autonomous Region of Spain! I actually have stood on a mountaintop on the spot where Catalonia, Valencia, and Aragon converge, but I had never visited the capital of Valencia (which is beautiful, from what I've seen so far). Just a three-hour train trip from Barcelona, and besides, a good way to celebrate the anniversary of our wedding day!

So Gabriel and I are about to head into the city for some sightseeing, while the Mister sits in the kind of conference room that has little microphones, water glasses, and hard candies at every table, and listens earnestly to people talk about the kinds of things he's heard a thousand times already. I think we get the better deal.

I do have some more blog posts in my head, so I will try to continue to update regularly.

Also: happy anniversary, my Mister. Four years ago today was one of the best days of my life, but every day since then has been better than it would have been, just because you're in it.