Monday, March 30, 2009

Home Improvements

What a difference a few days makes!  My mother-in-law and a friend of the family were in town last week and through the weekend.  The family friend is a contractor-type up in Pittsburgh who did a bunch of work around our house and David's brother and sister-in-law's house.  The work in the other house was far more complicated than ours-- adding a powder room to the first floor office-- but I think I'm equally pleased at the simple things we had done over here.

We had every doorknob in the house replaced, along with the hinges.  You'd never think this would make a huge difference, but I am loving the result.  All of the townhouses in our neighborhood came with your standard-issue builder-grade brassy doorknobs.  I've long admired the knobs in my neighbor Brooke's house; she and her husband traded the brass for oil-rubbed bronze years ago.  We also went with the oil-rubbed bronze, because it matched our decor best.  It's amazing what a difference this little detail makes!  I'm happy every time I open one of the doors, and my mother-in-law couldn't stop commenting that she never thought the knobs and hinges would look as nice as they do.  Hooray for small changes!

We also swapped out several faucets, and we now have much prettier sink jewelry in our upstairs bathrooms and our kitchen.  I also finally got a sprayer in my kitchen sink, which is a godsend-- I never realized how much I missed having one until I quickly and easily sprayed out pots, pitchers, and the sink itself with the handy new sprayer.  Ahhhhh.

We have a new ceiling fan in the living room, a new light fixture by our front door, a repaired front door threshold, a repaired closet rod, and new knobs on our kitchen and bathroom cabinets (again, goodbye brass!).  (I did do the knobs myself-- my tiny contribution to the week's updates.)  

My mother-in-law was almost as busy as our friend; she ironed David's shirts for me.  I should point out that this is no small task.  David has always had bad luck when the dry cleaners handle his button-down shirts.  Inevitably, they break buttons or crease the collars funny, and so he has long washed and pressed his shirts at home.  He did them himself before we were married.  When I took over the laundry, I put my foot down about ironing them.  I didn't mind washing them, but I figured that if he refused to send them out, he could deal with the hassle of ironing them.  Sadly, he was so busy at work during the last half of last year that he was operating on an iron-as-needed basis, accumulating a huge backlog of clean but wrinkled shirts near our washer and dryer.  

I knew that when I stopped working, I'd inherit the job of ironing the shirts, but I'd asked David to make sure I didn't inherit the backlog.  He wanted to honor my little request, but work conspired against him as my last day on the job approached.  Soon enough, I was facing dozens of shirts all waiting to be pressed.

I did a few here and there over the last couple of months, but my first trimester exhaustion kept me from making a significant dent in them.  I'm feeling much better now, thankfully, but my angel of a mother-in-law still didn't want me to have to stand by an ironing board for hours getting the shirts done.  And that's how it came to pass that she ironed between 25 and 30 shirts on Friday and Saturday.  TWENTY FIVE to THIRTY shirts, people.  I might have wept some tears of gratitude.  

(The number of shirts in need of ironing led us to wonder just how many shirts David owns altogether.  After all, he'd been wearing button-downs every day while this backlog accumulated.  The answer?  My husband owns EIGHTY-EIGHT button down shirts.  I have a feeling that I don't own anywhere near 88 shirts of any kind.  Perhaps a counting project is in order for me.)

After she ironed the shirts, Barb made a trip to Bed Bath & Beyond to buy special hangers that would keep the shirts neater in the closet.  Yesterday afternoon, she switched all the shirts over to the new hangers.  I swear, the woman is some sort of a shirt-care angel or something.

Today, I'm enjoying my new doorknobs and faucets and the elimination of the ironing backlog.  Sometimes it really is the little things that make a difference.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Seven Quick Takes Friday

1.  Thank you so much for the kind comments and e-mails on my last post.  We're obviously thrilled about this, and truly amazed at the timing.  I feel so lucky to have been able to spend most of my first trimester napping on the sofa, instead of dragging myself to work each day.  A lot of people have been asking me how I've been feeling.  I think I made it through the first trimester fairly easily, all things considered.  I was exhausted a lot, a problem easily remedied by the aforementioned napping.  I didn't generally feel nauseous so much as I felt frustrated that absolutely nothing sounded good to eat.  My relationship with food is now much improved, which is a relief.  I even went to the grocery store this week without feeling like I wanted to gag, which was huge-- the grocery had been the one place that consistently made me queasy.  My bigger problem has been a pretty constant stuffy nose, but I've been making do with a humidifier, Vicks inhaler, and nasal saline rinse.  (Ew, yes-- but I've been desperate.  It's really not so bad once you get used to it.)

2.  David and I have a date tonight.  An honest-to-goodness dinner-and-a-movie date.  We're hitting our favorite Cajun/seafood restaurant and seeing Duplicity.  I keep trying to remind myself to enjoy outings like this now, because they won't be so easy or so common once the little one arrives.  

3.  David's firm was doing some kind of fundraiser involving daffodils this week, and some of the partners on his floor bought everyone a little bunch of flowers for the fundraiser.  So now I have happy, cheerful daffodils on my kitchen counter.  What a nice treat!

4.  Can I just say that March has been flying by?  The first week, we were looking forward to and then going to Michigan for Blaise's baptism.  The second week, I was looking forward to my 12-week doctor's appointment and the chance to go tell all my old colleagues about the pregnancy.  I don't know how this week has managed to slip by so quickly, but somehow it's Friday already.  I expect next week to be fast, because my mother-in-law and a family friend will be in town.  I'm not complaining; at this rate I'll be enjoying warm spring weather and planting flowers before I know it, but it's just so weird.  February seemed like it would never end.  Perhaps March has flown because I'm feeling so much better?

5.  The family friend who is visiting D.C. is a contractor who has been doing some work on David's brother and sister-in-law's house, and is now going to do some work around our house.  We've had a long list of relatively minor to-dos for many months, but David doesn't ever have time to tackle these projects, and neither of us is very handy.  We want to do everything from replacing the florescent overhead light in the kitchen with recessed lighting, to swapping out bathroom faucets and all of the internal doorknobs in the house.  It will be nice to get these things done before we start the next round of home changes, including moving the office to the basement and creating a nursery.  The way I feel about decorating a nursery is sort of the same way I felt about planning our wedding:  It's a lot more fun to look through photos and dream of all the various things you could do than it is to actually pull the trigger, make decisions, and leave all the other pretty options behind.  It's all the more challenging because most of the nursery furniture I've seen just doesn't appeal to me, and I truly hate almost all of the nursery bedding I've seen.  I think we'll end up with something fairly simple-- I just can't figure out yet exactly what it will be.  But hey, I ended up loving the choices we made for our wedding, so hopefully I'll feel the same way about the nursery.

6.  I used to think that fall was my favorite season, but I'm becoming more and more convinced that it's spring.  I get so excited to see the new glimpses of green around our house and to see the trees start to bloom around town.  Soon it will be cherry blossom time here in D.C., which would be terrific but for the tourists.  I've never actually been able to go downtown to walk around the Tidal Basin during cherry blossom season; it's just impossible to find parking, and the crowds are maddening.  I may have to figure out a way to suck it up and go this year, though, even if it means parking at David's office and taking a cab down to the trees.  It really is too pretty to miss seeing them up close every year.

7.  The belly.  It grows.  I'm not sure how much of this is bloat and how much of it is baby, but I definitely don't look this way all the time.  I wear the same pair of maternity jeans pretty much every day, because, well, they're the only ones I have.  It's better than wearing sweats, right?  I might embark upon some more shopping next week, but so far I've been doing okay with the one pair of jeans and several inexpensive non-maternity-but-looser tops from Old Navy.  Any tips on what I really need to buy for the spring and summer?  I'm just so grateful that I don't have to buy casual clothes and work clothes.  

Anyway, here's the belly as of today, at 13 weeks, three days:

More quick takes courtesy of Conversion Diary, here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

At long last

Back in June of 2006, I started a blog anonymously.  We had been trying to conceive for nine months at the time, and I was getting incredibly antsy and upset that there was no baby on the way.  I had just discovered the world of infertility blogs, a world that I greedily embraced and joined and then much later, happily, outgrew.  

I remember all too well the sharp feelings that year and the one that followed.  Every tabloid pregnancy rumor in the grocery store checkout line was a personal attack on me, a glaring reminder of my failure.  Every friend's pregnancy announcement was met with guilt, as I struggled to let the genuine happiness I felt for my friends outweigh the gut-wrenching "why not me???" that raged in my head.  Mass became, at times, almost unbearable, a seemingly never-ending parade of babies, toddlers, and hugely pregnant bellies.  More than once, I ended up in tears.

And yet somehow, over time, I began to feel . . . better.  I began to be able to see the blessings all around me:  The most wonderful husband a girl could ask for; an amazing job; terrific friends; a comfortable home.  I became increasingly confident that, regardless of whether I ever got pregnant or not, I would be okay.  David and I made plans for me to stop working.  We started making plans to adopt.  We counted down the days until this next part of our lives would begin-- a part without the stresses of being a two-job household, cramming all our chores and errands into our too-limited non-working hours.  A part where we were actually working toward having a family, even if that family perhaps wasn't going to look like the family we'd first envisioned for ourselves.  We joked that we might actually have an athletic child as a result of adopting, since no child born to the two of us would have a sports-gifted bone in his or her body.  I took down the blog, announcing that it had run its course.

And then, suddenly, we found out I am pregnant.  

Wait, suddenly?  How can something that took well over three years seem sudden?  But it did.  It took us completely by surprise, since I'd long ago given up on the notion that simply having sex can lead to a baby.  What a completely novel idea, right?  But here we are, awestruck at God's goodness, imagining Him sitting back and grinning to Himself:  See?  Did you really ever doubt me?  Did you doubt my timing?  It really is perfect, you know.

And so it is.  I find myself shaking my head at the sheer perfection of it all, and I'm actually filled with gratitude for the years it has taken to get here.  I think of the blessings that wouldn't have come my way but for this delay, and I don't think I'd be willing to go back and trade any of them to have a baby in my arms sooner.

I wouldn't trade the time I was able to spend working on the Hill.  I wouldn't trade the friends I made there and the opportunity to learn about humility and Christian charity from-- of all places!-- a Kansas politician.  

I wouldn't trade the time alone with my husband, and the sure knowledge we've gained that we really can weather tough challenges.

I wouldn't trade one of our very best friendships, and the blessing of growing close to a faith-filled couple who walked the same path we found ourselves on and made it to the other side with their eyes squarely focused on God.  I wouldn't trade the opportunity to be godmother to their new baby.  

Most of all, though, I wouldn't trade the fact that I really do feel like I made it through infertility, ultimately, with my faith and my heart intact-- and I got to that point long before I found out that I'm pregnant.  I was discussing this with Arwen during our Michigan trip:  The fact that I'd managed to find happiness apart from seeing two lines on a pregnancy test is a huge blessing.  That I was able to trust God and see His goodness even when my prayers weren't being answered in the way I'd hoped is an even bigger gift.  It's easy to be happy and confident when we're getting everything we want; I'm just thankful God gave me the grace to-- finally-- be joyful even when there was no baby on the way.

And now!  I'm gobsmacked.  I'm grinning ear to ear.  I'm shaking my head in wonder and raising my arms in gratitude.  I'm thirteen weeks pregnant today, due on September 22nd.

It happened exactly when it was supposed to happen.  And I couldn't be happier.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


American Papist is reporting that Newt Gingrich is planning to convert to Catholicism this Easter.  Always glad to add another soul to the fold!  

In celebration, I present to you a photo of Newt and me from the Papal Mass here in D.C. last April.  

Welcome home, Newt!  There's a lot of good company amongst converts-- like my former boss.  And Tony Blair, Robert Bork, Jeb Bush, G.K. Chesterton, Bobby Jindal, Russell Kirk, Alasdair MacIntyre, Thomas Merton, Richard John Neuhaus, John Henry Newman, Walker Percy, Ramesh Ponnuru, Tony Snow, Sheldon Vanauken, Evelyn Waugh, and my dear, sweet, brilliant husband.  And there's also some lesser company-- like me.