Tuesday, 9 April 2013
I know you have all been waiting patiently for the bathroom update. What could be more important right now? In all seriousness, this bathroom being done is the most important thing for me right now.
It was actually finished two weeks ago but we had some shower leakage problems. As they say, third time's a charm and we seem to have all the problems fixed (touch wood, fingers crossed, etc.). I now know more about plumbing and the logistics of building than I care to know. I'm sure it's all useful information but I'm hoping it gets filed away in the same place as 80s commercial jingles and cartoon themes.
We still have to paint and decorate. In six months we will still need to paint and decorate. At this point I don't care. I can shower and bathe in my own home and it's pretty. It's the nicest room in the house.
Without further ado, here are some quick and dirty before and after shots.
How'd'ya like them apples?!
Actually, I lied before. It isn't the nicest room in the house. The nursery is pretty good too. Pete spent a week DIY-ing the panelling and we spent two days wallpapering. (Top tip: don't wallpaper.) Of course it won't be in proper use right away but it's still nice to know it's done and we have a place to store most of Pruin's things.
I think we're done with home renovation for awhile.
Tuesday, 12 March 2013
I could write about the process of having a bathroom redone and begging neighbours to use their toilet and shower while a fine layer of whatever horror is hiding in the bathroom floor sifts down to the kitchen surfaces below in a fine and steady pace.
Or I could write about how winter has somehow returned in full force and the accompanying winds are blowing over our house with a maddening wail that never stops. Seriously, it’s like that chapter in Little House on the Prairie where she describes the constant howl of the wind driving women to kill themselves with the noise and the constant dust.
Or I could write about our prenatal class which is turning out to be a very expensive meet and greet and not much else.
Or I could write about being almost at the end of this first pregnancy and some lofty ‘what I learned’ moments that make me sound like I am calm and prepared.
Or I could write about pelvic pain and falling asleep drooling in my chair and discharge and excess hair growth and all the related glamour of pregnancy.
The thing about being pregnant, much like getting married, is that it is a private decision and process gone through very publicly. Pregnancy much more so than weddings, but I think you see my point.
The thing about being a writer is that every moment and life experience is fodder for textual documentation and consumption. Every life moment is an opportunity to connect with someone else that will read my take on the mundane and either find something relateable or not. Again, private moments and feelings and reaction documented on a public stage.
I love writing bits for this space and while I have shared some bits that might be considered in the realm of ‘too much information,’ I haven’t shared much about either my wedding or my pregnancy. Sure there are bits here and there and a few funny (hopefully) and cynical and maybe even honest observations but on the whole I have kept the core of these events to myself.
Maybe it’s because of the private/public nature of these events. Being pregnant offers one up to the public eye more than any decision I have made thus far in life. Writing about it in detail would open up yet another avenue. I’m not really up for that.
Despite my complaints this pregnancy has been by the book, physically speaking. No problems or concerns beyond the usual ‘charming’ niggles of growing a human. Psychologically, on the other hand, it has been a bit of a battlefield. A private and often terrifying battlefield looming ahead. There's no getting away from it. You're going over the top with no guarantee of how it will all go down.
I could say my decision to move abroad with no plan or valid visa was a courageous leap of faith. Or driving into a blizzard with a motorhome to join the circus alone with no real plan beyond driving took courage and resolve. Or eating the food in Morocco was a real test of bravery.
This trumps them all.
I could write about how I am finding the courage to face each day as I get closer and closer to the fateful day of the big push and becoming a mother.
I could. I probably won't.
I will say, I could really go for a bath.
Friday, 8 March 2013
Just some treasures found during the demo of our bathroom this week. We've managed to save the old fireplace alcove, but the red hearth will be hidden again. The old newspaper found at the foot of the toilet is a remnant of old floor insulation techniques.
Monday, 18 February 2013
It’s half-way through February and I have finally gotten the hang of writing 13 instead of 12, so I thought the time was ripe for a ‘New year-new me’ post. Maybe throw in a little Valentine's love.
Then I wrote this…
I didn't make any new year’s resolutions this year. I figure with a new house and a baby on the way, this coming year is already going to be a long list of unmet expectations and goals so why pile on more self-inflicted guilt.
The older I get (because, you know, at 34 I’m aged and wise now) the less I find myself making sweeping proclamations or grand plans about who I am or will be. I find life has a way of laughing at these kinds of gestures anyway. What’s the saying?
“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”
Little did I know when I made that high school art project emblazoned with this Beatles lyric that it would turn out to be the most poignant of life lessons for me time and time again. I believe I have mentioned before how I have a tendency to become doggedly stubborn about a chosen glamorous, worthy of a rom-com script, life path and then become witheringly depressed when it doesn't pan out.* What I have slowly come to accept about my life is that the daily negotiations of everyday life, punctuated by occasional big decisions and leaps, actually created a very lovely life. Strangely, this realization is very close to the subject matter of my PhD. You know, one of those stubbornly-held-on-to rom-com plot points which now sits unread on maybe three bookshelves (mine and my parents’ included).
That being said, there are some things on the year long To-Do list and most revolve around Pruin and need to be done in the next two months because I’m giving myself the second half of the year off. If at next Christmas Pete and I are still looking adoringly into one another’s eyes (or at the very least can still stand to look one another in the eye after seven months of baby and resident in-laws) and the house is still standing and the baby alive, I will count it a successful year.
It’s the simple things, really.
The biggest item on the To-Do list (which coincidentally illustrates the ‘life is what happens’ discussion above) is officially changing to my married name.
*GASP* cue shock and horror
I’m over the whole ‘should-a-woman-change-her-name-after-marriage debate/anxiety.’ Do it, don’t do it. It’s no skin off my back. Yes, it’s a bummer that it is assumed the woman will take this action and that it is her place to do it. Yes, I can see the argument that it is a ‘feminist’ issue. However, there are so many more pressing feminist issues which involve extreme bodily violence, injustice and death that I can’t jump on this particular ‘first-world feminist’ bandwagon.
I waited at least a year into our marriage to even take the first steps due to over-zealous relations crying out ‘Mrs. Hislast, Mrs.Hislast’ moments after the ceremony and every time I was in proximity thereafter. I mean, I had only just earned ‘Dr. Mylast’ two weeks prior and it was already getting swept under the table. I had a year of angst around how changing my name would be losing my identity. It was all very rom-com, internal-conflict, fake-drama worthy.
I briefly tried the professional vs. personal name game. That was a worthless experiment as I have no professional life, but no ‘official photo id’ proof of the personal name.
Picking up packages at the Post Office became a real bitch of an experience.
I won’t lie, those experiences, which involved an over abundance of paperwork and tears, went a long way to sealing the decision for me. (Is it really necessary to drag the marriage certificate, a property tax bill and both our passports to the office for a package from my in-laws? This is not a matter of national, or even postal, security. JUST GIVE ME THE DAMN CROSS STITCH!) The imminent arrival of Pruin took me the rest of the way.
We already hold two different passports with two different names. Our visa applications are slightly more complicated because we have different names. We already cross customs in different lines because we don’t share nationality or name. I wasn't going to add another small body to that confusion. I also am not going to saddle my kid with a double-barreled last name (my own double-barrel is the root of most of the name angst) along with double passports. If we are going to continue this international life we are going to do it as a family. In name as well as biology.
Most importantly, I now want to change my name. My time with Pete and our life together are the best things to happen in my life and are the reason all those little daily negotiations of everyday life add up to a very lovely life.
Why not commemorate that little bit of wonderful with a mountain of confusing paperwork, an embassy, numerous international phone calls spent on hold at £1.50/minute and a governmental office visit?
** there are too many of these 'woe is me' posts to highlight and, really, who wants to remember, or read, privileged whining?
Monday, 21 January 2013
Hello my name is Ariel and I am with child.
This is not news to you.
It is news to me.
Until quite recently, Saturday evening in fact, I was well aware I was pregnant, but it really hadn’t clicked that I was already a mom.
This is an identity I had been avoiding for about as long as I had known I was pregnant. I wasn’t feeling connected to this experience or this ‘thing’ I was gestating. I was afraid of it. Sometimes I resented it. A lot of the time I wished I didn’t have to deal with it.
I hated talking about it. I hated pretending to be excited. I hated trying to think of things to tell people when they asked how I was feeling or how it was going.
I was annoyed by other mothers pushing their pregnant or new mom friends on me. I was tired of hearing stories of difficult births or assertions of ‘you’ll see’ and being told to get annoyed by XYZ. I was annoyed by the assumption that I had names and nursery colours and schooling plans all picked out.
Truth be told, it is a lot like planning a wedding.
Being pregnant was becoming my defining personality trait and I find that really annoying. I’m Ariel. I just happened to be knocked up as well. I didn’t suddenly change personality or interests because we made the decision to ‘do it’ without prophylactics.
On December 19th, a very distinctive and very tiny fist reached out and punched me.
It wasn’t a lightening moment of sudden ‘mom-dom’ and it wasn’t the first hint of movement, but it did stick in my head. A very clear feeling of a miniature fist reaching out. Like that movie poster for ROOTS (without the chain) or any student activist group anywhere.
Power to the People.
Or in this case…to the Pruin.
Around Christmas I popped. My body suddenly had a very distinct pregnant look. Pruin began to respond to Pete’s voice and touch. A very cheeky personality seemed to form. Slowly, I began to change my eating habits and start exercising again. The more my inability to get off the couch and tie my shoes increased, the more I began to believe that this pregnancy thing was real.
However, it was still just an idea that it might be real. That in about four months there might be a screaming, wriggling thing in the mix. It was all still very abstract. The slight changes I made were made for selfish reasons connected to body image and a real annoyance with heartburn.
Friday the snow started to fall. I was so excited and was out in it walking to my chores with more enthusiasm than I have felt for anything lately. Pruin wriggled and punched and kicked all day long. To the point that it became really annoying and I may have directed an ‘Ok. I get it. You can chill out now.’ toward the bump.
Saturday seven hours went by and I didn’t feel anything. Not one hiccup, or squirm, or readjustment. As hour eight came along Pete and I spent a feverish 20 minutes prodding the bump, talking to it, playing loud noises and sitting in uncomfortable positions trying to get a response. Pete got out the Ukulele and strummed loudly for a good five minutes, something which always gets a response.
Nothing. Nothing was happening.
Finally, in a last ditch effort, Pete got very close to the bump and gave Pruin a very stern talking to.
…and got kicked in the ear for his trouble.
Pete looked up and smiled with relief. I started crying.
I think it was part relief and part realization. This isn’t just anything I am gestating. Despite my annoyances and resentments and name-calling, I care about this little thing even though it gives me nothing but grief.
That’s parental love, isn’t it?
Hello my name is Ariel and I am with child.
Monday, 7 January 2013
I promise this is not about throwing up or pregnancy related.
At least not completely.
|our home sweet home|
(the white door in the middle)
When we settled on this house as 'The One.' We were considering its location, general upkeep, size, room placement, garden placement, proximity to transportation, room for improvement, etc. It has new windows, a new roof, new boiler, damp-proofing: all big investments we didn't have to make. Perfect.
However, it also has a kitchen and bathroom that haven't been touched since the 70s, a different off-white or tan carpet in each room, potentially dodgy electrics, and textured wallpaper, too-short blinds (visible in the above photo) and faux fireplace in the living room.
These things didn't bother us too much (with the exception of the dodgy wiring). We get a chance to make it our own space.
As our schedule was a bit tight, we planned to move into the house as it stood and make plans after living in the space for awhile.
This sounds great in theory. In practice, I was newly pregnant, sick as a dog and squatting in someone else's house. Or so it felt to me. It was our furniture but I was staring at, and living with, a stranger's questionable design choices. The bathroom alone was enough to make me sick without the help of hormones.
|avocado with a side of cork|
I decided pretty quickly that the bathroom was going to the top of our list of projects. This decision might have been slightly influenced by the abnormal amount of time I spent with dear Kermit here but there are other contributing factors to back up my prioritizing.
Let me take you on a short tour of this peculiarity. Hang onto your hats.
|Hello, my name is Cork.|
|The 'Romantic Roman Ruins' tiling really classes up the joint.|
|The wood panelling pulls the room together.|
Before you say, "It's not soooo bad." I would like to inform you that the box on the wall is the alleged 'power shower.' It's gravity fed (read: campground shower trickle), choked with 30 years of limescale, and took us a month to figure out how to get the water to reach a barely acceptable temperature above freezing.
It was so painful, I took baths for the first month. I would sit huddled in the water like a child, splashing water over my body in order to rinse and trying to see the humour of the situation instead of crying uncontrollably. I contemplated getting one of those white 'granny' attachments for the bath taps to at least get some semblance of pressure and heat but I couldn't find one with a long enough hose. I started bathing every other day in an attempt to avoid the pep talk I needed every morning to face the bathroom.
Pete bravely stuck it out. Facing bracing showers at 5am with no complaint (although we did move a portable heater into the room in an attempt to produce an environment that would live up to the sauna-like interior. It didn't work.), it was Pete who finally discovered how to finesse some warmth out of the water.
It still has no pressure and is situated in such a way as to necessitate a slight back bend in order to really use it properly. I don't need to tell you that at almost 25 weeks pregnant, back bends are becoming increasingly more impossible.
However, lest you think it's all misery, the wall opposite the shower features an enormous mirror so you can watch yourself shiver and wriggle. Comic relief built right in.
I show you this now because we are in the midst of collecting estimates on the remodel. We have the design sorted and have the fixtures picked out and on hold. With any luck, when it's done it will be the nicest room in the house.
And before you ask, we didn't contemplate DIY. I'm pregnant and Pete works in an office with computers. My father-in-law is a builder but he's in New Zealand and the skill isn't genetically transferable. My father builds theatrical sets but he's in Cleveland and we need this to hold for a bit longer than your average two week run. So we are hiring people in to do the dirty work. We are not ashamed.
While hiring someone in instead of doing it ourselves will provide less fodder for funny/ridiculous/incredulous anecdotes, it will hopefully save our sanity. In a relatively short amount of time we will be at the end of our sanity ropes and up to our necks in diapers and despair so cutting down on the craziness can only be for the good.
It will also be really nice to take a proper shower on the rare occasion I find the time.
Wednesday, 19 December 2012
**warning: the following contains 'belly' photos
Last week, at a birthday party for a one-year-old, at least two mothers informed me, with much scorn in their voices, I was not 'showing' at all.
They then went on to tell me 'not to worry,' with my second one I will be showing straight off the mark.
How does one respond to this kind of comment? It's like planning a wedding all over again. Everyone has an opinion and feels within their rights and even obligated to pass on that opinion. In this case, I am doing it all wrong because I have not 'popped' to their satisfaction. That the 'belly' is a mark of some kind of achievement and I have failed.
It should be said, these women and I had never met before this occasion and so have no reference on which to judge whether or not I am 'showing.'
This was my first experience of a kind of 'mummy shame.' I'm not a fan. Surprise, surprise.
To be honest, my changing body is one of the hardest bits of this experience for me thus far. At the time I got pregnant, I was the fittest I have ever been in my life. I had worked for over a year to get there and it was finally a part of my everyday life. I'm not talking about being 'skinny.' I'm speaking of feeling fit in my body and mind. Knowing what my body can and can't do. Being aware of what was going in and how it affects my mood and energy. Knowing that I could run across a train terminal with a full backpack and not die on the concourse.
I was in tune with my body.
Or so I thought.
Now, my body is harboring an almost completely independent being and it is really bizarre. My body can no longer manage simple tasks like bending at the waist. Getting dressed below the waist requires the kind of concentration I normally reserve for yoga balances (I have fallen over putting on my underwear more times than is comically allowed). I give myself a mini pep-talk before descending the stairs EVERY TIME as I am now a tumble risk and I am inexplicably tired after a few mundane tasks around the house.
I have had to learn a lot of patience with myself and my body. I am learning this little by little through my yoga class. I attend a pregnancy yoga class but it's more a place to practice breathing than anything else. I still attend my usual class and this is where my 10 years of yoga practice and body awareness is becoming really important.
In the past, I had no question that my body could do what my instructor asked of it. Now, I am amazed at what my body can no longer do and how frustrated I become when I can't follow the class in the same way I did before. However, in that frustration I have found a deeper connection with my body. I truly have to listen to my body and what it can't do. Instead of serenely following along with the class I am mentally involved in creating variations of each pose based on those 10 years of practice.
Surprisingly, not being able to follow along in class is strengthen my yoga practice and my patience. I find I am much more patient with myself and others. It also allows me to take care of myself for myself as well as for the little being inside. It's not a one way street.
All body connection talk aside, I still get a bit freaked out when Pruin starts kicking and wriggling. At times it literally takes my breath away. Not in a TOP GUN kind of way but in a what-the-hell-is-that? kind of way.
What will happen after Pruin enters the world? How important will my fitness be to me then? I don't know. I hope it is still a priority. My fitness levels directly affect my mood levels so I hope it becomes a priority again. But we shall see.
Until then, dear reader, I leave you with the following evidence that I have in fact started showing...something.
(preggo bum & thigh cellulite mercifully cropped out)