Busy week, human enhancement sort of. Full of random things. Therefore, this will be a somewhat random blog entry.
- We have a porch of sorts. Steps are put together, all but one piece of decking is on the porch. Yet to do – install railings. I would have spent the weekend building railings had the newel posts been installed (so that I could obtain the proper and necessary measurements). They are not installed. Also to do: Paint. I am assured by our friendly weatherman that this rain will stop and this will someday become possible.

- Knitting: Have revised the stripes for Baby2′s outfit three times now. Am finally making forward progress. Picked up size 3 double points today for the hat on the offchance that I get that far over the long weekend. Am going camping over the long weekend, porch be damned. Also picked up size 0 double points for a future sock project just in case. Can’t work on big secret Christmas project up at camp as recipient will be there.

- Picked up Peanut’s “18 month” portraits yesterday. Much cuteness! Looking back over the previous portraits in my desk frame made me nostalgic. She’s starting to look less like a pudgy baby and more like a little girl. Which is good as it’s what normal children are supposed to do. It’s just that I love the “baby” stage soooooo much. I think that’s what has me slightly blue about the close spacing between Peanut and Baby2 – I don’t want to have all my baby time rushed too close together. Does that sound silly? I’d like to spread it out so that I have maximum time in my life with a baby in the house. I figured that a three-year gap would make me more wistful for a baby, since Peanut would have been a toddler for longer. My first thought on finding out I was pregnant with #2 was, “A baby? But I already have a baby!”

And my baby (who is really a toddler) and I are going to the family’s camp up north this weekend. It occured to us that she will need shoes to camp this weekend, as the weather is starting to turn more fall-like, and she has outgrown all her non-sandal footwear. Off to the mall, where we paid ridiculous amounts of money for tiny shoes that will likely not fit in four months. On being liberated from her stroller while trying on said shoes, Peanut decided to see how she could jump in them. She stood in the middle of the store “jumping” (her feet never really get off the ground, but she tries) yelling, “Jump! Jump!” (just in case you couldn’t tell that’s what she was attempting.) We took that as a sign of approval.

Tonight: Off to the library to swap books, then home to assess the state of Peanut’s wardrobe. In addition to outgrowing her shoes over the summer, she’s also outgrown the majority of her clothes that are not shorts/short sleeved. I predict a trip to Target in the near future.

Murphy’s Law of Home Improvement Bites us on the ass.

The porch project is crawling along at the typical glacial pace. It’s not that I didn’t expect something to go wrong. Being the veteran of many home improvement projects (grew up in a 100 + yr old fixer upper that is still being fixed to this day), pills it was a question of what would go wrong.

So Mr. Unreserved gets the decking off the porch only to be attacked by angry hornets. The good news is that he wasn’t stung. One bottle of bee killer and an hour later, asthma and we’re back in business. Only to find that the joist that is attached to the house – the joist that holds one entire end of the porch up all by itself – is completely rotted. We’re not talking a little soft wood. It crumbled out of existance at first touch. Exactly how this porch hasn’t collapsed yet is a mystery. Next issue – the steps. The stringers we had bought to replace the splitting existing ones have a 10″run with a 7″ rise (apparently fairly standard). Not ours, medicine nosireebob. Ours have an 11″ run with an 8″ rise. Which totally changes how to rebuild the steps.

We chose to fix the existing stringers rather than try to fashion new ones ourselves, as switching to “standard” size would change the number of stairs needed as well as the distance they protrude from the porch, which would mean pouring a new concrete pad at the bottom of them. The non-standard stringers also mean that we must exchange all the 1×6 riser boards with 1x8s that are placed behind the treads rather than on top of them as planned. Which meant that the treads have to be removed and repositioned. A calculation error meant that the top tred, whose stringer has a different depth than the rest, was cut too short, which meant getting another 2×12 board.

The railings have been my project, but they can’t go up until the decking is up, which can’t go on until the crumbly joist is replaced. After completely assembling the two side rails Monday, I realized that the baulsters were 36″ high, which was our desired top rail height. Add to that 3″ for the top and bottom rails and another 3″ for a space between the porch and the bottom rail, and we’re talking a 42″ railing height. I disassembled the railings, cut 6″ off every baulster, and put them back together. Am not looking forward to cutting 40 miter cuts of an angle to-be-determined for the stair railings, but thank merciful heavens for Dad’s compound miter saw.
I am in love with my father’s saw. I may hold it for ransom. I want a compound miter saw for Christmas. Other women want jewelry – I want a saw. I’ve already appropriated Mr. Unreserved’s orbital sander and cordless drill (shamefully, I’m the one who bought him the drill as a gift a while back, now the poor man must fight me for it).
Normal women clean when they nest. I get out the power tools.

Two new projects for this weekend: knitting and home improvement.

First, physician knitting.
Having several baby projects under my belt (I really wish I had taken a picture of the Debbie Bliss cabled baby cardigan that was gifted before it was sent out!) I wanted to make something for MY upcoming baby, #2, also known as Squirmy (or Feisty, or Oof! What are you doing in there, rearanging furniture?!). We did not know Peanut’s gender before she was born, so we have a collection of cute unisex newborn clothes. A month or so prior to her due date, however, I realized that most of the clothes were gown style, which wouldn’t work well with the safety belts in the carseat. Sure, we could have hitched them up around her hips, but she was born in January and I didn’t want her to get cold legs. Okay, actually I just wanted to buy the upcoming baby something from ME. Peanut came home from the birth center in a pale green velour outfit adorned with koalas.

I’ve been wanting to make something special for #2, espcially since my knitting skills are sharper now than they were 2 yrs ago. My mother has claimed the project of baptism gown, and I know it’s going to be beautiful (she’s planning on hand smocking it – we’re a sucker for smocking). This frees up my knitting time to make a “coming home” outfit. Maybe it’s sappy, but I like the idea that the first clothes Squirmy wears will be hand made.

I hit the pattern books, the yarn shops, the online patterns, looking everywhere for and outfit that had pants, would be easy to dress baby in, didn’t make finding a separate under-shirt necessary, didn’t involve pulling anything tight over baby’s head (preferably a kimono styled top), would look good in gender-neutral colors, and could be knit from something super extra mega soft (I was thinking cotton). I came up empty handed. It turns out most baby patterns are for sweaters/cardigans that go over other clothes. Dale of Norway had many cute patterns, but most of the pants were overall style. The more I searched, the more the perfect outfit materialized in my head. Eventually I gave up looking for patterns and decided to make my own.

I dug out Peanut’s newborn outfits that were similarly styled and measured them. Combining that with standard 0-3month measurements from a knitting book, and based loosely on a pattern for a Vogue romper I had made last spring, I’ve come up with a drawing that I sketched out on graph paper. The yard is Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, which I swatched with to use the gauge to figure the pattern. Last night I cast on for the left front leg. I’m nervously excited. I hope it comes out the way I’m picturing it in my head. I hope it fits the baby! On the one hand, baby clothes are fairly simply constructed. No matter what, they all have tons of ease, which makes them more forgiving. On the other hand, it’s not like I can measure the targeted recipient, or try the work-in-progress on him/her!

I’ll be posting pictures as the work progresses. Cross your fingers for me, and please feel free to give me designing tips if you’ve got them!

Project #2: Home improvement
This weekend we’re picking up materials to refurbish our front porch. We’re only replacing the top porch surface, steps, and railing, so in theory this shouldn’t be too involved. However, Murphy’s law is in full effect for all home improvement projects. They always take longer and cost more than you expect, and something will go wrong somewhere in the middle that will make you stop and tear at your hair and ask yourself what the hell you were thinking to try to take this on in the first place. This weekend’s worth of work should boost the house’s curb appeal hugely, though. The painted porch and steps are splitting, with peeling paint. The railing is rusted out metal. Conventional wisdom says that your main entrance says a lot to visitors about the rest of the house. Hopefully in a week or so ours won’t say “work in progress” quite so loudly.

Things we’ve done to the house since moving in 5 yrs ago:
Completely redid the overgrown landscaping
Recarpeted the entire house
Painted: Every interior room except the bathroom, including the basement
Also painted: Entire exterior
Replaced the roof
Replaced the furnace
Installed central air conditioning
Wallpapered the dining room
Repainted the living room. Again. Three times. (I had trouble picking a satisfying shade of beige)
All new window screens
Built a shed
Installed new light fixtures and electrical outlets

Still on our neverending To-Do list:
Insultate the attic crawl space (insulation has been sitting waiting for installation for a year now)
Build patio in back of house (almost did that this summer, opted for less expensive porch refurb instead)
Continue landscaping refurb
Glass block windows for basement
And our big dream project that may or may not get completed before we ever move away – convert the useless 9′ wide integral garage into a bigger kitchen (ours is 7′x9′ with three doorwawys running through it)

Off to Home Depot!

As mentioned in my 100 things list, patient I am a hippie granola natural birth tree hugging non-conventional mother. My first child was born in a non-medicated out-of-hospital free-standing-birth-center birth. It was great. Now readers can go ahead and assume I’m a millitant natural birth advocate who will rant that c-sections are unnessary and women who chose epidurals are crack-whores. (I like hyphens, prescription can you tell?)
For those of you still reading, remedy I’d like to explain how and why that’s not the case.
I think it’s unfortunate that people advocating for natural birth or minimal interventions come across as pushy to others, but it’s a side effect of the fact that such births are not mainstream. Any time you are advocating for something that’s not the common way of going about things, it’s going strike them as foreign. Mental alarm bells will go off indicating that this person they are talking to may very well be nuts. If it contradicts what they’ve experienced, they may feel that their choices are being criticized. When you challenge long-held ideas, it automatically puts people on the defensive.
When I became pregnant with our daughter and told my husband I wanted to see midwives instead of an obstetrician, his first response was, “Why?” His second question, once I explained my reasoning, was, “Is it safe?” Having done my homework, I was full of statistics and assurances, but he was still respectfully leary. He felt better after joining me for the first prenatal visit. The midwives were certified professionals, and all standard prenatal testing would be done, just like with an OB. That satisfied him for a few months, until the discussion of where to have the baby came up. It took some time and discussion for him to come around to accepting that, for this particular pregnancy, the birth center was as safe an option as the hospital. He admitted that his reluctance stemmed from the fact that an out of hospital non-MD birth was something that had never crossed his radar. I am grateful that he kept and open mind throughout, and that he trusted me to make a safe decision for our family. I am glad we were able to come to an agreement, because his comfort with this decision was important to me.
Since then I’ve found myself explaining why our daughter was not born in a hospital many times. I would love more people to know that such an option exists. Recently I was relating to my husband a conversation with a colleague who had asked me why anyone would choose to birth somewhere other than in a hospital. I told him that I explained why the birth center was better. He interjected that it wasn’t necessarily better, just different. He’s right, to a point. It was better for me, and better for us. Better for our unique situation in that I am very satisfied with the care we received and with our birth experience. I recognize that such a choice is not “better” for everyone. I simply would like more people to know that options are out there. That you don’t always have to do things the way they’re usually done. That one can benefit in a major way from asking questions, educating oneself about risks/benefits, from shopping around for a care provider who shares a similar philosophy. Pregnancy and birth is not a “one size fits all” situation. Sometimes I think it’s hard to advocate for natural birth without sounding like you’re putting down other birth choices, but since such choices are not currently mainstream, someone needs to talk about them.

I’m still here. I’ve been spending so much time playing with my template that I haven’t had time to post. I’ve got an entire post in my head regarding the birthing debate I’ve been following on several of the IF blogs, medical but it will have to wait for another time. For now, mint chocolate chip ice cream (the craving du jour) is waiting!

100 Things

The first thing I usually look for when I’m interested in a blog I’ve never read is either look for an “about me”
page or I go to the beginning of the posts to see if that person introduced themself. With that in mind, drug it makes sense to me to start with a “100 Things” list.
1. My name is Sarah
2. I started this blog because I’m a blog reading addict and figured if I’m going to comment on everyone else’s blog, prostate I might as well get my own
3. I live near Pittsburgh, PA
4. I married a unique man in 1999
5. In 2000, we bought a unique house
6. In 2004, we had a unique baby girl
7. At the end of 2005, we will likely have another unique baby, gender TBD
8. I work outside the home
9. My husband is a stay-at-home Dad
10. I like knitting blogs, because I knit
11. I like “mommy blogs”, because I can relate
12. I like local blogs, because I will most likely never escape the confines of western PA
13. I’m okay with that
14. Except in February
15. I prefer warm weather to cold
16. I drink more iced tea than is probably healthy
17. I like to cook
18. I sew
19. I can crochet
20. I’ve dabbled in various forms of needlework
21. I like what’s considered “domestic arts” more than most people my age
22. Which at the moment is 28yrs
23. I am nearsighted
24. When I was 10, I wanted to be a commercial airline pilot
25. When I was 14, I wanted to be a concert pianist
26. I ended up a scientist
27. I still play piano and flute when I can
28. But I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve flown in an airplane
30. We don’t travel much, but I’d like to
31. I love the beach
32. I am not a morning person
33. Which reminds me, I should have gone to bed half an hour ago
34. I can honestly say I like Mondays
35. I type about 80wpm
36. I can’t stand it when my fingernails are much past my fingertips
37. I don’t wear nailpolish
38. However my toenails are always polished
39. I am ticklish on the left side of my stomach
40. It will probably become self evident that I am not the world’s best speller
41. I have a dog named Zoe
42. My husband thinks it should be spelled Zoey
43. The dog has no opinion
44. We have a cat named Oliver, but he thinks his name is Kitty
45. He likes my husband best
46. I had a pygmy hedgehog for 6yrs
47. We also have a 20gal fish tank
48. I am not scared of spiders, snakes, or most crawly things
49. I am scared of centipedes
50. They move too quickly, I’m convinced they’re going to run straight at me
51. I am also scared of mold
52. I don’t think it’s going to run at me – I’m afraid I’ll inadvertently touch or ingest it
53. My strangest hangup is my need to be on the right side of anyone/anything
54. I can’t walk on the left of people, unless there’s someone on my left
55. I never sit on the left of people if I can help it
56. I don’t know why and can’t explain it
57. I developed the quirk in my mid teens and it hasn’t gone away
58. I’ve never broken a bone other than my left small toe
59. I believe I broke that toe twice
60. I’ve never been hospitalized for anything
61. Including the birth of my daughter
62. She was born in a free-standing birth center
63. It was a drug-free birth
64. It was a great experience
65. Made possible by great midwives
66. We were home nestled in as a new family the same day
67. I’m looking forward to doing it again if at all possible
68. But this time I’d like to skip the first two days of early labor
69. I have one sibling, a brother
70. He is a computer junkie
71. Chances are good that if/when he finds this blog, he will look down on me for my choice
of Blogger
72. I am not a computer junkie
73. My whole family is pretty much technically inclined in one way or the other
74. We’re also musically inclined
75. If we were any more inclined, we’d be acute
76. I recognize that #75 was really awful
77. I’m starting to run out of things to say
78. Part of that is because I still haven’t decided how “public” I want to be on this blog yet
79. I don’t go out much
80. My husband and I could be described as homebodies
81. We use the fact that we have a small child as an excuse not to go places sometimes
82. It’s not that we don’t like to be social
83. I just find it exhausting to try to hard to act normal around others
84. Others find me very normal, I am assured
85. I am a part time graduate student
86. I have been so for a long time
87. So long that my statute of limitations has run out and I need to file for an extension
88. The whole situation is a huge source of stress for me at the moment
89. I am very close to being finished
90. I inherited my mother’s skill at procrastination
91. We both simply work well under pressure
92. You could say that I tend not to work at all without pressure
93. I find knitting to be a great means of procrastination, as it enables one to feel productive while “wasting” inordinate amounts of time
94. I love cables, lace, and would like to dabble more in fair isle
95. The more complicated, the better
96. I hate to garden
97. I think gardening is a nice way of saying yardwork, which is just another form of work
98. Our yard is a jungle, but it’s getting better
99. We constantly have some sort of home improvement in the works
100. I hope I manage to update this blog on a regular enough basis without allowing the computer to eat my life.