Friday, January 21, 2022

Super easy teacher hacks!

 This is purely for SEO in case a young teacher is randomly searching the Google. I haven't posted here in years, and I haven't been a classroom teacher in over ten years! However, I've continued working in education, including substitute teaching in the Portland, OR area for at least four years (maybe five? I can't math). I still have my teacher voice and I still refuse to speak to the group if kids are talking. (I also still instinctively raise my hand with my old quiet signal!)

Here are a few key things I have learned in my nearly two decades working in and around schools. These are just small tweaks of language and intention that don't take any actual learning, just rethinking. 

I hear newer teachers make these mistakes all the time and it's all I can do to keep my mouth shut. :) So learn from someone who's been around a bit and has learned some lessons for you. 


I'll start with a big one. My first year teaching, I complained to my mentor that the kids never listened to me. She said, "Well, they don't have to--you always repeat yourself." 

DUDE, that blew my mind and it has stuck with me ever since. It's so true. If you give a direction ten times, kids know they don't have to listen the first or even third time, because you'll just keep saying it. So stop repeating everything! Teach them to listen to you. 


So here's what I learned to do to avoid repeating myself eighteen thousand times a day:

Me: Alright class, open to page 203. What page, everyone? {I'm writing a giant 203 on the board as I do this, and then pointing to it.}

Class, in unison: 203 

This way, kids who were spacing out when I said it, might hear the group say it loudly together. AND OR they can look with their eyes if their ears were momentarily out of commission. 

Inevitably, a kid: What page? 

Me: {silently pointing to the number on the board}

This combination worked a treat at least 95% of the time. 

I am a stubborn beast and just refused to repeat. I think the kids learned that pretty quickly. 


Another huge but really subtle revelation that someone told me once early on (it might have been the same person, but I can't remember anymore). Never tell students, "I want you to... [take out your books, work on this project, turn to your neighbor, etc]." 

One, that makes it all about *you.* Two, there are always kids who will instinctively rebel against that because it's YOU telling them what to do. 

Instead, make it  a more active 'you' statement, or make it an imperative statement. "Next, you will take out your book." "Now, turn to your partner." 


This one I figured out as a sub a few years ago and IT IS GOLD I TELL YOU. When it's time for a transition (go to the carpet, get your coats, line up for recess, etc), if you give them an open-ended directive, they will dilly-dally, wander, chitchat, ignore you. 

However! Make it a countdown and they will get to scooting. So I say something like, "Okay, we will move to the carpet now. Can you do it in twenty seconds? Go! One, two, three..." Or, "Okay, everybody take a seat in five, four, three..." 


The kids know exactly what to do, they aren't mad or cranky about it, it lights an easy fire under them, like a super easy challenge. And it works every dang time. 


If you happen to find this: good luck! Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts! 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Back to School Season

This is my third year of not teaching. I don't know if I should feel bad about that or if I should congratulate myself.

I successfully avoided all the school supply sales, because I still have an urge to buy things like boxes of pencils and piles of composition notebooks and reams of copy paper. But I no longer have students who can use them.

There is still something exciting about a new school year--the anticipation, the new outfits, the possibilities of starting fresh, being better this time around.

And for the last three Septembers, I have such a part of me that mentally starts skipping down that path. The rest of me pulls back the leash sharply--no no, we're done, we don't do that anymore, that's not who we are anymore. But--but... Nope!

Come the dark November drudge, I am always grateful that I'm not slogging up that endless mountain. I remember all too well the way the dreary days felt endless and pointless and just too hard.

And yet...this summer I almost applied for a teaching job.


It was a long-term sub position covering a maternity leave. (Short, defined timeline!) It was at a charter school. (Looked like a mildly to mostly hippie one.) Located right in Portland, so no long commute to the suburbs. (Sweet!) The hours were the same as public school. (Awesome!!!!!) It was for fifth/sixth grade language arts/social studies. (AWESOME!!!!!!!!!)

I was basically perfect for the job. I wrote a cover letter saying pretty much exactly that. I updated and polished my resume. I didn't even know if I was eligible, because I don't have any Oregon licensure, but I figured I could just apply.

I had nothing to lose to just submit myself. And yet I hesitated.

The teacher bug lives on in me. I suspect it will always be there. I'm not sure if I want to feed it and let it take me over again. Sometimes I want to try and sometimes I'm too scared. Scared that once again I won't be the kind of teacher I want to be, that I feel I should be. Ashamed because I still can't see myself being a career teacher, so maybe I shouldn't take a classroom spot (even for a couple months) away from a teacher who's in it for the long haul. But also piqued because maybe the school scene out here in Portland is completely and utterly different than the mess that is the New York City school system, public and charter. Maybe I would do better here. And maybe it would become a quiet disaster.

The more practical side of me wondered what that would mean for my existing job. I do have a day job, albeit part-time and not terribly lucrative this year thus far. This fall it will be three years with this company, and I don't want to leave. But I don't know how or if I could do another temporary full-time job while continuing to keep my permanent part-time one.

So I never applied. I didn't take the chance. It probably wouldn't have gone anywhere anyway.  It's so easy to avoid failure, by not even trying.

In the meantime, my part-time job has recently ramped up considerably, and I have more work and thus more income. This is a huge relief for my mental state as well as my bank account. I feel better about not having to worry about that other huge potential thing. I'll be able to focus more on this job, and my other job--these growing babies.

Though I have a feeling that next September I might take a peek at that teaching bug and see how it's doing. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013


We need some things at the store. *I* need some things at the store.  I feel lazy and don't want to make the effort to leave the house.  I want to go because I can't stand the thought of water without lemon juice, which I'm almost out of.

An hour later, I finally decide I'll just go. I keep the gym shorts I borrowed from Mr M and add a tank top, hoodie, and flipflops. College-student style. Which is funny because I never wore those things--at least all those things together--when I was a college student.

It's dark out and the air still has a hint of warmth and humidity. It's the kind of night where I wish I lived in New York, so I could meet someone for a drink, and then walk home in the dark, listening either to the symphony of the city, or to plaintive piano-based music.

The kind of night where you just want to wander. To not worry about time, or tasks. To stare mindlessly into the night. To ponder your own life, where it is, where it's going, where it's been. To wallow, to lose yourself.

To be, in short, mildly melancholy.

Instead, I drive the store.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Hello, we're here

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Hey there readerfriends!

On the off chance that you're seeing this, you probably subscribed to my silly blog via a reader like Google Reader. Since that is going away this summer (grrr) I have to get used to another service (grrr). I'm trying both BlogLovin and Feedly. They're okay, but I'm still actually using Google Reader for now, shh, don't tell.

I do plan to keep this blog up...I'm not sure what kinds of things I'll post in the future, but I like having a more 'secret' space available.

Please make sure to follow my blog on your new feed reader! Bloglovin link is above. 

To make it worth your while, here are some photos that aren't yet available anywhere else! :D
 (preview of our new living room plus baby carnival)




A challenge for those who have been paying attention: can you tell which freshly-bathed baby is which? 

Friday, January 18, 2013

careful what I wish for

When I started writing about pregnancy/baby stuff, I wished that I could share it with more people, or that more people would see it. Shameless, aren't I. But hey, what blogger doesn't want an audience? Isn't that the main purpose of blogging? But I didn't want to share out this blog--there are years of stories and posts that I didn't want everyone in my life to read. On facebook I'm friends with former teaching colleagues as well as former students. Plus any posts about family...I don't want them to actually read it.

It's funny--when I was first 'writing' online, back in the geocities days, I had a link in my email signature. I was so excited when my pageviews reached 600! But after switching to blogger in 2004 and then teaching for a couple years, I guarded this blog as my secret outlet. I'm sure I'm not the first one to note how much easier it is to write honestly for an anonymous audience than knowing that people you know are reading it. It makes you consider what you can or cannot or should and should not write. Which partially defeats the purpose of blogging, or at least my stream-of-consciousness/thoughts-in-my-head form of blogging.

Anyway, so I made that whole new blog, and then I shared it on facebook. And sure enough, there was my audience! Lots of pageviews and comments. Which of course I love.

But then...most everyone I know is or can read it. People I know really well, family members, people I haven't seen in over a decade--all of them.

And that's cool for posts about stupid name trends or picture updates. But of course I've written some really introspective things there too, heartfelt shit.

Which I like writing and recording, until I see and remember that everyone can read it. It oddly feels like a slap in the face--in the wake-up call sense, not in the offensive sense. Oh right--I'm putting some of my innermost thoughts On the Internet Where People Can See Them. I still tend to have the idea that I'm pouring my thoughts out into the anonymous abyss. Real-life comments about my blog bring that crashing back to reality. So I find myself censoring not just post ideas, but even some post content. I find myself thinking, "Do I want everyone to know this? Should I really include this part? Will so-and-so see this and get offended? Is this more information than I want so-and-so to have or know?"

But hey, I wanted an audience. I wanted pageviews and comments and yeah, some validation. Sure enough, I've gotten that. At what cost?

Wednesday, December 05, 2012


I realized that I never posted over here that the twins did arrive! I had a c-section on November 21, there were no complications, and both babies looked great: Emmett (Baby A) on the left, and Malcolm (Baby B) on the right:

Today they're two weeks old and doing well. They are super cute and we love to snuggle them. They sleep pretty well so far, so we'll keep them. :)

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Sorry to leave that depressing post up at the top for awhile. Here's a cool video that finally captures some of the crazy big movements I'm seeing and feeling lately.

Don't forget to check out more posts at the new blog here.

I have, at the most, a week and a half left until these are outside babies.

Monday, November 12, 2012

the other F word


In many respects, I'm lucky for how I grew up. I always had food, shelter, clothing, and sometimes extras. The early years were pretty lean sometimes, but we never went without.

In other respects, things were tough. My parents divorced when I was 3 1/2 and my brother was less than a year old. The split was not amicable, to make an understatement. There was joint custody, which was no treat for any of us. The following three DECADES have not made things any better; my parents still do not and can not talk to each other. There is still manipulation and guilt-tripping done by both sides. I was around eight years old when I realized that when one parent asked about the other one, it was to glean info that would then be used against that other one, and I had to tell both of them that I was not the post office to pass messages between them. I remember feeling angry and frustrated and sad that the grown-ups were acting so ridiculously. There continued to be a lot of drama and issues for years after that. A lot of unhappiness and stress.

Once I got to college, I was old enough and removed enough to have better relationships with both of my parents (it started in high school, but I was still angsty and teenager-y) and in general things have been pretty good since then. Together (well, not literally--that would imply they worked as a unit), they paid for my college (though I did work for three years to cover books and living expenses)--I have zero student debt, and for that I am extremely lucky and grateful. They are both supportive of the life decisions I've made and have helped me in different ways.

However, the drama still rears its ugly head. That was one huge benefit of living across the country for so long--I could stay away from the nonsense. I could stay in New York or travel for the holidays and not have to hear about how much time I'm spending with one parent versus the other, or carefully schedule holiday days to make it as equal as possible.

I have a photo of myself with both of my parents when I was a baby and they were still together. The next photo of the three of us together is from my college graduation. That photo was maybe a minute of being close to each other, in strained silence, before one parent escaped as quickly as possible.

The biggest issue in the last few years was our wedding. Both of my parents would be there. In the same space. For most of a day. What would happen? How would they act? What kind of drama would occur with all of my family in one place, something that has literally never happened? I worried and fretted and cried about it for pretty much the entire planning time. (Thank god it was only four months. If we'd had a year-long or more engagement like many people, this may have given me an ulcer.) I'm tearing up thinking about it even now.

Happily, and to my huge, huge relief, things were fine. They didn't speak to each other, they stayed out of each other's way, there was no drama. I got a third photo of the three of us together.

There was a lot of worry for that one day, a lot of stress hanging over me for what is supposed to be a magical, wonderful day about me and my new husband.

And now there will be grandchildren. What kind of worry and drama does there promise to be for the next eighteen years?

I hate the way I had to grow up. I hate the fact that I'm still crying about it, as a mature and married thirty-three-year-old. I hate the fact that it's a legitimate worry to have even now--the drama and stress has subsided over the years, but it's very much still there, under the surface. Now that I'm so much geographically closer to them, and seeing them more often, it's not taking much for that bullshit to come back up.

I would not wish this on anyone. I want to avoid this kind of thing for any child, let alone mine. Thinking about the future of holidays, fighting between three sets of grandparents who want to see our kids--it makes me almost sick with dread and sadness and anger. I don't want this! I don't want to have to deal with it! I really, REALLY want to shield our kids from this nonsense. But I don't know how. I don't know how all the grandparents will act or react to our limited time and schedule. I don't know if they'll be more forgiving or more demanding. I just don't want to deal with it. For god's sake, I shouldn't have to deal with it.

I want to remember--and remind them--that Mister M and I and these babies are now my primary family, and will be our focus. Our needs as a unit will have to come first. I am excited about my parents being grandparents--despite all this, I think they will be good at it. I really just want to do whatever it takes to avoid them having to live with the kind of stress and secret-keeping that I have lived with for so many years (yes, even now! I'm an adult and it still hasn't stopped!). I'm not sure if I can make that happen without causing even more problems. Again, it makes me sick. And quite frankly, that is the absolute last thing I need to worry about right now or in the next couple months!

I need to focus on myself, on getting these babies as big as possible, and hope that I'm cooking them properly so they will be healthy when they come out. And then we'll need to figure out life with brand new babies and figure out how to be parents. Those are big enough changes and worries. But the other stuff continues to lurk in the back of my mind. For now, I think we've got a good excuse to bow out of Thanksgiving, and hopefully Christmas too--I can only hope that it won't be much of an issue this year, since everything and everyone will be so new. The pessimistic and realistic part of me says that oh no, there will still be Issues and Drama and Stress and Goddammit.

I don't know what to do except worry and cry. I don't want to do either of those things. To be clear, it's not like I sit around thinking about this all day every day. But it lurks in the back of my mind, and any mention of the holidays brings up at least a little of it, and sometimes I let it out enough to start upsetting me.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

thank goodness

It's past time for the *need* to read these, but here they are just for posterity and because YES, FOR PETE'S SAKE, YES:
The Case for Obama

The Case Against Romney

Why I am Voting for President Obama 


On Election Day 2008, all I remember is that I had to go to bed before a winner was called. (I know I voted, but I don't really remember the specifics of how or when.) An hour or two later, I was woken up by shouts and cheers of ecstatic Brooklynites in the streets. At the time, I was teaching at First Charter School, where I was exhausted and miserable. I remember that our grade had held an assembly to talk about the election and someone showed the music video. Our students--almost all African-American--were glued to it, and so emotional and thrilled about even the possibility of someone who looked like them being the leader of our country. There were tears of excitement and hope.

This time around, being on the West Coast and not working traditionally both meant that I could stay up as late as I wanted--the official call happened by 9pm, and though it took forever for the speeches to happen, that wasn't a problem. (I have to say that I kept remarking how boring it must have been for all those people in the Obama arena to stand around and wave flags/dance/etc for hours...)

My favorite part was being on social media for the night--I really enjoyed seeing what everyone was thinking and reading their reactions in real time, on facebook and twitter. I really felt like I was part of a big community of friends around the country (and around the world even!), and it was special. I don't know if it's silly, but I think that's a big part of what I want to take away from the election as a whole--people with common beliefs coming together. Happily, and probably not coincidentally, most people I know in real life and online have similar ideologies, at least at a basic level, to mine. I felt like we were all celebrating together.

I believe that with this win, more people's lives will improve, and more people will retain more rights (like gays, women, immigrants, people with pre-existing health conditions). I hope that the government can get its head out of its ass to get some freaking work done for the American people, rather than for extremist votes. The economy will continue to improve (which was projected to  happen regardless of who is president), and maybe there will be some important reform (corporate, environmental) that will get us on a track to positively impacting our future generations.

My home state of Washington as well as three others passed laws for marriage equality. New Hampshire elected all female government representatives (governor, Senate, House). There are now a record twenty women in the US Senate. An AmeriCorps alum was elected to the Senate too! There is no doubt that there is a lot of work to do (there are some truly disgusting comments/tweets/posts flying around the interwebs--if I could, I would personally go visit each and every one of those vile people and slap some sense into them), but overall I'm proud of the election results and I'm hopeful that America is heading in the right direction.

Four More Years!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

a new beginning

I'm enjoying keeping up with my blog again, since there is plenty going on (and will, for the foreseeable future!). However, I'm really hesitant to share out this blog with friends and's been host to so many ups and downs and all kinds of things. Isn't it funny that we feel freer to confess to an anonymous audience rather than people we know well?

So, in case you didn't see this on facebook yesterday, I decided to start a new blog that focuses on this new life we're living. I've uploaded pretty much all the posts from the spring to now, along with the belly growth page. I'll keep updating that page here, and I'll probably find things to write about here that I don't want more 'public' on the new blog. So please bookmark the link below and keep an eye out for new posts there, and don't forget to check back in here occasionally too. :)

I really appreciate all of you out there reading!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

your future

Dear A and B,

Today is Election Day. You don't know what that is yet. (Really, you don't know what anything is yet. That's not your fault though.) You did sort of participate though--I completed my mail-in ballot last week. It's not as exciting as entering a voting booth and pulling a lever or completing and scanning a ballot, but it still counts!

Election Day is an important day for Americans to participate in our democracy and make our voices heard. Politicians are our representatives in the government, which makes choices about our country. They work for us, so it's very important for citizens to do their job and be part of the process.

You're being born American, white, and middle/upper-middle class. This means that without even trying or doing anything, you already have an amazing amount of privilege. This will follow you for the rest of your life, when you're in public, at school, and at work. It is vital that you understand this. Not everyone has the same privilege and it's one of our biggest jobs as parents to make sure that you don't ignore or take advantage of that, to raise you not to be entitled and self-absorbed. We want to help you develop into informed and thoughtful world (not just American) citizens. Don't ever think that your voice doesn't count, that all politicians are the same, and nothing's really going to change anyway.

We've all been going through this endless campaigning for President for two years now, and pretty much everyone is sick and tired of it all. Most of us feel pretty strongly about one candidate or the other. By the time you can read this, you'll probably know my/our political idealogies and who I voted for in 2012. The different candidates and their political parties have the very real abilities to change a lot of our collective lives and liberties. I'm never sure how elections will turn out--I don't want to count my politicians before they hatch, so to speak--but I really hope things end up the way I want them to. (Mostly because I'm always right, as you'll soon learn!) I believe it will help all of us, individually and collectively, have better lives and futures. And the future is what we're all here for and need to remember and work for. There are so, so many problems that we're facing right now--as a country and as a planet--that will only get worse for you as adults. I hope the political process isn't as ugly as it's gotten lately by the time you're able to vote. But regardless, you need to vote and make your voice and choice heard and be a part of your own future.

Your Daddy loves current events and especially politics. He has a lot of opinions and knowledge about various candidates and policies and histories. For the next presidential election, you'll still be very young, but I have an inkling that you'll be the most politically informed four-year-olds in your class at preschool. We won't be able to take you to the polling place with us (if we still live in Oregon), but we will certainly let you see us reading and talking about the issues together, and then completing and dropping off our ballots.

Rock your civic duty!
Love, Mommy

Monday, November 05, 2012

thirty three

On occasions like birthdays, it's always interesting to take a moment and contemplate and compare life with the previous one.

Last November 1, I lived in Brooklyn and had been working as a 'consultant' for my company for a just over a year. I was working weekends shooting babies. I didn't really do much else.

The twelve months to this November 1 must set a personal record for most/biggest changes. (And I've had some big years in my day!)

In January, I was hired full-time at my job. Finally!
In April, I found out that I was pregnant. And then that it was TWINS.
In May, we went to Central Europe for vacation.
In June/July, my company mostly went under/reorganized.
In the spring/summer, I did more portrait work and even shot a wedding.
In the summer, we finally made the decision to move out of NYC (well, more like Mister M finally relented that it had to happen).
At the end of June, I stopped shooting babies.
In August, we drove across the country to move to Portland.
In August/September, my company resurrected, in its barebones form, and I've once again been working part-time.
In the fall, we've been settling in to our rental house, and I spend a lot of time on the couch.

Wow. It's been a heck of a year. We joke sometimes that we're getting all the big stuff done and out of the way at once this year.

The time until next November 1 won't be filled with these kinds of life changes, except that it will include one of the biggest lifestyle changes I can imagine--we will become parents. My next birthday will be so different! I wonder how different I will feel and look. I envision a family photo on our front lawn--me and Mister M jumping, and two little ones either standing up or falling over trying to jump with us.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

33 weeks

Well. It finally happened.

I hit a big number. Two of them, in fact.

50 pounds gained. 

I now weigh 200 pounds.

These are both large numbers. Round numbers that look menacing.

But then I take a breath. There are two fetuses in there, with all their accompanying fluids and support organs (plus the amount of blood actually doubles in a woman carrying twins, versus an increase of 1.5 with a singleton), and 50 pounds so far can't be that bad. And I can look at myself (well, not physically; I can't even see my belly button, but I do have a mirror) and can see that I'm not a huge fat person-blob. I really don't look like I weigh that much (see above!), which tells the rational part of my brain that all is fine. Then of course I have to remember that I/they are not done growing yet, so I'll will probably hit 60 pounds gained, if not more.

My doctor hasn't said anything about the number of pounds at all. She says everything is still going great, in fact. I'm really hoping that these two will stay in there and keep growing for awhile.

In other news, I think I have hit the wall in terms of comfort in the last week or so. Pretty much anytime I'm upright and moving, something hurts or aches. The lower backache is pretty much constant. There's also a weird ache/pressure in my pelvis or somewhere, which hurts the most when I get up after sitting. It's got to be pretty hilarious to watch, as I struggle to standing and then waddle-limp tiny steps. In the morning is the absolute worst; I push up sideways so I'm sitting on the bed, and then stand up. I stay there for a minute and rotate my hips a bit, but then I have to move, and I can barely put weight on at least one of my legs (ache/pressure/joint pain in my lower back/hip). I wobble across the room to the bathroom and by then it's better.

Not very fun.

Additionally, in the last few days I've noticed that I think I'm getting Braxton-Hicks contractions any time I'm up/walking for more than a couple seconds. They don't hurt, but they aren't comfortable either. 

I still have no classic heartburn, which seems kind of miraculous when I talk to other pregnant ladies. Sounds like they can't eat a lot of things or a lot of volume. I seem to be able to eat plenty still. A couple times I do get some kind of acid-y feeling around my belly, but not up above it where heartburn/reflux would be. I have some acid reducer that seems to help, so maybe it's indigestion? Also the occasional vomit burp...which seem to be getting a little more frequent.

Last week I realized that I can't sit up straight, because my belly hits my thighs.

I have to take big deep breaths or sighs randomly to get in more air. Even just sitting on the couch. I swear that last night while trying to go to sleep I felt like I wasn't getting enough breath through just my nose.

Sleeping has been a little difficult since early summer, but it's the worst it's been now. It still takes several moments and a series of small movements to turn over. The last few days, that wakes me up enough to realize I need to get up and go to the bathroom. Which then wakes me up even more and sometimes I can't go back to sleep easily.

My belly button seems to be all on the outside, though I'm sure it has farther to go to pop out even more. You can see it through my top in that photo!

A week or two ago, I noticed that I'm starting to get faint stretch marks around my belly button. I'm disappointed about it, and I'm disappointed that I feel disappointed, if that makes sense. I know that there's nothing to be done, and that it happens all the time, and it's genetic. Nonetheless, I feel a little sinking sadness whenever I see it. I have started applying the Trofolastin twice a day now too, to see if I can hold off on further development. (I bought another tube last week--it's back on Amazon now, and the shipping was really fast!) I guess it's a vanity issue, one more thing I didn't want 'marring' me.

In sum, things are uncomfortable. I know that it won't get any better, it will probably get worse, maybe a lot worse. However, I'm really not complaining much--I still have had no complications, no problems, and overall things have gone so well. Everything could be so much worse. I'm doing my best to accept that it's not going to feel good for the next few weeks. That's not a bad trade-off if the babies are healthy and growing.

Really hoping that all continues to go well physically so that these two can keep cooking for up to five more weeks. And holy cow, FIVE WEEKS is not very many weeks! Making it to at least 36 weeks would be fantastic...except that that's only THREE weeks away, holy shit! End of November is still my goal, though 38 weeks (the longest I'll be allowed to go) would go into the first week of December. As long as possible is great by me!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Project: baby room


Ugly paint color. Sickly yellow green that is reminiscent of baby poo. Kind of dark even in the light of day. Piles of things I've been accumulating.

Corner of my own stuff

Bookshelf with kid/picture books and all my YA books
Ugh, seriously, that paint color!


Important intermediate steps: 
Organize everything we bought and were given, into a few clear bins
Put crib together
Pile soft things in crib
Pile bins and other things around the crib in the middle of the room


Getting started:
We found a cheap edger tool at Walmart and figured it was worth a try. DUDES, it was so awesome. I've done a lot of painting in my day, and a lot of taping and tedious edgework. This eliminates all of that, for under five bucks. Swipe and bam, edge is done!

My mom was here for two days to help paint and other things. My dad brought down some furniture this afternoon. Mister M's parents sent his old Winnie the Pooh wall hangings. I like how this room became a family affair. :)


New, bright paint: Behr Breath of Spring, one gallon
Bins of clothes and supplies on dresser (I bought that dresser back in...2003? 2004? and it's been in storage at my dad's since) (Clothes will be washed and put into dresser, after we try to fix a piece under the top drawer)
Crib holding stuffed animals and blankets (temporarily! unsafe crib environment blah blah)
Two FERLE rugs from IKEA
Wooden rocking chair from the 1970s, and so comfortable
We bought some cute curtains but need the rod/hardware to put them up

The pile of my things are still there (and maybe inside the closet as well...). Will have to figure out what to do with that stuff, but that can wait. 

I am really happy with how it looks, and that it's basically set up and the big stuff is ready to go. We still need to buy a few little things and set up a changing table station on top of the dresser, and figure out where to store supplies.

But what a HUGE difference from before, and that is such a HUGE relief. Yay!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

32.5 weeks

Dear A and B,

First of all, sorry that we refer to you as letters. Also as fruit sometimes (thanks to those weekly emails that compare your size to produce). We do have names tentatively picked for you, but we're not sharing those with anyone else. And really, calling you by actual person names is a little intimidating just yet.

Anyway, I wanted to tell you that so far you are both A+ babies! First that you grew a lot between our last ultrasounds--over a pound each! At 31 weeks, A, you weighed 3lbs 4oz, and B, you were at 4lbs 2oz. The doctors are watching to make sure that your size discrepancy doesn't widen. We're doing weekly non-stress tests, where we track your heartbeats, and those have been great. We're also doing weekly biophysical profiles, where they look for movement and practice breathing. You have both passed those 'tests' with flying colors! We are very proud of your achievements. :)

Personally, I'm loving all this testing and monitoring. One of you is always quieter than the other, which causes me to worry. While we were on our road trip, A, you were really quiet, and B, you were having roller disco parties or something. For the last couple weeks, A, you've been super active, and B, you've been quieter. So getting to listen or see you twice a week makes me feel so much better that everything is going well!

A, you're still head down, but B, you keep switching. Two ultrasounds ago, you started out head down but had moved to transverse halfway through the exam! At the BPP the other day, you were breech. Seems like there's still time for you to keep moving/rotating for awhile. Both of you like to rotate your butts out so they bulge out my belly. Often you'll do that at the same time and my round tummy becomes almost a square! B, you've gotten the hiccups a couple times, and I can actually see the little blips as well as feel them on the inside.

My belly seems to still be growing, though I'm still not very big compared to what I thought I would be. Partly because it feels like you're growing upwards instead of outward, so I'm not as far out front as I figured I'd be. But people tell me that there's still time for major growth, so I guess we'll see. I do get comments from strangers about how big I am (PS--please don't do that when you grow up), but I know I could be so much bigger, so I just smile a little and try not to roll my eyes too obviously.

It seems like you two can see and interact with each other in utero, which is pretty fascinating. There have been a couple times where I could swear that I feel you kicking each other. I tend to think of the membrane separating you as a wall, but apparently it's more like a window. We plan to keep you together in a bassinet or crib once you're on the outside, so that you'll continue to be near each other and feel more comfortable.

Daddy likes to talk to you, and he always announces himself: "Hello, this is your father." He wants to make sure you know his voice once you're on the outside. When he feels one of you slithering around in my belly, sometimes he's weirded out, because it feels so alien. We can't yet feel or determine which parts of you are moving in there. Maybe that will become more obvious as you continue to get bigger.

We like to think about interesting things we can do with you. Like on weekend days, we could take each of you to a special outing, like a basketball game or bike ride with Daddy, and a picnic or a street fair with me. We want to take you to explore the coast to wade in the ocean, and roam in the mountains. We'll take you to pick pumpkins and apples in the fall, and then we'll bake treats together. In the summer, we'll get a kiddie pool and splash around on the front lawn. Ooh, and run through the sprinkler!

Before we get to all that fun stuff, though, you need to keep growing on the inside. My doctor did a protein test this week and found that you're not likely to come early, or at least in the next two weeks. Phew! So far I still am not having any complications, so we're hoping not to meet you for another five plus weeks. That way you'll be as healthy as possible, and we'll feel a little more ready to finally meet you. :)

This week we're getting your room organized and ready, just in case. Soon we're going to have to buy a new (used) car with plenty of space for all the gear that we'll need for you. We need to line up a pediatrician for you. The other weekend we took a newborn care class and learned about basics for keeping you happy and comfortable--we hope we can swaddle you effectively while you're squirming around!

Everything is going to change here pretty soon. (Hopefully not very soon--stay in there for awhile longer please!) We're definitely nervous, because it's all going to be so new and different, and tiring too. But we're also looking forward to meeting you and holding you and showing you the world.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pinterest pressure

The word "nursery" kind of makes me shudder.

One, because it's so twee and cutesy. Two, because it implies the lot of care, attention, time and money required to create it. Like it requires a Capital Letter N of Importance. That it must have fresh pastel paint, a full set of new matching furniture, a  cute theme. Thoughtfully chosen baby-friendly artwork on walls, and themed toys perched just-so on shelves and surfaces--things like owls, giraffes, flowers, wooden trucks. Practically what Pinterest was invented for.


I do not have a nursery. To be honest, I still stumble on saying the word 'babies' out loud. We do have a room for the...babies. I wasn't even thinking about decorating it or trying to create something cute and pretty and adorable and nursery-y.

And then I realized that I should. That it's something everyone does or is supposed to. This made my heart sink a little--we are trying to be budget-conscious and really, we're not the cutesy type. But then I found myself looking at a friend's nursery pinboard and seeing all the very cute things out there. With dismay. I did create board, but with the promise to myself that I would not seek out or pin those cutesy, expensive things that I just can't (or don't want to) do. If I had the money, maybe I would.

I decided we had to paint. The bedrooms in our house are all painted different colors, and the baby room is a sickly yellow-green. I found myself envisioning a happy, sea-foam-y green room with all white furniture. With some kind of theme that I could magically come up with. Dammit, Pinterest!

The trim around the window, closet and door is ugly, porous, regulation brown wood. I got an IKEA crib on craigslist (saving us about $40) which is a birch color, and told Mister M that we needed to paint it white. My dad is bringing down some furniture next weekend, including an old white IKEA dresser of mine, plus the beautiful wooden rocking chair that I myself was rocked in as a baby, so it's well over thirty years old. It's kind of a golden color; maybe it's pine? It's shiny and looks practically new, and of course I wouldn't paint it. There is a bookshelf in that room with a bunch of my books on it, but it's black. I thought--very briefly--about painting it or covering it in white paint, before realizing that here lies madness. Again, damn you, Pinterest!

We did buy wall paint, a happy, sea-foam-y green. I'm actually bummed that I can't do any of the painting, because I quite enjoy it, I'm good at it, and Mister M hasn't really done much. My mom is coming next week to help us get stuff ready, so now that will include helping us (well, him) paint. I promised to do the taping, since that's about all I can do.

We have to put together the crib, and I want to sort through all the clothes and gifts we have received and bought. Currently they're in piles, bags and boxes in the baby room. We need a rug--the floor is a kind of fake wood and needs a covering.

So I'm trying to re-set my expectations--we'll get the basics of furniture together, and it will be functional. At some point maybe I'll make it cute.

...I just fell into a thirty-minute rabbit hole of Pinterest browsing! Dammit!

The other thing I want to do is photos. This should not be a surprise if you know even a little bit about me. This will/should be the only time I'll be pregnant, and I would love to have beautiful, professional photos of me and my belly to commemorate it. I haven't done a ton of shots of myself, what with the move and settling in. I could play with some studio-type shots here at home, I suppose, but I don't have a ton of equipment or wrap/clothes. And I can try to set up a few shots of Mister M and me together, but I would rather have someone else do the cute posing of us together in some lovely outdoor location (now that the rains have started, of course).

We don't really have the money for this. However, I am willing to spend my own money for a newborn photo session, since I don't think I'll be physically able to do much photography on my own. (Which will kill me. I'm sure I will try anyway and/or direct Mister M to try and get a few.) And they only ever get bigger, so I know I will want some gorgeous photos of this first phase.

Did I mention that we need a second car? Mine is 14 years old, hardly worth anything, and needs work both big, medium and small (which will all together cost almost as much as the car is 'worth'). For example, the felt interior ceiling is falling down, and the back tires need replacing. We will be looking for a newer but used SUV type car with plenty of room for car seats, stroller, and assorted other crap. These vehicles do not come cheap.

Man, being rich would make life so much easier right now. And so much cuter.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

ebb and flow

My grandmother--my dad's mom--passed away this morning after a couple days in a coma. She was 95 years old.

Mister M and I visited her the week after our wedding two summers ago. 

She grew up and always lived outside Chicago. We used to go there for Christmases sometimes. She lived in their house on her own long after my grandfather died in the early 80s. She and her sister did a ton of traveling, especially cruises, to the Caribbean and Europe. She typed her letters on a typewriter, and when I was young she would send me pictures of cute kittens and little cheery letters. Just a couple weeks ago, I was sorting through a massive pile of mail from high school and college, and I recycled almost all of it. I did make sure to save one or two of her cards/letters from that era.

This spring she broke her hip and deteriorated quickly, both physically and mentally. I went out to visit in July for what I figured was the last time. The first time I visited her at the rest home, she didn't know who I was and fell asleep. I saw her the following day and after she said hi, she asked about the twins. My aunt said that she'd been like that for awhile--aware one day, and not the next. Her husband (they got married maybe 13 years ago--lifelong friends that reunited in the nursing/independent living home) passed away this summer after a series of health problems. She'd always been a lot more healthy than he was, but it was really hard on her to be apart from him.

I'm sad that she's gone. But I know too that she's not suffering anymore, and that she certainly had a long and good life. The sadness is now with us who are left, to remember her and her spirit.

I'm glad I got to see her a last time, even if it wasn't ideal. These babies won't ever meet any great-grandparents. I can only hope to keep a happy, healthy, positive relationship with our family and hope that the babies grow up and develop a bond with their own grandparents.

Friday, October 12, 2012

pregnant products

I wanted to share a round-up of things I've found useful, interesting, or not at all helpful while on this pregnancy journey. It got kind of long with all the pics, so be aware. :)


Trofolastin antiestrias duploThis is a stretch-mark cream that allegedly has scientific studies backing up its effectivity. I heard about it on a blog and ordered some. I think I got some on Amazon, but it's not there anymore. I saw a link to this Spanish site. I only use it once a day--not sure if it's supposed to be twice. I haven't seen any stretch marks yet, but I know that genetics and maybe luck plays a big part. However, I also put it on my upper outer thighs, on my high-school stretch marks, and I swear the skin there feels much smoother, softer, and the marks are much less visible. I should probably order another tube!

The Pregnant Body

The Pregnant Body BookI also heard about this book on a blog, and it is one of the coolest things I've seen! It's a big hardcover book that's part textbook, part coffee table book (if anatomy is something you like having on your coffee table). There are photos of a female body with the fetus for each month, and they're almost life-size. In between are lots of scientific drawings, photos/images, and facts about what's developing each week or month. Completely, totally fascinating, and I would recommend this for any pregnant person and their partner.

Body Pillow

Pacific Coast Bedding, EuroFeather Body PillowFor at least ten years, my bed has been a nest that includes lots of extra pillows or stuffed friends. I sleep on the side a lot, and I noticed that my knees/hips/back would hurt a lot, but that a pillow between my knees eliminated all of that. Being pregnant is a great excuse for this, and it's even more necessary and comfortable to have pillows surrounding me. The body pillow is for my legs/knees/feet (yes, I like all of them to be cushioned/elevated, even if I'm on my back), and then I have pillows etc on both sides of me. My body pillow is one I found at Costco that's soft but not too thin/squishy (photo is a random body  pillow from

Belly band: 

Be Maternity BeBand - Assorted Colors I got one at Target early in the summer when my trousers were getting a little tight. I used it a couple times but it was annoying, because I was in that in-between stage of not exactly needing it but not exactly able to go without. For the rest of the summer I wore skirts and dresses, which was way more comfortable and easy.

And then! I figured out the most awesome thing, and this is my best secret advice: I use the belly band as a tube top! Just for sitting around the house and sleeping. It's so much better than any bra-type thing--I hate straps! 

Books: Mostly I was interested in reading about twins, so all of these may not be helpful or applicable for singleton-pregnant ladies.

What To Expect When You're Expecting:

What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th EditionI wasn't going to read this because I'd heard it was annoying. I found a previous edition at a thrift shop and then someone gifted me the newer one. I've read most of it in parts, and while it's not the most annoying book of the bunch, it's definitely not one of my favorites. Partly because it's organized so terribly. In that it's not organized at all. You don't need to read this.

Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy

Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy PregnancyGot this one as a gift as well, but I haven't even opened it. Oops. I'm sure it's better and more scientific than What To Expect.

When You're Expecting Twins, Triplets or Quads

When You're Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads: Proven Guidelines for a Healthy Multiple Pregnancy, 3rd EditionThis was the first twins book I read, and it's always on everyone's recommended-reading list for expectant twin mamas. I rather HATED this book. First of all, it reads like it's freaking Cosmo magazine, with the way anecdotes are written. Second, it's written by this doctor who directs a program, and the entire thing is all about her own method and how amazing and successful it is. Which I guess is her right, seeing as how it's her book and all, but after awhile I realized how very un-objective it is. Third, a huge chunk of the book is about food/eating/nutrition. She says straight out that even if you're a vegetarian, you should really eat meat or at least eggs while you're pregnant. I am very vegetarian, not for moral reasons or anything preachy, but I've been a weird/nonmeat eater for literally most of my life. Even if I wanted to suddenly eat fish and chicken for the health of the fetuses, after never having them for at least thirty years, I can't imagine that my body would react well. She goes on to include sample menus and daily lists of food, and it's actually laughable how much it is. Like, it takes two pages of the book to list out everything you should eat in ONE DAY. And I don't doubt that she's right and that it's a good just doesn't seem terribly realistic.

Twins 101

Twins 101: 50 Must-Have Tips for Pregnancy through Early Childhood From Doctor M.O.M.We listened to this one in the car during our road trip. Mister Melancholy doesn't read as often as I do, but when he does, he reads a lot of intellectual magazines or nonfiction (like that brick of an LBJ biography that came out this year). I've wanted him to read some of the advice-type books that I read (below) so that he would have the same frame of reference and so that I wouldn't have to explain everything to him. He reluctantly read parts of them, but agreed that he should read more, and an audiobook while a captive audience driving through the emptiness that is most of Wyoming was a good match. Some of the "tips" are pretty silly ("Write loving thoughts in your pregnancy journal!" "Get a private room at the hospital!"), but some were thought-provoking and helpful. In particular, she has a list of good twin baby products and websites. (Of course, that's the downside of an audio book--we have to either track down a PDF that came with it or see if we can find that section to listen to again and take notes.)


Twinspiration: Real-Life Advice From Pregnancy Through the First Year (for Parents of Twins and Multiples)This was a fun book to read, because it's more about experience and what happens after two babies arrive. She is always very clear about sharing what they did and what worked for them, and acknowledges that that may not work for everyone, and she doesn't come across judgmental at all. This book gets really into the nitty-gritty of everyday life with twin babies--talks about schedules, daily duties (diapers, bottles, keeping charts of those), options for night feedings, etc. I really appreciate the specifics--I think that's so helpful. Also, there was a chapter on gear--what you need two of and what you only need one of. Again, really helpful for that kind of specificity.

Ready Or Not

Ready or Not Here We Come!: The Real Experts' Guide to the First Year With TwinsA mama of twin one-year-olds lent me this one this summer. It's very similar to the book above, in that it chronicles this woman's family's experience and suggestions. It's not organized very well at all, but it was still helpful to read about her experience and advice. This one also has suggestions and advice about gear, and it was a little different than the other one.

(Truthfully, I should probably read both of these again in the next couple months and take some notes or something--I've already forgotten a lot of the helpful information!)

Obviously regular yoga pants lasted a long time in the clothing rotation. My long ones got too tight under my belly, but I have some softer, knee-length ones that are still comfy.

Also, I found several of these convertible skirt/dresses. You can fold over the top to make it a skirt. They're really soft and swingy, and I can still wear them even now (and obviously they can be worn very comfortably without being pregnant too!). I found all three of mine at Marshall's for ten or fifteen dollars. (Here's one I'm wearing as a dress--you can see how the green part can be folded/scrunched to be a skirt top.)

The first maternity clothes I bought were really early on; I got a few tops and a dress from the Liz Lange Maternity Target line. They looked good before I started showing, and they still look good.

Then in mid-July I got a big pile of on-sale maternity clothes at Old Navy during one of their sales/open a credit line and save extra deals. Normally I would never do that, but I got like eight things for under eighty bucks. Honestly, I never shop at Old Navy anyway, because it's so cheap. But if there's ever a time for cheap clothes, it's being pregnant for a season or two! I got a few shirts, two dresses, and a pair of jeans. (Aw look at my little tummy!)

Those jeans were not at all comfortable--the panel wasn't as soft as I would have liked, and it would actually fall down, and then the jeans would sag. I felt like I needed a belt to hold the stupid jeans up. I posted about my dilemma on facebook, and a friend recommended Destination Maternity. 

No Belly 5 Pocket Boot Cut Maternity JeansFirst I bought these jeans because they don't have a belly panel and they look cute. I ordered the large and the button in front just barely closed, but they were still too big and baggy. I went into one of the stores and tried on the medium, but the button would not close. Bummer.

Secret Fit Belly(r) Signature Pocket Boot Cut Maternity JeansThen the salesgirl brought me these jeans (or something similar!) and said they're a best-seller and promised they'd be comfortable. I tried them on and they felt much better than the Old Navy jeans--they were lighter and they definitely stayed up a little better. Plus the panel is softer and stays up nicer. I've happily worn these jeans all day on multiple occasions. And while I definitely have to tug them up at times, overall they're very comfortable. I don't think I'll be wearing the Old Navy ones ever again (must remember to put those in a consign pile).

French Terry Drawstring Maternity Pants

These drawstring sweats-type pants are fantastic. I'm wearing them right now. Soft, comfy, perfect for lounging.

Lastly, I went to a baby/kid consignment sale last month and got a pile of warmer maternity tops/sweaters. That is definitely the way to go! That one was the Just Between Friends Sale and it happens twice a year in many locations around the country. There have been a handful of other large, organized consignment around Portland this fall too. Which makes me happy, because in a few months I'll have a way to get my used maternity/baby things out to someone else who needs them at a great price.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

30 weeks!

Or--these will be actual, outside babies sometime in the next eight weeks. EIGHT! That's a single digit number of weeks, which isn't very many. I'm not ready!!

My belly button is getting closer, but still hasn't popped.

Looks like I have another light linea negra below my belly button, but of course I can't see it myself.

I swear that I'm growing a rectangle belly instead of round. No growth in belly circumference this week.

I'm up to 190 -- that's forty pounds. It's been about five pounds at each doctor's appointment, which seems like a good, even pace. Which means that in two weeks or so, I'll hit 200. Whoa. That is a really big number. I'm not exactly worried about it, though I really wonder how I'll look and feel afterward. I don't want to put in a lot of negative energy and worry into weight and body. I've got plenty of worry about these growing beans!

Physically, I'm doing okay. My hands are less painful now that I'm drinking more water. They still hurt plenty, but it's not as bad (except first thing in the morning). Unfortunately, something has gone terribly awry with both of my thumbs now--it was my right thumb for a couple weeks, and then it somehow switched to my left. Ouch. I can't write normally and I can't really use either of them as opposable if it requires any pressure.

My back still doesn't have any joint pain, hallelujah! It does now ache a bit though, from carrying around all these pounds at the front. When I brush my teeth, I rest my elbows on the bathroom counter and the release of pressure on my lower back feels so good. I have to remember to get Mister M to practice some back massage for me! There's a prenatal swim class I heard about that I want to try, if I ever get some kind of swimwear. Maybe a bikini top and bike shorts?

I'm finally feeling the effects of slightly squashed lungs. When I yawn, it feels like my belly can't expand enough to where I want to breathe. Sometimes I talk a little too fast or laugh a little too much and end up almost panting and needing to catch my breath!

Stuff-wise, we're getting more ready. Last week, I went to the twin club consignment sale and got a TON of gear: a double snap n go stroller, 2 boppies, a handful of clothes, some bottles, a monitor, another bouncy seat, a nice looking diaper bag. Plus two free cans of formula. The haul barely fit in my car! (That stroller does not fit in my Saturn's trunk. Oops.)
(just some of the stuff!)

Then some family and friends threw me a surprise baby shower, which was so sweet! We got two brand new car seats, a ton of cute clothes, some books, even some diapers and wipes.

I also went through some boxes and bins of things stored at my parents' houses and now have some blankets and clothes from my own (and my brother's) babyhood.

So we have some piles in the baby room and in our living room. The next--big--step is organizing it all somehow. It's time for furniture.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

a whole new world...of driving

1. I mentioned this when we were in early August, but man, these people drive SLOW. As in, they drive UNDER or EXACTLY the speed limit. As in, 29 mph (or 25!) on a main arterial clearly marked 30mph. I just want to car-slap them and promise them that God or police will not smite them for going a few miles over the limit, like EVERYONE ELSE IN THE COUNTRY DOES.


1a. Side benefit? You'll never be cut off here--people don't drive fast enough for that! Also, if you suddenly find you have to be in a different lane, you'll be able to get there. With NYC drivers, that's never a guarantee.

2. The signage. It's awful. There are no signs at the tops of intersections. The regular street signs are really small (noticeably smaller than NYC), and offset to the side. Many or most are not reflective either, making it nearly impossible to see at night until you're almost past where you want to turn. Even more, a good number of the street signs, especially at big intersections, are either one-sided or bleached, so that you can't see what street you're approaching.

For those four days we drove around Portland back in August, we literally missed every single turn except one, because it was hard to see the street signs.

3. There's a lovely grid system in place here. Unfortunately, there's a major flaw in the system--almost none of the streets go all the way through! We take a lot of surface streets, but we've learned the hard way that you can't assume that a street will still be there in three blocks.

4. There is traffic here. It's at rush hour times, in the appropriate directions you would expect (toward town in the morning, and heading north to Vancouver in the evening). But! At other times of day, the freeways are open and moving right along! (As opposed to the BQE, which is most likely to be at a near dead-stop even at 11pm on a Tuesday.)

5. Parking! It's amazing! Pretty much everywhere except downtown, there is free side street parking! And downtown, it's not difficult to find meter parking, which isn't even very expensive. Plus it ends at 6pm. So easy!

6. How could I forget one of my favorite things? Free right turns! Hello beautiful, how I've missed you!