Thursday, May 30, 2013

New Orleans, and my comedy of errors

Guys. Guys!!! You know how to make a girl's public preggo announcement pretty awesome. Thank you for all your kind words!! Each one made me grin or tear up in turn, and each one was pretty special.

I'm back from my trip to New Orleans with my anniversary man and his fantastic sisters. Sadly I brought the summer cold from hell home with me, but I'm hoping to run out the clock on that one any time now. Did you hear that, cold? Any. Time. Now.

For your amusement, I thought I'd offer a little "What Not To Do" for your next trip to New Orleans. Or anywhere, really. I am a comedy of errors these days, it appears.

Let's roll the tape!

1. Don't leave your wallet - including all forms of identification and methods of payment - at home.  I figured we'd just hit the big one right off the bat. Fun fact: you are in fact allowed to board a plane without ID if you submit to a thorough two-woman pat-down. Who knew?!  Helpful items include: husband to pull you out of the massive public breakdown that will occur at the airport when you realize your wallet isn't in your purse, husband who is willing to pay for your forgetful ass the whole weekend, and sense of humor.

2. Don't smugly fill out a full TripIt itinerary and then gallantly lead the walk to the restaurant only to discover you switched restaurant addresses on your iPhone App. Or you'll be us, walking hand in hand to our anniversary dinner at Herbsaint only to end up at... Bayona. And then racing over to "Real Herbsaint" in a cab, very late for our reservation. But, bright side, then gallantly leading the walk to Bayona the following night! (I highly recommend both restaurants, by the way.)

3. Don't slack off on the sunscreen. So there we are, our fun group, hanging at the pool and enjoying the amazing weather. I'm feeling great and hoping I look more pregnant than just "overdid it on the beignets" in my tankini. I applied sunscreen, yes, but the same amount as normal. Apparently I should have been aware that Little One baking inside means I have to be militant with the SPF. I mean... why would I know that? It's not in any pregnancy books of mine (trust me, I checked when I got back), and no one's ever told me (ahem sis and sis-in-law). That night I had to sleep in a bath of Vitamin E oil and sheets of cold compresses, then for the rest of the trip had to ditch my cute dresses for long cotton numbers with cardigans. Sigh.

PSA: if you or someone you love is pregnant, tell them to double up on the 'screen!

So yeah. Such a fun weekend, especially for everyone else who got to enjoy the comic relief I was packing. But even my poor (literally), ID-less, direction-challenged, sunburnt self had to admit there's no where else I'd rather be. I just love that place.

I know I lit up your Instagram feeds on Sunday (sorry), but New Orleans is just ridiculously photo-worthy. Here are just a couple, since you've no doubt seen them already.

When can we go back again? (If I promise to bring ID this time...)

Friday, May 24, 2013

A new day + a new life

Today's our anniversay. Number four, in fact. Four! Do you remember our anniversary last year? I flew away to New Orleans with my love to eat, drink, and be merry in one of our favorite cities. A year ago today I also confessed something close to my heart here, something buried and raw: our long struggle to conceive.

In so many ways it was a beginning, although I didn't know it at the time. The beginning of being more open about a problem so many couples experience yet so few discuss. The beginning to seeking more advanced treatment. The beginning to handling a new level of disappointment. The beginning of a new kind of dedication to having a family. A year later I'm more vulnerable, but I'm fuller, too.

The truth is, my heart is so full these days I feel like it might explode. It's time (once again) to let it all hang out.

(adventures in horrid office bathroom lighting!)

It took us nearly three years and almost everything our doctors could think of, but today I'm 14 weeks pregnant with a little girl! It's surreal to see that in print, still. I'll share all the details soon - the how (unlike most pregnancy announcements, I suppose mine does warrant a "how"!), the ups and downs, and the now. But first, I have a date with an airplane headed once more to New Orleans, where my love and I will eat (oh yes), drink(ish), and be very, very merry.

I'm getting all teary writing this - the journey has just been so... much. For everyone reaading this who's still in the trenches, please know that you have an eternal sister in me. My path toward pregnancy changed me; it's absolutely a part of who I am today. No smug preggo here - just an eternally thankful one, without complaint and with a lot of humility and love. I wish I could hug each one of you in person, right in the trenches where you are. If I could lift you out myself, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

More soon. After the beignets and the shrimp etouffee.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Landscaping our hearts out (thanks Mom!)

Thanks so much, everyone, for sending such warm thoughts about my grandfather. I thought a nice way to honor him here might be to share the love that his daughter - my amazing mom - puts into everything she does and everyone she loves. We've been so lucky to benefit from her green thumb and zeal for gardening here in DC, something for which we have my grandfather to thank.

A refresher, then. When we moved in two years ago, our yard was... a dud. And six months later, it was still a dud. We had the space to do something, but weren't at all sure what to do. And since our efforts were focused on some major projects indoors anyway, we were happy to let it be.

A year and a half ago:

Late last summer, we hosted my parents for a weekend of brainstorming and space-planning. We talked about how to salvage (or not) the ugly yew hedges that border our side yard, how to make our side yard more inviting, and how to maximize the space without making it too linear. They came back in October for a H-U-G-E planting weekend, all under the eye of our visionary commander-in-chief, my mom. We decided to rip out two of the worst yews to create more breathing room in the border, to weed our butts off and mulch the hell out of the side yard (I think we put down 30 bags that weekend), to define true planting beds for the first time, to plant some large, pretty things that would be dormant until spring (lots of peonies and hydrangeas), and add some great fall color, too.

My parents came back in late April to implement Phase 2 of our plan. Thankfully, everything we put in the ground in October lasted through the winter beautifully, and we were starting to see some real growth with the warmer temperatures. This time they pulled up in the BusyBee (nickname for my mom's car - long story) with a few more large plants, spring and summer color, and lots more classic "Mom" yard touches. Our big goals were to refine our space-planning now that our little plants were big plants, define edges, switch out cold-weather color for warm-weather color, and develop a path for the side yard. About a month after their visit, I'm pretty thrilled with our results. And to know that the color out there will just continue to intensify (the peonies are just beginning! the hydrangeas are coming!)... we are giddy.

Our front yard today:

(Hi E!)

Aaand... color! (Only two of our five peony bushes have bloomed so far... I cannot WAIT to see them all!)

(apologies for the ADT photobomb)


Here's our fantastic side yard. Keep in mind that most of these large plants haven't yet bloomed,  so as it gets warmer we'll have color there, too. Because our side yard is so shady we chose hydrangeas - blue, white, pink, green, and ivory lacecaps, too. The stepping stones are sandstone, and we've dotted the pathway with white star creepers, a groundcover that will slowly spread and turn our entire pathway green. As you look at these photos imagine a swath of green cutting through the mulch in between the stones - that'll be our path before too much time has passed!

(looking back to the front of the house)

And that's that! I'll be back with peony and hydrangea updates soon, so stay tuned. My Instagram feed is pretty much going to become a flowerfest for a while, so prepare yourself!

And I really do have to give another HUGE thanks for my parents for being the vision, the brains, and half the muscle. We could NOT have done it without you!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Goodbye, Grandpa

A few years ago I wrote about my grandfather after he took part in the Triangle Flight for Honor with other North Carolina World War II veterans. It was a great day for him, and he had many more after that.

Last night my grandfather never made it home from his usual after-dinner stroll. We never saw it coming and neither did he, which is probably for the best. He lived such an active life that in a lot of ways, it's a fitting end. Just this Sunday, he was laughing up a storm with my dad's mom and two of his eight great-grandchildren. I'm so happy that my sister captured this wonderful moment.

I have a mercifully light workweek that allows me to head home tomorrow to spend the rest of the week with family. As goes with these things, I'm sure I'll come back a lot heavier from down-home food but a lot lighter from the laughter of everyone being together. One thing is certain: my family can always eat and always laugh.

I hope my grandparents are laughing together right now, rocking in side-by-side chairs and telling tales. Maybe they're even square-dancing again. They deserve it.
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