Saturday, May 7, 2011

And now we wait...

Walking around pregnant in New York has been like having a key to the city. When you live here, you quickly learn that Crazy comes in all shapes and sizes. As a consequence, people here tend to move through their daily routines in a protective shell, often taking great care to avoid eye contact and interaction with strangers. But my belly seems to crack people open, and has served as an unanticipated social experiment. Instead of wondering about the strangers I see, I get to find out who is polite, who will pretend not to see my big belly, who stares, who catcalls, who will ask about the baby, who will tell me to order decaf, who will be a first time aunt in July. And who will give me free stuff! Zoltar has made me the queen of "on the house"! Within the past two weeks, I've received free cookies on two separate occasions, a free bottle of water, 4 free sea salt caramels, and a free mascara.

An update on the subway seat game: young men are still taking it to the house, by far offering seats most often. My favorite: a young guy with baggy jeans and baseball hat pulled over his eyes offered me a seat. I thanked him and we started talking, and it turned out he was on his way to the hospital because his wife just went into labor with his second daughter. In a distant second place, middle aged women. In a tie for douchebaggery, middle aged men and yuppie white women.

Tomorrow is my first mother's day; how strange that I'm a mother even though I have no idea what our baby looks like! We are going to buy a cookie from Levain's Bakery and I'm going to try to finish an entire quart of skim milk in one sitting. Because I'm still craving dairy, and also because I don't know when else I'd be successful at such an endeavor. Wish me luck!

Here we are! Zoltar at 37 weeks, estimated weight 5 lbs 15 oz.


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...And now for some fun signs that have caught my eye. Maybe the next time you hear from me, I'll have a baby on the outside. Or maybe not!

Window of the iconic Strand Bookstore:
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What? People accidentally mistake a furniture store for a bus service company?
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Even his adopt-a-highway sign is loud and obnoxious!
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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Visitors, 2011 edition

A lot has changed since the 2010 edition, but the one constant is that New York City attracts visitors. As we now hit the 8 month mark, our small apartment is transitioning from visitor crash pad into baby bed and breakfast. We had back to back friends visit us over the past week. First, Minnesota girls and I soaked up the relative sunshine in Central Park, which is finally filling with cherry blossoms and tulips.

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After the girls left for Minnesota (which is still getting snow, what?!) we had Iowa visitors. One important order of business was to eat together at Babbo, which requires a reservation exactly a month in advance (no sooner, no later.) Clearly, we're running out of time for this nonsense.

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35 week belly
Nobody warned our visitors that women who are 8 months pregnant are lame! Well, that's because I didn't know I would be so lame! I nap, I go to bed early and give them a set of keys, I bow out of walking around Times Square (and long walks in general!), I insist on stopping for ice cream and mint lemonade. Five more weeks can seem like a disproportionately long time in this state of discomfort.

Luckily my lameness seemed to wear off a little on everybody else!
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And now we're all off to the Knicks/Celtics game for some Easter celebrating!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Bundle of WTF

We have to take what we can get for nice weather, as we've learned from snowy Minnesota, rainy Maastricht, and late bloomer New York. Last weekend, there was enough sun to justify a little trip to Roosevelt Island for a picnic, so that's what we did. Roosevelt Island is a place that few people visit, even though you get there on a tram with a fantastic view of Manhattan (or in our case, a shitty view of other people blocking the fantastic view!) Roosevelt Island is a strange little island situated between Manhattan and Queens. The history of the place is strange- it was passed from the Dutch to the English to a private family, and finally to the City of New York. It's famous for having an old insane asylum and smallpox hospital. Present day, it's home to a single coffee shop, drugstore, subway stop, the only lighthouse in NYC, and very few residents. It was strange to be in a place that's part of New York City and so deserted. But it's good for picnicking and wandering, since there is a good view of Manhattan's east side, as seen from the kickball fields, community garden, and Nick's sunglasses!
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The mint lemonade has nothing to do with our picnic, it's here simply because it was delicious enough to remember!


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We had some professional maternity shots today (so excited!) but in the meantime, here are some 32 week shots in front of the lighthouse.

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Now that we're down to the last two months, I'm impatient and exhausted in addition to the natural excitement and curiosity about who our baby will be. What I really hate is the books that can't talk about pregnancy and birth without referring to cuddling my cliched "bundle of joy." Did these women give birth to stuffed animals or something? Joy is just one of many complex things that Zoltar is a bundle of, and I'd be in for a rude awakening if I believed that caring for a real infant approximates hugging a baby doll all day.  With regard to birth, I feel about as bad for our baby as I do for myself. Poor Zoltar's life to date experience consists of floating alone in a dark and wet enclosed space. I imagine his tiny creature brain will zip through the following thought process:
  • WTF is this air?
  • WTF is this light?
  • WTF happened to my thump thump sound?
  • Who the fuck are you?
The three of us will have a lifetime of WTF moments together. And if we're lucky, we'll all be ok when we wrap him in a little ball and let him hear a heartbeat and sing his favorite song.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Boyz in the hood

Enough talk about the boy in my womb, how about my other boys? There are the ones we all know and love and love to photograph (Nick, Batman, Newman).

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Nick, enjoys feeling fetus kicks to his back

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Batman, smells change

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Newman, wild card. Will either sit on baby's face or ignore baby.

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Recently I've been surprised to find that New York City is full of young gentlemen. I first noticed this surprising politesse last summer when some boys extended a generous invite. Now that I'm obviously pregnant, day to day subway travel serves as an impromptu social experiment: will anyone in this town offer me a seat? Although I have two months left, the data so far has been overwhelming, and I feel confident publishing some conclusions. Here they are:

Most likely to offer: far and away (at least 90% of seats offered to date) young men in their 20's are the most likely to offer a seat. Preppy undergrads, grad students, tourists with arms around girlfriends, pants pulled down ganstas, but the common denominator is young men will offer me a seat, and I love them for it. It gives me hope for the world and for our son (!).

Least likely to offer: tie between women my age and middle aged men. I've even learned that straight up rudeness isn't out of the question for these demographics. I've had these winners put their fat purse or cheap briefcase on the last seat right when I go to sit, or push in front of me to get on the train. (For the record, a simple and cold "excuse me" is an effective bag removal device.)

There you have it- I won't offer my theories to maintain the integrity of the scientific results. And for now, let's all have high expectations for young men and their manners.

The past two weekends, Nick and I did the unthinkable- visited the ..... wait for it..... boroughs! Technically NYC includes a lot more than Manhattan, but I tend to round down and get my money's worth without crossing a bridge. Last weekend, it was Brooklyn, and this weekend, Queens. We first wandered around Union Square (on Manhattan's east side) which hosts a bustling market featuring locally sourced (and expensive!) beef, cider, produce, and a few free gems.

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Then we headed to the 7 train for our first Queens visit (unless the airport counts.) We had a dinner party to attend, but first visited an art museum and an outdoor graffiti mecca called 5 Pointz.
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Ten weeks left, give or take, before another boy will be joining us and entering the ranks of New York gentlemen!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

When life hands you rain, make purple rain

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Yesterday, I decided to stop for breakfast before work. I turned to open the door of my chosen establishment and BAMMO! there was dude in front of me changing his pants. Standing in his boxers, digging through a duffel bag. I turned in a circle, my mind adjusting to this sequence of events. But as you can guess, no man will stand between me and a breakfast sandwich. So I just went past him, told the manager there was a dude changing his pants by the door and laughed with the employees about this strange morning. Today, it rained all day, and to top it off, the strap on the shoes I was wearing broke! So imagine me, almost seven months pregnant, running around in the rain with no umbrella and broken shoes. 

I'm a crotchety old man under normal circumstances, so I don't know how I'm in such a good mood after all this. Maybe it's because Starbucks is offering free treats today through Saturday, or maybe because now I have a good excuse to toss the old shoes I wore today. (I couldn't toss them when they were still "perfectly good," curse you practical Midwestern upbringing!) Whatever the reason, I felt compelled to document my rare optimism, so when I'm holding a screaming baby, I can look back and say, "Remember that time I encountered a dude changing his pants at Cosi? Those were the days."

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Last Ditch Efforts

I'm having the opposite reaction of most moms to be. Instead of accepting the fact that my grooming habits will soon go downhill, I'm making a last ditch effort to figure out the rites of womanhood while I still have time. Lucky for me, I'm lazy and my grooming habits are already at rock bottom, with nowhere to go but up. I literally don't know how to fill a half hour getting ready or "doing my hair." There is only so much eye shadow that will fit on my eyelids! When I hang out with other girls, I'm baffled by the time we need to build in for "getting ready to go out." Why aren't we ready now? My hair is a prime example. Current styling habits include: air dry, brush. Back in third grade, I was a teased bang aficionada, and I became determined to make a comeback.

Playing around with new hair tool (which made my hair too curly so I had to pull it back!)
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This weekend, we took a tour of the 42nd street New York Public Library and visited the Frick Museum. Another last ditch effort, just in case Zoltar is one of those babies who doesn't want to sleep peacefully in his carrier while his parents walk around the library. We had a lot of fun, and figured out that recently I have a new limit on walking and going without food. Poor Nick discovered this the hard way when I snapped, "I said I was hungry a half hour ago, that means we need to eat NOW."

Nick in front of the lions!
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Zoltar, 28 weeks, me with presentable curls!
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Ghostbusters reading room, scene of this hilarious Improv Everywhere stunt (NYPL was in on this as a publicity stunt)


 So while this has nothing to do with the library, I have to share the funniest IE video ever. Around the 1:10 mark, I start peeing my pants from laughing, despite not having seen Star Wars for a good 15 years.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Socks

I've been looking for a particular set of striped baby socks. Striped socks shouldn't be too hard to find, right? That's what I thought, until I walked into baby store after baby store for the past month and walked out empty handed each time. So, the other day, I walked into yet another baby store, or shall I say baby boutique. I can't help myself, I check every store I pass for these damn socks. I saw stripes! ... mixed with dots? Yes, purposely mismatched socks- one stripe and one dots for each pair. In the midst of $50 hand sewn stuffed mice and $30 infant tee-shirts, I had a few realizations: 1) the adorable mouse's head could easily be ripped off 2) I'm tired of $30 baby tee-shirts, organic/soft/well-designed/clever as they might be for the month or two Zoltar could fit into a given size 3) there's a limit to how much effort a person can put forth for socks and I had reached it 4) if you're going to get away with mismatched socks in life, babyhood is the time...

So I bought the socks! Aren't they cute?! This also serves as public notice that Zoltar's mismatched socks are no accident.

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You can see that I'm training Batman for the next phase in his life, one sure to be marked with utter confusion and forced patience.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Christmas in February

This Monday morning was like Christmas morning for a simple reason: freshly baked cheesecake needs to be refrigerated overnight. The weather turned windy and cold, so I resorted to baking my most favorite dessert as a means of entertainment. Note that cheesecake in general is not my favorite, it's this particular cheesecake which has an extra layer of vanilla topping.)

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Another Christmas present was finding mini cans of Dr. Pepper at the nearby grocery store. We've been holding out for these forever! When we lived in Maastricht, only one of the 3 Albert Heijn stores in our neighborhood carried Dr. Pepper. By the time we moved to New York, all 3 did. Now, we don't drink that much Dr. Pepper, we only buy a few cans a week (or zero cans a week if the store doesn't carry the right size!). But I have a strong suspicion that selling a few extra cans probably tripled Albert Heijn's Dr. Pepper sales, which led them to offer it in the 2 additional stores. I like to imagine that when we left, we left a Dutch grocery manager in a state of utter confusion about what was happening to his Dr. Pepper sales.

On Thursday and Friday, I retired my puffy coat and happily wandered around the city in only a cardigan. On Saturday and Sunday, I unretired my puffy coat and we finally went in search of maternity clothes. Until now, I've been mostly getting by with a belly band and my normal shirts, but now I'm undeniably pregnant! Today, we wake up to snow! Puffy coat it is. Even bundled in winter gear, Zoltar has been recognized by 3 people so far, who offered the pregnant lady (me!) a seat on the subway. What's funny is that my winter coat is actually a child's XL, because the length was better on me and it was $100 cheaper than the women's XS version. Who knew that a kid's coat could fit a 6 month baby bump inside?

Luckily we decided to take a few pictures of Zoltar in Central Park before the snow hit today. (Now at 26 weeks or 6 months or -3 months old!) The park is still pretty dreary and gray, but there are only so many apartment poses that a fetus can make.



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This weekend we went to see the Oscar nominees for live action short films. It was so much more fun to bypass all of the big movies and see the categories and people whose accomplishments are usually highlighted with a small footnote. I thought that seeing these short films was an only in New York thing, but I was wrong! You can even see these bad boys in Duluth! So if you live in Duluth, we strongly recommend a trip to the movies!

And now, Nick, Zoltar and I have some cheesecake to eat.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Womb-book

Babies! Zoltar has a new cousin, his first and only, named Zoey Jane. We talked to my belly and shared the news, and I said in my Zoltar voice (which is uncannily similar to my mouse/ant voice) "I already KNOW, I saw it on womb-book."

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Zoey Jane and her proud parents

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And as for Zoltar, here we are together at 24 weeks!

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He is kicking more and more often. I've felt him for almost six weeks, and within the last couple of weeks, Nick has been able to feel him and even see my stomach move when Zoltar kicks. El bebe has also getting more and more demanding in his cravings. For the first few months my sweet tooth all but disappeared, and the only strange craving (which still persists!) was for extra scoops of Chipotle's mild salsa. See if you can tell what his highness wants lately...

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Breakfast foods: dairy, sugar, and fruit! The kid already has good taste- heavenly vanilla brioche French toast with syrup, berries, and marscapone cheese, which is a brilliant addition to balance out the sweetness. On Sunday, my lunch was a glass of chocolate milk, a milkshake, and a latte. Say what? As I type this, I'm waiting for my chocolate strawberry shortcakes to finish baking, and you can bet your ass there's dairy involved (sour cream topping!) I know this isn't just me looking for an excuse to eat; milkshakes aren't my style. Surprisingly, I don't eat as much as I thought I would as a preggo, because the baby is quickly taking over the stomach real estate that's normally reserved for extra food! Being pregnant with Zoltar is my firsthand experience with gentrification in NYC. When the ultrasound reveals he's opened up a miniature Starbucks in my womb, we'll know he's ready for a change of neighborhood.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Pictures strictly forbidden

What better way to show off some recent New York adventures than with some prohibited photography? First off is the SNL studio at 30 Rock. We scored tickets about a month ago to see Gwyneth Paltrow, who is tall, pale, and slouchy in person. Pictures strictly forbidden! Unlike some places that don't bother to enforce their rules, the SNL pages were watching the audience like hawks. For the first time in a long time, people put their damn phones away. We had our chance to swipe a photo when a girl behind us went to the bathroom, which is apparently a big deal, so the page left to go with her.

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Next up is the Earth Room, which is a free art exhibit that's been around since 1977. It's a room completely filled with 2 feet of dirt. Really?! Really. Like a big flower pot, but without flowers, in a room in the middle of Soho. And now it's art. There are so many wonderful places that come and go in this city (RIP beloved Neuhaus chocolate on the UWS), but somehow a freeloading pile of dirt has managed to find shelter in Soho for more than 30 years. Go figure!

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For those of you who wonder how the city reacts to the blizzard, here is a hint. The sanitation department waits until the snow melts to pick up the garbage! Thankfully, it doesn't smell. The last time it snowed, we even walked past Christmas trees barely peeking out from their snowy graves. (You can see how tall it is compared to the awning behind it!)

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This photo wasn't strictly forbidden, but it's rude to take photos of strangers isn't it? And she probably doesn't have a permit to sell fur coats on the street, so let's keep it on the down low.

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