Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Sun Sets on 2009

These were the questions I was asking last year: The trail, I ask myself, where is the trail leading? Does the answer even matter, aside from the idea that it leads away and out?Away from what? And out of where? My life is good, but I can't help dwelling on the idea that there's got to be more. More of what? Something. There's got be something more.

It seems the trail has led me to here. And, here I am. How utterly surprising to be here. I am pleasantly astonished that I did not need to go away and out, but rather, in and around my life, my city, my purpose. There is so much around me to celebrate: my husband that provides constant support, my city that provides countless opportunity, my community that provides endless variety, my home that provides security and comfort, and my baby who soon will provide some many nameless things.

This sunset represent to me the end of one phase and the beginning of another. The beginning of a new adventure, totally unpredictable, but sure to full of love and joy.

Cheers to the Universe! I offer a toast to the new decade. And, am thankful for all the goodness in my life!

I wish you all a safe and fabulous New Year!
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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Week 29

Date: 30 December 2009
How far along: Week 29, Day 5. Whoo Hoo!! Already in the third trimester!
Weight gain: Lost 1 pound this week. I'm eating smarter and working out a lot. So, even though I probably have another inch around my belly, I think I've lost a little around my butt and thighs.
Sleep: Sleeping is getting more uncomfortable. I sleep with a pillow between my legs but am up often to pee, then sometimes I can't get back to sleep, thinking stressful thoughts about my mother and sister. But, then Baby starts to kick and I consciously turn my negative thoughts to positive ones.
Best moment this week: Getting my library moved out of the 2nd bedroom, soon to be known as the nursery. Can't wait to paint and decorate!
Movement: I can now distinguish between hiccups and kicks.
Food cravings: Tea. I finally bought some decaf black tea, some barley tea and some decaf sencha. I'm reading the second book in the Earth's Children series and that keeps tea on the forefront of my mind. It's my second time through this series and I gotta say, it's blissful sitting around reading for a couple of hours each day. I also take the book with me to workout and thirty minutes go by on the treadmill like a breeze.
What I miss: Eating holiday chocolates. Who knew these had liquor in them? Is that common for holiday chocolates?
Next challenge: Making a decision about a doula. I haven't been able to meet with the one that is located in my neighborhood. You all know how much I love my neighborhood, so I really want to keep this one local, but if she doesn't have the time, I have to start looking elsewhere. I have one more recommendation to follow-up on and am avoiding this for a couple more days in the hopes that the local doula gets back to me.
What I am looking forward to: I'm missing wine. The Big D got several bottles from work clients and I am so looking forward to drinking them!
Weekly Wisdom: From Meditations for Pregnancy: I caress my belly and you float and rise in me. You whisper fathomless invitations, and I hear the echo of your form, sweet and ancient in the night. I relish our oneness and send you my joy to permeate every cell of your being. This is such a wonderful book. I recommend it to anyone pregnant or considering pregnancy or seeking a good pre-natal gift.

Here's me! I talked it over with the Big D and we decided it was OK to be a little more revealing in my photos. And considering last week's photo was one of me in my underwear, I figure my face can't be that much more shocking. Besides, I know I will want to put up pictures of baby and I certainly can't keep hiding behind my camera. It does very little for my self-esteem, this hiding behind my camera thing. I'm pregnant and over thirty pounds heavier than I've ever been. But, again, I'm pregnant and this is how I should be, right? Right.

This Friday we are going to go see a band and meeting some folks that I haven't seen in over 15 years. The band's guitar player is an old friend. I had a few freak out moments trying to figure out what to wear, wanting to look as good as I did when I was in my twenties, but then I just sat down and realized, I'm being dumb. That's the real reason for this shot of me and my face, a little bloated and swollen. But, I figure, if I can put it out to the world, showing up a dark nightclub can't be much worse.

From BabyCenter: Your baby now weighs about 2 1/2 pounds (like a butternut squash) and is a tad over 15 inches long from head to heel. His muscles and lungs are continuing to mature, and his head is growing bigger to make room for his developing brain. To meet his increasing nutritional demands, you'll need plenty of protein, vitamins C, folic acid, and iron. And because his bones are soaking up lots of calcium, be sure to drink your milk (or find another good source of calcium, such as cheese, yogurt, or enriched orange juice). This trimester, about 250 milligrams of calcium are deposited in your baby's hardening skeleton each day.

I read this and suddenly, I'm hungry for some butternut squash bisque! BTW, I had some awesome barley soup this week and the recipe came from A Good Appetite. Just perfect for a cold winter's night. I think I will make that squash soup. Then later this week I am going to take all my root vegetables: celeriac, turnips, beets, some cabbage, and carrots, and make a bunch of eggrolls that I can freeze and eat until Spring arrives. I'll post the recipe when I get around to the big project, sometime later this weekend or early next week.

A new year, a new adventure, the last stretch, the beginning of the end, and the beginning of all things new. Oooooh, Baby, I just can't wait!
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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Witch's Hat Water Tower

This is a such a distinctive landmark on the border of St. Paul and Minneapolis. It stands out in any season. I think I shot this photo the day after Xmas and it was such a gray, snowy day. I've never been up on the observation area and apparently it is only open a few days a year. I also read that it was intended to be used as a bandshell as well as a water tower, but the climb up was to much for the musicians. There has been only one concert since the tower was built in 1914.
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Friday, December 25, 2009

Introducing Teddy Marley

I made this! It took me one whole trimester and a whole lot of tinkering, but he's finally done! There was a lot of uncertainty and frustration with how the pattern was written, but he got done. I'm suppposed to make sweater for Teddy, but have opted to just clothe him in a t-shirt. But, this one is a little too big. Baby will get it when she's older. It cracked me up when I realized that Baby Girl will be smaller than Teddy. He'll just have to sit and wait in the corner of the crib for her to grow a little bigger.

I hope she loves him!

Last week, I found this CD at a local shop and I just had to have it. I wrote about Bob Marley for my doctorate dissertation, but unfortunately, I have not been able to listen to his music since then. I am very excited to have a very different reason to listen to Marley and how cute is this?

Now, take a look at the original Wailer's album and compare the cover art for both these CDs. Too cute!

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Week 28

Date: 24 December 2009
How far along: 28 weeks, 5 days
Weight gain: 2 lbs. since last pre-natal visit. I was really excited about this until I realized it's just been two weeks since my last appointment. I guess I'm right on track now - 1 pound per week.
Sleep: Strange dreams in which I sometimes tell myself I should write a novel about this, Stephanie Meyer style. I am sleeping now with a pillow between my legs which is super comfortable. I've noticed I have trouble sleeping when it is snowing outside, must by the low pressure system over the region.
Best moment this week: With D off from work the whole week, we've had time to relax with each other. I like the early morning when I get to pull his hand to my belly and let him feel Baby kicking. He chuckles in this sleepy way that I find to sexy. He's already talking about staking out his time with her and that just makes my heart grow and soar!
Movement: I wake up early in the morning to her kicking and it feels like fireworks are going off in my belly! Definitely feeling the hiccups!
Food cravings: Fish and chips. I am eating carrots instead of chips with my sandwiches and man, does that hit the spot. Crab legs tonight for Xmas eve! Yum!
What I miss: I have been walking on a regular basis on at treadmill at the gym. Every time I go I walk longer and faster. Now, I'm craving a short run, but am hesitant to take it to that level. I also miss regular yoga classes. And believe or not, I miss shoveling.
Next challenge: Checking my blood sugar levels in the morning after breakfast. My doctor told me to experiment with what I eat to pinpoint the foods that are harder to process. So, I will be eating a little something different each morning. Everything from cream of wheat to cold cereal to an egg with a whole wheat english muffin. She said I could return to my daily habit of starting the day with half an apple with cheese which I'm really happy about because it gets me hydrated right away after a night of fasting.
What I am looking forward to: Next Christmas. D sings corny songs to me and I just wait to see him share these with Baby.
Weekly Wisdom: From an old friend, Dr. G, who emailed this bit of advise, "food combining is what's really needed, good portions of fat, fiber, and protein in the right proportion to carbs will help you to avoid spiking your blood sugar, and keep you healthy." I really appreciated this sort of advise because it acknowledged that I do eat healthy, but that I could be smarter about my healthy eating.

As you can see from this picture, I'm getting big. I felt like a grew a few inches around my belly just over the weekend. It's getting a little harder for me to get up off the couch and bend down to put on my shoes. I bought a new pair of boots that allow me to zip up the front and that helps me a bit.

D came with my to my pre-natal appointment and that was fun. We both got a chance to talk with the doctor about gestational diabetes. We reviewed my diet and she confirmed that I am eating healthy and encouraged me to have some treats. The one thing she said to change was doing my daily workout in the morning rather than in the afternoon. She said chances are my blood sugars are higher in the morning, so a walk should help bring those down. She also assured me that there are a few steps we can take before having to resort to insulin.

From BabyCenter: By this week, your baby weighs two and a quarter pounds (like a Chinese cabbage) and measures 14.8 inches from the top of her head to her heels. She can blink her eyes, which now sport lashes. With her eyesight developing, she may be able to see the light that filters in through your womb. She's also developing billions of neurons in her brain and adding more body fat in preparation for life in the outside world.

I can't wait to see her pretty, pretty eyelashes!! I can feel her spine on the side of my belly and find it so cute that she does circles in there!
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Monday, December 21, 2009

Solstice Night Date

Today on this longest of nights, winter officially begins. It is Solstice night and from this night onward the days will get longer. This brings such a sense to relief to my heart. Relief that we are on our way to warmer weather and longer days, brighter sunshine and yet another change in seasons. Of course, there are still several months of winter left here in the upper Midwest, but the longer days always brings hope that it will all end soon.

The Big D is on vacation this whole week and hanging with him has been a blast. Yesterday we drove all over the Cities trying to find him a copy of a book, the next in the series he is reading. I had forgotten to request it from the library and we had to find a copy for his vacation.

The only thing missing from this week is the chance to cross country ski. The temps have been perfect, staying in the mid-twenties, but there isn't enough snow to really enjoy it. And, dang-it, I'm a bit nervous, feeling like I'm putting inches around my belly everyday. There is supposed to be a big winter snow storm building for later this week, maybe then I'll brave the ski trails. I'm missing the quiet of the woods, the crunch and slide of the snow, the feeling of solitude in winter wonderland.

Today, we had a relaxing morning, then some time spent at the health club getting our workout in and sweating ourselves to fitness. Later, we dared to venture into a nearby Mall for some gift exchanges and a little bit of maternity shopping. We picked the perfect time, a lull in all the shopping craziness. He was jittery from a late afternoon cup of coffee and I was just thrilled to be out of the house, so we decided to extend our time out by heading down to the river for some fish and chips. I was craving it and it was great while I ate it, but now I'm battling some heartburn that is just about to go away, I hope!

We went to Tuggs for a Solstice Night date. I love the old photographs in this bar; the brickwork that curiously has a coat of poly on it.

It was strange to think that in just a few months our lives will dramatically change. But, he is always expressing how much he's looking forward to Baby coming to our home, and so, I catch his excitement like a contagion.

If tonight marks the beginning of winter, Baby will come with winter's end and the beginning of a new season, a new life, a new world.
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The Minneapolis Library

The "new" library. I still think of it as the "new" library even though it has been open for several years now. I've been here a few times, but each time has been with the Big D and outings with him are always wonderful. There is no free parking near this library location which is the main reason I do not come here often. Yet, every time I visit or just drive by, I am struck by how beautiful it is. Yes, the trees here were planted and situated in this perfect line, but I like it, especially in the stark winter season.

There is so much glass on this building and I wistfully think about how wonderful this might have been when I was working on my graduate degree. All that sunlight would have made this a great place to study and write.
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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Knitting Therapy

Saturday was a much better day, a pleasant day in lower Northeast. Spent the afternoon at my favorite coffee shop: Wilde Roast Cafe. Then a few hours at a yarn shop called Bella Lana, knitting a baby hat while chatting with my friend A and her daughter about feminism and racial diversity. It felt good to be productive and it felt good to be with friends who were concerned and sympathetic to my gestational woes. Also, I got an opportunity to be showered and dressed, and away from the house. BTW, the green knitted piece is an earflap for the baby hat and the pattern is from here.
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Gestational Diabetes

I am floored by the news that I have gestational diabetes. I am a healthy eater. I eat mostly organic food, produce delivered directly from a local farm. I don't drink sodas, never really have. I'm not drawn to many sweets. Sure, I'll get a craving for carrot cake or chocolate cake, even an ice cream sundae with hot fudge, but I never over do it. A pint of ice cream can last me a month. A sundae from Dairy Queen will take several days to finish and the last one I had was back in October. I buy slices of cake, one at a time, if at all. I do eat lots of fruit, but that should be part of a healthy diet! I am married to a diabetic, so a diet low in sugar is the norm for us.

Ok, I've got to bitch a little first. I'm troubled by the glucose test. I had two where I had consume a very sugary drink that was loaded with glucose. Because my levels were slightly elevated (I was at 136 with a cut-off at 130), I had to return for the fasting + three hour lab. The second time around, my fasting blood sugar was normal (88), but the other three after consuming a sugary drink with an even larger amount of glucose than the previous test, showed elevated levels of sugar in my blood. Here's my bitch and moan: I don't drink sugary drinks, so, of course, my body is not accustomed to processing all that glucose! Not fair! Why test me with something that is not a regular part of my diet? And I'm sure that it's not a regular part of my diet because my body has never been able to process it.

As it turns out, I am part of one of those ethnic groups that are prone to gestational diabetes: South Asians. Again, I think that is because high-sugar foods have never been a part of the Gujarati diet. I did not know this before today. It makes me feel a little less guilty, but dang, I sure do feel bad about all this.

The Big D is a type-1 diabetic. This is my biggest fear having lived with him so long. Now, I have to do as he does that is checking my blood at least four times a day. I pray and pray that I don't have to take insulin. Just the thought of pricking my finger to draw out blood really upsets me. I guess next week's holiday joy will be marred with adjusting to this new lifestyle and diet. But, then, as I read more about diet, I realize that's how I eat normally so really, I see no way out of this without having to shoot up insulin.

I am floored by this news. Just when things were starting to feel right, I get slammed by this development. I know that it's best to catch this now so as to avoid risk to baby. Here's the thing: the women that I know that had gestational diabetes are the ones in my life that do not eat healthy. A couple of them are diagnosed as obese, several of them eat fast food on a regular basis, none of them exercise. This sounds shitty and judgemental of me, I know, but I am upset that I am in the same category after all the effort I've put in to eat healthy. And much of that effort was prompted years ago by my husband's diabetes. So, most of my married life has been filled with healthy eating which only ramped up even further when I got pregnant. OK, maybe not in the first trimester, but definitely, in this second one. Now I'm approaching the third trimester all stressed and scared for the baby.

[ETA: That little rant, I realize now, was uncalled for. Another good friend of mine had gestational diabetes with her first pregnancy. She eats healthy and exercises on a regular basis. My mean judgements reflect my own disappointment with myself and this new development. Yesterday, after I wrote this post, I had many, many tearful moments. I don't want to prick my finger 4 times a day, I don't want all those little holes on the tips of my fingers. And, jeez, the thought of having to shoot insulin is totally unbearable! I don't know how the Big D does it, and he still plays his guitar despite all the little holes on his fingers. I need to get over this resistance, because whether I want it or not, this is my going to be my life for the next three months.]

Another thing that I'm distressed about is that as I read about gestational diabetes diets, I realize that I am already eating in this manner. The only difference, I guess, is that I need to eat on a schedule. I am also a bit upset that the diet suggestions encourage foods that are not in season. I've been trying to eat foods that are in season, things grown locally. If not that, then things grown regionally, and if not that, then things grown in the US. The diet suggestions include fruits and produce that are not growing in North America right now. I have to figure out how to deal with that, especially since eating things that are not in season or grown thousands of miles away do not have the same nutritional value nor the great taste that satisfies my appetite. Some diet suggestions actually recommend diet sodas or sugar-free items. I just don't understand a health care regiment that OKs putting chemicals in my body rather fresh fruit juices. Ugh. I'm frustrated.

Maybe this is how the Mars retrograde will effect my life. Oh, yes, I just went and read about it again and absolutely, this is what is happening. I'm going to include it here because of how eerily relevant it feels to everything going on right now. From the Low Down on the Far Out at Evolving Door Astrology:

He's baaaaaack!! Mars now turns retrograde until Mar.10.2010, creating a need to reconsider the direction and use of our energy. For a week or more before and after today, your physical energy may be a bit erratic or wonky—here one minute and gone the next; active one minute and lethargic the next. Forward progress that was made over the last couple of months may seem like it has hit a roadblock or forced into an annoying detour. Tempers can flare easily from frustration and trying to push through the obstacles that don't want to budge. This can also trigger old unresolved anger, which might need to be worked through over the coming retrograde period. This might also be a time when you feel a bit depressed or lethargic due to repressed anger, particularly if you find it difficult to own, express or accept anger as a natural emotion.

Although this might sound like a totally negative experience, it's not! All that energy can also fuel a time of great productivity and determination. The retrograde period could also be a time of respite from anger, conflict or high stress, as you pull back for a while to coast, regroup and rethink how you want to deal with a stressful situation. It is a time to take stock of what you are investing your energy and ambition in and consider if you are spending your energy wisely. It is a time to evaluate whether your plans and actions are working for you, or whether you need to make some adjustments in your direction, or whether you need to consider a complete change of direction. It is also a time to work hard in preparation for plans that can be put into action after Mars goes direct (Mar.10.2010). Think of it as taking inventory, revising your goals and adjusting your plans for the next two years (until the next Mars retrograde).

I guess this means I need to change direction, retreat and rethink my goals. All in preparation to welcome baby.

No more fun cake to eat. BTW, the amount of cake that was left over is about the amount of cake that is missing from this picture. And I shared the remainder with Lone Star and the Big D. Cake is eaten. Now the work begins.
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Saturday, December 19, 2009

New Lens

Wow. What a difference! I see a major difference from my old lens that came with the SLR I bought back in 1986. This new one is a 50mm prime with auto focus. I'm getting older and finding that my eye isn't as sharp as it was. The description of this lens mentioned a wonderful bokeh and indeed, I see it! The backdrop for this image is the new paint job in our dining room and I think the color is fabulous for this picture.
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Friday, December 18, 2009

27 Weeks

Date: 18 December 2009
How far along: 27 weeks, 6 days
Weight gain: At least three more pounds this week
Sleep: Intensely, weird dreams with major leg cramps early in the morning.
Best moment this week: I put on a tight-ish brown sweater and felt proud of my pregnant belly.
Movement: A tickle on my side. I woke up one night and thought that either D or one of the cats was tickling me. The tickle was coming from the inside and I think it's when her hands are moving around.
Food cravings: None since I've had left over baby shower cake to eat all week.
What I miss: Feeling normal.
Next challenge: Coping with gestational diabetes. It's official, I have gestational diabetes. I'm floored by this because I am someone who eats healthy, organic healthy. I have to start testing my blood sugars four times a day.
What I am looking forward to: March and the opportunity to work out more intensely. I'm not comfortable with all this weight I have put on.
Weekly Wisdom: Feeling down this week, haven't found the moment of weekly wisdom. Got some to offer?

This picture was taken last Sunday and I tried to capture what my belly looked like behind the sari. Just today, I looked through the pictures from the baby puja and needless to say, I am not pleased with how I look. The sari doesn't help. My face looks all blown out and swollen. D looks so trim and fit in all the pictures and I'm sad that I don't look like him. Throughout the 15+ years of our marriage, we always manage to look similar in our pictures. But I feel like a cow next to him. Gives a whole new meaning to "ten cow woman."

This week has been an emotional roller coaster week with many ups and downs. The baby puja went fine, "better than expected" so says my mother, but she and I are fighting again, and the news about the gestational diabetes has me very troubled.

But, D is home on vacation all next week. And, hopefully, he will be able to help me adjust to this new development in the pregnancy. Found a great second-hand clothing store that has great maternity pieces, so have been relieving depression with some shopping. Got a new 50mm prime lens that should be fun to play with. I want to make an effort to get back the baby bliss before the new year. Working out every day with D will help with that.

From BabyCenter: This week, your baby weighs almost 2 pounds like a head of cauliflower) and is about 14 1/2 inches long with her legs extended. She's sleeping and waking at regular intervals, opening and closing her eyes, and perhaps even sucking her fingers. With more brain tissue developing, your baby's brain is very active now. While her lungs are still immature, they would be capable of functioning — with a lot of medical help — if she were to be born now. Chalk up any tiny rhythmic movements you may be feeling to a case of baby hiccups, which may be common from now on. Each episode usually lasts only a few moments, and they don't bother her, so just relax and enjoy the tickle.
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fair Food Fight brings on the Challenge

The General Manager of Eastside Food Co-op, an amazing woman, sent forward these links to the board of directors, to which I got elected back in October. Wow. Talk about a new path in life, new things to think about, new ideas (for me, anyway) to develop. And I am thoroughly enamored with this position in much the same way I was when I started graduate school. Combine this with Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle showing up in my life, and suddenly I feel like I've got a whole new passion and perspective on food. Instead of going to the health club at this hour, I feel like recording my own thoughts and responses to these two articles. Don't worry, I'll get on that treadmill at little later today.

Here are the links:
The first is from Bob St. Peter writing an article that showed up in Grassroots Economic Organizing -- Co-opted: The Fall of the Natural Foods Cooperative and What We Can Do About It.

The second is from El Dragon over at Fair Food Fight with a response to St. Peter -- Grocery Co-ops: Dead or Ready to Future Shock You?

St. Peter's article takes a jarring approach to describing the activity within grocery co-ops today. He rightly points out that co-ops are stocking up on organic fast foods and expanding to make these inventories larger and filled with more variety. There is discussion about what brands appear in the inner aisles of co-ops that are owned by large corporations and suggestions for how to radicalize the co-op mission and their members in this millennium when corporations have co-opted smaller businesses. Amongst his list of nine suggestions that co-ops can consider are the following: diversifying by building key local infrastructure, start thinking like producers, working with local farms rather than national distributors, and changing the focus to being a local buying club rather than a grocery store.

El Dragon makes a response based on a reality I see here in Minnesota. The most important of these is that the consumers need the co-ops as grocery outlets. He also adds that perhaps there should be some intent put into "blowing up the store" which means enlarging the outer aisles, the bulk bins, the fresh meats and produce areas.

It was great to read these because both articles contained many good points. There seemed to be a bit of divide in terms of mission. Is the Co-op a grocery store or place for radical democracy? I believe there needs to be a balance of both. And that this balance is crucial for gaining and maintaining some mainstream appeal.

One the turn offs for me in the early years of my awareness for food supply alternatives was my own crowd of college-graduate idealists. I could not afford the strict adherence to buy from co-ops because living with a diabetic, I could not afford to buy juices only from particular places. Being part of the mainstream America, I despised their judgements and always felt a little guilty because of this when I shopped anywhere whether it be large conventional grocery store or smaller co-op. Imagine my genuine shock when I discovered through these articles that Knudsen's is owned by J.M. Smucker. Jeez Louise! I thought the cost of paying $4.79 for a can of frozen lemonade concentrate was justified because I was supporting a small, organic business. But, really it's owned by a large corporation. Was I duped or what? Now I buy lemons and squeeze my own lemonade. For real, no pun intended. And, I can control what sugar I use and the amount.

Another personal issue that was raised directly relates to those products found in the inner aisles. In my crowd there were quite a few vegetarians and some vegans. For the life of me, I did not understand why they were still eating the same sorts of food except in vegetarian or vegan versions of them. Vegan mac and cheese. Vegetarian non-bacon-bits. Etc. Granted my mother raised me on a different diet, a Gujarati diet that was mainly vegetarian but still filled with eggs and chicken, and a steak or two, here and there. But, I cannot and do not cook like her. But, my point is, I mainly shop the outer aisles of the Co-op, the produce sections, the meats and dairy. These are ingredients I begin with. But, definitely I broken from any sort of typical Gujarati or American diet to find ones that are suitable for this household.

I just realized I'm confusing myself here a little bit. I'm getting caught in my own angst about the judgements inflicted on me by my peers for considering the right choices for my family and my budget, which at times, does require I venture into a larger conventional grocery store.

However, I am thoroughly intrigued by El Dragon and St. Peter's suggestions for getting more imaginative. Bulk up and expand those bulk bins. These are the ways to eat healthy on a restrictive budget. Buy more fresh meats from smaller businesses. I supplement my meat purchases by shopping at Ready Meats that has more of a variety of cheaper cuts. And, I can buy just the amount I need and still stay within my budget. It keeps me from being tempted to buy from the huge sales at larger grocery stores.

On a side note, do you know anyone that is leery of the dirt that can be found on vegetables? My mother-in-law doesn't make salads because the lettuce at the grocery store has dirt on it. My sister, while living in Queens, would not buy from outdoor vendors because she thought the packaged up produce in grocery stores was so much cleaner. I'm dumbfounded by all this. Do these people not realize that vegetable are grown in dirt? Do they not realize that this dirt is easily washed away?

I am astonished about these sorts of opinions. Maybe I'm not part of the mainstream. Maybe that's why I feel so removed from those around me. I am very grateful about our decision to have children later in life. Now, I am equipped to make better decisions than when I was younger about how to raise my daughter and to eat healthy, and oh yes, where to shop.
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Monday, December 14, 2009

Minneapolis At Night

So, it's freezing out there, actually, below freezing temperatures, and we're shooting, after a nice dinner of burgers at Elsie's down by the river. The vehicles are running right behind us, my fingers curled a bit into my fingerless gloves. I click down on my remote cable and am holding for five seconds, ten seconds. Then, suddenly, LT, the lovely wife, says something about getting a shot of the plane that looks like it's going in between the buildings. So, I keep the shutter open for a while longer, not having noticed this until she mentioned it. I love this picture. The light of the plane looks like a shooting star.
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Saturday, December 12, 2009

26 Weeks

26 Weeks

Date: 12 December 2009
How far along? 26 weeks, 6 days
Weight Gain: Another seven pounds since my last prenatal appointment. We talked a little about this, my doctor and I. I informed her that by the time I had come to my first visit at her clinic, I had lost over 8 pounds because of the progesterone the previous doctor had prescribed. So she adjusted my start weight and now, according to this figure, I've only gained 19 pounds, which puts me back to the normal range. However, my glucose test results were not the greatest - 136 - so, I'm a little bit above normal and may have to return for another 3 hour test preceded by fasting. My doctor said that 50% of women has abnormal results, so not to worry because as we reviewed my diet, she confirmed that I was indeed eating very healthy. I came home and promptly downed a huge square of carrot cake...later, I read on the internet that the cut-off for the glucose testing is sometimes 140, sometimes 130, so I may still be in the clear. Also, I did eat a little bit in that hour before my test and so, that may have also effected my test results. On top of all that, my mother called and totally stressed me less than 1/2 hour before my test and I do know that stress can also be a factor.
Sleep: No nightmares this week. It's getting a little more difficult to roll out of bed because of my bigger belly. I am getting better at staying sleepy while in the bathroom. However, I have had a couple of early mornings when I could not get back to sleep. I hope that I don't get insomnia, something I became too familiar with that when I was young.
Best moment this week: One night I dreamt of the little baby girl. She was dark haired and so very tiny.
Movement: I've noticed that she starts to kick at the top of each hour.
Food cravings: carrot cake and decaf lattes
What I miss: I miss beer. I hear mixed messages about drinking beer when breastfeeding. Mostly, though, I hear it's good to drink dark beer when breastfeeding. Yum. My favorite kind. I'm going to have the Big D pick up some stout on the way home from the hospital, maybe, probably.

I've been wearing a lot of brown lately. Today, I had my prenatal appointment and it was funny how many times I changed clothes. I was trying to find something that didn't add to my total weight. I shot this image right before my appointment and settled on the brown sweater when I realized that it didn't matter what I wore.

I'm starting to really enjoy my pregnant belly. I've recently found a great 2nd hand clothing store that had a huge rack of maternity clothes. There was variety and style, there was fun stuff and a range of clothes for a bunch of different occasions. There wasn't much I didn't like. Whereas every other place I've been, whether it's the mall or large department stores, I rarely found a single thing I liked. I bought a piece here and there just to have something, anything. My only other good score was contacting someone through Craig's List. 2nd hand stores and Craig's List are my two recommendations for decent maternity clothes!

What I am looking forward to: Drinking dark beer!

Weekly Wisdom: “I hope you have a wonderful puja and are enjoying every moment of being celebrated as a new mama. It is so important and beautiful for you to be honored now. Soak it up." Amelia, the doula. I am meeting with doulas next week to make a decision of which one to go with. I had already emailed Amelia last week, but got overwhelmed with all the puja planning this week, so I emailed her back to postpone our meeting. I started to cry when I read her email response. It was so sweet and supportive. Honestly, it made me realize all that I am missing in terms of support from my own mother, who is driving me crazy. I cannot wait for the Sunday afternoon when this puja is done. Anyway, this email from Amelia may just be the deciding factor.

From BabyCenter: "The network of nerves in your baby's ears is better developed and more sensitive than before. He may now be able to hear both your voice and your partner's as you chat with each other. He's inhaling and exhaling small amounts of amniotic fluid, which is essential for the development of his lungs. These so-called breathing movements are also good practice for when he's born and takes that first gulp of air. And he's continuing to put on baby fat. He now weighs about a pound and two-thirds and measures 14 inches (an English hothouse cucumber) from head to heel."

There are times when one of my kitties start to purr really, really loud. And, when that happens, the baby starts to kick. I'm sure she can hear the cat purring. I hope she remembers that friendly purr when she comes out into this world.

I'm almost getting used to this whole pregnancy thing and starting to feel that bliss, except on days that I've talked to my mother. I haven't been sick at all during this pregnancy and have opted not to get the flu shot. I've talked to my doctor about this and have her support. I've been walking on the treadmill pretty regularly. I feel very healthy and am certain that all these efforts are what has kept me from getting sick. For this reason, I am surprised that pregnant women are in the high risk category for the flu. Most pregnant women eat healthy, take their vitamins and generally are more fit than the general public.

I may not be as fit as I once was, but, I definitely am the healthiest that I've even been in my life.
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Baby Puja Planning Committee of One

So the big event is on Sunday. My baby puja. That's what I'm calling it now because it seems noone has any better description. My in-laws are a little freaked out because I called it a baby shower and according to them, those are only attended by women. All my male relatives are invited to this event, some male neighbors and other male friends. The only males disturbed by this concept is my in-laws. So, baby puja.

Although there is a puja to kick things off, that's not the main ceremony. This particular puja begins with a ceremony of gratitude to the deity Ganesha, or more commonly referred to as Ganapatiya in Gujarat. Then, we move on to the baby ceremony that marks the period of time when the pregnant mother moves back into her mother's home for the remainder of the pregnancy. There is more, but I'll describe that in another post. But, this also reminds me that I do need to do a little write up for all my American friends and family that are attending.

Add that the committee's list of things to do. The Baby Puja Planning Committee of One - that's me. When my mother decided to do this she made the decision just days before leaving town. She left to attend another puja in Oklahoma and then to my sister's house in Florida. She didn't return until the week before Thanksgiving and planning could not wait for her return.

Enter the Lotus. Who quickly forms a committee (of one) and sets about planning an event for which she has vague knowledge of. I took the charge seriously because I've never had another major event in my life celebrated as such. No wedding, no graduation, no Ph.D. party.

The most enjoyable and pleasant experience in all this was ordering the flowers.

Chenoweth Floral is near my in-laws home and just down the block from the neighborhood center where the puja is being held. They were wonderful! The colors for this puja are pink and green and brown and gold. I wanted pink Gerbera daises on the tables.

The first thing that happened was that the really nice, young man who helped me, very tactfully, informed me that I was pronouncing the flower name wrong. It is Gerbera and not Gerber (like the baby products).

Then he encouraged me to order an assortment of colors. I was already feeling like there was way too much pink at this event, so this turned out to be a fantastic suggestion. They ordered directly from a supplier in Columbia which reduced the price per stem (just over a dollar, another place quoted me $4 a stem. Yikes!) and they ordered 100 stems. Then, they called me today and I was able to pick the 3 dozen that I wanted. I picked out pink, a darker pink, yellow and some orange. It was great being in the midst of all this color during this monotone season of snow and slush.

I also picked up a bouquet of small carnations for the puja, at a reduced price, I might add. Rock on! They were so awesome! I mean, Chenoweth was awesome and I highly recommend them for your next floral purchase, whether it be big or small!

And, since they right down by the neighborhood center, I decided to stop and take a picture. It was quite the ordeal finding a venue for this event. All the places in Minneapolis require selecting a caterer from their approved list, and needless to say, there were no Indian caterers on that list. I started driving from one community center to another, until I finally found this place in my in-laws town. I also managed to get a discount because my in-laws are residents. And, the bonus is that this is a stand-alone building so there aren't any other activities scheduled like there were at all the other community centers.

There is a cute little gas fireplace, too!

My sari turned out to be a lot pinker than I had planned. I ordered it from India and that turned out to be way cheaper than picking one up in Chicago where there is a large number of Indian apparel stores. I ordered these poms online from Etsy. Why? Because I love them! Also, I can hang them in the baby's room when all is said and done. Something for her to gaze at hanging from the ceiling.

So once I realized that there was getting to be too much pink, I made efforts to balance that out. Green plastic table cloths. Chocolate cake with green flowers.

Whew! I'm glad the big stuff is done. Now there are just the little details to take care of. And, now I have to go, because one thing I really need to keep my sanity throughout this whole thing is to work out. Off to the gym I go and of course, that means I get to eat more cake! Right?

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

1st Big Snowfall of the Year

Yah, sure, we had snow sometime back in October, but that soon melted away. This snowfall wasn't all that big as far as Minnesota is concerned, but it's going to stay awhile. The temperatures have dropped into the single digits, so no chance of any snow melting away. It will get plowed away, and in some places, hauled away in big dumptrucks. But, for sure, it's staying for a while.

I feel quite lucky this year. I remember some years when the snow would dump down, measuring in feet rather than inches, and stay until April. This year the snow is hitting kind of late. Just last week, I wasn't even considering my winter vest, let alone, my big, heavy winter coat.

I don't think we got as much as was expected. But the snow sure did come down...

...and in. The Big D found snow piled up between our screen door and the solid backdoor on his way out to work this morning.

The wind picked up and there are huge drifts everywhere. Usually, I'm the shoveler, but this year, D will get a chance to pull out his snowblower.

I'm thinking we could use some more! Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Oberg Mountain Hike

One thing we really wanted to do on the babymoon was to go on a hike. We both needed the exercise and we were very aware that winter is right around the corner with no chance of cross-country skiing this year. Cross country skiing is on the list of things I can do while pregnant, but I am really clumsy so I don't think I want to risk it this year. The only obstacle to hiking is that we are both really out of shape. There was a time that we did the seven mile hike to Horseshoe Canyon (near Moab) which was a great adventure that I'll have to write about one of these days (the sort of adventure that caught the attention of a National Geographic filmmaker who wanted to use my film footage - WhooHoo!). But, these days walking in the neighborhood is something we only manage every once and a while.

We took a hike one summer in Tettagouche State Park (can't remember the name of the peak) which ended up being really buggy. We were driven away from the peak by nagging mosquitoes, yet the Big D got an awesome picture of me that he hangs in his office. I looked fit. Not so much these days where I mostly look fat, unless I'm wearing a tight shirt, then I look a little pregnant.

Jeez what a rambling about nothing...

Anyway, Oberg Mountain seemed like a good hike for us. It was a little over 2 1/4 miles to the peak and back. There were eight overlook spots on the loop around the peak. These mountains are old, mostly worn away to the granite core, and fairly flat on top. The days was overcast with rain and drizzle expected in the late afternoon. We packed up a lunch which D carried. I packed up my camera gear in my backpack camera bag and we took off.

We were debating between Carlton Peak and Oberg. Carlton Peak, we were told only has two overlook spots with the main attraction being the view of Lake Superior and it has the bonus of being right behind the resort where we were staying. Oberg, like I mentioned has eight overlooks, but also the drive to the trailhead takes you partway up the mountain.

The parking lot was empty when we started the hike. However, there was another family that braved the misty Autumn weather to hike this peak who we encountered while on the trail. We let them pass us and never saw them again.

This was our only map, the one hanging at the trailhead. Not that the hike is difficult, it just goes one way, but, I like to have these things around. We took the trail counter clockwise when we got the loop. Unfortunately, I didn't look at it much on my camera and so we were not expecting the length of last part of the loop from the last overlook to the trail leading down the peak. But, we took it slow and we made it, despite the fact that there weren't may scenic views due to the fog and mist.

The trails was beautiful, nonetheless. It reminded me so much of where I went to school in the Himalaya mountains. While walking up the mountain to school, the trail was often shrouded in a cloud. When we started this hike up Oberg Mountain, the woods were clear. As we got higher and closer to the peak, we walked into the fog.

The rock on the trail was a little slick, but, there were only a few muddy patches. The Big D took the lead. It was sweet, though, when he hit a slick or muddy spot, where he would stop and wait to give me a hand. This made the hike very romantic for me! I love this man! Of course, I kept stopping to shoot some images, so caught up in the ethereal quality of the fog around the woods. There was lots of pine and cedar, lots of green moss. The colors were spectacular.

The peak was completely covered in fog. The overlooks were sort of eerie as we couldn't see very far, but the fact that there was a major drop in front of us was obvious. At the overlooks that faced Lake Superior, we could hear the traffic on Hwy 61 and we could even hear the waves on the lake crashing on the rocks more than 1500 feet below. But, we couldn't see any of this. Some people would say that taking this sort of hike is not worth doing on such a foggy day. I'm so glad we did it. We had such a unique experience, an experience that made us view and appreciate all that was on the peak and not just the overlooks.

This foggy day also allowed me to think about the photography differently. I am always a little disappointed when I can't quite capture the scenic views in the way that I saw them. On this day, I had no such worries. I was enchanted by the mists. I was curious about what lay ahead on the path.

There were no bugs. It was not too hot. I would say that conditions were perfect!

I think that maintaining trails would be a fabulous job. One of these days, I want to do one of those volunteer vacations where we get to help groom the trails, either here in Minnesota or down in Moab, Utah.

Recently I read through Scott Kelby's digital photography guide. I was surprised at the number of pro tips that blatantly set up the shot. Nonetheless there were some really good tips. And, I kept thinking this was a great day to get different sort of shots, shots that weren't just vacation photography, but interesting moods in the woods.

We started joking about getting lost in the mists and ending up in some fairy land where time functioned differently. I reminded the Big D that if this happened, we were not eat or drink anything as we'd be stuck here for years and years. We'd come out of the mists and find it was twenty years into the future, or something crazy like that. Truly, the fog and drizzle made everything seem enchanting.

We eventually did find the picnic table at the last overlook that faced the lake, but we never stopped to eat. We snacked a little, but it seemed like the rain was going to start and we had no idea how long it would take up to finish the loop and head back down the mountain.

D found a grove of cedar trees on the trail and we lingered there for a while, feeling the energy coursing up through the trunks.

We made it back to the Jeep just as the rain started to fall harder. We went back to our cozy room, started a fire and ate our lunches. I was glad to be back before dark as I didn't want to chance another deer encounter. This was our last full day up on the North Shore and it was spectacular. We soothed our muscles later in the jacuzzi. We never made it the outdoor hottub, but that was OK, we certainly felt like we had done a lot on our babymoon.

I told D that the next time we hike up Oberg Mountain, he has to carry the baby. And for that, I just can't wait!

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Primed for Snow

Winter storm warnings are in place for this week. The snow is supposed to start tomorrow and continue into Wednesday. The meteorologists are stating the snow is going to get stronger as it gets closer to the state. Bring it on! I'm ready. Gazing at this photo of the city skyline it seems really apparent to me that the snow is coming. If it's going to be cold, there should be snow on the ground, don't you think?
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Sunday, December 6, 2009

I love this city, I do!

Had another night-time photo shoot with my photographer friend and his lovely wife. Except this time, it was at least twenty degrees colder and the wind had picked up. He suggested we head to Boom Island as this has a wonderful view of the city and we could just pull up in the parking lot and be near our warm vehicles. I am in love with this shot. I love the witchiness of the tree branches. I kept thinking the winter witch was going to ride by, skywriting the words "Surrender Lotus" because really, what else is there to do on a cold Minnesota night, a night on the very front edge of winter. Surrender, indeed.
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Randomness (the not-so-Minnesota-nice kind)

Mind purge this morning...about to commence...

The cold has finally hit and there it is, yet another adjustment I have to make in my life. I can handle the twenties but when the wind picks up and the temps are in the teens, I feel so shut in. The sky darkens at 5:00 and every remaining bit of garden foliage is crisp and droopy. Strange combination, to be crisp and droopy at the same time.

Glucose test this week and so am eating healthy. Ugh. I just want a big glass of berry lemonade, maybe some french toast. Not that the eating isn't good. Last night we had ribeyes, cajun-roasted sweet potatoes, and a huge salad. But then, I want chocolate cake after that, a five-layer cake that I heard about on the Splendid Table, the kind that I would consume at Coffee News Cafe with a large glass of red wine accompanied by my friend Lone Star . Most of all, I want to make some monkey bread. Gah. I'm going nuts over those things I can't have.

Oh, yes, Lone Star is coming up from Texas next Saturday. I haven't seen her in four years, at least. She's coming for my baby puja and we do intend to eat at all those yummy places that she misses in Minnesota. Gotta get the house cleaned before she comes and have to enlist the help of D as I can't be around too many of the deep cleaning products.

Thirty other relatives are coming into town, too. And, my mother is driving me crazy. And, the seamstress who was supposed to sew my sari blouse says she may not have someone to do it. Ugh. Indian-run small businesses drive me crazy, just like my mom. Sad to say, but I'm taking my white husband into that shop to see if that will persuade her to get the job done. Or else if that fails, I'm going to take all the materials and a refund and see if the tailor down the street might be able to so some sari blouse magic. The shop owner has had the material for over a week now, I don't understand why she just didn't say she couldn't do it, rather than hanging on to the material for so long.

Not feeling so "Minnesota Nice" this morning. Hence the change in the title of this blog. Slowly, slowly I'm finding my way into a medium that is suitable for my existence. I love this city, I do. But, there are some things that get to me sometime, like the cold, the snotty Indian community separated from the friendly folk in Chicago, Houston, New York. I think they are so snotty because it's mostly middle to upper class Indian folk, those who have elite jobs and such. None of the ordinary folk like the ones that reside in larger cities. Or maybe it's just me. I removed myself from that social class when I married my working class man from Nordeast Minneapolis.

Ugh. Randomness...

The Big D and I got a health club membership that ends up being relatively cheap when the health insurance benefits kicks in, just have to get there 12 times a month. I've enjoy our late afternoon workouts on the weekends. During the week, I tend to go by myself either late morning or early afternoon. He goes after work so then, doesn't return home until about 7:00. This give me plenty of time to cook and I've developed a new relationship with the late afternoon and early evening in terms of productivity. The weekends are just wonderful. I love looking across the room and seeing him sweat on the elliptical machine while I take my non-sweaty walk on the treadmill. I feel so good when we're done and walking to the Jeep. Unfortunately, I woke this morning thinking this is all going to end.

One of us will have to stay with the baby, so no more joint work-out weekends. That led me to think, if he keeps the same weekly schedule, he won't get home until the baby is sleeping. So when is he going to have time with the baby? His work won't give him any paid time off when the baby comes unless he uses his vacation time. Why? Isn't it important in this country for fathers to bond with their newborns? And, on top of all that, he's applying for another job that's located way south of the Cities, so if he gets it, he won't be here much at all. The money would be great, the lack of time together would be tragic. Why must these be the choices in front of us?

The sun is shining today. And I have plans for wild rice soup and a baked acorn squash.

Reading Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle has me regretting all that I didn't do this season. I didn't can, I didn't blanch and freeze, etc, etc. I keep telling myself - I did grow a baby. And she is kicking like crazy, so she must be robustly healthy. One more thing - my mother suggested that a manicure might be harmful for the baby. I've had exactly one manicure in my life and I thought a second one might be nice for the baby puja next weekend. I was dumbfounded and infuriated with her comment. My response was that she's fine with me eating pesticide-laden foods from the conventional grocery store, but is skeptical of getting my nails polished? She told me I was being overly-dramatic and that all grocery stores are like that. WTF?! Why are people so complacent about the food production in this country?

Watched Wall-E last night and it made me cry, just like the first time I saw it. I thought I was over my pregnancy emotion-filled state, but here it is again...OK. Bye Bye.
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Friday, December 4, 2009

Holiday Magic

The Big D and I don't have a lot of holiday traditions. We've tried to get some over the years, but nothing has really stuck. That's usually because we are traveling somewhere and it's the sort of traveling that takes us away from our respective families and our everyday lives. We did this in the past because by combining vacation days with holidays, D could get bigger chunks of time off. Also, when I was at the University, winter holidays were the best time for me to get away without causing disruption for my students.

Now we've got a little one on the way and I'm wondering what sorts of things do I want her to grow up with. I remember one year D and I went to a pumpkin patch where I discovered pie pumpkins. Before that I had no idea that pies could come from the pumpkin. Well, let me restate that - I had no idea how easily pies could come from pumpkins.

That year I struggled a bit with roasting each pumpkin half, cooling and mashing to a consistency fit for pie. I was in graduate school and I remember thinking about the word "epistemology" while the pie was baking. Later, it felt like every time I took a bit of that pie, I questioned everything that I knew, how I knew it and how it was I came to know what I knew. A few days later I wrote up the recipe for the MacArthur newsletter (the generous program that funded my doctorate education) and cautioned everyone about what they filled their brains with while preparing and baking pie.

This year I steamed the pumpkin and used my immersion blender and everything went together smooth and easy.

I got so excited to eat it that I almost forgot to take a picture!

Now, this is what I think of as holiday magic. Pumpkin pie from a pumpkin.

And, I'm thinking this might be a good tradition to start for our little family.

It's simple recipe that can be found here. I did just one pie and used 2/3rd of the recipe. I also used a little bit less sugar.
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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Week 25

I hate admitting this to myself, but the truth is, I need structure in my life. I enjoyed my weekly schedule when I was working a regular job. I always felt more frazzled in the academic environment where months could by before an important deadline hit.

I want some structure here on this blog. I want some structure in recording/documenting my pregnancy. My pregnancy journal is not taking off and at this point, is more like my travel journals. This blog is all over the place in terms of topics, focus, stuff. Maybe a little bit of structure would help anchor it.

So, I'm going to try something new. I found this somewhere when looking for journal prompts and it seemed like something I could get into. Anyone else out there reading this pregnant? Lani? Want to give it a try?

OK. Here goes:

Week 25

3 December 2009
How far along? week 25 day 5
Weight gain: So much! More than what I planned for. I've been eating healthy, I swear. And, now the baby is getting noticeably bigger so the weight gain is not just me.
Sleep: Interrupted about 3 times a night to go and pee. Some nightmares. Wonder why I even have nightmares when I never really had so many before. Dreams are surreal and vivid, so much so that I wake up confused and uncertain about what is real.
Best moment this week: Realizing we could have matching pigtails. Oops. Just gave it away: It's a girl. And, realizing what a great father the Big D is going to be.
Movement: Tons of kicking. Oh My Goodness. I can't imagine it not starting to hurt when baby gets bigger. Sometimes the kicks are so strong, my stomach shakes.
Food cravings: Fruit. Can't get enough fresh fruit.
What I miss: Drinking herbal tea and China Cola.
What I am looking forward to: I've always wanted a friend who would be adventurous with me in the kitchen, cooking, canning, etc. I just realized that baby might be interested in keeping me company, or at she will be until she gets bigger and runs out of the kitchen.
Next challenge: Glucose test next week. Gotta eat super healthy this week so that the test comes out good. My sister tested positive for gestational diabetes, but then she did opt to eat McDonalds on the day of the test.

This was all the daring I could muster for as big as I feel. Everyone says "you're supposed to gain weight." Yet, even my doctor seemed concerned at first, but just recently she said that some women just put on more weight than others. The women in my family get round all over and right now, I'm not ready for that phase of my life. My mother is no help. When getting measured for my sari blouse for the baby puja, she insisted the tailor (seamstress) add a couple inches in the seams so that it can be let out should I get even bigger. No way! I'm planning to slim down after this whole pregnancy thing is over. Baby will keep me going, I'm sure! Got a health club membership so that I could swim, but haven't dared the bathing suit yet. Probably should before I get even bigger!

Weekly Wisdom: "Every little girl needs a good father." I don't know where I heard this, maybe a movie or TV show, or even a commercial (blame it on the prego ditzyness), but when I did, I just knew that my little girl will have the greatest father there is. Someone who is whole-heartedly supportive, full of love and compassion and is, best of all, someone who is fun. I should know. I married him for all these reasons!

From BabyCenter:
"Head to heels, your baby now measures about 13 1/2 inches. Her weight — a pound and a half — isn't much more than an average rutabaga, but she's beginning to exchange her long, lean look for some baby fat. As she does, her wrinkled skin will begin to smooth out and she'll start to look more and more like a newborn. She's also growing more hair — and if you could see it, you'd now be able to discern its color and texture."

I can't wait to see what you look like, Baby! Will you have D's thick blonde hair? Probably not the blonde, but hopefully the thick. Will you have his hazel eyes or my dark brown? Will your skin be dark brown like mine or somewhere in between his Norwegian pale and my Indian dark? All I do know for sure is that with this large of a gene pool, you are going to be extra beautiful and extremely smart! And representative of all that is good in this country, this millenium and this world!
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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sawbill Trail - Part Three - Foggy Evening

The morning of this Jeep drive on the Sawbill Trail was all about the Temperance River. The afternoon was when we spent some time spotting local wildlife. In the late afternoon we found ourselves making the descent into Grand Marais. It is one of our favorite towns in Minnesota and we've created some really wonderful memories there. We've done one heck of a lot of our Christmas shopping in this little town where most of the stores are located right next to the harbor. It's a chance to support the local economy and a chance to find unique gifts.

The drive down from the mountains into Grand Marais was a little scary, especially when the fog got so thick the only thing we could see was the headlights of the cars coming towards us.

Now for those people who think of the Midwest as flat, I assure you that there are some steep areas, even some roads that have runaway truck ramps, which this one did. This is also where I realized I had some spots on my lens.

It was a relief to finally get into town and we took a short cut so some of the first sights we saw were some of our favorite places to eat.

Our plan was to do some shopping, take some pictures at Artist Point, then dinner (maybe) at Sven and Ole's, the local pizza place that has some international acclaim. We had decided to buy Baby a gift and ended up picking out the cutest little pair of baby booties.

We also got presents for our parents picked out. All this while walking along the harbor. What I didn't plan for was how quickly the sun goes down this far North. We had a bit of a frantic rush to Artist Point to capture some shots before darkness settled in, but that plan got scraped shortly after we arrived, when I realized I hadn't thought through what I wanted to shoot.

So, back to some more shopping by the harbor.

The lights seemed especially festive on this foggy evening.

But, then we were done. The only thing left on our agenda was dinner and a stop at the local co-op. While Uff-da pizza sounded delicious, it was only about 4:30, a little too early for dinner, so we headed to the co-op. The experience wasn't quite as friendly as I had hoped for, but it's always great to see this place thriving and we needed some more water so mission accomplished and we were on the road again to our resort.

Unfortunately, before we even left the town limits, we had a very scary experience. We hit a deer. Because we were in the town limits and because it was really foggy, we were not traveling fast. The Big D did manage to skid to a stop, but then, right at the last second, the deer jumped in front of the Jeep. We were lucky that we were able to drive away. The deer, poor thing, sat at the side of the road, then got up and limped, but then, she seemed to straighten her leg out and actually jumped into the woods as if nothing had happened. I hope she was able to recover. Quite a few drivers stopped and a couple of them seemed curious about whether they might be able to take the deer home with them. Hunting season, we are told, brings the deer real close to town and real close to the road as they seem to know they will be safe. Safe from everything except cars.

It was a terrifying drive back to our resort. Everyone else seemed to be driving 50+ mph despite the fact that, in some places, the fog was so thick, we could barely see the road. Not wanting to push our luck, D kept it under 40, which helped my frazzled pregnant state of mind. But, despite all that we were safe. And very, very lucky that the situation wasn't worse. We were lucky even with the fact that we could still drive our Jeep back home. We have insurance and so that takes care of the damage to our Jeep.

This was only the second night of our Babymoon. Nonetheless, we decided we'd had enough of Grand Marais and cancelled any remaining plans in the area. Which was fine because there was enough to do near our resort.

One thing I am really grateful for was the chance to shoot this shot before leaving Grand Marais:

The scary experience helped me realize all that I was grateful for. Even the spots on my lens that might have ruined a whole day's worth of shooting taught me some photoshop tricks. It was a great day, nonetheless. But, I have to say, deer are no longer cute creatures to me.
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