Pregnancy Journal - Twenty-two Weeks

How far along: 22 weeks

Weight gain, body changes: Maybe I should invest in a scale? Definitely feel like I'm getting bigger...or at least my belly is.

Maternity clothes: My sister, Emily, sent a bag with my mom at Thanksgiving with her maternity coat and more clothes. I've already worn a couple of the tops with rave reviews! (she also is letting us borrow her infant car seat/stroller was a team effort as my mom and her hubby gate checked it on their flight to bring it to us). OH, and I've been able to wear a belt for a few hours during the day. So, I can finally look like I'm at least trying to be a cute pregnant lady :).

Stretch marks: Nothing new--crossing my fingers. Though my skin is definitely stretching and has gotten itchy.  I'm still liking the vitamin E/coconut oil/grapeseed oil concoction, but I think I need to find something thicker for these dry winter days and nights.

Movement: He is a squirmy one. The Captain has been able to feel his little kicks, which is really fun. He, the baby, did keep me up one night pretty much the whole night with his acrobatics. I didn't think that was supposed to happen until later?? I've found myself rocking like a crazy person when I'm trying to fall asleep at night just to get him to settle down. Is this a foreshadowing of bedtimes to come?

Sleep: Same as my last post, some night I sleep pretty well, usually getting up for bathroom breaks every hour until about 1:30am, then sleeping for a good solid stretch until about 5 or 6am. I'm counting myself lucky.

Best moment this week: Thanksgiving was pretty great! Spending time with family was much needed, as was a break from the city. We could hear birds and no horns honking. Nashville was a blissful break.  We also had our good friends, Ashley (photographer) and Blair Willis (assistant) take some pics for our Christmas cards and that Saturday was the best I have felt yet! 20 weeks was definitely a turning point for the better! (more on this in a bit.)

What made you cry: I have been crying less. I was sad to come back to New York after Thanksgiving. But I've also been able to enjoy being pregnant more. For a while I couldn't sing to the baby, it would make me cry, but I've gotten better about that. Trying to toughen up so I'm not so sappy, sentimental all the time.

Food cravings: Nothing out of the ordinary, just hungry all the time! And so grateful to be able to eat real food again! We've had a couple of amazing meals lately, one at a Cuban place in Williamsburg (the best braised kale you'll ever eat) and one at an Irish pub/Moroccan hybrid that used to be the Purple Plum, now P.D O'Hundley's on the upper west side (my first steak in months!).

Something you miss: Still missing exercise. I just can't seem to get moving more than my walks to and from the subway or corner market. The Captain and I have done a pre-natal yoga video that's on Hulu a  few times and that has felt really good. Bending over is getting harder!

Anything making you queasy or sick: I'm still pretty regular on the Zofran. Man, I never thought I'd be the pill-popping-preggo type, but it really is saving me and my job. I would surely have had to quit or go on disability without it.

How's your mood: Pretty good most of the time! Finally!

Any surprises? Actually feeling better. I really thought I'd be sick the whole time. But there's a least a little bit of light in this tunnel. 

And in case you were wondering, I worked from home today and this was the best I could do...but the other pics are technically 20's your 22 week shot!

Pregnancy Journal - Twenty Weeks

How far along: 20 weeks

Weight gain, body changes: 6 lbs since my last appointment, 5 lbs over my pre-pregnancy weight. I guess that means I've caught up! I definitely look pregnant now with 3 more inches around my middle.

Maternity clothes: I've grown out of most of my regular tops and only fit into pants that have a super low rise--though I would only wear them for a couple hours and not when I have to sit for an extended period of time.

Stretch marks: Nothing new. I've opted for a "smell-free" combination of grapeseed oil, coconut oil and vitamin E. I'm liking that.

Movement: All the time, it's just a question of how intense. He even kicked hard enough that I could see his little foot push my stomach out. At my 20 week appointment today, his head was down. I think he's doing handstands and scissor kicks.

Sleep: I can still sleep on my back some nights, but most nights it's uncomfortable. Getting up more during the night.

Best moment this week: I had a lot of good moments. A highlight was a couple weeks ago when it snowed. For the first time, I got really excited to be having a boy and all the adventurousness that will come with him.

What made you cry: The primary song, "I hope they call me on a mission" came on my ipod randomly and I cried--already a proud mama. I cried when people spontaneously gave up their seats for me on the subway (interestingly, most were women). I cried Saturday when I realized that I wasn't going to stop throwing up. I couldn't keep anything--even water down. The Captain was out of town and my visiting teacher called out of the blue to check in on me. A merciful miracle. She took me to the hospital and waited with me while they gave me a rehydration IV and some anti-nausea meds. I slept so hard that night. I don't think I moved until morning.

Food cravings: Fried chicken. I can finally eat meat again and am really excited about it. I don't love that it has to be well done, but I think I got sick last weekend from something I ate, so I'll be more careful.

Something you miss: Exercise. Crazy me. My midwife told me today that I just need to be grateful that I'm gaining weight and to take the pregnancy I was given. Great advice!

Anything making you queasy or sick: I'm still a little sensitive to smells.

How's your mood: So much better.

Any surprises? How much I missed the Captain while he was gone. It's really good to have him around.  

Pregnancy Journal - Seventeen Weeks

I wasn't intending to do one of these every week, but this week was monumental.


I just showed my friend, Veronica, who said they call these the glass coffee table shot ;).

How far along: 17 weeks
Weight gain, body changes: I haven't weighed or measured myself this week.
Maternity clothes: One of my co-workers just told me that "we need to get you some cute maternity clothes" (see photo below). While I realize I have not been the most stylish pregnant lady, not even close, I am making due with what I've got. Someday when I get that miraculous "2nd trimester surge of energy" that people keep telling me about (blah, blah, blah) I have a list of items I'd like to make, including a couple maternity skirts and sewing a panel onto these bad boys so they stay up a little bit better...

Stretch marks: Nothing new, but they are threatening to appear on my ever-growing baby feeders.
Movement: Nothing I could feel this week, though we watched him wiggle during the sonogram.
Sleep: Yeah. I should probably mention that I have been, but forgot to take the last couple nights, a couple friends to bed with me called Unisom and B6. My sister swears that these friends are the only thing that allowed her to function for the first six months of her first pregnancy. I'm starting to wonder if not taking them is what led to the last two days of my puke-a-thon. Hmmm....
Best moment this week: By far seeing the Captain get emotional as the reality of having a son set in, getting to "pass on the family name", and all sorts of other fun father & son things to come!
What made you cry: It was another emotional one. Mostly just feeling sick makes me cry.
Food cravings: Nothing. Fresh salsa and chips still seems to be about the only thing I can handle at night, and lately lunch and breakfast isn't sitting so well either. Right now I'm spooning out some Haagen Dazs raspberry sorbet--very slowly--to see if it will be enough to get me home in about a half an hour.
Something you miss: I still miss food and yoga.
Anything making you queasy or sick: Life, haha! I'm still nauseated all the time. Trying without Zofran today though and I feel the same as I usually do. I'd love to get off the meds.

How's your mood: I'm going to skip this one, but I think I'm doing a pretty darn good job at keeping a smile on my face and focusing on the postive!
Any surprises? We're having a BOY!! We were both sure it was a girl. I even know her name whenever she does come. I feel a little bad that we've been using "her" and "she", but luckily he's just now able to hear, or so they tell me. The Captain has even changed the way he talks to the baby. He used to speak French and coo to my stomach. I had to remind him to keep up the French. He didn't even realize.

NO face today. No way. Here's a cuter face...

Pregnancy Journal - Sixteen Weeks

I had a whole entry typed up and ready to post. Then I read it again and decided that maybe I should just keep it in my journal. The Captain jokingly asked me the other day if there is such a thing as pre-partum depression. As my pregnancy has progressed, so had my "first trimester morning sickness" all day, every day and even sometimes waking me up at night. And while it is hard to be excited and happy and glowing when you're hugging the porcelain, I have realized that no one likes a Debbie Downer less than I do, so why should I be one?

I had a very sweet dream the other night--amidst stressful ones where I am running into problems at work or have to figure out a powerpoint issue in order to save my own life (not fun)--about this baby and caring for said baby when said baby is in my arms rather than my insides. I know in my heart of hearts that all of this will be worth it, that I'll gladly forget the low points and plateaus of pregnancy and want to do it all over again just for the chance of holding another little one in my arms and smelling that sweet, baby skin.

So instead of pouring out my heart in these things, I'll go with a more traditional method. I found this "questionnaire" online...Maybe this will help keep my ramblings in check. And yes, I snap these photos in the bathroom at work. That's where I spend most of my time these days ;).

How far along: 16 weeks

Weight gain, body changes: 2 lbs since my last appointment, 1 lb over my pre-pregnancy weight and about 4 inches around my middle. I've got quite the bump now.

Maternity clothes: Pretty much since day 1. I can't stand anything pressing on my belly.

Stretch marks: Nothing new. I've had the Mama Mio stretch mark butter and oil my whole pregnancy and have used it randomly. I just can't stand the smell of it right now.

Movement: I think I feel flutters. Every ultrasound I've had shows a very active baby, so it will be interesting once it's big enough for me to actually feel the movement.

Sleep: I have been trying to go to bed between 8 and 9pm (doesn't always happen since the Captain gets home some nights at 8:30). Not getting enough sleep stresses me out. I need a new pillow (venturing out to find one today), my neck has been hurting lately so I've been sleeping without one under my head, but a big one under or between my knees. Sleeping on my back is sometimes the most comfortable, but I do move around a lot, averaging 2-3 trips to the bathroom.

Best moment this week: Seeing the baby wave its little arm at me.

What made you cry: I did a lot of crying this week, extra emotional. Most notably, I cried after I was tempted to hug a grandmotherly looking stranger on the street. I think I just needed some maternal comfort.

Food cravings: Since I'm the most sick in the afternoon and evening, it seems like I've been throwing up either right before I leave the office, somewhere enroute home or right after I get home. After that, all I can think about eating is homemade salsa with salty corn chips. Late last week I had an intense craving for a salad wrap from the Cougar Eat at BYU with some BYU Creamery ranch.

Something you miss: Food. I miss eating good food and keeping it down. I miss the way food used to taste...and water. And yoga. My queasy stomach barely lets me make the walk to and from the subway for work.

Anything making you queasy or sick: Life, haha! I'm still nauseated all the time. Trying without Zofran today though and I feel the same as I usually do. I'd love to get off the meds.

How's your mood: Somber a lot of the time with brief moments of excitement, peace and/or comfort.

Any surprises? Getting sicker. I didn't know that was possible.  

Pregnancy Journal - Thirteen Weeks

Thirteen doesn't sound like very much when compared to forty. However, in retrospect, at seven I never thought I'd get here.

*Disclaimer: I'm not going to paint a pretty pregnancy picture here. Please discontinue reading if you don't want to read about it.

The day we found out I was pregnant was pretty surreal. I was about four days "late" and decided that it was time for a HPT. For those who have been TTC, the HPT can be your best friend or your worst enemy. I think it was good for me that the Captain's theory is that I am my own HPT and if I just wait long enough, I'll know soon enough if it's going to be negative, so this was only the second stick I have ever stuck under the stream, if you know what I mean. He wouldn't let me get obsessive about those darn tests. I'm sure you can imagine the scene in our apartment that morning.

This is me staring at that stick on my bathroom counter waiting for the minutes to tick by.
Not a very attractive shot, but there you have it. 

Once it had cured and I saw that blue plus sign, with one line significantly lighter than the other, but there none-the-less, I tip toed to the bedroom where my sleeping hubs lay in the dark. He heard me coming, propped himself up and turned on his lamp with squinty eyes. He looked at it, "what's it supposed to say?" I grabbed the instructions and came back to show him. "Well, there's definitely two lines...but one's so faint. Are you sure that's okay?" We decided since the darker line was the indicator line, it must be positive. We just kind of smiled and then I went back to getting ready while he studied the instructions. I'll be honest, it still didn't seem real. We tried to not get too excited. I mean, the chance of miscarriage of a first pregnancy is high, right? At least, that's what I've heard. Isn't that why we don't tell anyone the good news until we're "out of the woods" and well into the second trimester?

Those first few days were like a dream!


We'll see if there's anyone still out there after months of my delinquency. Here's your reward. Before I instagram the crap out of this news and I give the Captain the o.k. to put it all over facebook, you heard it here first.

One nervous Captain photography aloud in the waiting room
 Two happy parents to be

We couldn't be more excited! Well, maybe I'd be a little more excited if I wasn't sick as a dog (I mean, a friend of mine with two kids said to me the other day, "wow, you're pregnancy is really hard!" I have nothing to compare it to, but I'll be the first to admit that growing a human is hard work!). But really, seeing the look on the Captain's face when he saw the little heart beating and then heard it in all it's rapid-swooshing glory, makes it worth it. And I trust that the ups of being a mom will too.

We'll be welcoming this baby into the world in early April 2013. 

So there you go. The reason for my absence in the blogosphere. The reason for the delay of the unveil of my new look. (The last thing I want to do when I get home from work and my rocky subway commute is sit in front of a computer some more. And let's be honest, all my construction energy is going inward. There's nothing left for html and css. Someday.) this thing on?

Gah! I know, I know. So I started a new role at work. No more expense reports and creating travel itineraries! Wahoo! I've joined the business development team, which is our in-house graphic design department. Uh, yes. You heard me correctly. Never did I think that I could have even dreamed that New York City would provide yours truly a creative job. I did not think I had a competitive enough resume/background and really, I don't...not to get a creative job off the street, foo! But for an internal move?? It was a win-win-win.

Anyway, the transition (along with a crazy, whirlwind trip Out West and some other stuff) has been preoccupying my time. I promise that soon I will get everything under control and find myself in a better place to blog. In the meantime, please be patient as this blog and blogger are somewhat under construction.

Flash back: DIY Wedding Party

We have a pretty big family. One big, happy, modern family, which continues to grow. I have five siblings, three siblings-in-law, four nephews and four nieces.My mom's remarriage brought five step siblings and one new niece to the family. My dad's remarriage added three step siblings. The Captain has a total of five siblings, two sibs-in-law, and three nephews. Between the two of us we have eight living grandparents.


If you live in New York or come to visit, make sure you stop by Eataly. You're going to want to see the Flatiron Building anyway, so you might as well take a stroll through this amazing Italian marketplace.

It's crowded and the line for gelato is usually really long (we didn't go for the gelato anyway). It was the cheese and bread that caught our attention. And I never thought I'd say this, but the Erbonati di Pecora (directly translated as blue veined sheep) is worth $38 a lb. So amazing.

Balsamic Night!

Looking back, I probably wouldn't do a whole dinner themed around Balsamic vinegar again (heart burn!), but I sure enjoyed it in the moment!
Here's the lunch-time re-run, but with my favorite store-bought salad dressing from Mr. Newman (creamy cesaer). And the watermelon and strawberries ended up in a smoothie with a little orange juice, some soy milk and ice.

Balsamic Chicken & Mushrooms with Balsamic & Thyme Quinoa

(adapted from this recipe at


2 T. olive oil
½ onion, chopped fine
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 c. quinoa
¼ c. apple cider vinegar
¼ c. water
1 ¾ c. chicken broth
¼ c. balsamic vinegar
2 t. chopped fresh thyme
1 T. olive oil
1 (8 ounce) package baby bella/Crimini mushrooms, sliced
3 chicken breasts, cubed
¼ c. balsamic vinegar
3 T. apple cider vinegar
¼ c. chicken broth
2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in quinoa.
  2. Pour in the ¼ c. apple cider vinegar, ¼ c. water, 1 ¾ c. chicken broth, ¼ c. balsamic vinegar, and blend with the quinoa. Add the thyme. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce, cover and simmer until the quinoa is tender and fluffy, about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1 T olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  4. Cook the chicken in another pan in a little olive oil. When it’s almost done, pour in ¼ c. balsamic vinegar, 2 T. apple cider vinegar, ¼ cup chicken stock. Add the mushrooms; reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and until chicken finishes cooking, about 5 minutes.
  5. Serve chicken and mushrooms on the quinoa. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
* The original recipe also calls for spinach and crumbled goat cheese, which would probably be welcome additions, had those ingredients been in my fridge)

 Strawberry &Watermelon Salad with Balsamic Reduction


watermelon, cut in cubes strawberries, sliced
1 c. balsamic vinegar
1T. agave (or other sweetener)


In a medium/small saucepan on high heat, bring balsamic vinegar to a boil.
  1. Reduce the heat to medium and add agave. Stir until blended. 
  2. Reduce heat again and simmer uncovered, until about 75% of the vinegar has evaporated. 
  3. Remove from heat and allow it to cool
  4. Place berries and melon on a plate and drizzle with balsamic reduction.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

One of my favorite dressings for a green salad is just a drizzle of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, some lemon juice, and fresh ground pink Himalayan salt & pepper.

My Juicer Makes Nutbutter

So I made something kind of amazing. Really people. I loved my juicer before, but now I love it even more. And I really want to make these again, like right now.

Nutbutter Cups
(adapted from this recipe from Wellness Mama)

1 bag chocolate chips (I used the same kind she recommends and I loved, gluten-, and dairy-free--so smooth!)
1 c. almond butter (or 2 cups of almonds, soaked over night, rinsed and dried, fed through your choice of grinder)
½ c. cashew butter (or 1 cup of cashews, fed through your grinder)
½ c. unsweetened shredded coconut
3 T coconut oil
2 T agave
pinch of sea salt
1 t. vanilla

  1. Combine your nut butters, coconut, coconut oil, agave, salt, and vanilla and mix until well blended.
  2. Melt down the chocolate chips in a microwave safe ceramic bowl (who has time for a double boiler?) 30 seconds to a minute at a time, stiring between.
  3. Pour enough chocolate into baking cups (I used paper and silicone) to cover the bottom of the cup and stick in freezer for a few minutes to stiffen. It doesn't need to be perfectly hard. 
  4. While the chocolate is setting, shape spoonfuls of the nutbutter filling into flat circles about 3/4 the size of your cups. Remove the chocolate cups from the freezer and place a filling disc into each cup. You can sort of push it into the chocolate, but be sure you don't push it through all the way.
  5. Set in freezer for another couple minutes and remove.
  6. Pour the remainder of the chocolate on top, covering the sides and smoothing over the top to seal around the filling.
  7. Place back in the freezer to harden.
I kept mine in the freezer, uncovered, for a couple weeks and they still tasted great! I think next time I will sprinkle some course sea salt on the top instead of adding the salt to the filling.

A Little Something

Pandora played this one for me on Friday when I desperately needed a soundtrack for my morning commute. My walk through a rainy city was much improved. I hope you enjoy.

July 20, 2012

I met a dear friend for lunch today. I’ll be honest; it’s been a long and emotionally tough week so I wasn’t sure if lunch out would be the greatest idea. My introvert nature usually tells me that I would be better left alone in times of trial and sometimes that inner voice is correct. More often than not, it is wrong and spending an hour with a good friend in good conversation is just what I need. As was the case today.

We parted at the corner of 8th and 55th, knowing that it will probably be another month or two before we find time to meet for lunch again. I walked the last block to my office feeling uplifted and refreshed and a little full with Empanada Mama in my tummy.

I shared with her some hard things that are going on in my family of origin (FOO) right now that I have no control over, yet so much emotion invested. Isn’t that often the story? It is, at least, with me. The former family therapist in me is going NUTS, but I am so out of practice that I feel that I cannot tap into that resource. She acted as the therapist I cannot be for myself. She listened, truly listened, which was so nice. She is the first person I’ve talked to about this particular issue who isn’t also emotionally invested, so I didn’t get bombarded with jagged edged shrapnel directed back at me. She just gently reflected my own emotion.

I have found myself going back repeatedly over the past several weeks to this verse of scripture,
“O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people! Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth. But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me.”

The Hamptons

It's like a New Yorker's rite of passage--the Summer getaway known as the Hamptons. Our stop was Sagg Harbor and it was a great stop. We were invited, along with the other residents in the Captain's program, by one of his part-time attendings, all local endodontists who volunteers their time to mentor them. This one takes them out to dinner the first Monday of every month do discuss current research.

This quaint cottage tucked away in the woods belongs to our hosts, Dr. and Mrs. Kamen. It's been their summer home for 30 years. 

Make your own picnic lunch. This woman seriously thought of everything. The Captain kept saying, "she's you in 30 years..." Then I saw the sketch she drew of what the lunches would look like all put together stuck to her fridge and I knew he was right.  Yes, that's a bottle opener on the sole of his sandal. Why not? 

It was fun to hang out with some little people. 
The beach was beautiful. I didn't know beaches like this existed north of the Carolinas. 

 And what would a post be without a few Instas? 


We've been back from this vacation way too long to post about it again. But I've had this one in my drafts for, well, three weeks and I'm just going to do it. Because I needed a little photo-vacay this lovely Friday morning.

I yoinked that word from my sister, the same way I yoinked these photos of our trip...I still haven't had time to even see what's on our own camera, but I'm sure there will only be one or two usable images. Thanks to Emily (here, here and here) and Elizabeth (here, here and here) for capturing our vacation so beautifully! Can you believe the talent? I know, it makes me want to cry too.

Microsoft Word Tips

I know this is kind of random for me to post something so technical, but stuff like this is what takes up a large chunk of my work day and every once in awhile, I get excited about it.

While looking for a keyboard short cut to center justify text in Word, I came across this lovely blog. It’s a little outdated with the last posting back in 2010 and all the tips are catered to Word 2003, but many of them translate to newer versions just fine.

Here are a few that I found myself gasping or giggling with delight when I tried them out. I haven't tried them on my Mac at home, but I'll check it out and let you know.

Text justification. First, the reason for my search. Make sure your cursor is somewhere in the line you want to justify and then… CTRL+E to center justify…CTRL+L to left justify…CTRL+R to right justify.

Selecting text. You can select the text of a whole document to or from a certain point without holding down your mouse while scrolling. Just put your cursor where you want the text selection to start or finish. To select the text before your cursor to the beginning of the document CTRL+SHIFT+HOME. To select the text after your cursor to the end of the document CTRL+SHIFT+END.

Selecting a square block of text without having to select the whole line. This is really cool. Just hold down the ALT key while you click and drag your cursor. You can select text in vertical columns without needing to be in a table.

I figured this one out myself, but if you hold SHIFT and press HOME, it will select all the text in the line your cursor is in.

And while we're at it...Using HOME and END keys. HOME takes you to the beginning of the line your cursor is in. END takes your cursor to the end.

Increase or decrease fonts. CTRL+] increases your font by 1 point. CTRL+[[ decreases it by 1 point.

I am learning, maybe a little late in my word processing lifetime, how much more efficient (time and energy saving) it is to keep my hands on the keyboard as much as possible, rather than moving back and forth to the mouse. I'll save my mouse energy for the fun artsy stuff.

What are your favorite keyboard shortcuts?

What does the Dancing Shiva have to do with Freedom?

It's been a long time since I've practiced yoga like I want to practice yoga. It's been one of my great longings living in NYC, because this place is chalk full of incredible studios. Really,  you may think of Southern California when you think of green-smoothie-drinking-hippy-yogis, but New York is pretty much just like Bali, but made of bricks and cement and maybe it gets a little colder in the winter.

Dancing Shiva Hindu god - image credit
The problem is the super skinny debt reduction diet doesn't allow for full membership dues at these places. So, for the last year I've had to be content with the one-and-only quality class at our local NYSC. The instructor is really great and I'll leave it at that, though I'm tempted to go into all the reasons I don't like the other yoga classes they offer (ahem, it has to do with the instructors and maybe you'll say that what I get out of my practice has only to do with what I myself put in...blah blah blah).Yes, I've been meaning to do something about it, cancel my gym membership since I'm basically paying $20 for a Saturday yoga class and then maybe 30 mins on an eliptical traniner a couple times a week, and putting that money towards a more desirable option. But until I can muster up the strength for the fight of getting out of my contract, I have opted for the "daily deal website" avenue. Who knows, considering the myriad yoga studios in the City, I may be able to just live ( out) on a "30-day unlimited pass" at a time basis.

That was a long preface to the real meat of this post. My current 30-day unlimited pass is to Sonic Yoga in Hell's Kitchen (yes, that's the name of a neighborhood, not just a reality show). I can't even tell you how much I have loved my experience so far. I've been to three classes this week and had two different instructors and as luck would have it, the instructor from this morning also subbed the class last night and she pretty much led us through the same series of postures and vinyasas. She started the class by telling us a story. On the 4th, she found herself trying to explain to her 4-year-old the meaning of freedom. "It means having no rules...but there are rules" and such. She realized she wasn't even sure she knew the meaning of freedom. So she did what any normal person would do, right? She turned to Merriam Webster.

1: the quality or state of being free: as a : the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action b : liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another : INDEPENDENCE

 Then she looked up independence. It was Independence Day, afterall.

1 : not dependent: as a (1) : not subject to control by others : self-governing

She then related these concepts to yoga. Yoga is self-governing. There is no one to answer to in your yoga practice other than yourself. Sure, if you're practicing in a class or with others, there is often someone leading you through a sequence, but how deeply you go into the pose or how long you hold it and always your intention is 100% up to you. This is one of the reasons I love yoga. At least, what I would call "good" yoga. The freedom to let my body move the way it wants to move, utlizing the earth's gravity and my own consciousness. I love how a "good" yoga instructor understands these concepts (one of these days I'll do a teacher training course and then maybe I can be a "good" yoga instructor, too).

dancing shiva yoga pose - image credit
The Dancing Shiva, or Nataraj, as this instructor explained, is the Hindu god with four arms dancing in the ring of fire in celebration of the triumph of good over evil. It is a symbol of creation and destruction, birth and death, growth and decay.

So, what does the Dancing Shiva have to do with Freedom? I love this symbolism of the Dancing Shiva. His right foot is crushing the demon of ignorance and sin. One hand is held in a mudra (gesture) that communicates to "be without fear". His four arms point in the four cardinal directions. There is freedom in his movement, but each movement is intentional and purposeful. All encircled by the ring of fire, or samsara. Samsara in Hinduism refers to the phenomenal world or the cyclical world of rebirth.

I believe there are elements of truth in everything and I love looking for it. So, here's my interpretation and explanation of what it all has to do with freedom (I hope this does not offend or seem sacriligious).

I do not believe in reincarnation, but I do believe in rebirth. I believe I am reborn everytime I renew my covenant with God to follow Him and keep His commandements and I believe that we will all be "reborn" sometime after we die, but it will be a traditional birth, but a resurrection. I believe, with our Founding Fathers, that liberty is a God-given right. And because it is given by God, for freedom to truly be freedom it must be used within the bounds God has set. So yes, there are rules, but because we have freedom and independence, we are given the ability to be self-governing.

Some people may think that God's boundaries (ie, commandments) are restricting and that true freedom is the ability to make whatever choice you want, good or bad. I disagree. A choice is good when it opens up more opportunites to make choices--thus affording you true freedom. A choice is bad when it closes doors on opportunities that may have been available to you if you hadn't made that choice.

Like a kite dancing through the sky. It can fly only when it is tethered to the earth.

Hot Dog Hangover

The Fourth of July has long been a favorite day of mine. My mother is a patriotic woman and tried to instill a love of this great nation in all of her children. Being far away from my family is always a little bit harder around this time of year, knowing that they were all watching the Freedom Festival parade together, screaming at the balloon characters to "SPIN, SPIN, SPIN," running out for photo ops with random characters in the infamous "pre-parade", eating ghetto pops and passing around other various treats. Parting in the afternoon to nap and then reconvening to BBQ and watch some and (light a few) fireworks.    

We spent the Fourth a little differently, toting a mini charcoal grill and IKEA bags full of picnic supplies several blocks to the closest park with shade trees. The heat/humidity wiped us all out, so our plans to brave the crowds along the Hudson faded into the background of our dreams during a 3-hour nap, waking up in time to catch the Amazing Spiderman in 3D followed by some local Brooklyn pizza delivered to a perch on our friends' rooftop to watch the spectacular show from afar (and a bit of it on the old tee-vee). Oh, and bookended by a rousing game of Super Mario Bros on their Wii. It turned out to be a very different, though very enjoyable Independence Day.  

Before the long nap, the Captain turned on a History Channel documentary about the Revolutionary War. I'm not much into the details of history, but not because of lack of interest (a girl can only have so many hobbies). I was fascinated to learn the role that our little Manhattan played in the war, that Washington marched his troops up the trail now known as Broadway (which started out as a Native American trail and explains the way it traverses the neat grid of avenues and streets) to escape the British Navy when they docked a fleet of 400+ in Kip's Bay, subsequently massacring the defending "rebels".

Living in NYC has been quite an experience this last year. It didn't take long for my school-girl crush on the city to develop into a respect and admiration. I walk up and down that Native American trail called Broadway awe-struck. In the panaoramic view from my "corner office" at work I can see several buildings topped with the American flag. It reminds me of my experience with 9/11. I was living temporarily in Cananda; it was heartening to hear that stores across our northern neighbor were selling out of our flag.

This is a city with a rich American history, native and neo-native, immigrant and emigrant. It has good reason to be proud. I am proud of it.

Weekend Recap on Wednesday

Pardon my lateness, but I had a lovely weekend. 
Friday after work, I ran a few "errands" in the fashion district. My favorite midtown fabric store did not disappoint. Projects to last several, several Saturdays.  

Saturday the weather was beautiful and Brooklyn was in rare form, hosting the Renegade Craft Fair. I only had to walk down a fourth of one aisle of tents before I was so overwhelmed by the talent that I was near tears. Beautiful creations. It was a bit surreal to find myself talking to the talent of Son of a Sailor, Claudia Pearson, Little Hip Squeaks, and enormouschampion.

Followed it up with a walk through Smorgasburg and landed in front of Dumont's booth. Yummy slider, vanilla shake and fresh kalamansi juice.

 I parked a few blocks away so I could enjoy the scenery. 

Sunday started out the way it usually does, breakfast and the Good Book for some final preparation for Sunday School. This Sunday, not only did I get to "teach" the adults, I got to spend an hour with our only Sunbeam, Tommy. We talked about how we can do hard things like David who slew Goliath and made a video with his phone (his mom's old one) of us singing Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes. All while wearing project 1 from my Friday spoils. This lovely coral variegated knit was perfect for this tutorial I found on Simple Simon & Co. So comfy and easy!  

Fiscally Fit

Last night I had a dream that I was explaining my budget plan to…someone. Who I was talking to wasn’t clear, but what I was saying was very detailed and I woke up thinking about finances. I’ve been meaning to write about my financial journey for a couple years now, dating back to the time when I had a goal to focus on physical and fiscal fitness. (btw, I'm definitely looking forward to the day that there will be space for a yoga room again!)

While my physical fitness regime seems to fluctuate based on geography, the season and the amount of free-time I get, I have learned that my fiscal fitness doesn't have to. Gaining financial independence became a driving force in my life and thanks to a very supportive husband (supportive not enabling), I'm on track to paying off a hefty debt by Christmas (a debt that doubled over five years due to compounding interest and then sat stagnant for several more years as interest only payments were made just to keep things afloat). I know too well the feelings of bondage, anxiety and low self-worth that accompany overwhelming debt. And like anyone in recovery, I am all too enthusiastic about sharing what I've learned over the last fifteen years of my adult life.

I gratefully realize that part of my success with what I often refer to as "the super skinny debt reduction plan" has to do with a somewhat unique situation. We are a dual income household and even though the Captain is technically a student, we are able to live off that student income because it is supplemented by the G.I. Bill and he moonlights like a champ on his days and nights off. This makes it possible for all of my take home pay to go straight to the bank (and to God—He still gets 10%). My past bad choices are greatly benefited from the Captain’s good choices. Another part of that success is due to hours and hours of emotional and psychological work overcoming a deep seated shopping addiction. Our relationships with money can be so emotional and powerful. My attitude towards money has completely shifted (I’m more than happy to write about that process too, if anyone is interested, or maybe I'll write about it anyway).

We are making sacrifices all the time. I sacrifice my desire to eat organic, free-range chicken and eggs and grass fed beef, for example. I try not to think about the GMO crops my meat was fed on or the hormones it was likely pumped with. Ugh. I'd probably do better to go vegetarian for now. The Captain's watch broke on our vacation and I could see the sadness in his eyes as we discussed its replacement. Buy a crappy watch now and start saving your slush fund, my dear!

With that said, now we can get to the good stuff. What to do.
*Note: there are a gazillion theories and programs on money management. I'm just sharing what seems to have worked for me. I've also included a few books at the end if you'd like some help finding a new frame of reference.

ohohoh Mexico...the sun's so hot I forgot to go home

It's my second full day back in the office and one of my bosses asked if I was out of vacation mode yet. Was I zoning? Ugh. I won't lie. I want to go back.

My family met up in Mexico last Monday to meet the new additions that came with my dad's recent nuptuals. The Captian and I couldn't bare the thought of a wasted weekend, so we flew down a couple days early. So glad we did because I definitely would have felt shorted even more than I did when we had to leave.

We didn't take many pictures with our own camera, so I'll have to borrow a photos. Until I get permission to do so, just be satisfied with a few camera phone shots from our first two days in Cancun.

We passed Hard Rock, Chili's, Planet Hollywood, Coco Bongo, even a Ruth's Chris. Then we found El Fish Fritanga, a little taco stand next to a mini mart. It was exactly what I was looking for.
Al Pastor for 9 pesos (Taco Bell prices circa 1995). I ate three plus one con pollo, but I wish I had just made it four al pastor.

 Round two for lunch the next day. This time was a burrito and it was really good.
Walking back from church. A guy on the bus was so surprised when we told him we were going to church in the area where the "locals" live. He kept trying to get us to go to the Catholic church downtown. Then the bus driver tried to drop us off at the Masonic temple. Sorry, wrong building. 

In the "locals" part of town. You're so trendy, Mexico!

The quiet before the chaos :). But, I wouldn't have it any other way!

 Our shuttle from the airport after meeting up with just a portion our a party of 23 to the resort in Playa. Three rows of good times. I love my family so much. The hardest part about being around them is having to say goodbye at the end of the vacation. More on this fun bus to come.