Wednesday, January 31, 2007

And the weird just keeps on coming!

So I know I already did the Six Weird Things About Me meme, and it's not like anyone requested some bonus weird, but here we go anyway, since I have a story to tell. I like spiders, I really do. I love Charlotte's Web. I think spiders are fascinating, and they eat bugs I don't like. So the rule in our place is that spiders are allowed to stay if there aren't too many and they stay in the corners, and I am able to deal with my slight issue with how many legs they have and how they're really a little scary, even the non-venomous ones. There is the, "Is it on me? I feel like it's on me" response when the spider has left it's corner. But a couple of nights ago, one of the resident spiders broke the rules and was on the wall right by my lamp when I got up in the middle of the night to feed Lilah. Usually rule-breaking spiders get relocated with the sophisticated cup-and-piece of paper method, but it was cold and I was tired, so I ushered him into the bathroom with a Kleenex and went back to sleep. Then I was feeding Lilah a couple hours later, around dawn, sitting up in bed, and all of a sudden, there was a spider SIX INCHES FROM MY FACE. Ack! I really don't think I'm so fascinating that it's necessary to float down to see me from the ceiling. So I grabbed the changing pad and scooted him toward the oppposite wall, and he's now happily installed in the bathroom. But he (she?) necessitated a new rule, which is No Spiders Allowed in the Bedroom. My husband doesn't think it's really that traumatic to have a spider show up right in front of your face when you're half asleep, but I'm not alone here, right? That's scary!

Thank you to everyone for your kind blogiversary wishes! I am also SO glad that I'm not the only one who started Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell ages ago :)

Knitting: I finished the Gryffindor Socks!!! Here they are, modeled by my husband, who wouldn't roll up his pants legs any further than that.

The details:
Pattern - From The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns, men's medium
Changes - I did about an inch of ribbing, then switched to stockinette for the rest of the sock. I also used size 1 needles for the whole sock, and didn't change sizes.
Yarn - Gryffindor Stripe from Sunshine Yarns
Notes: Dani periodically posts new yarn for sale, and there isn't always Gryffindor Stripe. Even when there is, it sells out fast. I was excited to get two skeins at different times. I believe Dani takes special orders, though, if you contact her. I used an entire skein, plus additional red for the toe. For a woman's sock, one skein should be plenty. I cut out the yellow parts of the yarn for the top ribbing, heel flap, and toe.
Needles - Size 1 dpns
Gauge - 8 stitches per inch

Thoughts: I'm not sure I'm a huge fan of the heel flap method. My next sock attempt will be a short-row heel. These fit Matt really well, even though I worried partway through the first sock that the stockinette would make it too snug (the pattern as written is for ribbing). I love the yarn. The rest of the second skein is for a pair of Gryffindor socks for me! Final thought: men have big feet. Making socks for women is much nicer, but Matt really liked these, so it was worth it.

There we go! That's my last Christmas present knitting! Now, on to more baby things.

Reading: I finished Jane and the Genius of the Place by Stephanie Barron. Like the others in the series, I enjoyed it. It's more political than the previous entries and discusses the Napoleonic Wars quite a bit. The mystery wasn't quite as good, and I missed Lord Harold and Eliza. But Jane's voice makes it a fun read, anyway. I'm now reading The Shadow of the Wind and loving it so far.

Writing: Still slow revising. As we get used to Lilah's schedule more, I'm working on re-incorporating things like exercise (I missed you, Billy Blanks!) and preventing the apartment from devolving into total chaos (ha! too late!), so there's been less writing of late.

Cooking: I am very lucky to live near Lee, a fabulous cook (and also a knitter, and we were treated to a lovely homemade Indian feast, so we have been able to skip some cooking. I did, however, make cabbage soup, and this time came closer to the yummy vegetable soup served in Basque restaurants, so I'll post what I did.

Cabbage Soup (With or Without Beans)

2 TBL olive oil
2 small onions, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups stock or water (if you use all water, add a bay leaf and perhaps extra garlic and onion)
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 large head of cabbage, shredded
2-3 cups pinto beans, Great Northern beans, navy beans, or chickpeas (canned or cooked) (optional)
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste (you'll use less salt if you use salted stock, canned beans, tomatoes that aren't no-salt-added, etc.)

Heat the oil in a stockpot. Add onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook over medium heat until onion is translucent. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook 30 minutes, or until vegetables reach desired tenderness. This makes a ton of soup! Serve sprinkled with grated parmesan and ground black pepper.

I used half vegetable stock and half water. I used chickpeas because I had some cooked ones leftover from making hummus, but I would have preferred pinto beans. At Basque restaurants, a bean-free version of this is served alongside bread, salsa, and soup beans (pinto). You scoop beans and salsa into your bowl, then ladle in soup. Yum.

Friday, January 26, 2007

A Whole Year at the Whole Ball of Yarn(s)!

So, it's my blogiversary, I guess. I ought to have something clever reflecting back over the year, or at least a fun contest or something, but I don't. Sorry! I did look back at my very first post and noticed that I was reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, which is still next to my bed with a bookmark in it, which I think is hilarious. A lot has changed in the year, though. A year ago, I was still upset over being laid off from a hideously awful job, and now I'm happily writing with a new baby. Things have definitely improved. What's more, I've actually kept a journal with some consistency, which I've never done before, and I've "met" lots of lovely people in the blogosphere. It's been a good year, even with the morning sickness.

Knitting: Still plugging along on the sock. I hope to finish it this weekend. First, I have to wind this really long skein of yarn. On the heel gusset, I sort of fudged the edges. I picked up an extra stitch, but instead of waiting till the next row to knit it together with the one next to it, I twisted the stitch and knit it together with the first held stitch. Does that make sense? It closed the gaps very nicely, I think.

Reading: I finished Murder on a Hot Tin Roof. I actually guessed the murderer and the motive! But the book was still enjoyable, since I wasn't positive until the end. This was a fun, quick diversion. I do recommend this series by Amanda Matesky if you enjoy cozy mysteries. I'm now reading Jane and the Genius of the Place, the fourth in that series, and, as expected, enjoying it quite a bit.

Writing: Still slowly revising. I got more sleep last night, though, which I'm hoping is a trend!

Cooking: Not much at all. I did a vegetable soup based on the blueprint in my recipe list to the left. I also soaked chickpeas to make hummus. Tim, I think you might have to go grocery shopping :) If you also have eggs and milk, I could possibly suggest a bread pudding with toasted cinnamon raisin bagel and applesauce. Don't you have any fruits or vegetables around? I do have to say--Ketchup chips??? Are you turning Canadian already?!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Lots of reading...not much knitting

Knitting: The heel has turned! I have three more stripes on the foot before the toe decreases. I think I may make it before February. Here it is:

And I think I did better with the heel gusset this time, thanks to your suggestions to pick up an extra stitch:

But, I'm definitely going to have to wind my second ball of yarn, since this is all I have left:

I'm hoping that it doesn't look obvious. These are not the same dyelot, but I have my fingers crossed.

Reading: I finished two excellent books. I'm currently reading Murder on a Hot Tin Roof by Amanda Matesky, the fourth in a series of mysteries set in 1950s New York. The sleuth is Paige Turner (ha, ha), a writer for Daring Detective magazine. I like these pretty well. Without looking at a jacket photo or reading a bio, I'm pretty sure Ms. Matesky didn't actually live through the 1950s. I think her 50s are well-researched, but there are a few too many stock characters, phrases, and events referenced. They don't bother me all that much, but, for example, her sidekick is her Jewish friend (who says Oy Vey a lot) who's dating a Beat poet and frequents jazz clubs. I can almost imagine Ms. Matesky going through a list of 1950s "must haves" and saying "Yiddish? Check! Beatnik? Check! Jazz scene? Check!" But the blurb on the back of the book from Romantic Times (is that a real magazine?) says that "Matesky adeptly captures the atmosphere of the 1950s" so maybe I'm being too picky. Besides, I do enjoy these, and as they're set in a different era, they're very different from your typical cozy mystery, and references like the films the characters go to see are fun.

I finished The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. Very, very good. Sort of gothic in feel, so if you like that sort of thing, you'll be right at home. It reminded me a little of Jane Eyre. It was an absolutely engrossing book with rich characters and a captivating plot. It begins with Margaret Lea, amateur biographer and daughter of a book shop owner, who is summoned by a famous author, Vida Winter, to write her biography. The author has told many versions of her life story in the past, all conflicting and none of them true, but now she's ready to reveal the real story to Margaret. Naturally, Margaret herself also has a story to tell. She listens to Vida's tale, visits her childhood home, and conducts her own research, and the story of Vida Winter slowly unfolds. The title refers to one of her works, a book of stories called The Thirteen Tales in the earliest printing, but later corrected because the thirteenth tale is missing. It was a lovely read, and Ms. Setterfield's first novel, so I look forward to seeing what else she comes up with.

I also zipped through Welcome to Higby by Mark Dunn. I had loved his Ella Minnow Pea, and I enjoyed this one as well, though it's very different. It's more of a traditional novel, a slice of life story set in a southern town over Labor Day weekend. The characters are all quirky in their own way, and all interconnected. The chapters are insanely short (75 chapters over 339 pages), but the story is remarkably cohesive, and the conclusion elegant. It was a light, fun read, and I'd recommend it.

Writing: Revising. Slowly.

Cooking: Nothing new to report. Haha! If you guys want to send me a list of what's in your pantry, I'll do my best to suggest menus :)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Business as usual

In case you're curious, here's how the cats have responded to Lilah's arrival:

Yup, they don't care that much. (Mirando is snuggled into the Boppy, which is a breastfeeding pillow, a fantastic invention. And also a good cat bed.) I guess from their perspective, not much has changed. They still get fed and petted. Mirando still snuggles with us in bed. Geronimo still gets brushed once a week. They don't care much for her crying (which fortunately she doesn't do much of), but other than that, they don't mind her at all. Every once in a while they'll sniff near her head or feet, but they don't get that close.

Thank you to everyone who enjoyed my birth story. The main reason I decided to share it is related to Areli's comment--all the birth horror stories out there. When I was eight months pregnant and flying back from visiting my family at Thanksgiving, one of the flight attendants told me all about her emergency c-section during which she almost died and her baby had to spend two weeks in NICU. Um...thanks? Seriously, what would possess someone to share that with a pregnant woman? And I had such a great birth experience that maybe my story can help balance out the horror stories some idiot has told you.

Knitting: Thank you to everyone who felt ripping out the HP sock was unnecessary. I love you guys. I'm still on the leg, but almost to the heel flap. Speaking of which, my next pair of socks, I want to try a short-row heel. As I was catching up on my blog-reading, I fell in love with these stunning socks by Turtlegirl. I like my Gryffindor socks (which are more or less from Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns) but the look of her short-row heel is lovely. I have some Sunshine Yarns sock yarn in Strawberry Banana that will be my next pair of socks.

Reading: I'm about halfway through The Thirteenth Tale. The word "unputdownable" gets thrown about a lot in literary criticism, but it is no exaggeration here. This book is riveting. I'm a little bummed that there are only 200 more pages to read. Oh, I forgot to mention that when I got to the end of The Fourth Bear, I was delighted to see the following: "Thursday Next returns in The War of the Words, July 2007." I squealed and jumped up and down. I am not kidding, I did. Yay! A Harry Potter movie, possibly a Harry Potter book, AND a Thursday Next book all in the same month? Best. July. Ever.

Writing: We had a couple of rough nights without much sleep. Last night was better. But at any rate, laundry was almost above my capabilities the last couple of days, much less creative output. Back to revising today, though.

Cooking: Hey, I cooked again! We had almost nothing in the apartment so I improvised Bean and Cheese Enchiladas with Fiesta Rice from random stuff in the fridge and pantry. Matt and I agreed that they were really quite good, and the filling for the enchiladas would also make awesome bean dip. I probably would have used black beans instead of kidney if we'd had any, but it was good this way. Cilantro would have been a nice addition, too. I've never made my own enchilada sauce, but that might be fun sometime.

Bean and Cheese Enchiladas

1 can refried beans (14.5 oz.)
1 can kidney beans, well drained (14.5 oz)
2 cups shredded cheese, divided
2 cans enchilada sauce, divided (I think these are 12 oz.)
2 cloves garlic
12 corn tortillas, warmed according to package directions
sliced green and black olives for garnish
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray and cover with a thin layer of enchilada sauce. In a food processor, combine beans, garlic, 1 cup of cheese, and 1/4 cup enchilada sauce. Process well. Divide evenly among tortillas, rolling and placing seam side down in the pan. Cover with remaining enchilada sauce, reserving 1/2 cup for Fiesta Rice (if making). Top with remaining cheese, then olives. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes, or until bubbly.

Note: I used 2% sharp cheddar for filling and 2% Mexican cheese blend for topping, because that's what I had.

Fiesta Rice

1 cup white rice
1 can diced tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved (14.5 oz.)
1 tsp salt (adjust to taste)
About 1/2 cup enchilada sauce (left over from enchiladas)
1 cup frozen corn
1 tsp cumin

Combine all ingredients except reserved tomato juice and enchilada sauce in a small saucepan. Pour tomato juice and enchilada sauce into a measuring cup and add water to total 1 1/2 cups liquid. Add to pan. Bring to a boil. Cover tightly and reduce heat, simmering 20 minutes, or until liquid is mostly absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes. Fluff with fork and serve.

Monday, January 15, 2007

First FO of 2007

It was meant to be a Christmas present (and is less than a month late!). Here's my Branching Out for Lilah's future Aunt Maureen:

Pattern - Branching Out
Needles - Size 8
Yarn - Rowanspun DK in Eau de Nil
Notes - If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I love this pattern. Easy, fun, looks fantastic. I've made zillions (okay, more like 8 or so) and I'm still not tired of it. A very nice gift pattern. The yarn was a bit rough, actually, but softened up nicely with a wash. I adore the color.

Hey, do you see the snow in the background through the window? We finally got winter! It showed up yesterday. Must have taken the left at Albuquerque.

Okay, onto recent activities. StringBean, I will try measuring Lilah next time I change her. Boy, that's going to make her mad :) Scroll down to the end for my birth story if you're interested. By the way, welcome to the new commenters! I hope you enjoy it here.

Other knitting: I have begun Gryffindor Sock #2:

Okay, somehow I ended up with three more red rows below the ribbing section in sock #2. Is it so obvious I need to rip back? I'm leaning heavily toward no. These are "hanging around the apartment" socks for my husband, and I'm thinking no one will be staring at his calves to such an extent that it's going to be noticed. But anyway, I've made progress on it!

Reading: I finished Jasper Fforde's The Fourth Bear, the second in his Nursery Crime series. I loved it. I was a bit iffy on the first one, The Big Over Easy, and I need to re-read it to see if I like it better now. At the time, I was bummed because I really wanted another Thursday Next novel and I was distracted by the overlap with that series. So I'm not sure if The Fourth Bear is really better or if I'm just more okay with the new series now. At any rate, it follows Jack Spratt and Mary Mary of the Nursery Crime Division of the Reading police force as they investigate the disappearance of reporter Goldilocks and the escape of the serial killer Gingerbreadman. If that sounds nuts, it is. The whole book is crazy, witty meta-fiction, but, you know, in a good way. I definitely recommend it. I'm starting The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield now. I was debating between something fluffier and this and decided on this one.

Writing: Revising.

Cooking: Hey, I cooked! Well, I made pizza dough in the bread machine. Matt handled assembly. Last night I made really easy pasta. I sauteed a zucchini and a couple of cloves of garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil, seasoned with salt, pepper, basil, and oregano, and then added a tablespoon of pine nuts. I tossed this with four ounces of pasta. Fresh spinach would have been nice if I'd had it on hand. I think I'm making enchiladas tonight.

Birth Story (I think this is pretty non-gory, but if birth stories aren't your thing, feel free to skip this):

I woke up Christmas morning feeling a little weird, and present opening is still kind of a blur. I seriously had to look at my
presents later to see what I'd gotten. I was kind of out of it. Then I started having contractions (uncomfortable, not painful) 10 or so minutes apart. I put my feet up and drank lots of water, thinking it was just the holiday craziness, and then I decided to take a nap, but the contractions were waking me up. I thought, "Huh, these seem kind of regular" so I timed them, and they were 5 minutes apart. After half a dozen of them, I got my husband and called my parents and said we had to leave
right away to come back to Madison. No one else thought a two-hour drive was a good idea, and my contractions weren't that strong, so I agreed to go get monitored to see if it was even real labor. I was a little panicky because it was too early for her to come.

So we went to the hospital about 5:00 pm, and they put me on the monitor. My husband and my mom stayed in with me. The nurse kept going back and forth on whether or not she thought I was really in labor. She was on the phone from time to time with the on-call doctor to keep her updated. I was a bit dehydrated, so she gave me lots of water and some crackers since I hadn't eaten in a while. When I started throwing up, she started to think it was real labor. My contractions were 5-7 minutes apart for ages, and not very strong (I could talk through them, and even doze between them), and I was only at 1 cm. Since I was under 38 weeks, no one wanted to do anything to speed things up, in case the contractions would stop. I had back labor, which I could already tell was going to make things fun. My contractions still weren't getting any closer together, or hurting any more than they had, so the nurse (after talking on the phone with the on-call doctor) wanted to put me on morphine, so that I'd fall asleep and either wake up in full-blown labor or relax enough to stop the contractions. Um, no, I said, I am not giving my child morphine, and maybe we should chat about my birth plan now. She was really surprised that I wanted no pain meds, but was very nice and supportive. She checked me again, and I was 4 1/2 cm dilated and fully effaced at 11:30. We were going to have her that night, and we switched from "wait and see" mode to laboring mode. Since it was my first, we thought it'd take all night, so my parents went back to my in-laws' house to sleep.

At that point, I couldn't doze off between the contractions anymore, so I got in the shower. The nurse asked me once if I wanted an epi and I said no. I stayed in there for ages (sorry, time is pretty fuzzy here), but all of a sudden I wanted out. The contractions were almost on top of each other and I was at 8 cm. I'm not sure what time it was, but after a few more contractions, the nurse checked again because I started insisting I wanted to push. I was at 10 cm, and everything went really fast. My water broke on its own, and 3 pushes and about 23 minutes later, Lilah was out! They put her on my chest right away and she started rooting around to nurse.

My husband was *awesome.* We had taken a childbirth prep class, and he remembered everything. I am sorry to say that I forgot all about breathing during transition, and he put his face really close to mine so I had to focus on him and literally told me when to inhale and exhale. That was the hardest part, but it didn't last very long. Immediately after she was out, I felt fantastic. She was born at 1:59 am, so it was really quick once things got going. I called my parents right away and they came to meet her. One of the great parts of not getting an epidural was that I could get up on my own and take a shower right after.

On the morning of the 27th, I started asking when we could get the heck out of there. "But your insurance covers you till tomorrow!" Honestly, when you're not sick, who wants to stay in the hospital longer than you have to? So I talked them into letting us out and we went back to Madison. Our parents had gone to Target to get us a carseat and some outfits and blankets, since of course we had *nothing* there with us. My parents were staying with us until New Year's for the holidays anyway, and my mom was able to change her plane ticket and stay until the 6th. The timing really couldn't have been better.

I was so proud of myself for doing it without medication. It was such an amazing experience. In a lot of ways, it wasn't remotely the way I expected, even though I'd read a zillion books and gone through the class. I've already forgotten about the painful part. I would definitely do it again this way. Not the out-of-town, really early, completely unprepared part, but without pain meds or interventions. Lilah was born alert, and we had no complications at all. I only felt like I was really "recovering" for about a week, and even then, I only needed ibuprofen for pain. If anyone has any questions, just let me know.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

By popular demand...

...another picture of Lilah:

Re: Six Weird Things--Holly, I want to join your webbed toes club. Count Lilah in, too :) StringBean, I totally love even numbers, especially those divisible by four. Rachel, I cannot explain my weird alarm clock thing. I have done that since I can remember, and I have no idea how it started. Probably I was just being deliberately weird.

Stefaneener, I sent you my birth story. Feel free to skim...I do go on and on. If anyone else is interested, just post and I'm happy to share. I love my story, and I am so pleased that I was able to do it with no medication, so I love to share it with people. If enough people are interested, I may write it at the end of a future post.

Knitting: I swear, today is the day I FINISH THAT SCARF! Ahem. Excuse the yelling, but seriously, I have got to finish it so I can do Matt's second sock, so all my Christmas knitting will be done by February. It's a good thing I have "new baby" as an excuse :) I can't knit while I nurse yet, but when Lilah's sleeping on my lap, I can. And I can read while nursing, and type one-handed if I'm commenting on blogs. (So if you notice my comments on your blogs are getting more succint, I may be doing the one-handed method!) She loves to be held (not that surprising for a baby, really), and while I put her in her swing or her baby rocking chair to do laundry and write, I just love holding her.

Reading: I finished S is for Silence by Sue Grafton. You don't have to read these in order, so if you like mysteries, I highly recommend this one. I had trouble putting it down. An interesting quirk of this series is that they start with A is for Alibi in (I think) 1985, and they progress slowly, so S takes place in 1987. No cell phones or computers, just good old-fashioned gumshoe action. Kinsey is a private investigator asked to investigate the disappearance of Violet 34 years before. She thinks it's hopeless, but agrees to spend a week looking around. The book is first-person from Kinsey's point of view, except for interspersed chapters that tell about the days before Violet's disappearance from the points of view of different suspects. Anyway, it was compelling and tightly written, and it was an excellent mystery. I am now reading The Fourth Bear, the second Nursery Crime by Jasper Fforde. I enjoyed the first one, The Big Over Easy, though my favorites are his Thursday Next books.

Lilah and I read the Pooh story about Pooh and Piglet tracking the Woozle today, along with several Mother Goose rhymes. Reading has always been very big in my family, and I hope to share that with Lilah. My parents always read to me, and I was the only child I knew who would be grounded from reading. This stunned all my friends, who were always being bribed to read. But I could be grounded from everything else and not care that much, because I could still read :)

Writing: I opened my mystery novel file today! Woo! I'm starting on some revisions, then moving on.

Cooking: StringBean, if breastfeeding counts as cooking, I am doing a LOT of cooking! You crack me up :) I plan to make pizza tomorrow...we'll see if it happens. I also have ingredients to make other stuff, and I would like to make some bread. I need to make a sourdough starter again, since I lost Steph and Lula in the holiday/baby craziness. It might need to live outside the fridge (since our fridge sometimes freezes stuff). Stefaneener, I think you mentioned once that you can keep the starter out? Do you have to keep feeding it every day, then? The big perk of keeping it in the fridge is moving to a once-a-week feeding, though it's not that big a deal to do it every day, I guess.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Back to Knitting Content

I think I remember how to do this blogging thing. Here's a quick update on my "things I do," besides feeding the baby.

Knitting: No, my Christmas knitting is still not done. I have another Gryffindor sock to make for Matt (though the first one fit perfectly!). And I have a scarf I'm finishing, a Branching Out in Rowanspun DK in Eau de Nil, for Lilah's future Aunt Maureen. Since I wasn't going to see Maureen at Christmas, I planned to cast on for her scarf on Christmas day and send it with my brother-in-law on the 26th when he went to visit her, but, ha ha! I went into labor instead. It's almost done:

Reading: I finished re-reading the Diane Mott Davidson books. The last couple bugged me more than I remember. The early ones are definitely better. Now I'm reading Sue Grafton's S is for Silence. I don't think I've read her since O. I don't think I liked P, so I stopped. But S is good, a really tight mystery about a woman who disappeared 30-plus years ago. After this, I might start some actual literature...I got some good books for Christmas. Lilah and I are reading Winnie-the-Pooh. I haven't read these stories in years and years, and we're both enjoying them.

Writing: Nothing yet, but I'm getting into my schedule with Lilah, so I hope to start tomorrow. I've been writing thank you notes...does that count?

Cooking: Ha! I might make pizza tomorrow night, but there hasn't been time lately. Surprise, surprise :)

Monday, January 08, 2007

Tagged left and right!

Thank you so much to everyone who posted in response to my news. It's so nice to have warm fuzzy thoughts from so many people, most of whom have never met me! My inbox was really overwhelming, in a good way. Stefaneener, writing down the birth experience was something I hadn't thought of, but I've done it now. It was pretty extraordinary, but I won't bore everyone with the gory details, I promise. Lilah is still really little, so she doesn't fit into anything I knit for her yet, except the angora baby booties, which she's quite adept at kicking off. We hadn't actually picked out a name before she was born (we were planning on doing that after Christmas...ha!), so she was Baby Girl for her first 16 hours. The funny story is that we were out of town, a two hour drive away, at my husband's parents' house for Christmas. My parents and my brother were in from California for the holidays, since it was too late in pregnancy for me to travel. It was the first time our families had been all together since our wedding. I woke up on Christmas day feeling weird and starting having contractions in the afternoon. By 5:00 p.m., they were 5 minutes apart, and I wanted to hop in the car and drive back home. However, I was persuaded that I did not want to be on the news for having a baby born on the side of the interstate on Christmas, so I went to the local hospital, where Baby Girl puttered around for hours before getting serious about being born around midnight. Both our families were together the next day to welcome cool is that? We think she just wanted to meet everyone right away, and decided to come early.

Rachel, I love that I'm not the only cloth diaper nerd! I ended up going for the "potpourri" approach to cloth diapering. After a bazillion hours of research on Diaper Pin and cloth diapering forums (fora?), I settled on two kinds of one-size all-in-ones (AIOs)--Bumgenius and Mommy's Touch--for the bulk of our diapers. In theory these work from birth to potty training. Since they use the most when they're littlest, I also got FuzziBunz in the small size (not just because the name is so cute, honestly) and Chinese prefolds with Bummis Whisper Wraps. I figured if I liked the prefolds, I could always get larger sized covers when she's big enough. So far, I like them all. The FuzziBunz are too big for her little thighs, though. Matt likes the AIOs best. No major incidents that haven't involved a prematurely opened diaper (she likes to wait until the dirty diaper is off and then zing us and everything around her). They are more bulky than the disposables, but I like that there are no weird chemicals in them and I'm not filling the landfill singlehandedly. On the cloth diapering forums, there are a lot of women who sew their own diapers, but I am not crafty that way. I do want to knit some wool soakers (in fact, I planned on doing that in January while I waited for her arrival...another ha!), though.

Since this is not a baby blog, I am happy to report that there is still knitting and reading going! Writing and cooking are starting to make a comeback as well. I'm not sure how much time I'll have for blogging and such, but I hope to be able to do at least once a week.

So before the holiday craziness, Tim tagged me with a music meme (his list is very cool, no doubt much cooler than mine, and is right here.) And String Bean tagged me with the Six Weird Things meme. Since I'm a little rusty on blogging after the holidays/childbirth extravaganza, I thought I'd tackle these before returning to my usual format.

Six Weird Things About Me

1. I have webbed toes. My second and third toes on each foot are partially attached to each other. It's really very little webbing and doesn't go up very far, but it's there. It was one of the first things I checked on Baby Girl--she's got 'em, too.

2. I set my alarm for times ending in 2 or 8. So, if I need to get up around 6:00, I decide between 5:58 or 6:02.

3. I can count on one hand the number of books, movies, or television series I have failed to finish, no matter how awful. (And David Foster Wallace, you're the middle finger on that hand). I watched The X-Files to the bitter, bitter end. I *have* to get to the end, and I can't just read the last page to see how it winds up. This is why Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell has been next to my bed with a bookmark on page 42 for a YEAR.

4. I get upset during nature shows when one animal eats another. It's not the violence--it's the conflicted feeling that I don't want the orca to starve, but I also don't want the seal to die. I wish nature worked more like a Disney movie.

5. I dislike Donald Trump with a bewildering intensity. When I see his piggy little eyes and stupid floppy hair on the commercials for his show, my teeth clench, my eyes narrow, and I can feel my blood pressure shoot up. I cannot explain this.

6. I eat the crust of my sandwich first, all the way around. I have done this as long as I can remember. At least when I'm at home--I try to eat like a normal person in public.

Top Twenty Songs On My iTunes

This is hard. I have trouble listing "favorites" of any kind. Astrology-minded people would say this is classic Pisces wishy-washiness. I like coffee AND tea. I like cats AND dogs. But I will try, anyway. With just 20, I'm leaving out classical. I can't possibly put these in order, either, so they're just in the order they occurred to me.

1. Tori Amos, Pretty Good Year: This was the first Tori song I ever heard, so it makes the list even though it's not my current favorite of hers.

2. Regina Spektor, Fidelity: Matt and I just discovered her, and listening to her new CD, I felt like I should already know the words.

3. Sarah McLachlan, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy: Every album of hers after this one is depressing because it's just not as good.

4. The Cranberries, Linger: Oh, stop making fun. This song is *so* high school to me.

5. Aimee Mann, Wise Up: So I loved Magnolia. So sue me.

6. Garbage, #1 Crush: It's hard to pick one Garbage song.

7. Elton John, The Last Song: Yes, I like what Matt calls "Fogey Rock." What can I say? My parents listened to 70s music.

8. Dido, Hunter.

9. Loreena McKennitt, Dante's Prayer: Or any of her songs, really.

10. Marc Cohn, Walking in Memphis: It's not a happy song, really, but it makes me happy.

11. Pink Floyd, Comfortably Numb: Lovely depressing music.

12. Collective Soul, The World I Know: See #11.

13. Bowling For Soup, Almost: I cannot account for how much I like this band. They're just fun, and balance out the lovely depressing music.

14. Aerosmith, Dream On: I do not apologize for liking Aerosmith.

15. U2, Where the Streets Have No Name: Yes, Superstar/Diplomat Bono is a little annoying, but early U2 is awesome.

16. Norah Jones, Sunrise.

17. Etta James, At Last: This was our first dance at our wedding reception.

18. David Bowie w/Queen, Under Pressure: David Bowie AND Queen? What's not to like?

19. Bree Sharp, David Duchovny: This song cracks me up. And it's catchy.

20. Billy Idol, Don't You (Forget About Me): Ah, 80s nostalgia. It's a beautiful thing.

That's it. At least for right now :)