Archive for May, 2013

Pregnancy has been full of little perks I didn’t think I’d embrace with such fervor: the comfy elastic-waisted jeans, the strange-but-amazing little kicks and pokes in my belly, the out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new game of nesting – I’m liking this pre-mama thing. But the very best part of it all? Watching Shane eagerly anticipate the arrival of the baby has filled me with such incredible joy and gratitude. From the very moment I saw that faint pink line that meant pregnant back in December, he’s been super-dad, scouring the Internet for the best OB, then registering us for birth classes and infant safety lessons and a hospital tour, spending hours reading online reviews to determine the right stroller for little Schnell. He checks his BabyBump app daily and fills me in on how the baby is developing, what kinds of changes are on the horizon, when I can expect my ankles to swell and my belly button to pop out. He’s a little stricter than I’d like when it comes to me taking (little) bites of poached egg and I can’t stand that disapproving look he gives me when I sneak a (tiny) sip of his wine, but I try not to begrudge his desire that I follow the rules. I know those raised eyebrows are rooted in love and concern. Daily I’m seeing him care for me in new and thoughtful ways, as his way of caring for the baby inside of me. I love the fact that he still remembers to slow down at that stomach-dropping portion of downhill road near Jason and Nancy’s, after my first-trimester moan that I could no longer handle his speedy driving. I cherish the nights he curls up to me on the couch to gently put his hands on my belly while we watch baseball. On those days when I feel especially big and uncomfortable in this rapidly expanding body of mine, he kisses me and reminds me that I’m beautiful, that this extra weight is part of a wonderful miracle.

There’s a scene in Juno (a Schnell fave) where Jennifer Garner’s character talks about how a woman begins to feel like a mother during pregnancy, but a man doesn’t identify with fatherhood until the actual birth of the baby. Not so, Jen, not so. This dear man already has dad written all over his proud, grinning face.

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We have slowly but surely been making room for baby in our house – we had an entire room of stuff to toss or donate or squirrel away in other closets.  And Operation Organize is nearly complete, which means our extra upstairs bedroom is empty and ready for Operation Nursery.  I’ve had lots of fun dreaming about what this room could be, imagining myself rocking a baby to sleep in a comfy glider or pulling a book off a shelf to read our toddler a bedtime story.  We’re keeping it modern and simple, relatively quiet with a few pops of color through art and books.  Tomorrow we finish painting and do one final round of glider-shopping.  Then it’s time to hang shelves and buy a crib and make art for the walls.  This very well might be my favorite home improvement project yet…

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the 411:

Paint: “Storm” by Valspar

Graham Glider by West Elm

Tripod End Table by Urban Outfitters

Ada Table Lamp by CB2

Hudson Crib by babyletto

Malm Dresser by Ikea

Animal Prints by Avalisa

Books, books, books!

Paris Screen Print by Famille Summerbelle

Dear Buhb,

Happy Anniversary!  It’s been quite a ride thus far, full of laughter and beauty and adventure.  Like that night on our Costa Rican honeymoon when the obnoxiouly loud chorus of tree frogs kept us from getting any sleep, or that perfect sunset we caught in Bruges in 2011.  That afternoon we spent talking and drinking champagne on the deck of our Whidbey Island rental last year is forever sealed in my mind as one of the best days ever.  I’m so grateful for your selflessness and support, for the all-nighter you pulled with me to rig a display stand for my thesis project, for the times you dragged me out of a funk with your stellar dance moves, for the way you have always walked alongside me, even when it was down a path you had tried to steer me clear of.  Looking forward our next big adventure (so excited to hit Kauai with you!), and our even grander journey come September.  You make my life better, richer, happier every single day.

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We made a quick trip to Portland this weekend for a family fix – 24 hours to catch up with Mitch and Kathryn and love on those sweet nieces of ours. We ate ice cream cones at Ruby Jewel’s, we cheered on Elise at soccer practice, we hit the Kenton Street Fair, complete with bratwursts and puppet shows and face-painting.  We read books and painted and wrapped baby dolls in little purple blankets.  Never a dull moment.

Elise is FIVE and all big-girl now.  She is extremely inquisitive and will keep you on your toes with her myriad of questions: “Which way are we driving?”; “North?  Can you drive to the North Pole?”; “Why is that man on the street corner holding a sign?”; “If he doesn’t have a house, where does he sleep?”  Mitch and Kathryn are so good at constantly staying engaged with her – every question of Elise’s gets a thoughtful answer, even if it’s at the end of a string of 27 other “Why’s”.  She still loves super-heros and anything pink; on the flip side, spinach is disgusting and hair-brushing is absolute torture.

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And Morgan…she’s still quite the heart-melter.  She is chatty like her sister – it just takes a little more effort to decipher what she’s talking about.  “Hay” is her name for Shane, “Hide you!” is her version of “Found you!” in a game of hide and seek, “No ah-eh” is her proud declaration of “No accidents” after a successful day without diapers.  She can be cranky (she is two, after all), but she can also laugh like her joy knows no bounds.  A simple game of peek-a-boo, and she’ll be rolling on the floor, squealing with unbridled delight.  She is always on the go – running from one room to the other, climbing on furniture, gently pushing Uncle Shane into the closet for another round of hide-and-seek.  She took a little tumble off the playground slide today, and while I felt bad for her scraped-up palms, those few minutes when she quietly nuzzled into my chest and let me wipe her tears were precious.

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Love you, girlies.  So so soooo much.

I haven’t made much progress on that stack of birth and parenting-related books that sits on our end table.  Partly, it’s that the arrival of the baby still feels so far away – September lies in the unfathomable future.  But beyond that, I am perhaps a little over-confident in our ability to figure out the parent thing on-the-fly.  I want to believe we’ve got it covered.  We have spent the past couple of years building up our love bank for this baby.  And children adore Shane (he’s known as the “baby whisperer” among our friends), so there’s no reason that our kid shouldn’t be head-over-heels for his or her dad.  All you need is love.  Right?  Right?

Maybe I’m being just a wee bit naive.  I was on my way to work via Lightrail a couple of weeks ago when a woman got on with her adorable 2-year old daughter.  The little girl sat in her mama’s lap and babbled sweet nothings while mom stroked her pretty brown curls.  I could so easily picture myself in their shoes, commuting downtown with our perfect babe, soaking in those last few minutes of time together before work and daycare begin.  Precious moments.  But then that little girl started to get squirmy.  And then she started to whine.  And by the time we’d rolled into SoDo (still three stops from downtown), she was shrieking bloody murder on an otherwise silent train, flailing those chubby arms and refusing to be held. Poor mom did her best to restrain her daughter with one hand while she dug around in her bag for a distraction.  She pulled out an iPad and I figured the crisis would soon be averted.  But it took several minutes before the little girl was presented with a satisfactory video and a seat of her liking, and by that time, we had rolled into University Station and it was time for the woman to put away the iPad and pack up her bag.  More wailing and tears ensued, more sympathetic glances were cast mom’s way as she grabbed her daughter and hurried off the train.  And I was left wondering how I would have handled such a meltdown.  Would I stick to Shane’s and my resolution to strictly limit “screen time” for our kid?  Or would I concede that desperate times call for desperate measures and use whatever means possible to get the child to quiet down?  Would I rock her, walk her, coo to her, attempt to reason with her?  I don’t think the “right” answer can be found in any book, and I don’t know that any amount of preparation will eliminate tantrums, but I was slapped with healthy dose of reality that morning.  I was reminded that parenting will sometimes be really, really hard.  It will be full of sky-high joys and depths of unimaginable love, but it will also be riddled with moments of frustration, confusion, and insecurity.

And it will require sacrifice.  I catch myself believing that I won’t really be too tired, that we’ll still have room for spontaneity and freedom, that my maternity leave will be like vacation, full of “bonus time” to rest, to read, to work on my art.  As we sat around a table at Spinasse for dinner last night with Jack, La Verne, Jason, and Nance to revel in what may be our last meal out together for awhile (baby Chen due in just 8 days!), I was struck with how times are changing.  Baby-sitters and feeding schedules will soon require some adjustment in the make-up of our Friday nights. We’re not resigning ourselves to a hermit-like life, but 4-hour multi-course meals might be on hold for awhile.  Shoot!

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It’s absolutely a good thing to anticipate our baby’s arrival with hope and glee, but I also want to embark on this journey with the acknowledgement that it will stretch me in ways I’ve never been stretched.  Things won’t go as expected sometimes, and I’ll need to learn to roll with the punches.  I might not have the “ideal birth”, breast-feeding might bear unforeseen challenges, there might be times when I need to choose rest over having a clean house or a home-cooked meal.  I’ll need lots of help, and I’ll have to put aside my pride to ask for it.  That doesn’t mean I’ve failed.  It just means I need to loosen my tight-fisted grip on complete control and pray for flexibility, for patience, for heaping helpings of grace.  And for the ability to stop and soak in the goodness of those pre-meltdown precious moments.  Because the feeling of wrapping my arms around our child is guaranteed to exceed my wildest dreams.

Summer has come early to Seattle!  Or Spring is playing a really mean joke by teasing us with 80-degree temperatures before the weather turns cold and rainy again…  But never mind the inevitable rain – we were all about embracing the sunshine this weekend, playing hard, eating well, and spending lots of time with friends.

We met up with Jack, La Verne, Jason and Nance on Friday night at the Fremont Abbey to take in the St. Paul de Vence / Le Wrens show.  I’ve had St. Paul’s album on repeat for the past month, and it was fun to hear my current favorites live.  Shoot, these guys (and gal) are talented.  I want a banjo.  And a ukelele.

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Our friends Em and Daniel gave birth to a perfect little boy while Shane and I were in Austin, and we were super-excited to finally meet him on Saturday.  He’s a cutie.  And wow, Emily makes a beautiful mom.  She’s one of those people that constantly amazes you with her unfailing drive and creative talent (seriously, you should see their home renovation) – it seems motherhood will be her best project yet.

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I had a frozen custard Groupon that was burning a hole in my pocket, so we headed to Greenlake on Saturday afternoon to indulge in a couple of gooey sundaes at Peaks.  My word, this stuff was rich.  And delicious.  My sweet tooth has seemed insatiable these days, but this place fulfilled my dessert craving on all fronts.

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Driving all that way to eat a bunch of ice cream had tuckered me out, so the rest of the day was spent sitting on the back porch, Kindle in one hand and cold drink in the other.  We ate dinner hot off the grill that night and then caught Iron Man 3 with Jack and La Verne at our neighborhood theater (nothing says Summertime like a superhero blockbuster).  We had maxed out a pretty perfect Saturday.

And Sunday was even better!  A post-church brunch on the patio at Paddy Coyne’s…

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and then an afternoon spent celebrating Cinco de Mayo on Josh and Jess’s sunny deck, complete with chicken mole, ice cream chimichangas, and the best virgin margaritas ever.  Oh, and a marathon game of catch between Shane and Zebo.  This kid’s got an arm.  And look at that wind-up!

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Mad Men, ice cream sandwiches, a Giants win, and you could stick a fork in this weekend – it was done.  Well, well-done.