All posts by Jennifer

Parental Prep

No one tells you all the stuff you now have to think about and do now that you’re expecting. Maybe it seems obvious to everyone else, but  I was surprised to learn I’m supposed to find a pediatrician, like, yesterday.

I’m feeling guilty as I write this because Leo thinks I’m sounding surly when people are offering advice. I promise, if you offer advice, I’m not trying to be surly, stubborn, argumentative or anything other than grateful. But there’s so much of it!

And here’s the thing: I won’t remember half of it. Pregnancy brain is only part of it. Tips for toddlers are getting shoved into the “later” file as I figure out pregnancy, delivery, diapers, breastfeeding class, getting some exercise and eating my vegetables each day, working, planning maternity leave, trying to figure out how to return to work, planning a few fall events (life must go on!) and more. Plus, your advice may be well meaning, but maybe I can’t afford the thing you suggest. Or maybe I’ve heard conflicting advice from someone else, which means I’ll have to research that a bit before deciding.

So, keep the advice coming. But let’s do this in stages. So for now, focus it on:

  • Pregnancy – Six months to go! Anything to know about surviving is good.
  • Preparation – What can I do now to make life easier come February 27?

New Clothes for Mom and Baby

I love the whole community surrounding pregnancy. Two different women have already given me boxes of maternity clothes. For those unaware, clothes sold in actual “maternity” stores are not cheap. So this is a huge help and I’m grateful.

Not a moment too soon. The actual baby bump is still small — he or she is now the size of a pear — but my belly is distended, making some of my clothes tight in the waist. Apparently, that’s normal, but it makes me look like I’m showing when really, there’s nothing much to show for 15 weeks.


Meanwhile, the baby is certainly going to be well dressed. My mother- and sister-in-law returned from a trip to Spain with a bag full of fantastically cute clothes. The cherry on top: a futbol (soccer) jersey with the name Suarez on the back. (He’s a famous player.) Plus, they’ve given us a head start on toys with a couple of books in Spanish.

A few updates:

  • I had my most recent doctor’s appointment a couple of weeks ago and got to hear the heartbeat again. Everything sounds good! Next one: Sept. 17.
  • Now that T2 has arrived, my energy is back, which feels amazing.
  • We’re making progress on the room; updates on that soon!

The Great Crib Adventure

Buying a crib and dresser should have been easy. Instead, the multi-day ordeal left Leo and I exhausted.

It’s partly my fault. During the Labor Day weekend, I began glancing at Craigslist ads to get a feel for whether any crib-dresser sets out there were affordable, yet in good shape. We have a few months before we must get this done, but I was thinking we could spread out the cost.

I found a set I really liked. Driving out to Wake Forest — a 35+-minute haul from downtown — was the last thing I really felt like doing that weekend, but I went Sunday to scope it out. They were fantastic.

She wanted me to pick them up as soon as possible. Begrudgingly, Leo agreed to go with me on Labor Day morning, first thing, just to get it over with. What we didn’t agree on was renting a truck. It seemed to me a pickup truck from the nearby Uhaul would be the easiest way to fit both items in a vehicle. Slide them in, strap them down, and done.

In a fit of frugality, Leo voted to borrow his parents’ Jeep, thinking the extra drive time to Cary (in the opposite direction) would be worth the cost savings.

So we were up by 7:30, out the door just after 8. We had the Jeep by 8:40 and headed to the far reaches of Wake Forest, arriving around 9:15. On the drive up, I fretted that the large dresser would not fit into the Jeep, even with the seats down. But after some maneuvering, the seller’s husband and Leo made it work. It seemed we were minutes away from tucking in the crib pieces and heading out with our find.

Until … the tallest crib piece was too tall to squeeze under the Jeep’s frame. I hadn’t even considered height, only the length.

Did I mention it was one of the hottest days so far this year? We’re standing out there, in the sun, steaming in the southern humidity. Leo and this other guy decided the pieces could be strapped onto the Jeep’s frame if we removed the top. Neither Leo or I had ever taken the top off. But how hard could it be?

Famous. Last. Words.

Twenty-five sweaty and irritated minutes later, Leo hung up the phone. His dad had talked him through the process and after another 10 minutes, we managed to get the dumb thing figured out. The nice couple, patient, but sweaty and clearly ready to be done, offered long zip ties and some cardboard to secure our purchase. At last, it was done.


We all waved at each other and Leo and I climbed into the Jeep. I realized I had shorted the woman $20 so I ran back to this woman’s door and tried to give it to her. I think she was sick of the sight of me; she waved me off and said it was fine.

Back at home, Leo and I struggled in the sun. After four trips up the stairs with smaller pieces, my pregnant self felt done in. But we heaved and hoed and pushed the damn thing in the door. And that’s where it remained. I refused to move it another inch until later that evening. One more colossal struggle up the stairs and we have a crib and dresser.

Poor Leo’s struggle wasn’t over. He returned the Jeep to his parents’ house, where it took him and his dad another 40 minutes to return the top to its proper location. It’s not a great endorsement for the soft top option.

All that to scratch two items off The Big List. I’m hoping bottles and blankets won’t be so painful.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll ask again: What baby items can we do without, and which would you strongly recommend?


So Long, Farewell

Today is my last day with the Raleigh Public Record, a nonprofit for which I have worked for four years. I’m sorry to say good-bye.

Life is full of change, though, and it’s time for a big one. I’ve put in many hours of work for the Record, and although I love the work, my life changes mean it’s time to make some big decisions. Part of it is financial; I need to focus on my business and clients to make sure I’m making money enough to save for maternity leave.

But the other part is time management. I worked long hours for the first half of 2014. I had fun doing so, but during a massage for my birthday, the woman remarked on some knots in my shoulders. No surprise to me; I’d spend hours hunched over my desk, always in a hurry to get work done. While I was having fun, it’s probably not the healthiest practice for me or my fetus, and certainly not sustainable once I become a parent.

Election Day, November 2013. You can see me working hard on a live radio broadcast.


I have full confidence in the editors taking over the organization. But I still worry about it. The Record has worked hard through the years, but this is a time of transition. And as any nonprofit employee or board member knows, things can change quickly if the funding dries up.

I encourage you all to donate $10 this month to this wonderful group. You may wonder why it’s worth it: Studies show news organizations really can affect a community’s interaction with its elected officials. Even if you don’t read every day, the free press is a huge part of keeping this democracy thing moving. And if you don’t, you’ll hear from me again about donations and fundraising. I’ve agreed to remain part of the Record as a member of the board of directors. Stay tuned.


Preggo Details

The news is out! I’m sure you’re all dying to know how it’s been going so far. If not, you can skip this. For the rest of you, here are some details:

  • I am 12 weeks today (Aug. 15) and I’m due Feb. 27. According to my app, it’s the size of a plum. onsie
  • We call it “The Alien,” mostly because I feel as though this is a parasite, sucking up my life force. Tired? Uh, yes.
  • Nope, no morning sickness. Apparently, 25 percent of women don’t get it. Thanks, universe, for making me one of those!
  • Some nausea, but that stopped once I started eating every two hours. So yes, I eat six or seven small “meals” a day.
  • I’ve only gained a few pounds so far. Yay!
  • When I’m in my birthday suit you can see just a small bump starting to protrude. Those of you not that up close and personal with me will just have to wait.
  • We plan to find out the baby’s gender in advance.
  • We have lots of ideas for girls’ names, zero for boys. Accepting funny suggestions only, thanks. For now, Leo is calling it “Tiberius.” As in, James Tiberius Kirk for you Trek fans.
  • We got our first baby gift already! My mom was too excited not to buy this onesie while she visited last weekend.
  • The avalanche of advice has begun. But the one thing I actually want to know from you moms out there: What baby items could you not live without and which ones should you have skipped?

Creating a Quilt

When I was in third grade, my paternal grandmother sent each of us four kids a quilt, each similar but slightly different. Mine was lavender. They became our companions, accompanying us on road trip vacations, joining us on the couch for Saturday morning cartoons and lying on our bed.

Grandma slowly worked to make a quilt like this for each of her 13 grandchildren. When we graduated high school, we received another one to take to the dorms. She kept working, creating new ones for other friends, family, loved ones, and managed to make three for her great grandchildren.

I always thought it was an amazing skill, to create this beautiful and useful works of art. So in April, I took a beginner’s quilting class. I’ve always said I would try it at least once, to discover whether I had the ability to make wonderful and memorable gifts for people. Given my lack of sewing experience, it was difficult. Ignorantly, I delved into the world of rotary cutters and fat quarters.

Creating even a small quilt in four weeks is a challenge, especially because it turned out to be one of my busiest months of work all year. In fact, I did not quite finish during the final class, because I had forgotten my binding material at home. But I have finally finished!

While any quilter could spot the multitude of mistakes, I am proud of my first creation. Although my grandmother is not here to see it, I think she would be proud, too.


Manifest Destiny

Go West, young man, go West!

West we went this weekend, extending our (nonexistent) backyard by 0.06 acres! 20140517_123911

Leo and I bought the house completely satisfied with the small yard, mostly because we hate mowing laws, and had big visions for landscaping. But we did ponder the yard behind us, wondering if someday we might buy the nearby house and divide the lot, expanding our empire.

Earlier this year, our neighbor approached us to do just that, minus the house. She offered to sell a section of the backyard to us for tax value.

Today, after just more than one year in the house, we signed the papers, cut a hole in the fence and walked onto our new backyard!

(Backyard selfie!)



The World’s Largest Frying Pan

The World’s Largest Frying Pan is underwhelming at first.

We drove up, expecting to see a giant cast iron skillet with the skillet side facing the road, handle jauntily poking into the air.

Instead, the World’s Largest Frying Pan in Rose Hill, N.C. is a flat pan lying under a small shelter. It stands a few feet off the ground and is divided into several sections. Frankly, it didn’t look like much.


But it actually works. The town and nonprofit groups use it for events each year, frying up delicious food for up to 3,000 people at once. More stats:


So I’d say this veer off the Interstate was worth a few extra minutes.


Check out our swerve to the Georgia guidestones for something really intriguing.