La Diplomate, Home Ownership and Sexual Harrassment

Eric and I went out to our first dinner post Mary. Lest you underestimate the magnitude of that statement ERIC AND I WENT OUT TO OUR FIRST DINNER POST MARY. Trust me, we let the hostess know too, though I think she could tell by our demeanor.

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Happy Mother’s Day

marynapping like a boss

homey

If our baby was subject to employee evaluations she would receive “EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS” in all categories ranging from head circumference to nap strategies to knowledge of 90s catchphrases. Hello Mary Lou, Goodbye Heart indeed. Not much to say about motherhood other than that is lovely and amazing and sometimes very tough.

me and mary

Going back to work has been okay. Day care is okay. Pumping is okay. None of it is really great but it’s manageable. What is NOT manageable is when someone locks his bike to yours so you can’t ride home and instead have to run and catch a cab in rush hour traffic and barely make it to day care before closing, twenty dollars poorer. And yes I left a note on this nerd’s bike explaining his faux pas and my day care/cab drama, and was hoping beyond hope that there would be a nice note when I got here this morning, possibly even with reimbursement for cab fare.

NADA

I’m telling you, Congressional commitment to moms starts and ends in floor speeches. NO RESPECT! Judging by the condition of the bike I imagine it’s some clueless intern, so I’m okay about the money. He probably doesn’t have much. But I DO hope he at least remembers to honor his own mama on Sunday! Happy Mother’s Day everybody.

 

 

 

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Three things: I am pregnant, I am not writing a mom blog, I am still riding a bike.

Some people have asked me “are you going to blog about pregnancy?” The answer to that is clearly “not very much.” First of all, there’s the very real STFU parents factor to consider. Second of all, there’s nothing I can say, do, or wear that won’t be executed with a great deal more style by 25-year-old Mormon mom bloggers.  Third, when it comes to actual medical information, I have none. Fourth, when it comes to helpful tips about pregnancy and parenthood, ditto. There is nothing I can share with you that you couldn’t resolve yourself with a few simple google searches, for example “stabbing breast pain normal 8 weeks?” or “sonogram looks like a t-rex wtf.”

t rex

meet “Lady Mary” who may or may not have an unhinged jaw to swallow her prey

If you’re reading this, you have the technology and Dr. Google is always accepting new patients, so hop to it. It can only lead you down a saner path than I could ever hope to, unless the path is to the comments section on babycenter.com, in which case, ignore those crazy, paranoid beeshes. Seriously. I guarantee you will land on a thread where a user named daenerys123 homebirths a few dragons in a tire fire and honestly, that only happens in like 1-2% of pregnancies so avoid, avoid, avoid babycenter forums.

this was NOT a water birth

this was NOT a water birth

The only bit of wisdom I have to share and never found in any pregnancy book or website is, if you are taking a s***load of pills- and if you are a geriatric mom, you probably will be to allay your crushing guilt & paranoia- take them in ascending order, from smallest to largest. This will ensure that the fist-sized prenatal you are taking doesn’t create a log jam of other smaller pills, causing you to belch up orange scented fish oil all night. Of course, a good old-fashioned addiction memoir probably could have told you as much, but you’re probably not looking at those for prenatal tips.

Patty Duke in Valley of the Dolls, 1967.

though perhaps we should be consulting sources like Valley of the Dolls… could go for a quart of Mike and Ikes myself.

The one other thing I can weigh in on with some authority is biking while pregnant. At this point, lots of women are starting to write about this non-issue but until it becomes accepted as an actual non-issue, I think it deserves more coverage. For every website featuring a woman who biked safely and happily while pregnant, you will find 15 quoting the APA’s warning, and a “why would you want to kill your baby” scolding. Although I think more women have probably almost died choking on fist sized prenatals than riding a bike while pregnant [raises hand],  biking gets the bad rep. Meanwhile on a typical morning at 8 a.m., NPR reported three crashes on the Capital Beltway, yet car commuting with your children is assumed to be the safest bet? Really? So with the alleged safety issue dispensed with (at least for advice scofflaws like me), here’s my experience researching and purchasing my very first MOM BIKE:

Sure, I don’t have a crib mattress, a car seat, or child care lined up, but I am now the proud owner of a brand new MOM BIKE. At least I have my priorities straight. To be fair, I’ve already put in a s***load of work on the nursery…

nursery final

hope “Lady Mary” like sleeping on plywood! Note: that crib was purchased for $50 in an alley

… and put the bicycle replacement off for a lot longer than I meant to, but at 27 weeks my belly was coming dangerously close to the stem of my Jamis when I “stop short,” so it was either this:

smurfbike

photo credit goes to Constance Winters of Lovely Bicycle, from her review of the Civia Twin City @ Bicycling.com

or wrap myself in bubble packing.

I chose “this.”

Of course, some people might choose not to ride a bicycle at all at this or any other point in pregnancy, but, clearly that was not the choice for me. I think many women who wouldn’t ride a bike while pregnant wouldn’t ride one while not pregnant either, so there’s that.

But many who do ride daily find that biking well into their pregnancies is just as safe, healthy, and enjoyable as it always was. I’m not going to chastise anyone for choosing not to if she isn’t comfortable, but am firm in my belief that it’s just dandy for anyone who does decide to continue.

There are a few things to consider… number one is “how are you feeling?” If pregnancy has turned you into a puking, exhausted mess, biking might not be the right thing for you till you get to feeling better. One thing I will say is that I was often pleasantly surprised by how good it felt to just sit down on a bicycle and take the weight off my widening, hobbit like feet after a long day of walking, but this might not be the case for everybody. It turns out that long distance walking is aggravating my hips right now in a way that cycling does not, however, everyone carries their baby and extra weight differently. I think some people jog comfortably up to the day of delivery while others experience all sorts of nasty aches and pains they’ve never felt before despite a lifetime of 10ks. So, don’t be surprised if you still love biking, but don’t lose any sleep at night if you don’t. That’s what hours of belching up fish oil is for.

Second is your route, weather conditions, and distances. Maybe you don’t want to do a 20 mile round trip commute anymore when it’s 90 degrees, or ride in heavy traffic, or maybe you do, just be aware that your feelings may change. For example, I felt fine riding to every one of my prenatal appointments, however the one day Eric and I happened to drive together was the day of our anatomy scan. Suddenly, our baby went from being a brine shrimp to a tiny person in my mind, and while I don’t know that I would have been too scared to ride home afterwards, I was surprisingly grateful not to have to make the choice. The following day I was back in the saddle, but just so you know, you might get the yips from time to time and that’s okay.

hey you

hey you

If # 1 and # 2 are in order, you may eventually get to # 3: the equipment. I envisioned myself transitioning to a more upright, step over frame with more stem/belly clearance and a comfier saddle around week 20, but due to travel, laziness, and satisfaction with my touring bike, I didn’t bother looking too hard for a solution. Suddenly, right at the kickoff of the 3rd trimester, it was game time.

One option is to make adjustments to your current bike. That would have been okay for me, except that my touring bike frames were already a tad small for me, hence the belly/stem issue.

good for biking across Germany and bouquets, not so good for my current physique

good for biking across Germany and bouquets, not so good for my current physique

The smaller size felt more comfortable at the time that I bought them, but if I’d seen this day coming, perhaps I would have opted for the next size up. Even raising the handlebars wasn’t really going to help on the stem clearance issue, plus I wasn’t loving the idea of eventually putting a child seat on a bike I have to swing my leg over (they both have a men’s top tube). So, I sold a second touring bike I had and began the search for a new or used bicycle that would suit my current, and hopefully future needs.

Used is a great option, and one I would have taken if I’d been more diligent about searching Craigslist in August. But, I left it too late and didn’t really have weeks to spend searching for a) a bike with a suitable frame and gearing and b) the requisite parts to bring it up to Eric’s safety standards.  It was a disappointment really, because if there’s one thing I’m up for these days it’s berserk projects, but many of the frames were way too small or a little too big, and either single or three speed. My 9 mile round trip commute  isn’t hills galore, but 1-3 gears with a bike seat or trailer plus child was not going to suffice, and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time or money upgrading the gearing, seat, & brakes for a 30-year-old frame with no warranty. Maybe next time.

a friend was selling a Raleigh Tourist like this in great shape, but the three speeds, the rod brakes... it wasn't to be

a friend was selling a Raleigh Tourist like this in great shape, but the three speeds, the rod brakes… it wasn’t to be (not my photo)

So, it was off to the races at the bike shops. There are plenty to choose from around DC and of the ones I visited, 50% were insulting or indifferent to my needs. We’ll not waste time on them or name names, but if you’re reading this dudes, tune up the bikes in your shop, and don’t talk to me like I’m an idiot. Moving on to the GREAT shops: Bicycle Space and the Daily Rider (don’t let Daily Rider’s work in progress website and use of the word “curated” deter you. It’s not too twee-dy.) I ended up buying through Bicycle Space, but would have been thrilled to hand money over to either of these establishments. They have affordable bikes, they have pricey bikes, they’ll also order and build-what-you-like- bikes. Employees at both stores offered great advice and were pretty much unlimited in their patience as I dragged anything and everything with two wheels out of the store for a test ride, and I can’t say enough good things about them.

During the fact-finding portion of this endeavor, I also relied heavily on the blog Lovely Bicycle for her very comprehensive reviews. One perk to her status as a semi-famous bike blogger is access to all kinds of fancy bikes for pretty extensive test rides, usually five miles or more through the hilly Boston area. Somerville seems to have good bike shops, and the author’s readers and friends seemed more than willing let her give their bikes a spin. Her reviews and photos suggest a (healthy IMO) preoccupation with aesthetics, but don’t let the loveliness fool you. Constance Winters is familiar with the ins and outs of daily riding, the strengths and weaknesses of various bicycle design and construction elements, and has ridden more bikes and for longer periods of time than I’d ever be able to, so I was a happy beneficiary of her wisdom. Another good resource is www.bikeforums.net- you have to register, but it’s simple and after that you can ask 4,000 obsessive questions about 8 vs 11 gear internal hubs or whatever the h*** you need to know. People there are friendly know-it-alls, which a) makes me think they’re all secretly librarians and b) puts me completely at ease.

At the end of the journey, what I sort of wanted was a custom build Soma Buena Vista

can ya blame me? (not my photo)

can ya blame me? (not my photo)

but SOMEONE told me we couldn’t afford it so SOMEONE ELSE had to cry about it in a taco shop. Spoiler: SOMEONE ELSE was me, and for once it wasn’t because there were no tacos left on my plate. It was because the weight of my life choices suddenly became overwhelming to me and I thought “I’LL NEVER HAVE ANYTHING THAT’S BEAUTIFUL OR FANCY AS LONG AS I LIVE.” The next morning, I realized that while this may be true, I will have a baby, and that’s super fancy! Kind of?!  And after much deliberation, we did decide to get me a sweet new ride, just not a $2,000 one, and I felt a little bit like an Onion headline: “Pregnant Woman Buys Shiny New Bicycle, Cries About It.” In retrospect, it’s all for the best since I don’t know how long I’ll be furloughed.

thar she blows

thar she blows

It is a Civia Twin City (see reviews here and here), currently outfitted with a generous 5 gears but as suspected, I’ve only use the highest three so far in about sixty miles of bicycle commuting. First and second may come in handy when I’m pulling more weight- I could also upgrade to an 8 or 11 speed hub if it seems necessary. Belly clearance is EXCELLENT, and one additional benefit I hadn’t anticipated was the lack of toe-verlap, which I’ve always experienced on my Jamis. I can turn this way and that without hitting my foot, no matter what shoes I’m wearing or where I am in my pedal stroke. Fabulous!

I upgraded to (springy) Brooks saddle and grips for prettiness, added a bell, water bottle cage, and zip tied a small bread basket to the back rack we already had to throw my purse in.  I thought I wanted block pedals, but the factory pedals are actually very comfortable with any type of shoe. Last but not least, my lighting situation is just blinky LED lights at the moment, but I will probably upgrade to something nicer in a few weeks. One other important upgrade that I went ahead and made already: the double kickstand. Apparently this can keep the bike much more stable when loading or offloading a kid.

civia kick stand

no spills!

All in all: the bike is just about perfect. It’s so comfortable in fact, that I was considering a longish (25 mile) ride today, just to see how it would feel but for several reasons (Nat. Park bike trails shut down, haven’t done a long ride in too long) decided against it. I’m a bit disappointed, but the idea of having a pregnancy related issue on a solo ride and dragging furloughed Park Rangers to come rescue me from my own self absorption just didn’t appeal. Even I have behavioral standards sometimes. Might have to wait till sometime in 2014 to enjoy something like that again. Sigh. But, I’m happy to still be up to short rides and commuting, this bike sure makes it a pleasure.

Thanks for reading! And please feel free to weigh in with any thoughts or experiences biking while pregnant.

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all the single ladies- some advice

If you start dating someone new, do not tell them all the secrets of your past. You will never be able to believe your own bull s*** again. Case in point, last night we went to a Nats game where a newish policy is in place.  It didn’t go over well, see my responses to a user survey below.

During player at bats, fans are not permitted to proceed down aisles from any concourse; aisles are kept clear until an at bat has been completed.  Did you notice this policy at the game you attended?

( x) Yes
( ) No
( ) Not Sure

Please answer question 35 before continuing.

Would you like to see this policy continued?

( ) Yes
( ) No
(x ) Not Sure

feedback:

The woman who was in charge in our section was EXTREMELY unpleasant and enforced this rule selectively. She was pretty rude to me and my friends; I believe she even used her “stop sign” to hit my friend on the arm. Who does that? We went out of our way to avoid her for the rest of the game.

I worked at Fenway right out of college, and never would have behaved that way towards a guest in the park. Furthermore, my family has split season tickets at Camden Yards since the inaugural season and have never been treated with the disrespect we got from this employee. She glared at us the whole game! I’ve always felt comfortable sharing our season tix with friends at Camden Yards, knowing that they’ll be treated courteously at the very least, and often we are treated like family. But needless to say we are never bossed around the way we were last night.

As far as the policy itself goes, I guess it’s “ok” (but not great), and if people like it, feel free to continue but please give your employees mental health screenings prior to deputizing them with those stop signs!

Eric’s response to me:

“Didn’t you put a Chewbacca action figure in someone’s hotdog bun while you were serving Fenway Franks?”

Well played Gilliland, well played.

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chewbacca

vintagechewbaccaactionfigure

related to the ALL THE SINGLE LADIES post: if you were served one of these in a hot dog bun at Fenway Park in 1998, you can probably join some sort of class action suit against me.

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marriage is awesome, also food

Eric and I recently celebrated four years together. Sounds like a long time but we’ve only been married for about four minutes. How is it different from dating/living together? We’re now wasting  diligently saving “OUR” money as opposed to “MY” money. It’s kind of the same since we still don’t have much of either. We watch a lot of Friday Night Lights, and instead of emulating Tim Riggins and/or Rally Girls, we try to be more like Tami and Coach Taylor. Sadly, we both think we’re Coach.  And instead of a lot of chatty conversation throughout the day we might send one email per day in a “business friendly” tone, like this one regarding party preparations.

To: Eric

From: Sarah

Subject: Items For Your Consideration

1)      There is a dead something or other on the front porch…  as per usual, I didn’t touch it!

2)      In a manic episode, I did all the floors last night except for the bathroom, dusted off the tv area and the dining room table, and also the wooden table in the kitchen, and tidied the cat area.

3)      The cornbread is by the toaster oven. The coleslaw is in the fridge and dressed, except that it could use a little plain vegetable oil. Maybe stir in 1/3 cup.

4)      I think the house looks really nice! Except for the dead thing!

5)      Chili should be ready for pickup at 7. Ben’s will include spoons, bowls, and napkins.

6)      We could use ice, beer, maybe some liquor and mixers? [And, I just realized: cups] Gin/tonic/limes are popular. For snacks, I’d stick to dips, chips, and maybe some nuts. Cheese and crackers is $$$ for a drunken crowd, require prep, and can be annoying to replenish.

7)      I have high hopes that I will be out of here at a reasonable hour for once.  I hope you aren’t too tired and are looking forward to tonight.

No fuss, no muss. Where’s the romance you might ask? Well, that’s in the way we trade off who has to clobber the bugs in the bathroom at night. Oh my god. There has been so much brutality this week. Anyone who says global warming isn’t real didn’t see the two “palmetto bugs” crawling up our shower curtain. Get thee back to South Carolina, scarabs! I thought the most horrible item in our bathroom was a very moldy loofah, until I used it to crush the entrails out of an insect the size of my fist. We do not get them around our house too much so this was a surprise, and hopefully an anamoly.

Other team projects: We redid some chairs. I had before/during/after pictures, but my phone died so now I only have the after photos. It wasn’t an upholstery job- part of the reason why I got the chairs from Craigslist was that I liked the existing fabric. But, the arms and legs were shiny red laquer and that was not looking so hot with our fuschia rug. So we sanded and repainted and now they look excellent.

living room chairs

this is where we discuss Remembrance of Things Past, obviously

 

sanding

stand back and let the professionals handle this

Solo projects: I also made my own nutella last night. It’s pretty good, but chunkier than commercial as I tried not to add too much oil and didn’t bother straining it as some recipes call for. The ultimate purpose for making this was the third food item I worked on last night: banana/nutella fudgsicles! I didn’t have enough popsicle molds to make enough for a crowd- just did a few test ones- but I will try to find some on the way home. I believe Home Rule sells them.

What else has been cooking? Raw kale, like a 1/2 bunch a day. I bought some from the Whole Foods salad bar line to serve as kind of a base for a quinoa, vegetable and shrimp salad and became instantly obsessed. It’s so good! I’m never cooking kale again, well not till baseball season is over and/or the weather gets cool. We love kale but it can get a little expensive to eat, since it cooks down so much and our neighborhood grocery stores have millionaire prices. Anyway the recipe linked above is a pretty spot on dupe for the Whole Foods version.

Notes: I left out the “nutritional yeast flakes” because, well, duh. It’s great without that fish food. I also cut the dressing in half for one batch, thinking to cut down on the calories from the tahini/oil but you know what? YOU’RE EATING RAW KALE. Live a little and do the whole recipe, it’s awesomer that way. I did cut back on the oil a tiny bit. Anyway, the dressing comes together super fast, would make a great vegetable dip, and it’s nice to have a vegetable side that doesn’t require cooking but feels “beyond salad” if that makes sense. The trick is to really massage it as she says. Do not get lazy people! Massage it like it’s Kerri Strugg’s ankle and she’s got to try to win it all for America.

kerri-strug

Anyway, a great thing to try this summer when the kitchen is hot.

And speaking of seasonal foods, I made my first batch of lemonade of the summer this weekend, that was a nice treat too. This is the same proportion I use, but I dissolve the sugar in 1 cup of hot water first, then add 5 cups cold water and refrigerate. Serve over ice if you can’t wait, obviously. Eric got me this little tool that looks like it would serve some evil purpose on Game of Thrones but in our household, it just juices lemons, and helps release aggression. For a crowd though, I recommend juicing a few lemons and subbing out the rest of the cup with prepared juice from the store. WHATEVER. We are only human.

Image

Thanks for reading this extremely boring post! I know it’s no beer/fight club laugh fest but I’m just building up anticipation for a super dull fascinating expose of bike tour preparation, or maybe a “Best of DC Public Pools” post.

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will drink beer for fight club

Let me preface all of this with “I bought a bikini.” Why? Because I hate my friends, I guess. We’re going on a little trip which is coincidentally the weekend of my 35th birthday. The departure from the coveted “28-34 year old” demographic brought on a lot of “feelings”, for example: if I’m old enough to both president of the US and ‘advanced maternal age’, why am I failing at both?

Obvious solutions are to run for office while getting pregnant, but I lack the dishonesty people skills and clean criminal record to be a politician and don’t want to try for a family before going on a 400 mile bike trip/honeymoon, so I had to settle for buying a bikini that is too small because, you know, nothing makes you feel young like a muffin top, bottom, midsection, and side.

To be fair, I am a size small up top. To be unfair, I am not a size small on the bottom. Thanks, God! A wise woman would have chosen a top and bottom in different sizes, an impatient woman buys both in a small and joins a fight club at her gym to make up the difference, ideally in four weeks. Anyway, I am apologizing in advance to my road trip friends, my husband and anyone who hangs out at Banneker Pool. Sorry guys! I’ll try to build some muscle in the next 21 days and, failing that, I’ll try to sculpt some abs with self tanner. What could go wrong?

Well plenty. First of all, the fight club fitness class I wanted to take is $199 for 8 sessions. That’s all fine and good, but we’re paying off the last bits of our wedding while saving for a honeymoon and possibly a house not to mention louche lifestyles for our imaginary children and of course, my impending presidential campaign. A $30 Target bikini quickly becomes outrageously expensive if you have to sell your few remaining eggs to fit into it. LUCKILY I got an email soliciting participants in a paid “adult beverages” study, the honorarium for which was $200. Yes that’s right. I’m not just breaking even I’M MAKING A DOLLAR. Obviously, I signed up for both immediately, qualifying for the beverages study by claiming to love beer in an online quiz, and for the fitness class by having a heartbeat and paying $199.

What happened next was freaking magical. A man named Walter called me up at work to certify that I was a good candidate for the beer study. WHY WOULDN’T I BE? Oh yeah, because I might try to get pregnant in the next six months. Any other reservations Walter? Oh yeah, because I don’t really drink beer that much. But, it’s cool because I lied about all of it. If you go back to the tapes (and apparently there are tapes, for quality assurance) you will have me on the record claiming that the only thing equal to my love of beer is my hatred of children. That I drink approximately 50 beers a month, and that my opinion about “when is a good time to enjoy a craft beer” is “any time after five p.m., so, really, right now Walter.”

When asked if I like to drink Harp, I chirped “oh yeah, I drank at least 5 of those recently…”

“Just five?” he broke in.

“I meant 10 of those, on that holiday… what is it? Irish people like it?”

“St. Patrick’s Day?” Walter asked helpfully.

“Yeah, that! It’s hard for me to remember… because of all the beers.”

Needless to say, I qualified. Next stop on my agenda was to go ahead and get moving on my fight club membership. Holy crap is that class hard. There are burpees, split squats and “jumping lunges” which sounds like a creature that might try to kill you in Australia. I hate all of them, but love the way these exercises torch through the calories in the beer I’m NOT ACTUALLY DRINKING NOW, because Walter called the day before the beer study was supposed to start and kicked me out of it. He said the search parameters had changed. Did someone love beer harder than I pretended to? I’m probably just too old, but my takeaway from the conversation was, “do not pass Go, do not collect $200 you lying sack of lies.” I told you I wouldn’t be a good politician, Walter saw through my s*** and now I am left holding a bag of jump ropes, twice a week, at the cost of $24.875 a pop. This is my Watergate and I never even got to be Prez. Someone kill me!

Was I steamed? You better believe it. Here’s the email I wrote them directly from my office account. Since I’d already done the phone interview regarding my excessive beer consumption in front of my coworkers, it seemed like a prudent choice.

I was just informed that I am “no longer needed” for a beverage study that is scheduled for Monday. I’ve already asked to leave work early, and was kind of counting on the money for my fight club dues. I am extremely disappointed about this late notice. Who was the client? I’d like to know so I never drink their dumb beers again!

Then again, this may another exhibition of the poor judgment standing between me and the Oval Office. Whatever! I’ll be able to do a chin up and at least I’m allowed to be the president, unlike the wannabe American Governator.

what do arnold and I have in common?

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