Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pure Joy

Yesterday, there were two moments of pure joy.

At work, as I sat at my desk filling out a form on the computer for a client, a sudden twitching feeling inside my lower abdomen ripped me out of my concentration. I threw my hand to my stomach just as my baby moved inside me again. Over the last few days, I had felt a couple butterfly-like sensations while lying in bed, but they were so faint, I couldn't be sure. But, this was different. I called Michael and we celebrated together. I went back to work, but a couple of minutes later I again felt a few more twitches and movements. It would be a lie to say I was focused on my job for those twenty minutes of pure joy.

After work, I drove across downtown Los Angeles to a small church with green doors situated in the heart of skid row. Four years ago, the same year that Michael and I got engaged and married, I taught behind those green doors at an after school program for  homeless kids. Due to the highly transitory nature of being homeless, most of my students from that year were long gone, hopefully to more stable home situations, but one of my students was back attending the program and invited me to visit. I could hardly look at Tecola because my memory kept telling me she was still a fourth grade girl, not the similar looking teenager who exclaimed, "Ms. Christie!" and came up to me and hugged me. We then lost ourselves in chatting for the the better part of an hour, just laughing and hearing about each others lives. It was pure joy.

Three of my former students at Disneyland.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Adventures in Constructing a Raised Bed

It's been quite a while since I've written about my garden, and since moving to our new place, it's quite different! So let me catch you up with our slightly crazy shenanigans.

Before moving, Michael decided he wanted to do a gigantic raised bed, so we went to a hardware store to purchase the supplies to make it ourselves. Upon exiting the store, we realized that the planks for making the long ends of the raised bed were almost the length of our Corolla. As we discussed how to fit them in our car, another Lowe's patron walked by and commented, "You guys win the award for most unrealistic." Michael and I awkwardly smiled at each other and proved him wrong:

The two long boards filled our car from the dashboard all the way out of the trunk a couple of feet. During our half mile trip home, the two planks of wood managed to turn on our windshield wipers for us, making us laugh even harder than we already were at the ridiculousness of our venture.

We moved and constructed the raised bed. Then, we had to fill our enormous box with dirt. Even if we purchased every bag of dirt at Walmart, we wouldn't have had enough. So, with a quick internet search, I found a nursery that sold dirt in bulk, so we rented a U-Haul pickup and went. Mind you, the cost of the dirt and the truck rental combined was about half the cost of buying bags of dirt!

When we told the woman who worked at the garden center that we wanted two yards of dirt, she laughed at the size of our truck informing us that two yards of dirt would weigh two tons which was well over the load limit for our F-150. We felt about as sheepish as we did in the Lowe's parking lot with two huge planks of wood. So, we quickly halved our order to one yard.

Here's our dirt. It doesn't look like much, but it's a ton. Literally.

Michael then rolled a ton of dirt, one recycling barrel at a time (we're too cheap to buy a wheelbarrow) into our backyard dumping each surprisingly heavy barrel of dirt into our raised bed. It was the hottest day of the summer, peaking at 106 degrees. He finished around 1 or 2pm, so he managed to do this work when it was a mere 103-105 degrees outside.

He didn't let me help because I was (am) pregnant. I didn't mind! So I took pictures. :-)

After all of that work, it turned out that the 1/2 topsoil 1/2 compost mix we purchased was super clayey. We transplanted all of our plants into the new garden bed. A couple died, a couple lived and flowered like crazy without producing any fruit, and a couple of plants have thrived including...

...Thai basil...

(Shorn down.)

...and Thai peppers! How convenient for making Thai food. And that's exactly what we did.

Here's our final basil harvest.

The horrible soil has been super frustrating, but that's just how gardening goes. It's a lot of work. But, for some reason we really enjoy the challenge! Though when we have both an infant and a garden to care for and keep alive, the garden may fall by the wayside for at least a time. We shall see.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Our New Place

Michael's parents recently retired and moved to a city near San Diego. They generously offered to rent us their three bedroom, 2.5 bathroom house for... let's just say a rate that is affordable for a campus minister who fundraises every penny of his benefits/salary and an unemployed law school graduate with a baby on the way.

We moved in almost six weeks ago, and I finally got around to taking some pictures for all of you friends and family who live too far away to see it anytime soon!

Let me walk you through my day.

I wake up and rush to the bathroom.

I relieve myself in the bathtub? No.

We have one of those bathrooms with a tiny toilet room. I feel like a rich person.

Our room.

Walking out the room into the hallway to fill my belly with some first breakfast. (And then second breakfast. And then elevensies. I eat a lot these days!) At the end of the hallway on the left is our housemate's room. You can see her open bathroom door at the end. And at the end of the hallway on the right is our...

Study! a.k.a. extra junk, mismatched furniture, vacuum storage room that we'll clean up and call a "guest room" when we have overnight visitors and a "nursery" when the baby comes.

Going down the stairs to our, in my opinion, gigantic family room. "Hi Michael!" Shout out to his new blog: Check it out!

At the bottom of the stairs taking a picture of the family room. "Hi Jen!" She's our housemate and she's super chill, fun, and easy to live with. Definitely an ideal housemate! Now we're going through the door at the back right of the room and then turning right to see...

Our mini family room. Also called the TV room. This house is so big we had trouble knowing what to do with the space. I am proud to say that we at least bought no new furniture thanks to Michael's parents who got rid of lots of stuff!

Back it up so you can see our TV room and our table.

Then, turn around so you can finally see our kitchen.

When it's cool enough, I often take my first or second breakfast or elevensies out here to eat at our outside table. And, yes, that's a raised bed! Since buying in bulk was cheaper than buying individual little bags, we rented a truck and hauled literally a ton of dirt to fill the bed.

A super comfy swing! I like to read there in the evenings before it gets dark and the So Cal desert black widows come out to play.

Well, there's our new place!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Baby on the Way!

Michael and I are going to be parents! I am several days into my second trimester, and we'll be welcoming this little one into our family sometime in March!

I know these ultrasounds often look like a whole lot of nothing, so in case you can't see it, baby's head is on the right looking toward the top left corner. It looks like something is growing out of the forehead. That's the hand. During the ultrasound our baby was moving it around, which Michael and I both thought was the most thrilling and adorable thing ever. You can see the body below its head and its skinny little left arm. I promise the baby has legs. They just didn't make it into this shot!

I can't even begin to sum up the experiences and emotions we've had since finding out that I was pregnant on July fourth. So I'll just mention a few things.

  • First of all, it is really strange and really amazing to know that I am growing a human being inside of me, and that kid is part Asian! Michael and I think I look pregnant, but to the average person, I probably look like I've just gained some weight. I am really looking forward to getting a cute little bump, then a big bump, then a huge bump, and then rocking the about-to-burst bump.
  • Pregnancy sickness. Holy cow. It is no joke, and I didn't get it even close to as bad as some women do. I had no cravings but quite a few days where I was averse to every kind of food. I couldn't even look at our garden knowing that food came out of it. I wrote about my bar exam experience, but did not mention that a huge part of the experience was being seven weeks pregnant at the time and praying along with several other people that I wouldn't feel horribly ill during the test. Given that even without pregnancy that awful test alone is enough to make you nauseous, I consider it a mini miracle that I didn't have a single moment of nausea during the three day exam!
  • Fatigue. Holy cow. It is no joke. I normally sleep about nine hours a night. When the fatigue set in, I slept about nine to eleven hours per night and would often take twenty minute to two hour naps to get me through the day. And I was still exhausted all the time. When I wrote that "we" moved, I really meant "Michael moved us." Shout out to my husband for doing 90% of the work without complaining at all. Fortunately, the nausea is almost gone, the fatigue is waning, and they've been replaced with an enormous appetite!
  • Joy! Holy cow. The joy is no joke! Even in the throes of first trimester nausea and/or fatigue, there were moments where I just smiled to myself because I was so stinkin' happy to know that my child was growing inside of me! Every week, Michael and I have read about our baby's march through the produce section from blueberry sized, to raspberry sized, to prune sized, to lime sized, etc. (It's now bigger than a peach!) My favorite little baby development updates were ones like "Your baby's ears have moved from its neck to its head" (my baby's EARS were on its NECK?!?), or this week's "Your baby's intestines, which have been growing inside the umbilical cord (exCUSE me?), are now starting their trek to their permanent position in your baby's abdomen. (crazy!)"
I am sure there will be much, much more to enjoy, stress out about, and write about this child in the upcoming months and years! For now, my heart is so full, savoring the last few months of being just the two of us and loving the fact that my tiny, incubating baby is always with me wherever I go.

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