Sunday, August 30, 2009

More photos on Facebook

Go here for more baby pics!

Linnea Michelle Psiaki is born!

Announcing the arrival of Linnea Michelle Psiaki!

August 28th, 2009 at 7:30pm

8 lbs 15 oz and 21 inches long

Linnea was born after 51 hours in the hospital with an induced labor that started on Wednesday. It was a long and difficult road as various induction methods failed to make much progress until Friday, and we are so thankful to God that I was able to deliver without a c-section or any complications for our baby girl.

As far as the name goes, Linnea is one that we just loved, and Michelle means “who is like God?” Indeed, who is like our Lord, who was faithful to bring our daughter into the world in perfect health and with an outstanding medical staff seeing us through along the way! It was a difficult but ultimately joyful experience, and we are now all at home and doing well.

Thanks for sharing in our joy!

Tim, Cam and baby Linnea

PS Sorry about that other half post the other day...I was writing it and Tim accidentally posted it halfway through, and then I didn't get a chance to continue it because things picked up after that. I'll do a longer post with all the details when I get a chance, but we wanted to let you all know about Linnea!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Good for a few laughs

Thanks to Haven, who sent me this funny email forward and made me laugh out loud!

Random Thoughts of the Day:

I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option.

More often than not, when someone is telling me a story all I can think about is that I can't wait for them to finish so that I can tell my own story that's not only better, but also more directly involves me.

Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

Have you ever been walking down the street and realized that you're going in the complete opposite direction of where you are supposed to be going? But instead of just turning a 180 and walking back in the direction from which you came, you have to first do something like check your watch or phone or make a grand arm gesture and mutter to yourself to ensure that no one in the surrounding area thinks you're crazy by randomly switching directions on the sidewalk.

I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

The letters T and G are very close to each other on a keyboard. This recently became all too apparent to me and consequently I will never be ending a work email with the phrase "Regards" again.

Do you remember when you were a kid, playing Nintendo and it wouldn't work? You take the cartridge out, blow in it and that would magically fix the problem. Every kid in America did that, but how did we all know how to fix the problem? There was no internet or message boards or FAQ's. We just figured it out. Today's kids are soft.

There is a great need for sarcasm font.

I think everyone has a movie that they love so much; it actually becomes stressful to watch it with other people. I'll end up wasting 90 minutes shiftily glancing around to confirm that everyone's laughing at the right parts, then making sure I laugh just a little bit harder (and a millisecond earlier) to prove that I'm still the only one who really, really gets it.

How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

I would rather try to carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.

I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

The only time I look forward to a red light is when I'm trying to finish a text.

A recent study has shown that playing beer pong contributes to the spread of mono and the flu. Yeah, if you suck at it.

Was learning cursive really necessary?

Lol has gone from meaning, "laugh out loud" to "I have nothing else to say".

I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

Answering the same letter three times or more in a row on a Scantron test is absolutely petrifying.

Whenever someone says "I'm not book smart, but I'm street smart", all I hear is "I'm not real smart, but I'm imaginary smart".

How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear what they said?

I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars teams up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers!

While driving yesterday I saw a banana peel in the road and instinctively swerved to avoid it....thanks Mario Kart.

MapQuest really needs to start their directions on #5. Pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

I find it hard to believe there are actually people who get in the shower first and THEN turn on the water.

Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.

Bad decisions make good stories.

Whenever I'm Facebook stalking someone and I find out that their profile is public I feel like a kid on Christmas morning who just got the Red Ryder BB gun that I always wanted. 546 pictures? Don't mind if I do!

If Carmen San Diego and Waldo ever got together, their offspring would probably just be completely invisible.

Why is it that during an ice-breaker, when the whole room has to go around and say their name and where they are from, I get so incredibly nervous? Like I know my name, I know where I'm from; this shouldn't be a problem....

You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you've made up your mind that you just aren't doing anything productive for the rest of the day.

Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after DVDs? I don't want to have to restart my collection.

There's no worse feeling than that millisecond you're sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.

I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.

"Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this ever.

I hate being the one with the remote in a room full of people watching TV. There's so much pressure. 'I love this show, but will they judge me if I keep it on? I bet everyone is wishing we weren't watching this. It's only a matter of time before they all get up and leave the room. Will we still be friends after this?'

While watching the Olympics, I find myself cheering equally for China and USA . No, I am not of Chinese descent, but I am fairly certain that when Chinese athletes don't win, they are executed.

I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Darnit!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What'd you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and run away?

I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.

When I meet a new girl, I'm terrified of mentioning something she hasn't already told me but that I have learned from some light internet stalking.

I like all of the music in my iTunes, except when it's on shuffle, then I like about one in every fifteen songs in my iTunes.

Why is a school zone 20 mph? That seems like the optimal cruising speed for pedophiles...

As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate cyclists.

Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

It should probably be called Unplanned Parenthood.

I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

Even if I knew your social security number, I wouldn't know what do to with it.

My 4-year old son asked me in the car the other day "Dad what would happen if you ran over a ninja?" How the h*ll do I respond to that?

I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lites than Kay.

The other night I ordered takeout, and when I looked in the bag, saw they had included four sets of plastic silverware. In other words, someone at the restaurant packed my order, took a second to think about it, and then estimated that there must be at least four people eating to require such a large amount of food. Too bad I was eating by myself.


Why is the label for this post still "pregnancy"? I guess I was really naive, but I definitely thought I would have had the baby by now.

But nope, another night has come and gone and baby is still in the belly. And to top it all off, I've already started getting emails from BabyCenter and even Overlake Hospital congratulating me on bringing baby home. My newborn this, my newborn that. Hold your horses, people, and please keep your salt from my wounds! Since delivery dates are supposedly so varied, and it's so *normal* that I haven't had the baby yet, they should at least let you update whether or not you're pregnant anymore on your own! Overdue pregnant women do not want to be told, "you did it!"

To be honest, I haven't felt much like blogging since I passed my due date...and since I've spent the last nine months thinking that was August 21, I'm going to stick with that date and whine that I am now 4 DAYS OVERDUE. Obviously this day has just started, but it has dawned without a baby, and has only another 16 hours to redeem itself.

We have been trying to keep busy, although I admit that everything we plan makes me feel sour because I really don't want to do anything but hold my baby. My mom got here last Thursday, and we've been going on walks, getting coffee, making food, renting movies, going to church, and running errands. I kind of worked myself into an awkward place because I'm finished with the current draft of my novel, and though I tried last week to complete at least a rough draft of the synopsis, the synopsis is one part of this whole gig I really can't stand, so I let it go. I was going to have a baby! Soon! And now I'm still pregnant with an annoying little unfinished assignment still hanging over my head.

But I will not work on the synopsis.

Or, if I do...if I just ignore this baby and pretend that I am not WAITING for it to come, will it just come?

I still don't want to work on the synopsis. I don't want to do anything.

Bah. And that's about all I have to say for now.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Apparently my due date is actually tomorrow?


So, I got a whiff of this discrepancy a few weeks ago when the ultrasound technician kept referring to me as "35 and 6", which I deduced to mean 35 weeks and 6 days. I wondered about that--since the ultrasound took place on the day that marked exactly 36 weeks. Did they roll over the week count at midnight?

But apparently my file has had the date of 8/22/09 written on it this entire time. In multiple places. And meanwhile I have scheduled every appointment based on a due date of 8/21 and was never corrected. When I originally calculated my due date based on the standard formula--9 months plus one week from your last missed period--it landed squarely on August 21. That's in fact exactly that the office told me when I first called to schedule an appointment, all the way back in December.

So what gives?

Needless to say, I am a little miffed.

I like August 21. It's exactly 1 month after our wedding anniversary, and fits nicely in my neurotic conception of "even" know, multiples of 7 (which, again, is why we--or probably just I--picked our wedding date the way we did).

For nine whole months I've been fixating on August 21. And, the fact that the due date is "actually" tomorrow--which I know doesn't mean a whole lot, thank you very much, I don't need to be reminded that most babies don't come on their due date--does not make me feel better.

Because still nothing is happening. Still. I have been having those Braxton Hicks contractions but they're apparently not warming up my insides enough yet. I thought that by today something must have shifted, even a little bit, but no dice.

So yes, the doctor left, and I teared up.

I know those of you who've had difficult pregnancies probably don't understand why I am beyond ready to have this baby, and why I really am disappointed that labor is nowhere in sight. But nine months is still nine months, and it's a long time to wait to meet my baby, especially not knowing if it's a boy or a girl. I have never regretted that decision and I'm still so glad we'll have the surprise, but I really want to meet this little one! I don't want to be pregnant anymore. I don't want to gain anymore weight. I am sick and tired of the few last pieces of clothing that fit me (although the orange dress IS pretty sweet). I am tired of monitoring movements and worrying if they seem a bit less than the day before. (We actually did a nonstress test today at the doctor's, just to make sure since the last couple of days were a little quieter, and everything is fine).

I just want to have my baby.

So here is my intra-uterine memo (I know that makes no sense but I like the way it sounds) to this little person-to-be who is now, to my mind, no longer a tenant but a squatter.

August 21, 2009
Dear baby,

Today is your birthday! Well, actually, your birth day is whenever you choose (harrumph), but I really do think it's supposed to be today. Even if the doctor says it's supposed to be tomorrow. Or maybe even sometime after that.

But here's the thing. August 21 is a nice day! Don't you think August 21 would be a nice day to be born? A perfect day, really, even if it is a little bit overcast and your Daddy would probably like to finish out his first week at his new job. Don't tell him I said so, but I think all that silly work stuff can wait, if it means meeting you and getting to take you home!

I would like to submit for your approval a thoroughly vetted list of all the reasons why today should be the day:

1. Because you're due today! (Ignoring, again, that silly business about the file in the doctor's office. What do they know?) You wouldn't be late to a job interview or a dinner reservation or your own wedding, now would you? It seems to me that if we get off to a bad start now, it could all be downhill from here.

2. Because "August twenty-first" sounds really nice. It just rolls right off the tongue. Nothing wrong with being aesthetically pleasing.

3. Because your Daddy and I are ready to meet you! We have waited nine long months getting to know you by your kicks and tap dances and your silly little butt that always pokes out on one side. We can't wait to see all your dark hair and this extra large belly you've apparently strapped on in front. We want to dress you up in the little onesie with the blue sailboat, or the other onesie with the precious little rosebuds. We want to name you (coming ever closer to that name!) and snuggle you and hold you in our arms.

4. Because Mommy wants her body back. The limited wardrobe, the all-hands-on-deck approach to rolling over or getting out of bed, the rings or no rings debate every morning, and the inevitable "oof!" I utter when getting out of a chair are all getting kind of old. Baby, it's been great sharing, and someday I will teach you how, but for now let's say you've had your turn and it's my turn again!

5. Because I'm tired of the "Still here? Still here" refrain at the check-in desk at the gym, the "Wow you must be ready to have that baby" comments at the grocery store, and the packed bags of toiletries on my bathroom counter I've been living out of for the last week in preparation for going to the hospital. The whole world knows it's time, little love, and they're all asking about it. Couldn't you oblige them?

Thank you for your consideration in this matter. (And remember, we love you very much!)

Sincerely, expectantly, most anticipatedly,


The orange dress

Ta-da! 39 weeks 4 days (Tuesday) in all my flourescent 1980s glory.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Still no baby.

Just in case you were wondering.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

No baby yet.

Sometimes I wonder if I had sat in a rocking chair for the duration of my pregnancy, the fact that I am taking a long walk and/or going to the gym every day at 39 weeks 4 days would send me into labor. But as it is, baby is used to my huffing and puffing up and down hills, used to the elliptical and the stairmaster and the stationary bike. Baby's even used to my little trots across the street now and then, when I know I need to cross but there aren't really any cars coming (at least not very fast) and I don't want to use the silly flags at the crosswalk. Have I mentioned those flags? They're either bright orange or yellow and you're supposed to carry them across the street in traffic. As if my belly wasn't a big enough beacon to anyone passing by!

But yes. My efforts--modest, though intentional at this point--are not making one lick of difference. I am starting to think that the ease of this pregnancy means baby's just too comfortable to come out. And, let's be honest, it has been easy, but at 39 weeks 4 days, I'm so over being pregnant. I want to meet this baby and I want to wash the dishes without being boxed out from the kitchen sink. I want to eat a cold turkey sandwich with meat that hasn't been zapped in the microwave, drink a glass of Chardonnay, and get back to work on making my knee comply with running.

Baby, I say to my belly, I think you'd better obey your mommy and come out!

But a little more time may not be that bad, for this reason alone: we still do not have a name. Correction--we still do not have the TWO names we need to have picked out around, say, the time that we are heading to the hospital. Tim thinks it'll all be fine, which it probably will, but I hate the idea of walking into the delivery room with a bunch of names still floating in a Maybe cloud above my head.

I have a boy name I really like, the same name it's been for me all pregnancy. I have a girl name I mostly like, but which lends itself to a nickname I'm not crazy about, and may in fact forbid people from using. Middle names at this point are kind of like the spring of parsley you get with your jumbo omelet at brunch: it's nice that it's there, and you'd kind of miss it if it wasn't (the presentation, you know), but it's not like you really care about the parsley. You're not going to eat it. It adds a little, but not much value to your meal. And I really don't want a throwaway middle name.

Tim, on the other hand, has a first and middle name for a boy which I simply don't like. And he jokes about getting to the birth certificate before me so he can put it in ink right away, Ha!

This is not funny.

You see, naming a kid is a BIG DEAL. When I think about our baby boy, I think of him as a baby in the cute onesie we've bought for him and then immediately my mind flashes forward to a tall lanky teenager, with skinny legs like Tim, standing in my kitchen eating a sandwich after cross country practice. When I think about our baby girl, I think of her in the precious onesie we've bought with care, and then standing in the bathroom with my long straight brown hair, hand on her hip, putting on mascara before school.

I think about them applying to college and getting phone calls from friends and going to work with a resume announcing their name boldly at the top. Putting their names on wedding invitations. A name has got to last.

I hear a lot about babies growing into their names, that so-and-so just becomes John or Harold or Portia or Beth. (None of those names are my choices, by the way). Characters in my books do it--the name just becomes part of their identity, and ceases to sound like an arbitrary label.

But this is my child! my insides scream. It has to be PERFECT!

A friend is bringing her baby name book (again) for us at community group tonight, which reminds me that I need to go make dinner. Maybe we'll find a couple of gems we overlooked before. I'm not asking for any suggestions, but what I do need is some divine inspiration, and fast!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Thankfulness Song

We've been spending the last several pre-baby days taking things a bit more slowly...sleeping in in the mornings...and just enjoying this time we have together before baby comes. I can't say enough about how thankful I am for this pregnancy going so well, and although I'm ready to not be pregnant anymore, I am soaking up the end of this time!

It's Tim's fault that times like these lead me to walk around the apartment humming VeggieTales tunes...or maybe just a result of his having so many younger siblings. But I can't get this little song from the Madame Blueberry episode out of my head:

The Thankfulness Song
I thank God for this day,
For the sun in the sky,
For my mom and my dad,
For my piece of apple pie!
For our home on the ground,
For His love that's all around,
That's why I say thanks every day!
Because a thankful heart is a happy heart!
I'm glad for what I have,
That's an easy way to start!
For the love that He shares,
'Cause He listens to my prayers,
That's why I say thanks every day!

But I'm really not complaining. It's a simple and sweet expression of the condition of my heart...not a bad thing to have floating across my brain!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Seth Grahame-Smith

I heard about this book a couple months ago and, not fancying myself too much of an Austen purist, decided it sounded wacky and silly and supremely entertaining. Onto the online library hold queue it went.

And...I have to say I was a bit disappointed. I'm not sure what I was expecting--it was definitely clever, like having the show of talent when Elizabeth is visiting with the dreadful Mr. Collins and his bride (also her best friend) Charlotte at Lady Catherine de Bourgh's be about walking on her fingers (she is a trained warrior, you know) rather than playing the piano.

But in a way I expected the "violent zombie mayhem" to be confined to small sections, instead of permeating the dialogue and really changing the characters. Not sure how I could have expected this--it's not as if the story could just roll along with tea and frustrated romance and only the occasional zombie outcry--but I guess I'm more of a purist than I thought.

Apparently the "present difficulties"--that is, the undead have left their graves in search of human brains to feast upon--have been troubling England for 55 years, and it's completely normal for unmarried young ladies to brandish Katana swords and behead legions of zombies without so much as breaking a sweat. But they have to retire their swords upon getting married (yes, society still has some principles).

But some changes are just in bad taste...

Pemberley, dear Mr. Darcy's estate, is modeled after a Japanese dojo (the nerve!), and our good friend Mr. Bennet, who took all his daughters to China to learn "the deadly arts" with a Shaolin master, had many improprietous relationships with Oriental ladies along the way. These are the kind of no-nos I'm talking about. Mr. Bennet may be a fool, but he's not a womanizer. And how can you add a koi pond and serve sushi with tea at Pemberley? No, no, no.

Like I said, some of it is quite clever--Lady Catherine and Elizabeth actually get into hand-to-hand combat when LC comes to intimidate her into refusing Mr. Darcy, which was a pretty funny touch--but the extent of the changes just made me all hot under the collar. It was entertaining, and the fake book club questions at the end will make you grin, but it's not going to displace--or even sit next to--the beloved, well-worn copy of P&P on my bookshelf any time soon.

Grade: B

New reading section on the blog

I've thought now and then about adding "book reviews" to this blog, but honestly it kind of feels like assigning myself an endless number of middle school book reports. But because I'm always reading something and always in the market for a new good book to snuggle up to, I thought I'd share what I'm reading and have recently read, with the hope to spark some interaction with you, dear blog readers!

I know most people who read this blog care primarily about the baby--and there's nothing wrong with that!--but there are other fun things in life to talk about as well, and for me books are a big one.

You can check out the new What I'm Reading section in the lefthand column for the latest bookish news. I fully realize that, being now 9 days from my due date, that section (and this blog at large) may not be updated very frequently...unless I add on there things like "web search for how the heck to get more sleep at night with a newborn," or something like that. But I think you can just imagine all the magazines and baby paraphrenalia that will inevitably take up my time, and if a book stays on there for two months, well, it's because I have other stuff to do!

Since there's not a way (that I know of) to add comments to the Reading section, I'll attempt to write a short post about the books I finish. I'd love to know if other people loved or hated a given book, or have suggestions for me based on what I've just read! (Sidenote: I used to use a web site called Goodreads for listing books I read and mini-reviews, where you can get other users' comments as well to point you to a book you'll like, but I haven't gone there in a long time. One more site, one more thing to do. Let's condense!) Gotta say, hopping onto the library web site to request a hold on a book and then getting an email saying it's here is about the cheapest thrill around!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How can fall be on its way?

I definitely thought it was strange to be spotting a couple of sugar maples with turning leaves around Bellevue several weeks ago, and now lots of trees around Kirkland are turning brown, orange, and an unmistakable autumnal red!

I LOVE the fall; it's my favorite season. But I'm feeling a little cheated here. It's not even mid-August and, while I'll take 60 degrees over 105 any day, I wasn't ready for it to come on this fast. I think this is mostly because I don't really have any clothes that fit me for that kind of weather anymore!

But here I've been, making chili and cornbread and brewing hot tea. In a way it's gratifying because this is the kind of weather my soul latches on to, the crisper air and pretty trees that invite jeans and sweaters and a hot bowl of soup. We make batches and batches of homemade soups and stews throughout the colder months and I miss them. Yet I still feel like it isn't quite time yet. My normal jeans aren't even close to fitting, and I'm not about to buy baby a sweater in August! Can't we have a few more weeks of summer? So I can show off my birthday pedicure and maybe live to see it over rather than around my belly?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Fluffing the nest

T-minus 11 days! I can't believe it!

The nesting instinct is still with me...I do laundry way more often than I used to (that is, about 3 times a week as opposed to to get used to this) and the list of "before baby comes" items is satisfactorily dwindling.

One major thing is a to-do that was 2 years coming. For my birthday I asked for 12 of our wedding photos, which I picked out quite a while ago, to be printed and framed. We just never got around to it (or to agreeing exactly how we should put them up), but thanks to Costco and Timmy's wonderful planning (once again!), we now have 7 of them beautifully matted and framed in our front entryway, with 5 more ready to go in our room!

Our photographer did such a beautiful job, and I'm really happy that I get to enjoy these photos every day now! :) We do have an album, but getting it out to look at is not as immediate as simply walking down the hall.

We also finally got a bookcase for the baby's room, and though it's not in the "display" condition I'd like--I intend to hide the office supplies in a covered basket or two--it helped us get rid of clutter and makes the corner nice and cozy. Baby will get things on the walls when he or she lets us know the big question: he or she?!

What's left on the docket? Not much. Now that we have curtains hung up in our room and I'm not waking up 15 times between 5 and 7am, I don't care about the rest of it in quite the same way.

hang the bird pictures over my desk

wash and vacuum car (VERY necessary since we only do this about twice a year and it is gross. seriously. I can't remember the last time. we are bad car owners!)

buy the last bits of baby stuff, like random wash cloths and stuff we won't need right away. I guess this isn't really a "before baby comes" item then.

repot plants...not sure this is going to happen before baby comes. definitely not going to happen soon after.

make arrangements for Jane's wedding. I thought I was being so organized in emailing Tim's sister Jane a couple of weeks ago for travel details, and we have yet to pull the trigger. ah, booking flights and hotels. not hard and yet, so easy to procrastinate on!

get a couple books for taking care of baby...for some reason we've been really slow on this, I think because I've had such a glut of information over this whole pregnancy. the night we found out I was pregnant we went out and bought What to Expect, but I've seriously been dallying when it comes to "after baby" kinds of books. It can't be that hard, right?

copy all our photos to an online site. I've been doing this slowly on Shutterfly, but Tim's convinced it's one of the places that will make you pay to get your photos back if you lose the original. not ideal. he wants me to use SkyDrive, which I currently use for all my writing and important documents, like the personal property inventory I just slaved over updating so we could get cheaper renters insurance (another item down!). but I guess I'm just lazy.

remove the red box from our bedroom. sheesh. my love of Cornell Crew does not run as deep as Tim's. sorry, babe. (for those who don't know, the red box is a yucky box that used to hold who-knows-what in the boathouse back at Cornell. Tim's coach gave it to him, and it has been in our bedroom the last two years being used as a nightstand, since we never bought any, but now it's just sitting in a corner. It kind of reminds me of the wagon wheel coffee table from When Harry Met Sally.)

Friday, August 7, 2009

A loss for words

It might seem ironic to say that I'm at a loss for words, because I'm going to try to describe the last 72 hours in as many words as I can so I don't forget--but I know I don't have the right ones. I don't even know the best way to begin this post so as to give it the impact it deserves, so I'll just start at the beginning.

This week Tim and I had the most colossal fight of our marriage. The details aren't important, but suffice it to say that over the last two years I have really learned the truth of the statement that marriage is God's best instrument to reveal the depth of our sin--the utter and despicable potential we each have to be ugly, coarse and hateful--and the magnificent volume of his grace. And let me add to that the stark relief almost-parenthood lends to that truth! There was never a better source of argument and joy.

Anyway, the fact we were fighting lent an awkward irony to the fact that yesterday was my 25th birthday. We did make up on Wednesday night, but I wasn't sure what to expect, and as I am not the most low-maintanence girl in the world I really tried not to fixate on my bday celebration given the circumstances. I didn't expect Tim to punish me by not making my birthday special--that kind of thing just isn't in him--but I was counting on, let's say, a gradual hike up out of our tremulous valley of earlier in the week, and not a breathtaking, tummy tickling, spectacular gondola ride whipping us right to the top. Can you guess which I got? :)

Here's another way in which marriage resembles our relationship with God: when we are unfaithful, He is faithful. When we expect he has left us, He makes his intimate presence known right by our side. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. If it sounds foreign to compare marriage to the Christian's relationship with the Lord, you should know that marriage is exactly the example given in the New Testament: husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church (that is completely, selflessly, unconditionally), and wives are submit to and respect their husbands the way we believers submit to and serve the Lord. [I know submission is a charged subject, but that's for another post.]

In just the way that God pours out his goodness, blessing and grace when we least deserve it, Tim lavished his love and favor on me in the midst of, right on the heels of, the moments when we were at our ugliest. I cried foul in the way he showed he cared for me, and then this is what he did...

Yesterday morning was ho-hum. We left late and I took him to work, went to the gym, came home to shower and went back to MSFT for a quick lunch in the building cafeteria. Mediocre Chinese and pizza, but at least we were talking, smiling, laughing together. We spent about half an hour, and then Tim needed to go back to work. I left slightly annoyed with his request that I return in an hour and a half to pick him up for the rest of our day's activities; it would be my third trip of the day to his office. Oh well; at least he was coming home early.

Tim called and said I needed to lay out what I was going to wear to dinner that night, since we would be changing in a hurry; the dress I had on then, which I thought was very cute (the blue and green one from an earlier post), wasn't dressy enough. Okay, can do! I like dressy. I like nice restaurants. Let's hit them all while we can before we're asking the waitstaff for a high chair! So I came home, did two seconds worth of "work," and then headed back out to pick him up.

Sometime before I got there, Tim called again and asked if I could push back our prenatal appointment this morning. He might have a meeting but wanted to be there. I tried, but no dice. Didn't really give it a second thought.

I was banished from the back half of our apartment when we got home so Tim could "get things ready." To me this meant wrapping the gift he'd gone out to get yesterday--I had already been warned against looking in the trunk of the car and the storage unit--which I didn't mind. I spent some time laughing at the ridiculousness of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies--new book, check it out!--and then Tim announced he was all set to go. He came into the living room with a bag over his shoulder, and I perked up a bit at that. Plans! With accessories! This was looking good!

When we got out to the hall and headed toward the elevator he said he'd forgotten something, so he ran back for a couple of minutes and then met me again. That's when the guessing games began.

You see, I like surprises, but I never try too hard to guess, because Tim's nose always twitches when he's lying. It's unavoidable, and hilarious. The boy simply cannot lie. So I try not to guess too well about anything since I don't really want to find out beforehand.

"Want me to tell you where we're going for dinner?" We were ostensibly doing an "activity" before dinner, and would come back to change quickly--hence the laying out of my outfit, a bit silly I thought, since all I wear these days are simple dresses I can throw over my head--and though I had no idea what that was, he wanted me to guess our dinner.

"I'll tell you," he said. "We're going to McDonald's! We're going to drive to every McDonald's in town and get one thing at each!" This is a little joke of ours because it's something he suggests on every drive that could pass for a road trip.

The false suggestions kept coming...El Gaucho, Cafe Juanita, others I can't remember now. We were on 405 going south at this point, in a lot of traffic, and he began to complain that we were going to be in a rush so that we could get back home in time to change for dinner. Then he stopped quizzing me about my guesses for dinner, and started an inquisition about our present destination instead.

I had an idea, and almost didn't want to share it with him for fear I was wrong and made him feel bad. A couple weeks ago I suggested we get some nice photos done of the two of us before the baby came to commemorate my big belly. Well...let's just say that has not happened, and may not at all. (Good source for another argument, in fact). Anyway. As we got onto 90-E I thought hey, we might be headed to Issaquah to do some photos, because that's where the photographer, a friend from church, lives. But would he really take me to do that without letting me do my hair or bring a change of clothes? I was doubtful. Tim may be a guy, but he's not obtuse.

Well, we went past Issaquah. Tim led me to believe we might be going berry picking, something I've wanted to do for weeks without opportunity. But again, in my long dress and flip flops? Not likely. The evergreens kept coming and the mountains were getting bigger. What was going on? We kept hurtling east on the highway, and I began to think my husband was crazy for taking me this far from home when we had a dinner reservation to return for.

Signs began to come up for Snoqualmie Falls, and I thought, aha! That's it! Snoqualmie Falls is a pretty spectacular natural landmark and we'd never been there before. I was excited to see the falls but was definitely confused since I wasn't dressed for a hike, and we didn't have much time.

Well, we got off the highway and drove through the remote developments of Snoqualmie, then turned left onto the road leading to the falls. Tim pulled slowly into the driveway shared between the state park and, surprisingly, the Salish Lodge and Spa. To the right was public parking; to the left was valet parking for Lodge and Spa guests. Tim hesitated at the driveway, grinned, and TURNED LEFT!

I was completely floored and even more confused. How could we be coming to the Salish for dinner (their dining room is quite renowned, so just coming for dinner wouldn't have been that out of the ordinary), especially since my "approved" outfit was at home, and it was only 4:30? Tim pulled up to the valet, easy as you please, and when we got out of the car the guy asked him, "Do you have a reservation?"

"Yes," Tim answered, with the biggest grin I've seen since our wedding day. And then he opened the trunk like a magician reaching into his top hat and revealed two suitcases, stuffed to the gills, and some wrapped presents for me.

We were staying at the Lodge! My wonderful, amazing husband utterly and completely tricked me! Coming home early = checking into the hotel. Trying to move the doctor's appointment = spending the night at the falls! Me laying out my dinner outfit = Tim knowing what to pack for me to wear, in addition to nearly the complete contents of our bathroom drawers and closet! I couldn't stop laughing. He had gotten me so good! The closest I'd come to imagining a birthday gift on this scale was thinking, for a fleeting second, that he might take me to one of the new downtown Seattle hotels for a fun dinner and overnight stay...say, the Four Seasons. But that suspicion came and went quickly; I never expected him to plan something of this magnitude, and fool me so completely! Ladies and gentlemen, I was not even this surprised when he proposed!

It was awesome. He had everything, from the facewash I use to my running shoes (just in case) to a handful of bobby pins because I sometimes use them. My entire makeup drawer, even the tube of mascara I save because I used it at our wedding and haven't worn it since (yes, I'm sentimental, and yes, he's still a guy; I didn't expect him to pick out the five products I actually use). PJs, contact solution, outfits for today, even my devotional and bible and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. My vitamins (that's what he ran back into the apt for when we left; he knew I'd notice if they were gone!). The boy was thorough.

And thoroughly a prince! It was an amazing evening! The falls were beautiful, and dinner at the Lodge was divine. We just had the best time ever, and I can't say enough about how magnificent it feels to have been surprised in such a way. This is where I'll have to close, because I just don't have the words anymore for how meaningful it was to have such a fantastic birthday surprise--truly a 100%, bonafide surprise--and a top-notch romantic getaway just before baby comes. Don't know when the next time is that we'll have an opportunity like this, but I'm treasuring this one up in my heart. And trying not to be too shrewd a guesser, because the feeling of being surprised in this way is unparalleled. And remembering that I have the world's most amazing husband.

**PS, I have no idea whether he had this planned before we got into our fight or after. I kind of asked him but he didn't want to tell me, and now I don't want to know. It doesn't matter and never will!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pacific Northwest Writers Association Summer Conference 2009

I am so glad I signed up for the conference this year! I guess it was March when I sent in my registration, and at the time I assumed I would be still feeling well, which I was. But I couldn't have dreamed it would take place during a heat wave, and for that I was doubly grateful!

The conference lasted from Thursday afternoon through Sunday morning, and though I didn't attend Sunday's session and actually left early on Saturday, just being wiped out from the last few days, it was really a valuable time.

Last year, when I first attended, I was really nervous because I wasn't sure I "qualified" to be there. Sure, I had written a whole novel, but what else had I done? I wasn't used to networking with people or interacting with editors (besides those I used to work for at Cornell U.P.) or agents. I didn't know how to write a pitch and was clueless on composing a query letter. But you go to conferences to learn all that, and I know I wouldn't have done as well with my last two rounds of querying to agents if I hadn't gotten some great pointers at last year's conference.

This year I wanted to focus on my new project, since I still have some interest (I presume) from that one New York agent I was in touch with back in April on book #1. Also, book #2 is a lot fresher in my mind, and it's helpful to have the impetus of the conference to get started on coming up with a pitch that I'll work into a query.

A pitch is what your book is about in a nutshell--say a slightly condensed version of what you'd read on the back of a book jacket. It's meant to convey in about 3 sentences the setting, conflict, and resolution of your story, and to elicit interest in a particular agent so he or she will request your work. It's a bit daunting to try to condense the story contained in 200 pages down to a few sentences, but once you learn how it works it gets easier.

Besides the sessions with speakers talking about everything from how to publicize your book on a budget, to the top 20 reasons an agent might reject your book, the real driving force of conferences like these is the opportunity to pitch your work to agents.

I had two agent appointments, and one with an editor. I wasn't nearly as nervous as I was last year because I had done it before! And I have to say here that being pregnant--very visibly pregnant--was a great ice breaker all conference long!

I had so many people coming up to me asking when I was due, was it a boy or a girl, how was I feeling, and wasn't I crazy to be there! Everyone smiled at me as I walked down the hallway and several women commented on my outfit every day. People were so nice! And it was a great lead-in to more business-like topics, because the majority of the agents were women, and so were all the editors. People just wanted to talk to the pregnant lady, and to be honest all the positive attention in a somewhat nervewracking environment was really nice!

But back to the agents. The first person I met with was kind of a lukewarm personality. She wasn't necessarily enthusiastic about my book, but didn't seem to be enthusiastic about anything much. She did, however, invite me to send a partial manuscript, and it is always great to be able to send REQUESTED material. That means they are predisposed to like what you send and will read it faster than other packages that just come over the transom. I left the appointment thinking our personalities weren't really a great match, but at least I got a positive response!

That appointment took place in the middle of what was one of the most valuable sessions in the whole conference. Two agents compiled everyone's first page of their manuscript and read them aloud. Then they offered comments on what worked and what didn't, and whether or not they'd keep reading. That kind of info is paramount because often an agent will give only a few seconds--the time to skim your letter and one or two pages--to a given query that lands on their desk.

Last year I was too timid to share a page, but this year I did it. But they didn't read it before I left for my agent appointment, and they didn't after I got back. At the end I asked the girl sitting next to me if they had read a piece that had this and this, and she said yeah, and that it seemed to go over okay. So what did I do? I got up to ask the agent what she thought! I figured I had nothing to lose, and I might as well get her real time reactions. And you know what? The agent told me that she liked it, and I was welcome to submit 50-75 pages! The best part was that this is an agent I submitted book #1 to last fall, and she rejected it. But I wasn't going to remind her of that!

The third agent I spoke with (my second scheduled appointment) was someone I had really been looking forward to meeting. She was really upbeat and a straight talker--she actually reminded me of one of the editors I used to work with at Cornell. Her personality was attractive, and I purposely went to another session she led the previous day and sat near the front, and was sure to ask a question, so that she would remember my face when I walked in for our appointment. "Oh, it's you!" she said. "The pregnant girl in the orange dress!" Aha! And there was my lead-in. She was so nice and we chatted about pregnancy (she has a 15-month-old boy) and mommyhood for a couple of minutes, and then I gave her my pitch. She received it well and also asked me to submit, and remind her in my cover letter that I was the pregnant girl in the orange dress. :) Thank you baby, and thanks Mom for the other birthday present! (You should see this's very 80s I feel. I actually picked it out knowing I would never try to pull it off if I weren't pregnant. It's BRIGHT ORANGE!)

I know this is getting long, and I'm almost done. My final pitching success of the conference was to an editor at St. Martin's, which is a huge NY publisher with a ton of imprints. They are owned by Macmillan and are one of the major players in publishing. Anyway, the editor was young, only a couple years older than me, and acquires in women's fiction. These were group meetings, so five other people and I sat around a table with her and each got a chance to talk about our projects and ask questions. When she got to me, she said my book sounded really cool and that she liked the idea a lot. Unfortunately, she also told me she thought I could double the word count. So that's kind of a bummer. But, she is someone I know I would suggest to my agent, if I ever have one, as a great person to pitch my project to! It's great to know that the kind of person who would ultimately be saying yea or nay to my book in a down market thinks the idea is good.

Last thing is that I got hooked up with a few women who all have finished novels and are looking to start a critique group. Our first meeting is on Sunday, and I'll probably have to continue participating via email after that point, but it's great to have some readers lined up who can give me feedback on my manuscript before I send it out to agents, whether requested or cold query. It's kind of a small miracle that invitations to submit never expire; an agent wants your work to be the best it can be before you show it to them, so if it takes a few more months to polish things up, so much the better. If only I could send everyone a picture of my belly to get myself in their good graces before they even start reading!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Does this mean we need to get an XBOX?

Crazy...last week I was downing 5 liters of water a day, and now it's 62 degrees and I am enjoying hot tea!

At first I was holding off until everything was official, and then I just forgot...but we have an announcement to make! Tim has taken a new job!

He'll be developing the first game to run on Project Natal, which is an interface similar to the Wii for XBOX. Surprise! Tim is super excited to be working on this new technology, which unlike the Wii tracks your movement with a video camera. That means you can be playing a car chase game, say, and operate your vehicle simply by holding up your hands and pretending to turn the wheel. No controller, no nothing. How cool is that? (Whether I really want one in my living room is another story, but hey, I'm trying to be supportive! And it is really cool). You can check out a YouTube video showcasing the technology here.

It was a hard decision for him, because he also had the opportunity to stay within Windows and work with his current team, only as a developer rather than a tester. Windows has been a great place to start, but getting in on the ground level of something so cutting edge was too good to pass up.

He'll be starting in a couple of weeks and moving from Building 85 on the main Microsoft campus to an office in Redmond Town Center, which is a fun shopping area in the heart of Redmond. That means that when baby and I come to pick him up for work, we can hang out in Borders or Starbucks while we wait rather than sitting it out in the parking garage! And Timmy found this fun activity for me as well: Stroller Strides. Oh boy. Motherhood, here I come!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Seattle Shower, 37 weeks

Here I am last Wednesday 7/29, just 2 days shy of reaching 37 weeks!

In Tim's office with a new dress--early bday present from Mom. Thanks, Mom!

My girlfriends from our old community group in Seattle threw a fun little shower for me that night. It was really fun catching up with them over some tasty desserts, and as you'll see my friend Jenny, who hosted, has an amazing balcony with tons of beautiful plants and flowers! They surprised me with the diaper bag I had registered for, which is totally awesome! (I have to say I gave it a pre-baby test run at the PNWA conference which started the next day...more on that later!)

Here are Sarah, Debra, Jenny and Lydia with me. Chelsa is taking the picture!

The goodies and the diaper bag!

Cute decor and sweet little washcloths for baby. Plus a pink sippy cup...does somebody know something I don't??

Yes. What girl doesn't love a new bag? And this one has a ton of compartments plus a handy coordinating diaper changing mat inside.

Too bad this turned out a little blurry. Sarah, me, Jenny, Chelsa and Lydia. Chelsa and Sarah are sisters and they are very silly! We all met originally two years ago at the community group Jenny and her husband Johnathan hosted and led. Now Lydia's husband Paul leads that old group, and Sarah's husband Joel leads another group. Chelsa attends one of them and Debra is in another group led by a couple who started attending two springs ago. Crazy!

Mood lighting. Can I get the cozy lantern and string lights in my delivery room, please?