Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pea Brain

Maybe it's a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I'd heard pregnant women were increasingly forgetful and clumsy, and I am no exception! I have trouble putting sentences together and my brain seems to just be working s l o w l y. And, the other night I pulled a full dish of leftovers out of the fridge and promptly dropped it on the kitchen floor, shattering the bowl and ruining my lovely pasta salad. Tim took pity on me and swept it up. Sheesh! Not that I'm normally so light on my feet--I do have a history of running into door frames--but this is getting pretty ridiculous.

How is this disabled mental and motor state beneficial for taking care of a baby? I need more brain cells, not less!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It's not just GM...

So, the doomed economy has finally affected me in a more tangible way than Tim's constant reports of our MSFT stock (something that really means nothing to me since we don't have any upcoming plans to sell it).

I heard back from that wonderful agent right after returning from our little trip to Victoria. She emailed me Friday and I read the email on my Blackberry after stepping off the ferry Sunday night. I have to say I'm glad we instituted the "no email" rule for our vacation, because the news was very bittersweet.

They can't take me on. At least not right now. It was a REALLY nice email--the woman I've been in contact with praised my manuscript as "fine" and my writing as "excellent," and said the concept would be easy to pitch to editors (which is the agent's job). Trouble is, the economy sucks, and they've got their hands full trying to promote their current clients' books. While you might think the need for an escape from daily life would have people buying more books, what's it's really doing is sending them to the library. People just aren't spending $25 for a hardcover book by a new author (myself included; my library card has been getting a lot of use), which means publishers are printing fewer copies and their seasonal lists (the new books they have coming out) are getting shorter.

BUT. This agent said she didn't think I'd remain unagented for long, which was a great compliment, and that if I was still seeking representation in 6 months, I should contact her again. Who knows; money might be flowing better and they might have more room in their client list. I immediately turned my planner to October and made a note.

Of course, I'm disappointed. I was really hoping that this would be it. In fact, I just registered for this year's Pacific Northwest Writers Association summer conference, and kind of casually chose a few agents to meet with, hoping by then those meetings would be obsolete. But it's really in my best interest that this agency not take me on if they simply don't have the time and manpower to put behind selling my book. I don't want my manuscript to languish on somebody's desk for months or even years.

So it's like getting second place. I'm totally encouraged that the problem isn't with my book--they clearly liked it, and though I feel like a brat saying this, I feel a bit as if I've arrived with a saleable product, the "real thing"--the problem is with the economy and the circumstances at this agency. It would be much worse if bad writing or a half-baked idea were part of the mix. I believe if they'd had the time or everyone and their brother weren't on Capitol Hill asking for handouts, they would have offered me representation and I'd be reading a contract right now instead of writing this post.

Bottom line is, I'm encouraged that my book is good (according to these agents; I know it's totally subjective; but I am glad all this hard work is paying off with someone!) and publishable; it's just one of many in the jam-packed market that is women's fiction. I'm going to pursue some more agents this coming summer and hope that either I land somebody better or that this other agency has good news for me come fall. I'm praying for patience and confidence in God's timing, no matter where this bend in the road takes me. And humility. I don't watch Oprah, but I wouldn't mind her being in my future. :)

**PS, I just got done preparing what I'm going to say when I share my testimony in my women's group with church tomorrow, and as I was recalling receiving 5 rejection letters from MFA programs, I was amazed at how far I've come on my own. Who needs grad school?!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hey, you!

That's not exactly what we're calling our baby (pretty much just sticking with "baby"), but people always ask us about whether we've picked a name yet. That, and whether we have the nursery all set up yet (no, not a stick of furniture's worth). We do have a couple of favorites for a boy and a girl, and we borrowed a baby name book from our friends to help with the process and have a little fun.

Its boasts "the 100,001 best baby names", and my favorite part of the book so far is all the lists up front that cater to whatever criteron might be most important to you. Say, Most Popular Names in X Country (Ethan and Emma in British Columbia, where we were last weekend, though that's a province not a country), or Greek Names (Matthias and Koren, for example).

But the real fun comes in the crazy lists. How would you like to name your baby according to one of the following?

Heisman Trophy Winners (Reggie, Carson)

Less-Than-Flattering Names (Mortimer, Oswald, Beulah and Eunice...fortunately neither Tim nor Cameron made it on this list, and neither have any of our favorites for baby)

Constellations (Phoenix, Andromeda)

Redneck Names (Jeff (sorry, Dad, I was shocked!), Jethro, Raylene, Peaches)

Grocery Clerks (Timothy -- hey baby, you did work at Wegmans -- and Jennifer)

Overachievers (Paul, Ann -- no I am not on this list, surprisingly!)

Brand Names (Nike, Miller, Porsche, Lotus)

Roman Names (Claudius, Maximus, Flora, Lucretia)

Mechanics (Buck, Roc, Adra, Symone)

Couch Potatoes (Tubby, Earl, Carla, Randy-Jo)

Flavorful Names (Basil, Ginger)

Popes (Benedict, John Paul, Pius, Clement)

Fabrics (Muslin, Velvet, Lace)

And all manner of other silly categories, like Geniuses, Triathletes, Names That Were Invented, Sportscasters, Yuppie Names, Comic-Strip Characters, The In-Crowd Names, Pirate Names, even Literary Villans.

My favorite category by far (completely made up by us) is Greek Heros and Mythology. It's only natural to pick a Greek name to go with Psiaki, right? How about baby Odysseus Psiaki? Little Odysseus, so cute! Don't wander far from home. Persephone Psiaki? Has a nice ring to it, if a bit of a morbid connotation. Zeus Psiaki? Definitely a strong name.

I also like Aristophanes Psiaki, and Tim holds strong to his great-grandfather's name, Alcibiades Psiaki. Alco for short. But for me that sounds too much like Alpo the dog food.

Here's my hands down favorite: Socrates Psiaki. Definitely rolls off the tongue. How could we possibly go wrong?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Victoria BC

Tim and I had such a great time on our weekend trip to Victoria! The weather was great and we got to do so much more than in the 24 hours or so we had there during our honeymoon--basically a lot of walking around and eating, plus a bit of shopping!

We took the Victoria Clipper, a high speed ferry that goes directly from Seattle to the Inner Harbour of Victoria. So convenient, despite the miffed looks I got from people when the attendant told us to jump the line to "pre-board" and get a good seat. Oh well. I also had to fill out a form acknowledging that it could be rough waters and we'd be at least two hours from medical help. I'm blessed that this pregnancy has been so normal I didn't even need to worry about that!

We a couple of great dinners out, first at a restaurant in our hotel and then at a great French place in the downtown core (Tim will live and die for the steak frites he had there). We also discovered the value of the concierge, who steered us toward a couple of great brewpubs for burgers at lunchtime, where Tim enjoyed the beer and also a very unique kind of sandwich: a hamburger patty with braised brisket on top! My phone got the hiccups in the middle of the trip and erased all my pictures, so I don't have a shot of that one, but it was pretty crazy.

We had to do afternoon tea again at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Tea is so much better anywhere outside the US, where apparently they care about the quality. We stuffed ourselves on little sandwiches and cakes and enjoyed a view of the harbor. The pic didn't turn out that great, but it's fun to compare to the one of our honeymoon:

July 2007, Honeymoon

April 2009, Babymoon

Because of timing with the bus we didn't make it up to the Butchart Gardens, which are supposedly quite famous and fantastic, but we did walk a lot and enjoy hundreds of tulips planted around the Parliament building and the numerous hotels nearby. The Royal BC Museum was so-so, with only two floors of exhibits (I think one section was closed off for a new installation, too) that are basically huge dioramas of Native Americans and local wildlife. A decent way to spend the afternoon, but not really a gem, in my opinion. However, my friend Jenny recommended a Canadian maternity shop called Thyme, and I had fun getting some fresh new shirts there!

And not that it was the icing on the cake, but I have to mention we ordered room service with the food and beverage credit Tim gets as a Microsoft employee with his niftly little Prime Card. It was a fun little perk, because that stuff is all so extraordinarily expensive we'd never order it otherwise!

Overall, it was a great time for us to get away together and celebrate this baby and our marriage. I am so thankful that we got to have this little trip just for us!

Fairmont Empress Hotel

Parliament Buildings lit up at night

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Baby heartbeat video

***Hmm, looks like it's not posting correctly. I'll see if I can get to the bottom of this and try again!

Here is the video Tim took on his phone of the baby's heartbeat during the ultrasound. He was able to capture the screen, so you'll see the heartbeat moving across. It was so funny at the time that I couldn't help yes, that very unattractive cackle in there is me! Then the rest of the flub flub flubbing is all baby!

If for some reason it doesn't work let me know. You'll need to latest version of QuickTime to play the video.

More ultrasound photos...

The files are large so I'm doing them in batches. Here are a few more!

Baby profile and arm. It was so fun to see baby moving during the ultrasound, even though I couldn't feel it!

Almost looks like thumb sucking. I think this if my favorite picture of all!

Little profile. We think baby has a much smaller nose than Tim, hehe

This is definitely the scariest one! Friends of ours dubbed it the "Terminator Eye," and said they had a similar ultrasound picture of their son! Baby's eyelids are fused closed right now, but you can see right through! Pretty creepy, with baby's hand up to his/her chin, as if plotting something!

Ultrasound photos!

I know, they're almost three weeks late. But finally! Here are the latest shots of baby. I love them!

Little face

Baby's spine...can you believe how clear this is?!

Face again


Monday, April 20, 2009

Mmm squash!

I have a lovely squash recipe that calls for lots of butter and spices like cumin and coriander. Yum!

Baby isn't as big as the squash, just as long. I no longer feel sure about the length and weight given to me in these emails I get from Babycenter, since although baby was in the 54th percentile for growth when we went in two weeks ago, the average length and weight from the email at the time were shorter and smaller than the ultrasound measurements. The email for last Friday says 11 inches and nearly 1 pound, but I think baby is a bit bigger than that!
I promise we'll get those ultrasound photos up soon, as well as the heartbeat video. The video didn't save to a widely usable format and the photos came out poorly when we scanned them the first time, so we'll have to try again! I'll shoot for this week, but we're off to Victoria on Friday morning for our little babymoon weekend. Yay for the sun and afternoon tea!

22 weeks

We took these pictures I am at 22 weeks! People I don't know (at the gym, specifically) have started mentioning "your baby," so I guess it's obvious by now. The clothing situation is wearing rather thin, as a lot of what I was given/loaned is coming to the end of its usefulness...I guess I really do need a shopping trip! It's a little hard not to be worried that I'm still not feeling the baby move, but I know everything was normal and great two weeks ago, and I'm trying to trust in that. Baby is as long as a spaghetti squash now, so hopefully those elbow jabs will be coming soon! (I'm sure I won't be as happy about it later on!)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Some new apartment pics

I'm still in limbo with the internet since Verizon's customer service is basically nonexistent (been waiting on our mail-delivery modem 2 weeks now), but here I am in the library with a few pictures of our new apartment!

Thanks to our Easter celebrations we had way more flowers around than normal!

View out some of the west-facing windows...typical cloudcover is obscuring the Olympics but you can still see Lake Washington!

Kitchen/dining room with first balcony off to the right (windows in pic above are just to the right of the coffee table).

Second balcony with a window that looks into the baby's room/my office/currently a storage dump!

First balcony off our dining area with the new grill! It's Tim's baby, at least until our real baby arrives!

A little dark, but you get the idea.

Looking at the living room from the kitchen.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Casting my vote

I've avoided, until now, airing any concrete thoughts on whether or baby is a boy or a girl. That's because I don't tend to believe the old wives' tales about an emotional pregnancy or craving sweets pointing to a girl, or craving salty foods pointing to a boy. The kids in the youth group ask me all the time about weird cravings, and I haven't really had any, but I'd say the majority of things I do want to eat: bread and cheese, soups, popcorn, baked potatoes, etc, are more savory and salty foods.

That said, I have to say my hunch is that we're having a girl. Here's why:

1. I'm not sure how scientific this is, but friends of ours who are having a boy correctly guessed the sex of their baby before the ultrasound since almost all firstborns on both sides were boys. The same is true of us, for girls. Almost everyone who's a firstborn in our immediate families is female: my mom, Tim's mom, Mark's sister, Tim's sister Jane, myself. I think this might bear to reason a little more than "ooh cookies, must be a girl!"

2. I am not superstitious, but both Tim and I have dreamed that this baby is a girl. My dream was several months ago, and Tim's followed a little later. And last night, when I was having a hard time sleeping due to some rather scary shortness of breath (turned out to be normal, but I'm something of a hypochondriac and fixated on the one line in the pregnancy book that mentioned a blood clot in the lung), I dreamed about holding a newborn baby girl. She was tiny and had a ton of dark hair, like I did at birth. In my dream I recognized her as our friends' two-week-old daughter Selah, but she didn't look anything like her, especially the hair. This little baby was red and splotchy and still rather curled up as I tried to get her to sleep in my lap--like a baby just out of the womb! Of course this could all just be silliness, but maybe I was dreaming about my daughter!

3. Because maybe God is having fun with us. My natural thought of "baby" is "boy." Don't know why, but even though I'm the oldest, I tend to think of firstborns as sons, I guess sentimentally. Also, I never liked babysitting little girls when I was in high school, just boys: they were way more fun! We could play baseball and blocks and stuff rather than house or dolls. I was not a girly girl (though my mom will tell you I wore only dresses in first grade. That may be, and I know I had dolls, but I don't think I was ever especially girly). So maybe God is turning my idea of baby boy on its head and giving us a girl! I don't know...not that I wouldn't love a girl of course, but I guess here is my confession--early on baby as boy was winning out in my mind. But either way, our nursery will not be filled with pink!

So that's my hunch. It's not a strong gut feeling or any kind of assurance. Just a maybe, perhaps, this little baby is a she.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Moses Basket

This arrived in the mail from my parents the other day...

So precious! Baby's first bassinet! Although we won't be sending baby down the Nile in it...

I put it on the floor next to my side of the bed to see how it looked. (It looks awesome!)

Thanks, Mom and Dad! Or should I say, Grandma and Grandpa! (We're still figuring that one out, stay tuned.)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

New ultrasound and baby update!

I am soo happy to announce that Timmy and I went back to the doctor for our ultrasound today and we got to see a happy, healthy, and wriggling baby!

No, we did not find out the sex, but we did find out some other great things and also got some great pictures! I'll post those once I'm able to scan them.

Baby is about 13.5 oz and currently in a reclining position in my belly, looking up toward my belly button. He/she is breech, with his/her back toward the world and little arms and legs stretching inward--this, combined with the fact that the placenta is on the outside wall (toward my belly, not my back) explains why I've felt only a couple of faint movements thus far. I guess I'll have to wait for a real elbow jab! (And, the technician and doctor said baby will almost certainly move around a lot and get into the right position for delivery, so no worries there).

We had sooo much fun listening to baby's heartbeat and watching it on the screen. We got to see baby's face, profile, spine, little arms and legs, belly and other interesting things like brain and kidneys. By all accounts baby is healthy and developing well, and we praise the Lord for this!

One fun thing was that while the technician was doing measurements and looking around for various body parts, baby kept raising his/her left arm back toward his/her face, sometimes putting hand under chin, sometimes putting hand to back of head, as if he/she were lying in a hammock. Tim commented that he does that a lot, and looking at the baby's face in the picture, I do think baby looks like him! It was really fun to see those little fingers moving around!

The technician pushed on my belly a lot to try to get baby to turn some and get a better profile picture...but baby was too comfortable to move much. That's all right with me. I think we got some pretty good ones!

Definitely the weirdest picture was looking straight on at the baby's face. You can see in one photo the baby's eye through the little closed lid, which is still very looks pretty creepy!

I can't wait to post pictures and also the video with the heartbeat (I think you can see baby moving, too). I am so thankful for a great visit that put my worries about movement to rest and encouraged me that baby is healthy! I am so thankful that I have been feeling well and having an easy pregnancy, and that baby is healthy, too; I definitely do not take these things for granted.

We love you, baby, and can't wait to meet you!

Monday, April 6, 2009

20 weeks!

So, I had to take these pictures myself because there was better light in the bathroom...and Tim wasn't able to get a good side shot (I personally think the 3/4 angle is more flattering, anyway!)

So here I am halfway through my pregnancy! I know I never post this update on time, but last Friday baby was 10.5 ounces and 10 inches long from head to heel...the measurements are now changing from head to rump to head to foot. I can't believe baby is that long! I know baby is usually curled up in a ball of sorts, but it's pretty amazing to think of him/her stretched out like a big banana!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Could this really happen to me?

On Wednesday I received this email from an agent I contacted back in February:

Thank you so much for your submission - I'm sorry it's taken us longer than usual to get back to you, but we would love to see the full manuscript if you haven't already made arrangements with another agent. The idea for your novel is wonderful, and we're all very interested in it, so hopefully we'll get to read more.

Ahhhh! I feel silly putting the actual text of the email on here, but I know that anyone who doesn't already read this blog won't be able to find it on Google (not enough hits! And that's okay with me), so I think I'm safe.

Anyway, I couldn't believe what I was reading. Of course I went right home from my lunch with Tim, packed up my laptop and headed to the nearest Starbucks, and even paid the ridiculous $3.99 fee to AT&T for a 2-hr internet connection (most Starbucks give you WiFi for free) so I could send my attachment (ah, the few things my Blackberry cannot do...).

What was super exciting, even beyond the words "would love to see the full manuscript" and "if you haven't already made arrangements with another agent"--meaning that they think it's actually possible for me to have already signed with someone--is that back in February they asked to see 50 pages. So...unlike other agents who've requested my manuscript on the basis of what I assume is a pretty decent query letter, and then were disappointed by the novel for whatever reason, this agent has actually read 50 pages and liked it enough to ask to read the rest!

Which means...they might, maybe, possibly, offer to represent me!

It is at this point that I'm just at a loss for words. I'm completely excited although I'm aware of the fact that this process of agents requesting partials and then fulls does often end in a rejection. But to be this close to someone liking my book and wanting to sell it is beyond amazing. Could this actually happen to me? Could I "have an agent?" It feels so goofy and vaguely Hollywood-ish to write that, and definitely overwhelming, because then that means my little project that about 5 people (plus a few agents) have seen could be out there, somewhere in the world for anyone to read. And, like or not like. But I'd definitely rather have the opportunity for bad reviews than no reviews at all!

So, to be honest, I'm praying that this will happen for me. Being a published author has been a dream of mine for so long, and to see it inching closer to completion is ridiculous and immensely gratifying. Here's hoping this lovely agent loves my book and offers me a contract...and that she's actually super great and someone I should work with!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Moving update: Hello, Kirkland!


That's how I feel about our new apartment. Granted, we were totally blessed in our last place with something clean and safe and where everything worked (bye bye, showering in the old claw foot tub with either hot or freezing water and no ceiling fan!).

But my oh my, is our new place comfortable. Still littered with boxes, but just so workable for us. And as the kitchen is usually the most important part to both of us, that's the only place that's completely unpacked and ready to go (though I still have no idea where our stack of cookbooks is going to live...).

And, major kudos to the building management, which has already switched our parking space upon request (so I won't have to squeeze my growing belly past a concrete pole to get in the car) and sent somebody to fix a broken closet shelf and broken disposal. Success! Now that's the kind of service I'm talking about. We actually didn't have any work orders with our last place, I'm just recalling two places ago where the landlord actually suggested he give us a hot plate to put on the stove when two of the burners stopped working a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving. Right.

Now if only we could get some internet up in there. At least a sweet little coffee shop called St. James Espresso offering free WiFi is only two blocks away!

PS, just 6 days until our next ultrasound!