Monday, February 27, 2012

a series of firsts, and a nickname for baby

In the past week:

| 1 |

The employee at Home Depot who rang up my items said, "Good luck with your baby!"

{First time a stranger went out on a limb to assume that yes, I'm pregnant.}

| 2 |

A student's mom asked me if the nursery was all ready for the baby.

{First time of what I predict to be many to come that I'll be asked this, and the answer is no, not even close.}

| 3 |

At an orchestra concert, someone told me I looked pretty.

{Felt like the first time in a while that someone had commented on my appearance, and not just my rapidly-expanding size.}

| P.S. |

Not that I necessarily mind people remarking on Baby's growth, but it's funny how a pregnancy seems to make people feel entitled to scrutinize, analyze, and comment on one's personal appearance.

"Stand up and turn sideways so I can see your belly!"
{um, no. would you like it if I asked you to stand up and turn sideways so I could thoroughly examine your physique?}

And then there's all the unsolicited advice... don't even get me started.

I just keep smiling and reminding myself that everyone means well.

| and finally... |

My midwife thinks that my concern about gaining too much weight shouldn't even be on my radar, and that I am totally fine.

And on Saturday a woman said, "You don't look like you're already in the third trimester!"

So pooh-pooh to the husband and the brother-in-law, who daily say to me, "You. Are. Large."

{They make me laugh and keep me humble!}

It seems that Baby and I are doing pretty okay, and Baby is right on target in terms of size.

Oh, and also? This baby is super athletic. They say you should feel at least five movements an hour (or ten in two hours) to monitor that the baby is doing well and is active enough. How about five movements a minute? Is that enough? Seriously, this little one is a mover and a shaker. And a night-owl.

I have taken to calling it "Batbaby," firstly because of the lounging upside-down thing, secondly because of the late-night all-night grooving that goes on, and thirdly because of the super-hero-level athletic acrobatics.

But I predict that Baby will be much cuter than a bat, of course.

Friday, February 24, 2012

29 weeks

The problem with having a busy life is that I usually don't have time to snap a weekly photo until late in the evening, and let's just say that the bedroom ceiling light is not conducive to particularly good pictures. Oh well. I think my ever-expanding girth is apparent, even with poor lighting.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

thoughts on free gifts

A few days after Valentine's Day, I was picking up some groceries at Trader Joe's when the cashier who rang me up pulled a bouquet of roses from behind the counter and said, "Compliments of Trader Joe's!" as he tucked them into the top of my grocery bag.

So there are two vases of roses on my dining room table this week; one from my husband for Valentine's Day, and one from a guy at Trader Joe's who probably just needed to give away leftover Valentine's bouquets but in doing so, kind of made my day.

See, there's something special about getting a free gift when you least expect it. This has happened to me three times in recent months.

First, after an orchestra concert I went to my favorite tea place in Harvard Square and ordered bubble tea. The guy working there that evening was a classmate from school who remembered me from an Alexander Technique class. We chatted a bit, I asked him what he was up to these days, and we talked about life while he made my tea. When I took out my wallet to pay, he just smiled and said, "It's on me."

Is it weird that I may have enjoyed that tea immensely more just because of his kind gesture?

Secondly, we met some friends at Chipotle for burritos one Sunday after church. This used to be something of a Sunday lunch tradition, but these days things are busy, our lives are all a bit different than they once were, and, well, Nathan and I are "scrimping and pinching" a little and trying not to eat out much. But there we were, and the manager recognized us from our former near-weekly visits and welcomed us back with a broad grin. And proceeded to make all our meals -- all five of them -- on the house.

And now, thirdly, there are the roses.

It all makes me think. It's a remarkable thing when you expect to have to pay for something and then find that it has already been paid in full, maybe by a friend or acquaintance or perhaps by a perfect stranger.

If a bubble tea, a burrito, and a bouquet can make me this grateful for the little things in life, how much more grateful should I be every single day for a free gift that far surpasses these small things?

The gift of God's grace. By all rights there are things for which I should be held responsible, things for which no one but myself owes payment.

And yet...

"While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Something to ponder this Ash Wednesday as I look at those roses on my table and remember the smile a cup of tea brought to my face, the unexpected happiness of a free burrito.

The deep peace of grace, undeserved and yet freely bestowed.

Monday, February 20, 2012

thumbprint cookies

I made these cookies over a week ago, the very day the recipe went up on Elise's blog.

I quartered the recipe (it still made about ten cookies!), and subbed spelt flour since I didn't have barley flour. I also used almond meal instead of crushing raw whole almonds.

I filled half of my cookies with apricot jam and the other half with raspberry.

These cookies were seriously quite perfect. Crisp on the outside, but not too crisp, maple-y, but not too sweet.

Just looking at the picture and thinking about these cookies, I pretty much want to make them again asap.

You should make them, too.

My amounts and substitutions ended up with a recipe something like this:

1 cup spelt flour
about 3/4 cup almond meal
(my measurements were pretty approximate, to be honest)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
(maybe more... I like cinnamon)
1/4 cup canola oil
(or I may have used coconut oil; now I'm forgetting)
1/4 cup maple syrup
whatever jam you have in your fridge

Combine all ingredients except jam. Shape dough by tablespoonfuls into balls and - you know the drill - stick your thumb in' em! Fill that indentation with a little jam. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. Devour.

Friday, February 17, 2012

28 weeks

While there seems to be some disagreement about whether the third trimester begins at 27 or 28 weeks, it would seem that I am now most definitely in it no matter how you look at it. Third trimester, already? In the early weeks of pregnancy it all seemed to go so slowly; now the weeks are flying by.

{Hopefully you can't tell from the pictures that my nose is actually a shade of pinkish red from all the nose-blowing I've been doing lately. I'm so ready to be over this cold!}

Thursday, February 16, 2012

sick in bed

Today is the second day in a row I've had to cancel things and just stay home and rest. Sore throat, cough, runny nose, and to top it off, I've pretty much lost my voice. And everything aches, even my face and my eyeballs. Isn't it great how pregnancy lowers your immune system? So that when the nausea of the first trimester wears off, you can still get plenty sick from time to time. This is my second cold in about three weeks. It's hard not to feel slightly annoyed with the students who come to their violin lessons coughing and wheezing... I'm trying to have the courtesy I sometimes wish others had, and stay home for a couple of days until I feel better.

This morning I said to Nathan, "Do you have time to make us* a cocktail?"**

He: "Sure, of course. I'm going to pee first, is that ok?"

Me: "My glass is on the dresser there."

He: "I don't think I'll use your glass; I'll use the restroom if that's ok with you."

Of course I was pointing out the location of my glass for my juice, but I love how he makes me laugh.

**This is what we call juice and seltzer water around here; fear not, I am not drinking alcoholic beverages at 9:00 am while pregnant.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day

Nathan and I realized yesterday that we've been together for eight Valentine's Days.

That is a long time.

We usually don't do much - if anything - for Valentine's Day. Probably because, looking back, on most Valentine's Days in recent history one or both of us has had a rehearsal or a gig or a class or... you get the idea.

Yesterday, despite the fact that I've been nursing a bad cold for a few days now, I thought I should do something to make the day fun. Our last Valentine's Day before Baby arrives!

When I asked Nathan on Monday night what he'd like for dinner the next day, he requested spaghetti. Specifically, his mom's spaghetti sauce recipe. So spaghetti it was! His with meat, mine without. Served with asiago cheese bread.

I found a pack of six heart-shaped votives at Michael's for $1.90, so those graced the table, around a dish of chocolates I got for Nathan.
And I made a whimsical garland of paper hearts to hang from the chandelier.

{Hey, I'm about to be a mom. Doesn't that give me license to do unlimited construction paper crafts?}
For dessert, there was chocolate cake (a recipe of my Grandma's), with some of the batter made into heart-shaped cupcakes.

{Note to self: When using that heart-shaped cupcake tin, under-fill it with batter, because if they rise above the rim of the pan they may not resemble hearts quite so much. Whoops.}

Served with vanilla ice cream.

While I was making dinner and setting the table, I kind of figured that Nathan wouldn't have remembered that it was Valentine's Day, and that the whole thing could be a surprise for him.

And he was surprised...

{Hey, I know it was only spaghetti, but our schedules don't exactly allow the two of us to sit down to a homemade candlelit dinner together all that often}

...but then, I was surprised too, when he walked in the door with these:
I do love that Valentine of mine.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

food for thought


Why French Parents Are Superior by Pamela Druckerman

This has been making a stir on the internetz, but if you haven't already seen it, it's worth a read.

{Of course, a lot of what Druckerman calls "French parenting" is what I just call "parenting." But maybe that's just because of how my parents parented my siblings and me.}


An interesting reflection on the difficulty of being a mother of one, written by a mother of nine.

"I loved my baby, I loved pushing her on the swing, watching squirrels at the park together, introducing her to apple sauce, and watching her lips move in joyful dreams of milk. But it was hard, hard, hard. All this work: is this who I am now?"


And how about something totally superficial? How much do you think I want this iPhone case?

If you guessed "a lot," you are correct.

Friday, February 10, 2012

27 weeks

You may notice that if the picture on the left is any indication, it's possible that I'll be outgrowing the mirror pretty soon.

Or maybe I just take crooked pictures when I'm not actually looking through my camera.

So I don't actually think I'll be outgrowing any mirrors anytime soon, but clothes? Yes. Over the past couple of weeks I've been taking clothes I have no chance of wearing in the near future upstairs to a spare closet. It's nice to have my bedroom closet a little more sparse, actually, and to know that the things in it are all things I can actually wear. Makes the morning routine a little easier.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


I'm sharing with you today's strategy for getting my husband's attention, in case you might find it useful someday.

Notice the hour that elapsed between my first and second text.

Time between my second text and his reply? Less than a minute. Success.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


My young violin student G. said to me, quite seriously, "You should take some time off after your baby is born. Go to Paris."


His mom was silently cracking up behind him at this, as I told him that while Paris certainly sounded lovely, I wasn't sure I'd really be able to maximize the potential of such a trip with a newborn in tow.

Oui, maybe someday...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday Morning


Woke up and noticed that Baby was hanging out noticeably to the left hand side of me. Can you tell?

It's so funny how his or her position in there can change the shape of me.

{Also, I thought I was getting big back when I posted this picture! What a change already, in just over a month.}


Made peanut butter oatmeal pudding for probably the fourth or fifth time in a week.

I basically follow Chocolate-Covered Katie's recipe, using 1/2 c. old fashioned oats cooked in 1 c. non-dairy milk, then blended in my vitamix with 1 small banana, 1 t. vanilla, 1-2 T peanut butter, and sometimes just a pinch of stevia (like 1/3 of a packet or less).



Listened to the Elegie from Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings. Because apparently playing it in rehearsals for the past two weeks and a concert last night just wasn't enough for me.

Not a bad Monday morning at all.

Nice and relaxing for a girl recovering from a cold.

I've also been knitting, tidying, and organizing. Still to come: laundry, practice, grocery shopping, teaching, conducting youth orchestra rehearsal, more teaching, and perhaps something delicious for dinner at the end of it all.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

chickpea salad

A chickpea salad sandwich! Have you ever tried one?

It more than satisfies the sudden and bizarre desire to eat a tuna fish sandwich if you're a vegetarian and don't actually want to eat fish. But whether or not you're a lover of tuna salad, or chicken salad, chickpea salad is just plain good.

You probably want to try it, so here are some general directions for you.

Drain and rinse a can of chickpeas. Throw them into your food processor with roughly chopped celery and whatever else you like in your tuna salad or chicken salad. (Some pickles, perhaps? Cucumber? Red or green pepper?)

Pulse until ingredients are chopped up but not mushy. In a bowl, add some mayonnaise or veganaise or Greek yogurt or whatever you like. I also put a healthy splash of apple cider vinegar in mine, because my Grandma used to make tuna salad with vinegar instead of mayo and I like the tanginess it imparts. (I did a little mayo and the vinegar, which might seem weird, but I thought it tasted delish.)

Add seasonings to taste. (I like Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute blend, plus a little salt and freshly ground pepper.)

Stir to combine, and there you go!

{It's good on crackers, too.}

Friday, February 3, 2012

26 weeks

One of my violin students said to me last week, "Sarah, how can you be having a baby when you don't even look like you're having a baby?"

She's in third grade and totally one of my favorites. {Not that I have favorites, because good teachers love all their students equally, I'm sure.}

Anyway, I stood up and showed her the side view of Baby, but she still seemed a little skeptical.

I guess that to some degree how pregnant I look on a given day depends in part on what I'm wearing. Today I started the day off in a skirt (non-maternity; just a regular skirt with an elastic waist). Looking thick around the middle and definitely not normal, but maybe not obviously 26 weeks pregnant.

By evening I was ready to get out of that pair of tights, so I changed into a pair of maternity jeans. Hello, Baby! Much more apparent, I think.

Other than maternity pants, f0r now I'm still mostly wearing my regular shirts and loose-fitting sweaters, a few high-waisted dresses, and any elastic-waisted skirts. We'll see how much longer that keeps working...!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Unintentionally Orange and Other Stories

Today I:

Woke up and thought to myself, holy heck, it's February already.

Realized that there are exactly 100 days left until Baby's due date.

Had a strawberry-banana-chia-spinach smoothie for breakfast.

Climbed the stairs up to the fourth floor at school -- four times.

Played Tchaikovsky.

Packed myself a lunch to take to school, and didn't notice until I took it out to eat it that everything was orange: a spicy orange tortilla from TJ's spread with hummus and rolled up, a bag of baby carrots, and two clementines. {Served up atop my violin case in a hallway at school. Very gourmet.}

Played in a quartet (violin, piano, marimba, trombone) in improv class and really liked what we came up with.

Heard my name shouted across a room and was greeted with a big smile -- funny how an enthusiastic greeting can just make your day.

Had a violin lesson on Biber and Ives.

Had a slightly sore throat and runny nose all day.

Was told by a friend that I looked like an actress.

Drove home in the light rain.

Ate an organic fuji apple with peanut butter.

Altered a thrift-store pair of maternity jeans to be straight-legged instead of flared, and just the right length instead of slightly too long.

Felt my baby thumping around inside of me all day long.

Thought about how very, very different my life is going to be in just 100 days, give or take.