Dec 20, 2010

Sleepy Time

Being pregnant has been an interesting adventure, and the thing I have learned to appreciate the most is sleep. Now that I'm not being a teacher I have ample opportunity to sleep. I think maybe I sleep too much, but then everyone I talk to rationalizes it for me by saying, "You're pregnant!" or "Get it while you can."  Whatever the reason, I'm grateful to live this leisurely life for the next few days, until Baby Loaf decides it's time to make an appearance. I'm hoping that tomorrows Solstice Full Moon Lunar Eclipse will align just right with Baby Loaf's intentions and we'll finally get to meet this wee one. Until then, I'm going to nap.

Preggers Belly with Olive and Big Kitty. Olive can barely see over the mega bump.

39 Weeks pregnant. I hope this is the last pregnant photo I take, except for the one on the way to the birth center.

Dec 16, 2010


In writing about all things tender, I would be remiss to leave out a few very important members of my family, my pets. Growing up we had hamsters (vile creatures), fish, and most commonly cats. There are pictures of me as a baby leaning onto a reclining fat cat, affectionately named Elro. After Elro had left us, we adopted Figaro who quickly decided that we were not his forever family and he took off into the big world. Figgy then graced our lives with her presence although she was the runt of her litter, very skittish, and preferred to be adored from a distance. While Figgy was making herself comfortable in the dark corners of our house, my dad came upon a kitten who had taken up residence in the warehouse where he worked. Learning of this lost little kitten, my brother and I waged a war to bring her into our home and make her ours. We won that battle, and home came Charcoal.

Charcoal was the first cat that I really remember being a complete and wonderful pet. She was cute, with her nose split black on one side and white on the other. She was friendly, LOVED to be pet (almost to a fault), prowled outside during the day, curled up inside at night and shed enough fur to make an afghan. It didn't matter to Charcoal if you like her or not, she liked you. Anyone who showed her the least bit of attention would instantly become a best friend who no doubt wanted to pet her for the entire duration of their visit. At least as far as she was concerned. She was also the only one who could get close to Figgy. Those kitties, and a strange adopted dove who lived in our bathroom, rounded out my childhood family until I went off to college.

I will say that I liked those cats, they were always there and were unconditionally loving to me. However, I didn't understand the deep love that people had for pets, or animals for that matter, until as adults I convinced my husband that we needed to adopt a cat here in Idaho. Luke was working and going to school full time and I spent a lot of time home alone. I was convinced that with a little furry companion my life would be complete.

The only option for me was to adopt from the Idaho Humane Society.  By adopting from the shelter I knew I would get an animal that was spayed/neutered, supporting an organization that protects animals from abuse, and I would get to pick my forever friend. I wanted a younger animal as I figured it would be easier to "train" and it had to be a short haired cat. I should say that I would have gotten a dog, but my husband was the heavy and would only agree to a cat. No worries, cats are good, I know cats.

I went to the Humane Society a few times, waiting to meet just the right kitty to bring into our family.  I would know the right animal and was willing to wait. On my third or fourth visit I walked into the kitty room and there he was. A kitten, staring at me, willing me to come and pet him. I washed my hands and opened his cage and he immediately rolled over on his back like a dog, encouraging me to rub his pristine white belly. He was the one! I called Luke, had to sleep on it for a night and then scurried back the next day to adopt my new forever friend. I paid the fee and signed all the papers to have him fixed. Instructed to pick him up the following day I went out and purchased the required kitty accessories. It was thrilling.

The next day I picked him up from the vet clinic and brought him home. Maybe it was the drugs he was coming off of, maybe it was because his manhood had been taken from him, who knows why, but my little 8 month old kitten was not too thrilled to be at our house and was more then happy to hide in the darkest, hardest to find corners. It wasn't going the way I planned, but I was encouraged to hear him running all over the house in the dark of the night. At least he was still alive! The next day, when no progress had been made, I went so far as to consider returning him. He was not the cute cuddly kitty I had dreamed of. My husband told me to get over it and make friends with this cat, he was ours now.

Eventually we became friendly, this cat and I, but for some reason we could never get it together to name him and he became known as Kitty. While he was akin to my previous cat Figgy in the sense that he was what I'll call independent, he is the prettiest cat I have ever had. His coloring is perfectly symmetrical, he has eyes lined in black, four perfectly white paws, and a beautiful white underbelly that looks like a collar when he sits. His fur is soft, his eyes piercing, and he still rolls on his back when he wants you to rub his belly. He loves to curl up on Luke's lap and sleep for hours. My husband has that cool attitude that Kitty respects. I, however, tend to be a little more firm in my love for cats which Kitty can only stand in small bits. Make no mistake, any affection shown to him is always on his terms. What he lacks in kitty affection he makes up for in beauty. It's not easy being that good looking. Our friends rarely see him when they visit, but here's a picture to attest to his good looks.

Big Kitty likes a good suit case
After about two years I decided that Kitty needed a companion. I don't know why, since he's not particularly affectionate, but it was somehow necessary. My husband was convinced and I was ready to begin the search for our next pet. This pet would again be short haired, but would be female, and I was bound and determined to make it into a lap cat. I decided I needed a very new kitten, 6-8 weeks old would be perfect. This would be the cat that I would raise in my arms and wouldn't be afraid of people. 

Lucky for us it was springtime and prime kitten season at the Humane Society. We had our pick of cute kittens. We scoured the cat room and carefully watched as all the kittens interacted. I wanted a calm one who wasn't afraid of my hand. We came upon a cage with two female kittens. They weren't as pretty as some of the other ones, but they weren't attacking each other like wild beasts either. We decided to give it a day and if they were there the next day, we would pick one.

Upon our return they were both still there. I was ready to pick just one, but Luke ever the softy, couldn't allow us to leave just one of the sisters behind, alone in the cold shelter. Two?! Who was this man? I didn't care, he said we could get them both and I wasn't going to question him, we were getting two babies! They were 7 weeks old. We had them fixed and brought them home. The two sisters were ours and they needed names. We couldn't have Kitties 1, 2, and 3. I named one Olive (after Olive Oil in Popeye) and Luke named the gray one Misty. They were perfect. They soothed each other and weren't afraid of my obsessive cuddling. They lived in the bathroom for the first week. The bathtub to be exact.

Misty and Olive

Misty is mostly gray with white around her mouth and white eyebrows. She is affectionately known as the princess. She got this nickname because she doesn't like to go out in the cold, prefers to hang with people when they're around, and instead of being pet by your hand prefers that you hold it out so she can preen against it herself, and she's quite talkative especially when she's hungry. Misty is always curious about anyone or anything that comes into the house and she isn't afraid to come over and give it a good sniff. She also purrs like a motorboat. She'll curl up in your lap and nap with you, but it's taken awhile for her to get used to being held. Luckily, I was very hands on with my kittens and she has learned that to resist my love is futile. She always wants your attention, and the only way to disarm her incessant prodding is what I call "corporal cuddling". She really is a sweetheart.

Olive, then, is Misty's sister. I have to say that getting two kittens who are related was a great choice. They always had each other which has made them confident and playful pets. Olive is very different from her sister. She has dark calico coloring and a nose that is split colors, much like Charcoal. She has heavy eye lids, is almost too easy going, and can almost always be found napping on Luke's office chair. When she's not on the chair, because Luke is there, she's napping right on his lap, pressed onto his desk. Olive is like a rag doll. She doesn't resist being held in any position, when you go to pet her, or push her out of the way she will often simply fall over, and she always has a look on her face that says, "I'm confused?" She is the kitty of my dreams, and even though I probably shouldn't say it, she's my favorite. Except for that time when I opened a 500 degree oven and she decided that maybe she should get a closer look. I had to grab her mid leap into the oven. She doesn't always show the soundest judgment, but she makes up for it with her tender heart.

So there they are, my three cats. I'll be the first to admit that I'm now a crazy cat lady. I feed my cats raw food, make them wear tinker bells around their necks when they go outside, and have scratching posts around my home. They have provided us with so much entertainment, happiness, the occasional hissyfit (on my part) and overwhelming joy. I have never loved animals as much as I have loved these three. They each have very distinct personalities, and I feel privileged that I get to know them better then anyone. Even Luke, who wasn't so sure about getting pets in the beginning, truly loves our cats. I've even taken to calling him the cat whisperer. His own gentle attitude and tender hand have endeared him to our cats. And me, well I'm their mom. The kittens, at least, always come when I call, or cluck. Once we got the kittens, Kitty became known as Big Kitty, which is hilarious, because now he's the smallest cat in the house, but he has a big presence. I don't know if he would have agreed with me when I initially thought he needed a companion, but I'm pretty sure now that those pesky kittens have grown on him. We're one big crazy kitty loving family.
Something about a warm computer that puts a kitty right to sleep.
 Napping on Luke's chair, a favorite past time
  Crazy kitty lady
Big Kitty cleaning Olive's ear. She's confused.

Dec 11, 2010

Friday Night Feast

Many Friday nights will find us having dinner with our friends, usually at Danny and Sarah's house. Our dinners started as Sunday brunches and evolved into Super Soup Sunday's and then to Friday Night dinners. Our meals are always pot luck and usually the best tasting and healthiest of the week. There is something special about bringing different dishes into one meal that makes them tender and tasty. Sometimes we have a theme, but more often then not it's a free for all. Sometimes it's just four of us and sometimes there's up to 10 people. There is always enough food for all and anyone who visits us in Idaho is welcome!

This weeks dinner friends starting from 12:00 and going clockwise: Sarah, Luke, Me, Ashley, Olivia, Lucy, Chelsea, Shaun, and Danny (taking the picture)

The meal included:
  • grilled chicken and steak, pan fried tofu
  • sauted green beans and mushrooms with garlic
  • cumin rice
  • veggie salad with dried cranberries
  • crusty rosemary bread
  • for dessert: tasty crepes with Nutella, fruit and whipped cream, yum!
Can I just give a moment of thanks for Nutella here? I LOVE this stuff. It's a hazelnut chocolate spread that has the consistency of peanut butter. It can go on toast, crepes, fruit, or my personal favorite, right off a spoon. Really, the sky is the limit. Try it, it is a truly tender treat.

 Remaining crepe dessert, tasty!

And anytime we have dinner at Sarah and Danny's house there are always the doggies. Here is Olivia lovin' on Mateo.

Dec 8, 2010

Ode To My Family

At the core of this tender life is family. Mine started out with my mom Mary Mike, dad Craig and I. Then came along my fantastic younger brother Steve. For a long time it was just the four of us and I had an idyllic upbringing. Of course we had our issues, as any family, but for the most part we got along and appreciated the best in each other.
                                      Mom and I making baby quilts

                                      My Lovely Mother

                                               Dad Walking Me Down The Aisle

My parents have been together for 35+ years and have been married for at least 30 of those years. They are still together today, for better or worse. As a child they provided us with dance lessons, music lessons, sports, a commitment to academics, family dinners, gardening, cooking, art, summer camps and all sorts of travel around the world. It was pretty wonderful. Their commitment to our family has inspired my husband and I to continue my own family here in Idaho.

My brother and I got along better than most. The extent of our sibling arguments have come to be known as "gatorade fights", they were few and far between. More often than not we played school, hide and seek with neighbors, danced, or wrestled on a futon in the living room. We were best of friends.
                                               My Sweet Brother

When I was nearly 20, I met the man that became my husband Luke. We were in college and had no idea that eight years later we would be married and in a decade we would be expecting a child together. Before we started dating, it was my criteria that the next person I had a relationship with would have a good relationship with their own family. Lucky for Luke, he comes from a wonderful family, lead by a strong, funny and beautiful woman that is now my mother in law. He also has two amazing sisters who are busy following dreams and being awesome people, in general. I couldn't ask for a better extended family then the one Luke has brought into my life.

                                      Mama Bear Alton
                                      Beautiful Sisters In Law

In the last decade I have seen Luke go from goofy college kid to dedicated partner and most recently expectant father. Just the other day he pledged his commitment to providing for our family so that I can stay home and be a mom and that we may continue to be successful in all we do. What pregnant woman wouldn't want to hear that? I'm pretty convinced that together he and I can accomplish anything we set out to do. We have watched each other grow and change and have continued to show love and respect for each other the whole time. I'm pretty confidant that with our history, we are going to continue having a great, prosperous and fantastic life together. And that's pretty tender!
                                                     All Dressed Up

                                                  Tender Kiss

                                      Love 'Em All

Dec 6, 2010

Oh, Christmas Tree!

Today we got our first Christmas tree in Idaho. Luckily there is a nifty little place 2 blocks from my house with trees for $19.95, what a steal! Our special tree was cut in Oregon, near Mt.Hood, yesterday and then traveled all night to make it to our house today. Merry Christmas all!!

Who says a Corolla won't fit a 7' tree?

  It stands! 


 and ornaments!

 Ornaments received at Secret Santa 7 years ago.

All the other ornaments were gifts from former students, 
except the mini gold and silver balls that I picked up the other day.
Now our house smells like a fresh pine forest and we're ready to celebrate the season!

Dec 5, 2010

Weekend Treats

Now that I'm not working, I realize that I need to take advantage of every social outing that I'm invited to. Which made this weekend full of fun and exciting activities and friends. Saturday started with a yummy girls breakfast at Cafe de Paris in downtown Boise. I had a tasty egg and bacon croissant and a side of sauted veggies. Our lovely breakfast was organized my my great friend Sarah, who is also my doula. After breakfast Sarah, Ashley, Olivia and I strolled through the Capital City Market and even though it was snowy and a little chilly, holiday spirit filled the air and free samples of nuts and toffee were at every turn. It was an awesome morning spend with great friends. It also made me very happy about my new snow boots, my feet stayed warm and dry the whole time.

                                               Capital Holiday Market Companions

Later my husband treated me to dinner out at Chang Mai restaurant where I indulged in Thai Green Curry. One of my all time favorite dishes. Not only was the food great, but the hostess didn't try to sit us at a booth. Booths are usually more comfortable, except when your belly is the size of a watermelon. This was our first meal out where the hostess was observant enough to notice. For that I was greatly appreciative and told her how much her small gesture meant to me.

Sunday was a lazy day around the house, and the first day the sun has shone in about a week. This meant getting outside to shovel a pathway through the backyard for kitties and attempting to hang Christmas lights on the front of the house. We live in an old house, which has nice character, but is a total pain when it comes to doing just about anything to it. With all the snow and wetness on the ground, we decided not to trail cables and cords around our yard. This has lead to the fact that we need an electrician to update the outlets on the exterior of our house.

Being a homeowner is fantastic and I love it, but along with the freedom to paint the walls whatever color we want also comes the responsibility of doing all upgrades and repairs ourselves. In updating our 60+ year old house I am learning to find the good handymen in our area because they are worth their work in gold. 2010 alone has meant replacing or updating the water heater, furnace, bathroom, interior doors, baby nursery, and carpeting. This to do list of repairs could go on indefinitely and can be very overwhelming for me. On the upside, there is always a new upgrade to look forward to, which hopefully leads to better house value and easier, more affordable, living. I also have to express gratitude for our ability to own a home and our capacity to make it even more comfortable for our growing family. So while the exterior light show is on hold, I am excited to say that tomorrow we get our first Christmas tree since we've lived in Boise. I am very excited and can't wait to post about how that goes.

Finally, the most tenderest time of this weekend was probably the simple dinner with our friends Danny and Sarah. Having good friends with whom we can laugh and share with has made my life rich and happy. Danny and Sarah were the first, of many, members of our "Idaho family" and I'm grateful that they have stuck it out with us in Idaho all these years. It's been a pretty amazing time for all of us, and some of the most tender moments I know have been spent with them. Love you guys!

Dec 2, 2010

Get Adjusted

In an effort to create a positive pregnancy and birth I have been seeing Dr.Anacker, a chiropractor. It's something I've always wanted to do and pregnancy provided the perfect reason. I have been getting adjusted weekly since about 30 weeks in my pregnancy.

Each adjustment session lasts about 15 minutes and involves the typical back adjustment while lying face down on the table, using special props to make space for my growing belly. She then releases ligaments surrounding my uterus by using massage techniques. The session ends with me sitting in a special chair while she uses her special chiro skills to adjust my neck. This requires major trust and relaxation on my part. Getting my neck adjusted sounds like fireworks, but there is never any pain. When it's over I take a quick walk around the block to make sure my blood is flowing and then I go about my day as my immune system strengthens and blood pressure remains low. These are things she's told me happen within 15 minutes of an adjustment.

Since seeing a chiropractor I have seen many other positive side effects as well. The top two are heartburn relief and the ability so sleep pretty soundly through the night. These are two things that any pregnant woman in her third trimester will tell you are major downers of pregnancy. Having experienced them before chiropractic care, I'll take a weekly adjustment any day. Dr.Anacker is kind, gentle, and truly loves what she does. I'd go as far to say her chiro skills are an art form, and I'm grateful to experience the care and chiropractic experience she offers .

                                      Big Kitty, no adjustments needed

Dec 1, 2010

Simple Snowy Pleasure

During the winter I have often seen people, often elderly, shoveling their sidewalks/driveways early in the morning and while it is still snowing. My neighbor, who is pushing 90, sweeps her walkway every hour on the hour during a snow day. During each of these times I wondered why on earth they were doing this in the middle of the very weather that caused the work. Now I know. It is WAY easier to keep your house clean if there isn't snow at the entrance of your home and you are much less likely to break your neck if there isn't weeks of compacted snow and ice on the ground.

It seems so simple, but until my front yard had been dumped with inches and inches of snow for the last month, I had no concept. I don't know if it's because I'm pregnant, staying at home, or just crazy, but I LOVE shoveling snow. There is something so gratifying about peeling fluffy white snow away from the ground. The way that snow shovels are shaped allows the snow to fly in curls and waves to it's final destination. Sprinkling snow melt is akin to a science experiment, watching ice turn to water with the fleck of a wrist. Plus, I like the fact that I don't have to wear boots to take out the trash or get the mail. Whatever the reason, I'm lucky that I now have the time and consciousness to appreciate this small snowy pleasure.

Now for the requested belly photos that have been requested. Happy shoveling!

                                               11 Weeks Pregnant

                                               37 Weeks Pregnant