Friday, February 24, 2017

Rec Five: Things to put in your car for winter

1) Collapsible Shovel- Be able to dig yourself out of snow embankments if the worst happens.

2) Kitty Litter- it can absorb snow, which is  also helpful if you get stuck in the snow. Plus, putting it in the back of your vehicle means it is added weight, making you less likely to fishtail on icy roads.

3) Ice scraper- Parked outside? Warming up your car can melt frost, but there's not always time! Be safe and scrape off your wind shield fully. I had a friend run over when someone didn't properly clear their windshield.

4) Blankets and/or winter coats- You never know when you might need extra warmth- what if the heater goes out?

5) Plastic bags- If you have to park outside overnight, tie a plastic bag around your side mirrors. It will keep the frost and snow off. Don't forget to lift your wipers off the windshield too; keep them from freezing to the glass as that can damage the wiper.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Spring 2017 Wishlist

1. White Shirt | 2. Blue shirt  | 3. Blue Striped Button up | 4. Slim-Legged Trousers | 5. Grey Jeans | 6. Reversible Sweatshirt | 7. Draped Sweater  | 8. Nursing Top | 9. Striped Dress |

1. White Shirt - White button-ups are so classic and versatile. I love them, but... they don't always love me. Life gets messy. That's why I was so super-pumped to see the clothing service Elizabeth and Clarke had developed an Unstainable collection. I've literally seen people pour coffee and wine it not stick to the cloth. Sign me up. The only question is, do I get a traditional button-up, or this lovely collarless number.

 2. Blue shirt  - Also from Elizabeth and Clarke. Also unsustainable. It is part of their spring 2017 collection, which is no longer being sold. BUT in their FAQs they said you could email about clothes from past collections and they will check their inventory. If they have your size, you can buy it! I feel like this shirt is what you wear whilst strolling through the Tuileries Jardins on your way to look at art in the Louvre... but it will look good in my classroom too!

3. Blue Striped Button up - Has anyone else noticed the sudden omnipresence of blue striped button-ups? Why isn't this one all those "trend" lists as it is in every store? I mean, a blue striped button-up is obviously a classic, something that, as my dad puts it, never goes out of style. Still, it used to be much harder to find in store. Not that I'm complaining. In fact, here is not one but TWO versions I love. Which do you like better?

 4. Slim-Legged Trousers - Are you sensing a stripe theme yet? If asked my favorite color, I think I'd have to say "striped." Which is why those trousers are so, SO me. However, I also need to update my black trousers. My current ones (both maternity and non-maternity) have served me well, but I wear black trousers at least once a week. They get worn out. My pocket book says "either/or" but my heart says "both."

5. Grey Jeans - I got grey jeans when pregnant and loved them so much, I want a pair for my "regular" body too! Nuff said!

6. Reversible Sweatshirt - Okay, okay. I don't really need another striped top, but this would be perfect to wear on those days that aren't quite warm but aren't really wintery either (in other words every single day from now until till June in Wyoming), and it would be even more perfect to wear up in the mountains. Plus- it is reversible. There's something about the words "reversible clothing" that is a siren's call....

7. Draped Sweater - I'm nursing and I get cold. This seems like the perfect answer.

 8. Nursing Top - I though stylish maternity clothing was hard to find. Try something you can easily nurse in. Luckily this top seems rather chic, and like you could wear it even once nursing is done (as far off as that seems!)

 9. Striped Dress - I got a blue striped dress waaaaay back many moons ago when I was getting ready to go to Prague to teach English. I splurged on a new wardrobe before going, after hearing clothing was more expensive in the Czech Republic. Looking back, it was really my first foray into having a stylish and "me" wardrobe. My favorite item was a blue striped dress. I still have it, but, well, it might be hanging together by a thread. THis dress would seem me through spring and summer- AND is nursing friendly too. Win-win-win!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Ellis Jerome: A Birth Story

We welcomed our first child, Ellis Jerome, to the world on January 21st. It goes without saying that things have been rather hectic around these parts for a few weeks, but I also was unsure about sharing this story. However, ultimately it felt worth it to share my own experiences, as a type one diabetic giving birth, for others who may also be dealing with the complications of a chronic disease while pregnant. 
First a little background: as a diabetic, there was a lot of potential for complications with my pregnancy. One was that the baby might grow too big too quickly. With this in mind, from the very beginning, we were told that I would be induced at week 38. They wanted to avoid a C-section, which can be hard for diabetics to recover from due to a slowed digestive system, but they need the baby small enough for a regular birth. However,  I was very lucky that most of complications didn't happen and in many ways I was the healthiest I'd been since contracting the disease (but that's a story for another time). In fact, they thought that baby was growing to normal parameters, so  the doctor didn't want to induce that week. Only a week later though, after I started showing some signs of preeclampsia, the induction plan was back on. 

For someone as into plans as I am, this was actually a comfort. There was a clear plan on what to do, and, because it was planned, our regular OB would deliver the baby. We were told that I needed to rest on Friday and after dinner to come into the hospital. So, I ate a bland but protein heavy meal (you don't eat during labor, a fact that scared this diabetic since that's a big way the disease is managed), we repacked our hospital bags and went in. In all the haste, I left my phone, so The Boy had to get me to our room and immediately left again to retrieve it, while I quietly waited in this room where the biggest change of our lives was about to take place. 

I was induced around 8 that night, but before that I was hooked up to an IV with a sugar drip. One doesn't typically eat during labor, as the body usually can't keep food down, but as a diabetic, they needed to insure I wouldn't become hypoglycemic. Induced labor also typically has much more intense contractions. I did sleep through the night thanks to sleeping pills, but the next morning I was in so much pain. There are a lot of different things they try having you do to encourage your body to dilate more. They put you in different positions, have you walk the hallways, even use a jacuzzi tub. But by about 10 or 11, I really couldn't stand it and asked for an epidural. I'd held off on that, worried it would slow down the process. Agreeing to get the epidural was a relief to both the nurses and my husband, who were worried about how my body was handling the pain. Throughout the day, I'd been sick several times and was eventually put on oxygen as well. These days you get what is called a "walking epidural" (though you can't actually walk when you have one. Your legs are totally numb) where you can't feel the pain but you can feel pressure. This allows you to feel the pressure of the contractions without the pain.

 By six that evening, I still wasn't fully dilated on one side, but they were getting nervous that it wouldn't do anymore on its own, so they had me start pushing.  You hear that word with pregnancy a lot- "pushing." And everyone just says, "Oh, you'll know when to push." Maybe for some people pushing feels really natural; not me.  Still, with the nurses' help, I pushed for about 2 hours when it became clear from the baby's heart rate that he was becoming tired. They were worried that he would stop trying and become stuck there. So,  they gave us the choice of having our doctor use a vacuum or forceps to help pull the baby out in conjunction with my pushing. As it sounds, a vacuum uses suction pressure; as for forceps- think salad tongs, only they go around a baby's head instead of cabbage. Ultimately, I told the doctor to choose what she was more comfortable with, and she grabbed ahold of the head with forceps. In addition to being tired, it also turned out the baby was at an odd angle, so she twisted him around and pulled while I pushed. 

At 8:01 our 8 lb. 1 oz. baby came into the world. The minute he was out, they shoved him in my arms. Now, they did this for two reasons. It turned out the birth had been very hard on my body and they just didn't want me to freak out;  they wanted me distracted while they took care of any trauma to my body . It is also really beneficial to have "skin on skin" time with Baby and Mom right away. Certainly the distraction worked! Ellis was screaming- practicing using his lungs as a nurse put it- and over and over all I could say was "You're perfect." It was the most amazing things to be holding this tiny person in my arms, to be seeing him after all that. That warm baby skin, impossibly small fingers and eyes that were already so alert- all of it was perfect.  

Most birth stories end here, but our hospital stay was just beginning as it turned out. Since I am diabetic, Ellis was at some risk several things. His body had grown use to managing the high amount of glucose my body provided, but now that he was born he wasn't getting such large doses of glucose. There was a danger his body could go into hypoglycemia. This was the most serious worry. So every few hours for much of the night, his heel was poked and blood tested. Similarly, My body's change in hormones also meant I was at  risk for becoming either hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. I'd also lost a lot of blood, so they wanted to keep an eye on that as well.

We were set to be discharged the next day, except a test came back that showed I'd lost a lot of blood. Not at the birth (though, yes, there too), but afterward. A CAT scan and two blood transfusions later though, they felt more confident about letting me go home. So, we ended up 4 days (Friday to Tuesday) in the hospital. The funny thing was, Ellis was discharged before I was! 

Being a mom is strange, but wonderful (if occasionally very frustrating.) I write to our son in his baby book, imagining he might look back as an adult, perhaps when his own family starts growing, and this is how I told him those first days or parenthood struck The Boy and I: 
 "In the days since, there have been tears. We've had to learn to be patient with you, as you have had to learn to be patient with your new parents. But the first words I said to you still stand- you are perfect- a perfect fit for our family."

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

101 Happy Thoughts

Since I know that postpartum depression and the "baby blues" can be a thing (as can just plain old winter blues), I wanted to create a post of 101 happy thoughts. These are just little things, mostly, the can bring a smile to my face or lift me up. What would you add to this list? 
  1. Songs from our wedding day
  2. inspiring Bible verses and reflections
  3. a warm puppy on my lap
  4. Instagram
  5. Christmas Music
  6. massages
  7. Updates on favorite podcasts
  8. Children's books
  9. playing card games
  10. The theme song from Tintin
  11. Pictures of fox terriers
  12. Scottish tea
  13. Towels fresh from the dryer
  14. finishing a crossword puzzle
  15. Old movies
  16. A hot shower
  17. breakfast food
  18. wearing favorite clothes
  19. fresh flowers
  20. forehead kisses
  21. rereading favorite books
  22. festivals 
  23. farmers' markets
  24. going dancing
  25. a hug (or several)
  26. getting a manicure
  27. Stories with female protagonists
  28. laughter
  29. Shakespeare plays
  30. my husband
  31. The Nutcracker
  32. Chunky knit sweaters
  33. (brown paper) packages (tied up with string)
  34. My father's photography
  35. lyrics from 1920s Jazz (so punny!)
  36. mazes
  37. doodling
  38. baseball
  39.  baths with bath salts
  40. croissants
  41. Disney
  42. Going to a zoo
  43. Golden nail polish
  44. Vienna Secession artwork
  45. snapchats from my sister
  46. phone calls from my friends
  47. letters in the mail
  48. Julie Andrews singing
  49. When robot programming you made works as it should
  50. Remember WENN
  51. My dad
  52. a favorite author coming out with a new book
  53. listening to Turnadot or The Magic Flute
  54. documentaries about history
  55. Anything "Ozzy"
  56. My grandmother's china cabinet and all we have on display there
  57. checking things off on a to-list
  58. Pretty stationery or cards
  59. brownies
  60. Surfing the internet
  61. Visiting art museums
  62. Picnics in the mountains
  63. Board Games, especially Clue
  64. Hard Wood Floors
  65. Libraries
  66. fall leaves
  67. black and white stripes or polka dots
  68. Watching the 4th of July Parade
  69. Thin Mint Cookies (and the continued existence of the Girl Scouts)
  70. Eating Out
  71. Sleeping in
  72. Hanging out with my mom
  73. house blankets
  74. Casablanca
  75. Surfing the internet
  76. You've Got Mail (both the movie and the director's commentary)
  77. Lavender-scented anything
  78. The song "Hello Dolly"
  79. Carol Channing
  80. Walking our dogs
  81. Chalkboard art
  82. Sushi Rolls
  83. Tea Lattes (Or, even better, places that call them London Fogs)
  84. Rick Steve's Travels in Europe
  85. Alternative history speculation
  86. Fresh white sheets and linen on the bed
  87. A cold glass of milk
  88. emails from friends
  89. postcards from far away places
  90. travel memoirs
  91. good A1C1 results (diabetic tests)
  92.  Reading other people's blogs
  93. Comic books- both reading them but also the art form/industry's history
  94. Travelling
  95. makerspaces
  96. Beautiful maps
  97. family photos
  98. My husband sharing something new he's read or learned at breakfasts together
  99. Pizza
  100. Alice in Wonderland related things
  101.  Inside jokes

Monday, February 13, 2017

Film Flick: Without Love

Neither are looking for love. Widow Jaime Rowan (Katherine Hepburn) thinks she's had all the best of love, while scientist Pat Jamison (Spencer Tracy) seems to have had all the worst of it. Pat has landed in D.C. right in the middle of a major housing shortage when an encounter with a stranger leads him to the home of Jaime. It seems a perfect place to work on his scientific project  aiding the war effort, and Jaime seems a perfect assistant- except an unmarried man and woman living together?  Matrimony seems the best way to keep up with convention and get what they want at the same time. And after all, they reason, maybe a marriage would work better Without Love?

The plot may sound a bit hokey, but as far as MGM was concerned, the plot wasn't really the point of this film.  After the hit of Woman of the Year, studio execs knew they had a powerful pairing on their hands. Katherine Hepburn softened in the presence of Spencer Tracy (on screen and off, it seemed) while Tracy finally gained sex appeal around such a woman. But how to replicate their first success? Ultimately, this duo would create nine films together, but their first follow-up Keeper of the Flame, did not fare well with critics, though it actually made even more money than their first film. It was clear though, they needed another romantic comedy to get that spark back.

For someone who had once been labelled "box office poison" and been exiled from Hollywood for several years, Katherine Hepburn's career after her comeback seems remarkable. She essentially began producing the movies she made. She often brought Mayor scripts that fit her, asked for directors and co-stars that complimented her needs, and arranged for new talent to get screen tested and then put into pictures with her. This is exactly what happened with what would become the third Hepburn/Tracy pairing, Without Love.

Philip Barry wrote the Broadway play Without Love with Hepburn in mind for the starring role, as he had years earlier with the play turned Hepburn's career around, The Philadelphia Story (As an aside, Hepburn also acted in one more Barry play that she would later star in the movie version of.That play/film was  Holiday). Interestingly, Barry had  Spencer Tracy in mind for the male lead when they cast the play, but the producers would not hire him due to his drinking problem. They instead cast effete Elliot Nugent. The chemistry wasn't there, but Hepburn's star power was; it was enough that the play was a success and rights to the script were eventually bought by the studio. Donald Ogden Stewart adapted the Broadway show into a screenplay, just as he had done with The Philadelphia Story.

Bolstering Hepburn and Tracy were several actors who would go on to be big names. Lucille Ball took on the role Kitty Trimble, a lady who was effectively the heroine's best friend and one half of the second banana couple. Though today's audience would recognize this character's ballsy, funny attitude as prime fodder for the actress, it was new ground for Ball at the time. The Nation's review of the movie shared, "It is good to see Lucille Ball doing so well with a kind of role new to her." As for Ball's love interest, it was none other than Keenan Wynn.

On paper it looks like the film has everything you could ask for- a good playwright and script doctor; a leading couple to die for; and a cast of dynamos even for the support roles. Still, Without Love earned only a lukewarm reception from critics and deservedly so. The New York Times perhaps said it best, when it urged the public, "[that] you should all go to the theatre, for, despite its gab and weaknesses in spots, 'Without Love' is really most amusing." Being "amusing" is hardly the worst a film could be, but it is faint praise. In its own review, the Harrison Report seemed to point out that the film's strongest quality is its weakest too, stating "[The film has] more talk than action, but the sparkling dialogue is a compensating factor."

Overall, in addition to a contrived plot, the tension never mounts to the tension present in Woman of the Year or Adams Rib. Yet, even while that lack of tension makes the film feel a bit unfocussed, for me, it  also feels a bit more relaxing to watch too. Both main actors are allowed some fun comedic moments without veering into the truly madcap. It is the quite moments that seem to sell the story though. Tracy's best performance soften project a calm and understated presence, as is the case here, and Hepburn's character, a widow, is allowed to be vulnerable as well as intelligent. The supporting cast is fun and funny too. Overall, it may not be the most stand-out of their work together, but this Hepburn/Tracy film is solidly enjoyable, one you can't watch Without Love. 
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