Monday, December 16, 2013

Maternity Photos

I didn't want to take maternity photos. Pregnancy makes women feel all kinds of ways about their bodies, and to be honest, I didn't consistently feel secure and confident enough to pose for photos. Besides, I'd rather spend our money on a newborn photography session once you get here! Nonetheless, I wanted a few private pictures just for you so you can see how much of a miracle pregnancy is. So on my first full day of maternity leave, I sat in the Florida room with no make-up, a sports bra and yoga pants on, and I took a few selfies with my remote.

Nursery Reveal

As far as nesting was concerned, I always felt like I could take or leave it. Our home is pretty clean, organized...there wasn't much to do! But there was one part of nesting I was definitely looking forward to: designing and decorating your room!

I love home decor. It's always an ongoing project, and the possibilities are endless. The best part is beginning with a new room; there's nothing like that blank canvas! I really enjoyed creating a theme with each room in our home, and your room was no exception. Because of your first name, I knew I wanted it to involve elephants. Ellie just sounds like a girl who likes elephants - they're kind, strong, smart, and many cultures believe they bring good luck. Because of your middle name, I knew I wanted it to be pink. I wanted it to be girly, but I didn't want it to be baby-girly. I decided that if orange and gold accompanied this pink, we could create a bohemian theme, rather than a cutesy baby elephant theme.
Top to bottom, then left to right: crib, elephant figurine, print, changing table, rug, garland, lamp, rocker, mobile, fabric, print, print 

The result of that inspiration board is a fun, colorful, glamorous room that I hope you'll enjoy for years!

Your big sister, Chelsea, even has a bed in the corner. She really likes it, though she was uncooperative when it came to posing in it when these photos were taken.

The diaper pail even has a bag in it right now...that's how ready we are for your big debut! I thought the orange baskets were a nice addition to avoid getting things too pink. Here's a close-up of that print in the bottom right, since the glare makes it difficult to see:

Yet another beautiful Etsy find!

Those sweet little shelves come from Land of Nod, which is a dangerous website for your mommy. They were perfect to display important objects that you're not quite old enough to handle yet. On this shelf, you have a framed photo of your mommy and daddy, as well as gilded elephants that belonged to your great-grandmother.

This shelf has another frame, but this one has pictures of you in it! The rattle and spoon were mine when I was a baby. Your daddy wore that grape soda pin (otherwise known as an Ellie badge) on our wedding day.

We got the confetti decals and the decal of your name at this great site called Walls Need Love.

That pink basket is full of nursing goodies so that I'll have them handy when we're in the rocker. Look at all of those great books and toys that people have given you!

The closet is still blue, as your friends Noah and Ryan used to live in this room before we moved in. We organized it as best as we could with some awesome Ikea finds.

The only thing missing is you!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

OB Check: 36.5 Weeks

OB updates aren't much to write home about at first. The anatomy scan was pretty exciting - we got to see your brain so I geeked out a good bit. But after that, it's just checking my weight, my blood pressure, the size of my uterus, and listening to your heartbeat. It gets pretty redundant. Then, all of a sudden, you're one month away from your due date and it's time for weekly prenatal check-ups!

The most exciting part, of course, was that we got to see your face.

We found out you were 7 pounds, 14 inches long, and in the 90th percentile for head circumference. Obviously, these measurements were approximate, but it meant one thing: you were a big girl! From there, Dr. Cauthen examined me and told me that I was 1 cm dilated and 50% effaced. This meant that my body was getting ready for you to enter the world!

Since we had a little more information, we were able to come up with a tentative plan: if you don't get here by 12/20/13, we're going to induce. Dr. Cauthen (and Mommy) wanted you to get as close to 39 weeks as possible (because it's important for your frontal lobes), but going too late could mean a C-section if you keep growing. So that's our plan at this point. Stay tuned to see if we end up being able to stick with it!

Thanksgiving 2013

I wish I could tell you that you got to enjoy lots of yummy Thanksgiving dishes this year, but the truth is I just didn't have room for very much food! I think I made myself the smallest Thanksgiving plate I've ever had, but I somehow made some room for a family favorite: The Toomey Potato Leek Pie.

Your mommy's side of the family has made this dish for years, though it's evolved over time. We cut out the pie crust because we decided it was too carby. We were pretty pleased with that adjustment, but the dish as a whole was still a little too bland for your daddy. A couple of years ago, I figured out what needed to change. The pie needed some heat, and it needed some smokiness. Additionally, the pie wasn't so much a pie now that it didn't have a crust. I decided to add some cayenne pepper and some bacon crumbles, and I decided to cook it in a casserole dish rather than one or two pie dishes. I'm not really sure whether this makes it a casserole, a soufflé, or something else, but either way it's easier to serve!

The Toomey Potato Leek Pie (with italicized updates by Mommy!)

  • 3-6 leeks
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 cups mashed potatoes (use whatever recipe you prefer; my recipe makes 4 cups with 2 pounds of Yukon golds)
  • 2 cups large curd cottage cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 (8 oz.) container sour cream
  • Cayenne pepper to taste (I used about 1.5 tablespoons. Seriously.)
  • 1 wedge of parmesan cheese, divided
  • 6-8 slices of bacon, cooked to a crisp, drained, and crumbled
  • Paprika
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Trim the leeks to about 6 inches each. Cut into thin slices and rinse in a colander.
  3. Saute in 1T butter until wilted. I usually have to do this in two batches in order to cook evenly.
  4. Blend mashed potatoes through sour cream in food processor. Stir in leeks.
  5. Pour into 9x13 corningware, or similar casserole dish of your choice.
  6. Stir in cayenne pepper, to taste. Yes, I know I just told you to taste raw egg. Deal with it.
  7. Stir in half of the parmesan cheese and the bacon.
  8. Top the casserole (pie?) with remaining cheese and garnish liberally with paprika.
  9. Bake at 350 for an hour until set.
  10. Serve immediately, or cool completely and refrigerate. To reheat, bring to room temperature, then bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. Freezes well.

We can't wait to teach you all about our Thanksgiving family traditions (and start some new ones!) in 2014!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

More About Your Name

I made the terrible mistake of watching "Up" on TV tonight. It was either that or "Waters of Mars" and I thought this would make me cry less. Fortunately, I missed the really tough first 20 minutes. I did, however, have to endure the "thanks for the adventure; now go find your own" scene. This led me to an epiphany: we didn't choose the name Ellie to name you after a character. Granted, she's a hoot...

...who's filled with big dreams.

She's also a strong woman...

...who knows how to be graceful and tough simultaneously.

I even found this description of the character a while back:
In under 4 minutes Pixar created a brilliant imaginative positive super fun role model for children everywhere. She is proactive, engaged in the world, exploring on her own terms, inviting others to join adventures in her clubhouse with minds wide open. 

Ellie is unencumbered by ideological baggage, social conventions, burkas or glass ceilings. She is 1,000 percent: Center of Action. Her mind is alive and she is animated by it. 

There is no excuse for not being inundated with such female characters. Ellie should be the norm. Instead role models for girls -- particularly in children's animation -- are virtually non-existant. That is the result of decisions which can easily change.

Maybe the concern has been young boys not being interested in films about princesses and fairies. Fine. Ellie is the girl every single guy has fallen in love with, some of us over and over and over again. Guys dream Ellies. Dads will take their children to see movies with all sorts of female characters embodying Ellie's fun, proactive, inviting spirit. She is a phenomenon. A precious archetype. She is the embodiment of a philosophy which must be woven into the fabric of culture worldwide -- and ultimately the reason some of us believe in the power of Art.

Ellie is a MIRACLE.

It is conceivable Ellie may become the most important character Pixar ever creates. We need more Ellies, less excuses.
I wish I could remember the source.

Yes, Ellie is a great character. But for me and your daddy, Ellie isn't about the character, it's about love. I know it's just a silly movie, and your mommy is being pretty cheesy, but this movie is oddly a very important part of the story of Mommy and Daddy. We got engaged while we were up in the air, and then I walked down the aisle to the theme from this movie. Ellie means love to us - love for another person, love for life, and even love for a persistent goofy dog. To us, this is what the world is all about, and you're the next chapter for us in that world. I hope that someday you'll be able to understand the gravity of love; I'm still trying to wrap my brain around it.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Oh the Places You Went!

As I've mentioned on here, your mommy and daddy really enjoy traveling. Sometimes we like to try out new adventures, sometimes we visit old favorites just to relive some of our favorite memories. Sometimes we explore close to home, and sometimes we travel to the other side of the world! We're really looking forward to traveling with you, and we hope that you have the same appreciation for wanderlust as we do. In fact, you've already been to a few places before you even got here!

When I was just 13 weeks pregnant with you, we visited our friends Sara and Jon in Washington, DC, the city where your mommy was born!

I was juuuust starting to get out of the first trimester queasiness, but unfortunately this transition into second trimester bliss was masked by bronchitis complete with a low-grade fever. It was not our best vacation, but we still did lots of fun things! We went to a Nationals game, we saw Seth Meyers do stand-up, and most importantly, we caught up with one of your mommy's best friends.

At 23 weeks, we visited our friends Emily and Jonathan at their new home in Philadelphia.

Look how much you'd grown in just ten weeks! I was feeling pretty great at this point, and Emily and I did lots of walking around the city since we had such beautiful weather. We ate lots of good food, and spent a lot of time at the art museum. We also toured historic parts of Philadelphia, including Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.

For our next adventure, we visited our family in Orlando when I was 29 weeks. We stopped by my old stomping grounds on our way down.

We celebrated your Auntie Amanda's 25th birthday at Epcot's Food and Wine Festival.

We always have a blast hanging out in Orlando. I can't wait for you to meet your cousin, Keira!

Our last trip was to Elon, North Carolina when I was 32 weeks pregnant with you. I had to go to a class up there, and your daddy was nice enough to keep me company since I was getting pretty big and uncomfortable! This was more of a work trip than a fun trip, but we managed to squeeze in a little fun! We found some great food, including this ridiculous BBQ joint:

And we stayed at this really cute B&B just a couple of miles away from the class:

Here are some other fun things that happened right here at home:

When I was 10 weeks pregnant, Chelsea celebrated her 8th birthday...

...and Auntie Amanda, Mimi, and Sally came to visit.

At 17 weeks, Auntie Amanda came to visit again and I actually went out to a bar in Buckhead.

Then, we got all dolled up for our friend Melissa's 30th birthday party.

The Ohana came to visit and we took them to the Georgia Aquarium...

...and they took us to a 311 concert!

We watched a lot of football. It went well for your daddy...not so much for your mommy.

But baseball DID go well for Mommy! Here I am celebrating the World Series Champion Boston Red Sox at 31 weeks (Disclaimer: you're not allowed to root for the Red Sox because it makes Daddy very upset. We, as a family, are Braves fans).

We also had a Halloween party, where Mommy dressed as the TARDIS and Daddy dressed as the 10th Doctor. He taught your friend Alba, or Indiana Jones that night, how to use a sonic screwdriver.

As you can see, we sure have had a lot of fun waiting for you to get here! We can't wait to see what kind of adventures we can go on together!

Shower Recap

Your Auntie Amanda is the world's greatest party planner. She was so much more than a Maid of Honor at our wedding, and she did a heck of a job planning my bridal shower. Your baby shower was no exception.

Your shower was Peter Pan themed, complete with whimsical invitations...

...delicious food adorned with adorable details...

...the most fun decorations ever...

...and some of the greatest women I know.

We got so much great stuff for you, Ellie, and it made it all feel SO MUCH MORE REAL that you were going to be joining our family in just a few short months!