Friday, February 27, 2009

100 pages and counting

I passed the 100 page mark on my new novel this week, and I'm feeling better about it than I was a couple of weeks ago when procrastination took over ambition and I wasn't writing much. I've been more disciplined about writing and have gotten out of the house, doing work at the library, the Starbucks in Kirkland and the Panera up the street (cheap coffee + free yogurt-granola parfaits = a big draw!).

There is still a lot I need to work in, but my worry is that at 100 pages, I've used up about 3/4 of the plot. Oops! Hopefully I have another 150 pages or so in me, with the character development I still need to do, the climax to come, and the resolution.

Update on book #1: I sent out 9 new queries to agents two weeks ago and have gotten one request for 50 pages and 3 rejections so far. It felt good to get back into that material a bit, because it reminded me that I do believe in that story and want to see something come of it! Keep your fingers crossed!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Newlyweds for 585 days!

This is so hilarious that I just had to post it. A reporter from the Ithaca Times called today to ask about our use of the internet in wedding planning (not sure how she got my info, but whatever), and it prompted me to go in search of our old wedding website. I was shocked to find that it was still live! So check it out!

PS, in retrospect that really was an ugly shade of green.

PPS, this is not a ploy to fill in the rest of our registries! The links don't work anyhow!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

14 weeks pic

Here it is! Tim cut off my head, but this picture is better than the other one he took. See...there is a little something! This was last Friday when I was 14 weeks, under the very flattering lights of the Microsoft parking garage. It'll be time to take another shot in just two days. I feel a little bad that we weren't on the ball earlier, but there's still not much to see. Yet!

Baby is also the size of a lemon. I don't know what kind of produce Friday will bring, but I'm excited to find out!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Planting seeds

This weekend I went with the Mars Hill Proxy junior high kids to their retreat in Gig Harbor. We hung out from Friday night through Sunday morning at a camp on the other side of Puget Sound, just southwest of Seattle. It was a good weekend but a tough one -- this is the most hands-on ministry I've done in a long time.

Only two girls and four boys came along, which meant that we had good personal time with the kids, but that it was also much more intense than the youth group meetings on Wednesday nights. There were games, meals, talks, worship sessions, and cabin time when we tried to get into a deeper level of conversation about faith than we're normally able to achieve during the week.

The two girls are sweet and pretty well engaged, and while some encouraging things were shared, I am finding more and more that I'm simply not able to "fix" the things about their lives that are tough for them, and that, furthermore, it's not my job to do that. All I can do is be a listening ear and point them back to Jesus, hopefully with some solid counsel, when they have questions and struggles. As someone who is used to planning and measuring progress in different ways -- I did it with grades in school, with my running, and now in a different sense with getting things done on my books and around the house -- I look for progress in their maturity and understanding. I am a cheerleader for them to grow and I want to see that growth. I want instant gratification after I feel I've put in an effort to help them "get" something. But I need to be patient and pray for God's guidance and timing; the last thing I need to do is make them feel that I am disappointed.

As I consider what my involvement will look like in the future, I have decided that I'll stay on with Proxy as a leader through the end of the school year, and by the end of June or so bow out so I can focus on this baby in the next step in life for Tim and me. So that means that, while I'll continue to see these girls at church, I won't be with them on Wednesday nights anymore or have the level of relationship we do now. I need to pray for a fruitful next few months, and ultimately that I'll step aside and let God work in spite of my own agenda.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

No new car...yet

So I mentioned last Saturday about the car being out of whack -- driving as if it had a flat tire when it didn't and "leaking" oil. Seriously, that's what happened. I swear. And there is a huge oil stain in the spot where I was parked. But 10 minutes after I had this "problem" Tim went down to the garage and drove it around just fine. He checked the oil, which wasn't low. So...maybe I am crazy? Apparently oil doesn't really dry up, and although I think I would have noticed if I had parked over a huge puddle, I suppose it was from somebody else's car. Drat.

Haha. Not that we need to spend money on a new car right now, but it did get us thinking that we'll likely be in the market sometime this year. As a 95 Toyota my car has been pretty solid, but coming up on 15 years and with a baby on the way, I think it's time for something a little more this century. We'd go used, of course, but taking a cursory look on and different dealers' sites, they aren't all that cheap either. I'd love to get something roomy enough for a couple of kids and their carseats. How about this old station wagon, which I grew up with? This is basically the car I spent my childhood years riding around in, except ours was gray. I'm pretty sure all my babysitters *loved* driving it!

Obviously we'd get something a little less dated. I'd love to get a Volvo wagon like the one Tim's parents had, but now that they're owned by Ford Tim is wary of their reliability, and they are expensive to repair, as his parents can attest. And there is one certain brand I just can't abide by...I know it's popular, and a lot of our friends have them, but still. I won't name it here in case I end up eating my words. But I'm pretty sure I won't go back on this resolution: I will never drive a minivan!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Plodding along

I've been realizing lately how different it is to be married and out of college than a student and single. Not that it took me a year and a half of marriage to realize this -- I've been noticing it all the time -- but I think I'm finally understanding some of the things that make life work as 1/2 a married couple.

Early on in our marriage I tried to keep most of my life the same -- cleaning up immediately after dinner (which Tim hated) and getting up at 6am to run (which he also hated). In fact, a lot of the habits and schedules I used to strive to maintain became real stumbling blocks for us. I am a creature of habit. And I suppose Tim is, in his way, too. But I've found it doesn't work to get up at 6 (not that I even can anymore!) when your other half likes to stay up late, and that making sure the kitchen is spic-and-span immediately after eating causes more trouble than it's worth. Marriage is about adjustment. My recent realization, though, is just how often these adjustments are made. Marriage is a lifetime of adjustment, and different waves can come every season, every week, and hey, even daily. It makes it hard for me to keep up a routine, but I'm now recognizing a routine should work for me, not the other way around. In addition to how I do life with Tim, it's just super different working from home to the extent that I do, as opposed to student or full-time-employed life.

It's funny how I seem to think that I can plan out the way my life will work and have it stick for a long time. Case in point: I used to change my routine and how my life would operate every four months or so. In college, I'd choose my classes for the fall semester, get my work schedule, and then plan everything else around that: when I'd exercise, when and where I'd get lunch, when I'd get studying done, and when I could have free time. It sounds so neurotic, but hey, if you don't know that about me yet than you've not been around for very long! I took a lot of pleasure in plotting out my schedule and finding the best ways to walk to class from my dorm or apartment. It was like putting together a puzzle. I had to fit together the pieces just right. Granted, I remember this meant I wasn't very flexible, but things came up and I like to think I'd budge when something was important.

Spring semester, I'd get a new routine. And then the summer would be totally different. So how is it that I think I can make one routine for myself and it'll last day in and day out, for years?

Different things that have come up in life since we moved to Seattle -- Tim's commute to work and whether I drive him or he takes the bus, my lack of a gym membership and ability to run turned gym slave with a bad knee complex, my internship in Seattle that I first commuted to from Queen Anne and then Bellevue, getting pregnant and having different energy and motivations...all these things caused me to reevaluate how I spend my time and get things done. There is a part of me that feels like a failure when I can't stick to my schedule and things get pushed aside or left undone. But I'm realizing that it's okay to change a routine if my current one isn't working anymore. I've done this with when I write during the day, when I get my workout, and how we spend our evenings now that I'm working with the church youth group.

In short, I am learning to be flexible! And it's painful! But I think God's trying to tell me to lighten up, take it one day at at time, and be willing to make some changes when life just isn't working out. My new resolution is to spend less time in the gym because it's really taking a lot of time to drive there and back, and I honestly don't enjoy not being anonymous there anymore...after a year I have gym "friends" who always want to chat, whereas I just want to get in my workout and leave. That was the beauty of running: me time, no trashy magazines. So I'm going to walk outside more and restrict the gym to 3-4 days a week. I miss being outside, and now that plants are starting to poke up from the ground, it's about time to get back out there!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

Just a quick note to say I was 13 weeks yesterday and baby is the size of a peach...or a "medium-sized shrimp," as the email actually put it (peach is from my book). If we're going just on length, which I suppose we are, then I guess a shrimp would be bigger than a lime, but I just think a peach is more flattering, don't you?

Anyway, I don't know what the day holds (I love surprises!) but a not-so-good surprise met me this morning when I went out to surreptitiously grab some donuts from our favorite local place...fluid leaking from under the car. Uh oh. I had to come back up to the apartment empty handed and tell Tim. So we'll see how far we get. Maybe for Valentine's Day I'm getting a new car!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Suggestions for mommy-to-be books!

I know...3 posts in one day? I'm feeling extra you call this need to communicate via blog.

I have been thinking a lot about Proverbs 31 lately and the woman who is described there. She is hardworking, industrious, beautiful in character, giving to her family, above reproach. She gets up before the light and goes to bed after working by the light of a candle. I hope to be a mom like that (and thank goodness for electricity)!

To that end I'm wondering if any of you lovely moms out there--or grandmas!--have books on Christian motherhood to suggest. I haven't read much in the realm of Christian thought since high school, and I'm finding that my appetite is growing for something Biblical on the role of mothers as I prepare for this little one. Thanks!

Sunshine in the Bellevue Downtown Park

I love my afternoon walks, when I get them!

Thump thump!

First off, thanks to those who have voted so far on the baby gender poll! It's about 2-1 in favor of finding out the sex, and since we don't know who voted which way, we can't corner you to ask why you voted how you if you want to make some comments on this post, please do!

We had our second prenatal appointment today and got to hear the baby's heartbeat! It was really fun. It was a really fast thump thump thump that yes, Dad, does sound something like a toilet plunger! I wish we could have seen baby again, but that will have to wait until the mid-pregnancy ultrasound at 20 weeks, when I'm halfway through. Apparently they do extra ultrasounds between now and then only if there's a problem. Oh well. I'm glad there's no problem!

Nothing to report about the visit otherwise, except as we left we realized that this 20-week ultrasound may be our only chance to find out the sex, if there aren't any other routine ultrasounds. So we'll have to be doubly sure! As the receptionist making our additional appointments informed us, they used to make neutral clothing and such for babies, but now that it's so common to find out boy v. girl, it's hard to find cute stuff that goes both ways. I guess we'll see what we think in another 2 months!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Antiquing in Snohomish!

Tim and I took advantage of the sunny weather on Saturday for a drive up north to Snohomish, the so-called Antique Capital of the Northwest. It was pleasant to walk around the historic downtown where most of the shops are clustered and do a bit of window shopping! As evidence of the times, a lot of places were closing. And while there were some of your run of the mill knick-knack shops (I will never understand collectibles!) there were also some quality places with nice-looking furniture. We didn't buy anything except coffee, but that's not the point!

The main street.

Some old-fashioned storefronts.

A crazy shop called Pegasus-something that had neon signs galore...

...and weird stuff like old gas pumps!

A cool old stove we saw in one shop. To the left is an old wooden high chair on wheels. You can release something in the back and the chair settles down into a stroller! I bet that would be a bumpy ride.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Gender poll!

I've taken away that stupid name-giving duck (it had terrible suggestions!) and put a poll in its place. I'm interested to see what people think about keeping the baby's gender a surprise. At first Tim and I decided we would wait and be surprised at delivery (the whole, "It's a...!" thing), and we're still sticking with that decision, but nearly everyone we know with kids found out beforehand. What do you think? Cast your vote by the end of the month. We're open to a change of heart, but we haven't been convinced yet!

12 weeks today!

I can't believe this is the last day of my first trimester! Baby is the size of a little lime today, and apparently is developing reflexes. I read that his/her weight is about 1/2 an ounce...the weight of a slice of cheese when I put it on our food scale (yes I am obsessive about serving sizes). I am really excited to be moving into the second trimester and so thankful that I've passed safely through the first. My initial tiredness mostly disappeared a couple of weeks ago, and aside from the heartburn I had around Christmas and my bad experience with an odoriferous homemade Hawaiian pizza on New Year's, I have avoided nausea altogether! Most days I wake up feeling great! I have good energy and I really enjoy the fact that I can still go to the gym, though I keep an eye on my heartrate now and I get out of breath much more quickly. Last night I went back to the kickboxing class I used to take in the spring and summer, before my MRI, and both my knee and belly made it through just fine. Speaking of the belly, we will take a 12 week picture and put it up. It's nothing much to speak of...I just walk around looking like I've just eaten Thanksgiving dinner. It's not really a baby belly, but stuff is being moved around in there to make room! Some friends loaned/gave me a bunch of maternity clothes, which was so amazingly generous, and I admit I've worn some of the pants with the stretch waistband already because they're just so much more comfortable. I'm excited to go to our second prenatal appointment next Wednesday. I do talk to the baby sometimes and I can't wait to see him/her again!

Washington drivers are like old grannies

At least on the Eastside. On the stretch of 520 I regularly drive from our home to Microsoft or the gym, the highway is laid out like this: commuter lane on the right, then the middle lane, then the left lane. The fast lane. Or shall I say, the lane where people actually go the speed limit. Most of the time.

The limit is 60, but people in all three lanes so regularly hang out at 50 or 55 that I feel like I'm speeding wildly whenever I can actually go the speed limit. What is it with these drivers? At home in Cincinnati I remember always feeling this invisible pressure to go way over the speed limit, because even the folks in the right lane would be going 65 in the 60, or 70 if it was 65. Now I feel like nobody's got any particular place to go. And this isn't just when a dusting of snow throws people into a panic attack. Seattle drivers move like molasses even on the sunniest of days. What gives?

Oh, and I have to post this. I saw this "vehicle" on the road as I was headed to the gym after dropping Tim off. Don't know much about the car itself, but I've seen several three-wheelers around Bellevue and Redmond, in addition to some Smart cars. My first thought always is that if they got in a wreck, the driver would be crushed like a sardine!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Volunteer Park

Last Friday I went on a walk with my friend Caitlin and her precious daughter Freyja in Volunteer Park, a huge green space in their neighborhood of Capitol Hill. The Seattle Asian Art Museum is there, along with a pretty conservatory that we went in for a few minutes to warm up. Slightly removed from the main thoroughfare of Broadway, the park is a lovely escape, and was landscaped at the beginning of the last century by the Olmsted Brothers, who also designed New York's Central Park. The homes around the area are amazing, truly deserving to be called mansions! Walks around great residential areas like that sometimes make me nostalgic for living in the city of Seattle, but our life is so good here in Bellevue that I wouldn't change it. I'm glad nearly everything I'd want to see is just a short drive away!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Happy February!

Baby news: Yesterday marked 11 weeks and 1 day, and baby is officially a fetus! He/she is also the size of a fig. :) I am still feeling well and wondering when this little guy will start to move around more so I can feel it!

Other news: Not that much to report. We are doing well, Tim did not have any scares with the recent Microsoft layoffs, and I have been a lazy procrastinator when it comes to writing. I've gotten a couple of fun freelance projects to focus on but my current novel just feels overwhelming. I need to get into a better mode so I can view it as a fun challenge and not an impossible obstacle.

We are headed to a friend's Super Bowl party later this afternoon, and it's been a laid back weekend of chores and some fun casual apartment hunting. We drove around Kirkland more yesterday afternoon and still love the idea of that area. Hopefully with the current glut in the rental market we'll be able to get something a bit more suitable for a family of 3, and for less money than we currently spend, when we plan to move in the spring. I'd love to stay where we are, but with prices going down, it doesn't really make sense to pay more for less space! We've been blessed with this current apartment, but I always love a bit of a fresh start, so we'll see what we can find!