Dec 26, 2006

Lilypie Expecting a baby Ticker

Lying-in: Postpartum planning

After reading this great article on the practice of lying-in,
At rest in the arms of the mother: The postpartum practice of lying-in allows a mom to deeply bond with her newborn babes

by Katherine Gyles (see her blog here) we are beginning to consider a lying-in period of our own.

What is lying-in?
Lying-in is basically a time, immediately postpartum, where the mother and baby and dad are sequestered together and cared for by the father or other community members. The intention is to allow the mother to deeply bond with her newborn baby, to learn their cues and to learn how to breastfeed without any external pressure or visitors.

We found out early that our midwives prescribe two weeks of lying-in (and no stairs) for postpartum moms -- partly as a way to encourage them to stay in bed and bond with baby and also to heal. At first, I didn't think I could abide by this. But lately, as I get bigger and more tired, I understand why this prescription is a good idea... after all, you only have that first two weeks once in your and their lives. why not close in and try to make it a special family bonding time? How could that NOT be beneficial? I have watched many a friend brag about how soon she was up and outta bed and 'back to normal', only to be really exhausting herself completely in the first six weeks postpartum. ...which brings us to a larger question: Why are women trying to pretend nothing happened when they have a baby? Why isn't it okay in our society to take some time to learn how to breastfeed, to sleep, and to bond with the new baby, keeping visitors at bay, until you have more rest and energy and a bit more of a hang for things?

Carol Gray, a grandmother and Doula in the Portland area, wrote a lovely blog entry about adequate postpartum care:
"Have we missed something by proclaiming that as women we can do it all - and do it well? What would it be like if each mother, surrounded by a cocoon of loving helpers, could rest and recover from birth at her own rate? Would it change the way we parent our babies? Would it change the way we think of ourselves as mothers? Would it change the bonds we form with our babies? Would the babies change? Who would those babies be as adults? Would they change the world?"

I just ordered this book about postpartum wellness. Can't wait to get it!

Dec 24, 2006

Disney Princesses and Baby Projectionists

Disney's rampant marketing to girls just plain offends me lately... this article in the Sunday New York Times What's wrong with Cinderella? really sums my feelings up well.

With the recent baby shower, the growing pile of new and hand-me-down baby gear and stuff that is accumulating in our home is growing into a daunting mass. People are asking things like "so is the nursery done?" and it seems to be causing some of my relatives great confusion when I say we aren't doing a reasons for no nursery until baby comes:
  1. Due to an odd house layout, we don't know which room to pick yet, and can't agree.
  2. We have a huge bedroom and plan to have the baby share our room/bed for at least the first few months
  3. We are superstitious.
  4. We know that the baby won't know/care that he/she is sharing our massive bedroom versus getting their own.
Great blog entry that kind of sums up some of my feelings about the baby industrial complex scheme that everyone perpetuates: Resisting the Pull of Fabulous Baby Furniture

The Projectionists
One funny thing about having a baby is how many people project their own feelings onto you and tell you what you will do when the baby comes or how "you will see and change your ways". When I hear this, I think to myself is that they either
1) dont know me that well, or,
2) dont realize how well I know myself.

An example: When I was a kid, I would watch my mom make the thanksgiving turkey and every year I would be totally grossed out. I would say "Mom, I will never make a turkey.Its too gross". And my Aunts and grandmother would say "oh, just wait til you are married, you will change!" and laugh as I insisted I would not change on the topic of turkey. Well, I have been married five years and I haven't changed about turkey.... I not only do not make turkey, on the very first thanksgiving we cooked, I actually made my very sweet loving husband take the freshly killed turkey to my mothers house to prepare it so I did not have to watch the ordeal or have the grossness touch my kitchen. I still do not do turkey. My Grandmom was wrong. I knew myself better than she thought I did.

And so back to the baby projectionists... some of our friends would have us believe that life is over and everything will be wrecked when the kids arrive.... they constantly rave about "getting the baby on a schedule" and babyproofing the house. They are also the ones who seemed to have every single possible baby gadget and toy sitting in their living room, to the point where their home seemed to be inhabited by no one but a roving band of little kids. They keep saying "you'll try to go without the coffee table bumper pads, but you'll see how it really is, and give up like we did..." But I still refuse to believe that we will be like that...just giving over the house to the kids...will we really?

Will I get defeated and give up? Will I become a control freak who is obsessed with getting the baby on a schedule, like they insist I will? Or do I know myself and my capabilities better than they think I do? At this point, I feel pretty confident that if I stick to my intuition and use my nanny experiences, and stop listening to others, I will be just fine. I plan to adapt to what the baby needs versus trying to fit the baby into my life, and I think we'll all encounter less stress with that approach. Life will change, surely. And my house probably wont be as neat, but if Mike and I have anything to do with it, it wont become a Toys-R-US either.

I admire my friend Molly who is the eternal optimist on the topic of pretty tablecloths. She always has pretty tablecloths on her table when I go there. The kids always spill stuff on them, but she just washes it and puts a fresh one on. She never replaces them with a plastic tablecloth or something 'more practical'. She never just gets rid of them all together. Her table always looks nice, and I love that about her.

Does Christmas have to change with kids?

This is our first Christmas at home in five years. It was Mexico in 2001, San Francisco in 2002, Mexico again in 2003, and again in 2004, then Miami last year....

...So it feels interesting and different to be here at Christmas, and maybe it's the coming baby, but we both seem to be seeing Christmas this year through the eyes of parents -- we're suddenly noticing that our laid back friends who have kids all seem to have these very high expectations of what Christmas should be (including how the grandparents should act, etc...) and they seemed to be getting their kids so many gifts. It is as if they see this as THE time to create absolutely picture-perfect family magical memories... and I guess in hearing their stories, I find myself questioning what Christmas will be like for me when I am the parent of one or more small children. Will I change?

At the moment, we don't really do holiday gifts for anybody...we really never have. It may sound 'grinchy' but it is actually incredibly freeing. Between our families, we usually exchange one gift pollyanna-style within each immediate family. And of course, we buy some small gifts for our two-year old niece...usually books or music. But that is about it.

I feel that we're fortunate that our families agree that Christmas is special when we spend time together, not when we get and give gifts. But will kids change all that? Will we get caught up in the rampant consumerism that Christmas becomes for so many families with young kids? Will our Christmas traditions suddenly grow to enormous proportions where I feel compelled to make lots of cookies and get them tons of presents for the kids so their memories can compete with the movies and books and their friends?

The New York Times had some great articles on Christmas and the gift giving frenzy -- one I liked in particular was How do you Outgrow a 13 foot tree? ...Now I can't ever see myself taking the trouble to leave gifts on our roof but it illustrates the absurd levels some people will go to in order to make Christmas this really magical time for their kids. To me, the magic can be simpler than that...but to each their own.

Dec 18, 2006


The most awful and tragic news is that my long time friend and college roommate, April Rodeheffer (now April Burbach), died on Friday morning, December 15, 2006. April was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer late last December and spent 2006 fighting that awful disease. She was 33 years old.

The weekend sadness and melancholy was broken up by a lovely morning visit with my friend Molly, followed by a baby shower party that my mom threw for me yesterday. It was so amazing to have so many women who have been there for the pivotal life moments in one room channeling their energy and joy towards this coming baby. The baby made out really well too -- got lots of delightful clothes, toys and goodies. And of course, the grandmothers went a little crazy and bought some of the big ticket we got the stroller, and the high chair we'd been hoping for.

Speaking of the baby, this little one has been kicking up a storm! I am 31 weeks along. According to a weekly pregnancy calendar, the baby weighs about 4 pounds and is about 15 to 17 inches tall and the skin is becoming less translucent and bones are finally hardening at this point.

Also, I had my OB and midwife appointments this past week, and all looks great. My OB said (in the whole 10 minutes I got with her) "this baby is following the textbook" and "I am very happy with how this pregnancy is going", and the midwives, took a bit more time (1.5 hours on average) to review my diet and check the baby's size, position and fluid levels as well as explain how the baby is positioned. We also talked about pediatricians and started talking about the birth plans. Only 4 more weeks to go until I am 36 weeks and can get the absolute go ahead from the OB and midwives for a homebirth!

No real decisions on names for us yet. We like the same old ones we've liked for a while, but the truth is we will wait to decide on anything until after we meet this little one!!

Dec 5, 2006

The Pre-Baby Vacation

...I encourage everyone to do it. Here we are in lovely Sanibel Island, Florida for a week of R&R. What have we been doing? Stocking up on sleep, visiting the hot tub (well Mike has bee visiting the hot tub, I just watch), swimming, walking, reading lots of good books and just hanging out together. Its been lovely so far -- a nice way for us to relax before the holidays, and to reconnect a bit as a couple before the baby comes. We've had time to discuss names (nope! not saying!) and the house projects we have to finish, all the other future changes we're about to encounter (known and unknown).

Many people think we are strange for having waited so long to have kids...but really, we are, this week, feeling so fortunate to have been married five whole years and to have had all that time to work through marital and life challenges together, to have spent a lovely amount of time together as a couple, to have traveled, to have had so much fun by ourselves before we welcome a new member of the family into our lives. And while it will certainly be an adjustment to become a 'three some', we are really feeling like we are ready for this baby to make his or her entrance into our lives. We just feel so excited to know who they are and what they will be like, to show them the wonders of the world and take them on great adventures.

At this point, we're in Week 30 of the pregnancy, so we have about 10 weeks left. The baby is moving and grooving at night in my belly, and I am getting bigger by the minute. So far, I have gained about 20 pounds. Posted by Picasa

Nov 28, 2006

Cool stuff for kids and parents

Robin gave me this great calendar last year by the artist Nikki McClure. So as I looked for another one today, I found this cool first 1000 days baby journal she created. oooohhh ahhhh....

Check out this lovely family tree at Mahar Dry goods... And then there are the adorable Farm Friends Finger Puppets which are really too cute for words...

Oh Joy is a great blog on all kinds of cool papers and artsy stuff.

Nov 23, 2006

Thanks and Appreciation

This Thanksgiving morning, I (Karin) am particularly thankful for having a year and life full of amazing opportunities and good friends, for having a partner who loves me and supports me and cooks yummy meals for me, for having a healthy pregnancy and an actively kicking baby growing in my belly, for having such amazing love and support from both of our families, and, most of all, for having the very difficult life experiences that have taught me to cherish every single day as if its your very last.

But this Thanksgiving Holiday also has a sad and bitterweet feel to it -- on one hand, I am thrilled and excited to gain a child and become a mother. On the other hand, as I gain a person in my life, it appears I must lose one as well. My college roommate and good friend, April, was diagnosed with Stage III Pancreatic Cancer almost a full year ago. She's been fighting it like a stormtrooper but unfortunately the cancer is winning out. She's now getting hospice care, at home, to help her stay comfortable and to manage the pain. And while her strong willed and positive spirit is intact and certainly hanging in there, her body really seems to be slowly shutting down -- she is really having a very tough and painful time of things. April is just 33 years old, and today, she is at home, with her family gathered, for what is likely to be her last Thanksgiving holiday in this body and spirit.
In 1991, April and I met at Freshman orientation and decided to become roomates right away. We began our very first days of college at Ohio State together, and we had a blast. I will never forget our first OSU football game, where we had to sit in the famous "Block O" (the pep rally section) and how both of us hated it and left to go find other seats at halftime because they were making us do too much work (telling us to jingle our keys for a "key play", telling us to put on and take off different colored shirts to spell things to the rest of the stadium, etc...) The next week, we traded tickets with some kids from our dorm, and while we never again sat in Block O, we still became rabid OSU Football fans. In many ways my friendship with her was one of the most important and consistent female friendships I have had in my life thus far. Throughout the 5 years we were at OSU, our friendship saw us through difficult times, changing boyfriends, different friends, and difficult family situations but we always remained bonded in a special way. And though our lives took different paths and took us to different places over the years, she was, until now, really always there for me when I needed her... just a phone call away. Today she is still a phone call away, but its not really quite the same...and my heart is just aching that she is suffering so much today.
Even prayers and thoughts seem so inadequate...Cancer is just a miserable miserly mean awful invention, and no one should ever have to endure such pain and difficulty in their young life.

Needless to say, I am not in a cheery holiday mood... and because we havent seen much of one another due to a lot of travel (his and mine), Mike and I thought we needed a day together where we didnt have to interact with others and pretend to be happy. So we cancelled the tenative dinner plans we had, and instead, today we're staying home, making dinner by ourselves, watching some movies...rubbing my belly and watching the baby kick, and just spending some good quality time hanging out together....a day of rest, appreciation and contemplation.

Have a good Thanksgiving! Posted by Picasa

Nov 19, 2006

27 Weeks

Here is what the baby is doing at 27 weeks...
This week he weighs almost 2 pounds and is about 14.4 inches long with his legs extended. He can now open and close his eyes, and he sleeps and wakes at regular intervals. He may suck his fingers, and although his lungs are still immature, they would be capable of functioning — with assistance — if he were to be born prematurely. Chalk up any rhythmic movement you may be feeling to a case of baby hiccups, which may be common from now on. Each episode usually lasts only a few moments and isn't bothersome to him, so enjoy the tickle. With more brain tissue developing, your baby's brain is very active now.

Holy crap! 27 weeks? Oh my gosh. Where did the time go? Its hard to believe that we're almost into the 3rd trimester, but then, no it isn't...because I definintely feel more pregnant these days....
  1. There is just no more hiding the belly. It is big and getting bigger and more active by the day. I am feeling little feet and legs moving around in there, and it is very starnge and cool at the same time.
  2. My whole left side feels the stress of the extra 15 pounds I have gained so far. My back and my hips are rebelling....they keep saying "no! no!" every morning as I creak out of bed like a 90 year old. I am committed to buying a new mattress set this week and sure that will help (I am probably folling myself).
  3. I am now sleeping in a complete nest of pillows (including one of those crazy body pillows and one tempur-pedic pillow, which is becoming a good friend to me). Mike may as well be sleeping in East Berlin given the massive pillow wall I build around my body each night.
  4. I am now starting some kind of nesting thing. I feel the great need for massive cabinet re-organizations and house projects to get done. (Oh wait, that's not pregnancy nesting, that's just me every week)
The Stroller: In other news, Mike has decided (I think) on the stroller. I think I told you that my criteria was 1) that it be easy to fold and not too heavy and, 2) that it not have bear or bunny prints anywhere on it, but be a practical city mama black or grey. So my thing about not wanting to have to "learn" how to fold it or have a hard time folding it seemingly got trumped by Mike's desire to have the ability to turn the baby around facing the pusher, which apparently has some learning advantage for the kid (and which seems to cost about $400 extra). Is it worth paying $400 more than every other one to have a unit which goes from bassinette to stroller, and is that bassinette feature really worth it? If so, the whole field of strollers gets easily narrowed it the one overly yuppiefied, super techie, wildly expensive thing that seems to be every Manhattan parent's dream, the Bugaboo.
Mike says "yes. the Bugaboo is going to be worth it. trust me"
He claims it is an excellent design. He claims that we can also use the basinette that comes with it like a portable moses basket, thereby saving ourselves from even more clutter. He claims that we can also use the stroller as a grocery cart and it will grow with our kid. He claims that it isn't a super fancy overpriced stroller because it offers so many advantages for city living that the others do not. I guess we shall see...
....Oh, and now that its been decided, which model of Bugaboo you might ask? The Frog, The Gecko or the Chameleon? I have not a stay tuned friends.

Nov 5, 2006

Pregnancy & Birth Plans: FAQ

As it gets closer to the 3rd trimester, I thought I would take some time to spell out some of our birth plans and reasoning right this list is based on some of the most often asked questions we've heard from family and friends.

Q: Who is your doctor/Where will you be having the baby?
A: We're primarily using midwives. Christy Santoro and Karen Webster of WomanWise, along with their apprentice midwife Susi Delaney, are our midwives and we'll be having our baby at home with them.
In addition to the midwives, we've also lined up a wonderful and highly regarded obstetrician at that same local hospital here in the city. Right now she's serving as a sort of "pregnancy consultant" to us, monitoring my pregnancy from a medical standpoint. In the unlikely event that I or the baby would need medical intervention in a hospital setting, she's going to be our go-to-physician. She's supportive of our choice to homebirth and as confident as we are that the baby being born at home with midwives will be a much safer and intimate family experience. We'll see her a few more times over the course of the pregnancy, and, hopefully won't see her at all after about 36 weeks! The primary function of our 3 midwives is to keep me and the baby safe; if we need more extensive medical care, they will be the first to suggest it, and we are just minutes from the Hospital we've chosen as a "backup"...and, should we need to go to the hospital for any reason, this "consulting" doctor will help to facilitate our entry.

Q: Why are you choosing homebirth? Isnt it dangerous?
A: Actually, home birth is statistically MUCH safer than hospital birth for healthy, low-risk women - which I am. Remember that pregnancy is not a disease, and birth is not a medical emergency -- it is a natural physiological process.
  • To review the latest british medical journal study about homebirth, click here.
  • If you are interested in reviewing some information on the safety of homebirth, click here for a fact sheet.
  • To see a list of books and web resources on homebirth, click here.

Q: Why on earth would you want to give birth at home?
A: To us, labor care is a totally personal and individual choice. There are many women, including me, who hope for a child-birth in which they, not the doctors, are in control. We want to have the information that will enable us to make our own decisions, to prepare ourselves for an experience in which we participate fully, and we do not wish labour and birth to be taken over by "managers". While Hospitals exist where all members of staff share this attitude, they are few and far between here in Philadelphia. Therefore, we have chosen the setting where we think we will be able to achieve the most focused concentration, positive labor support and in general create a situation which will foster the kind of inner confidence that is needed for a good birth.
Every single woman's birth experience is totally different - and while we can't predict what will actually happen, we are trying to "stack the odds" in our favor as much as possible.
This is not something we have decided to do without much research -- We are not being "brave" -- We are very well informed and lucky to be able to make this choice. We know that homebirth is not for everyone, but we do feel it is the right choice for us.

Q: Can you pick the room you have the baby in?
A: Yes, with a hombirth, any room I happen to be in is where the baby will be born. There are no restrictions on where or how or what position when you birth at home.

Q: So, do they bring the epidural into the house?
A: No. Homebirth means having a natural, intervention-free childbirth in the care of wise, women who are experts at delivering babies. Choosing homebirth means that I will not have an induction, epidural or episiotomy. I am happy and comfortable with that decision...I do realize that not everyone can choose or even wants to have a natural, drug free childbirth, and I have nothing against anyone who labors differently.

Q: Are you having an Ultrasound? If not, why not?
We aren't having an ultrasound unless we need one for some medical reason.
There are specific reasons to have an ultrasound (checking problems, confirming defects that have been detected through other tests, confirming the possibility of twins, etc...) and none of those reasons have applied to us. Sure we could just have one because its cool, but that didnt seem like the right reason to do it. The effectiveness of ultrasound as a routine procedure has never been proven. In fact, a number of studies have shown definitively that there is no better outcome for women who have had one or more routine ultrasound examinations during their pregnancies, as compared to those who have had none. Some folks undoubtedly find our decision bizarre. I don't know, there is just something that I like about not knowing... millions of other women never see their babe before it's born, including our moms, (and look, we turned out just fine!)
  • If you want to read about the recommended use and evidence on ultrasounds, click here.

Nov 3, 2006

Sayanora Tokyo!


So here we are at our last supper -- the New York Grill overlooking Tokyo. We had a delicious meal and the atmosphere was an amazing way to say goodbye to Tokyo. I had salmon and mom had a pork chop...both were amazing! Tomorrow morning we leave (early!) for Narita. We'll be stateside by lunchtime on Saturday. I cant wait to have some fresh organic milk and american cereal and I know mom's looking forward to a glass of chardonnay with my dad. We're both missing our guys! Posted by Picasa

Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto was a different but equally interesting city. The buildings are much lower, but there seemed to be many more tourists.
Much less English spoken. Much less English on any signs. Much harder to get around (for us...) And, many more shrines.Kyoto has over 1600 Shrines and 600 Temples or something like that. We saw tons of shrines, a castle, a golden pavilions, some really neat little streets and gardens. We saw a lot more women wearing the traditional Kimonos. This is where "Memoirs of a Geisha" was filmed.
At night, it is really magical in the small back alleys where you can see Geisha going to their evening appointments, you can wonder down small alleys and "take your chances" at a Japanese restaurant. We took our chances and weren't disappointed, but by the time we left today, I was REALLY getting sick of Japanese food. Tonight we are having dinner at the "New York Grill" - the restaurant/bar made famous in Lost in Translation...I am planning to have some chicken or something normal without seaweed!!! Too much seaweed!!!
We've had a lovely trip. We're exhausted from all the walking, touring and trying to figure things out. What you don't remember is that traveling in Asia really requires a whole separate level of energy for "figuring things out" and navigating the strange idiosyncrasies... for example, you are not allowed to touch cab doors...they automatically open and close them for you. They prefer you DO NOT touch the doors at all.... And then there were the bathrooms....these clean obsessed people do not seem to provide and hand drying in bathrooms, or at the table. we almost never received napkins when we sat down to eat. and then there is the thing that you are not allowed to eat in public (while walking) because it is considered really bad manners. And NO nose blowing in public. People just sniffle or wear masks...but they DO NOT blow their nose in public. So that's the wrap up. We leave tomorrow morning and arrive in NY on Saturday morning around 10am. We're ready to come home! Posted by Picasa

Oct 31, 2006


A Noodle Adventure


To see more photos of my tour with Junko, click here

While mom was off in another part of the city having her own cultural experience (more on that later) with her workshop group, I hired a private guide to show me the lesser-known sights of the city. We met in the hotel lobby and I asked her to take me to the places in Tokyo I might not get to on my own. So we began by boarding the subway and going to the last stop on the Ginza line, Asakusa. There we visited a shrine where I learned about Raccoon Dogs (supposedly, praying to these dogs helps to protect against theft), and saw a small shrine dedicated the children who have died. Then we walked the neighborhood and over to the Senso-ji shrine, which is a large place. There you inhale some incense to help keep you healthy, you wash your hands and mouth to purify, and then you go make an offering and a prayer at the shrine. The shrine is dedicated to easing human suffering. So I sent out a prayer for my good friend April who is definitely suffering from her bad case of Pancreatic Cancer.

After the shrine, we walked the neighborhood and then hopped the subway for another shrine. This one was for pregnant women – you go there in pregnancy to pray for a healthy and safe delivery of the baby. So, that’s what I did. Rang the bell twice and did my bows and sent out a prayer for a safe and healthy delivery of the baby. Japanese women then bring their baby back 30 days after birth to thank the gods and get a prayer for the baby. SO while we were there, many Japanese families were there, al dressed up, with tiny babies in little outfits, waiting to give thanks and have a special prayer said in the baby’s name. It was neat to be in such a mama-centered spot!

I mentioned to Junko, my tour guide that I was interested in going to a noodle shop but was a bit intimidated by the whole thing. So after the pregnancy shrine, we went to a really delicious Udon noodle shop in that neighborhood. Not a foreigner in sight – all Japanese people, the menu didn’t even have photos – just Japanese writing…it was a place I would have never gone into on my own. Junko explained that there was a lunch special for about $8 which included Udon noodle bowl, Tempura shrimp, Rice and tea. We ordered and it was the most amazing bowl of noodle soup I have ever had. Delicious! I asked her abut the noodles…were the handmade by this shop? She asked the owner and he explained in Japanese (she translated) that they were handmade -- rolled out, finely sliced and then wrapped around a stretcher to make them longer and thinner. Then they were dried and then used the next day in the noodle shop.

After the noodle shop, we walked to another subway stop. It seems like Tokyo has a subway stop about every three blocks or so. This time we headed to Mitsukoshi, the traditional Japanese Department store – first we went in the basement (Department store basements here in Tokyo are mega food courts full of amazing things) and tried some chocolate samples, then we headed upstairs and outside and across the street where I saw the number one seaweed shop in Tokyo (A seaweed boutique if you will) and we wondered into a Japanese cutlery store where I got to learn all about Japanese cutlery (and why Japanese knives are the best in the world) and the proper technique for sharpening knives. The craftsman in the store spent almost 25 minutes explaining knife sharpening techniques to me, which I happily videotaped and absorbed because Mike and I are always uncertain about the best way to sharpen our knives. After the knife store, it was getting late and my feet were aching, so we headed back to the hotel.

Once I got back and immediately went to take a swim (I am loving the pool here). At the pool, I made another interesting observation/ discovery…none of the Japanese people that I have seen in the pool have actually been swimming…they all seem to just be running in the pool, or doing some kind of aerobic workout. For the most part, during the week I have spent at the pool, I have been one of the only swimmers who were actually intent on swimming in the pool. This discovery and realization suddenly makes the swimming pool scene in “Lost in Translation” all the more meaningful to me – no one in Japan seems to actually swim in the pool, but they do all kinds of aerobic workouts. It’s quite hilarious to see too.

A sudden realization:
Yesterday, before the tour I went to have a leisurely breakfast in the hotel restaurant. I was sitting there reading the paper, drinking coffee, looking out on the city, eating yummy foods at a fancy place and all the sudden I realized that my days of having this kind of civilized, leisurely breakfast are soon to be over. I actually got teary eyed. I know I will have it sometime, but this probably one of the last breakfasts I will have alone, in a fancy restaurant until a good time after the baby comes. I took a deep breath so that I could really savor the moment. Then I vowed to make tomorrow’s (Wednesday – my last day without mom) breakfast really count. So this morning, I head down to breakfast all “ready” to enjoy my “last supper” alone in this gorgeous place. I sit down and am immediately accosted by the voice of some stupid southern, middle aged, good old boy wearing khakis and a baseball cap who is talking too loud about how drunk he got last night and how hot the girls were that he met, and blah, blah…it got and raunchier and raunchier. There went my peaceful serene last breakfast. Lesson learned: Be in the moment when its there. If you try to recreate something or delay an experience, you might miss it all together.

Across town, at the training center, my mom was having her own adventure. First, she forgot to bring her business cards – a major ordeal and faux pas here, which she solved by totally avoiding the people she knew would give her their cards. So she spent 3 days ducking into hallways so she wouldn’t have to explain that she forgot her business cards (they were with me at the Hyatt). On top of that they were serving grossly gelatinous foods for lunch and dinner so she didn’t eat much and the shower in her room there was absolutely impossible to figure out, so she took only baths. She arrived back at the Park Hyatt a few hours ago, and immediately had two beers in a row. Whew! She’s done! Hooray! Now we can play some more together. Tomorrow we are off to Kyoto. Posted by Picasa

Oct 29, 2006


So today was quite an adventure -- I took the subway from Shinjuku to Harajuku, which was quite a feat in and of itself. When I finally arrived, I couldn't believe how crowded it was. This is teeny-bop-ville. This is also the place where the kids dress up in wierd costumes.

In addition to this big bear, I saw a Japanese Elvis, a bunch of goth kids and then just a bunch of wierd unclassifiable people dressed in animal costumes, or like baby dolls.
Dont know what these guys are supposed to be, but this look is par-for-the-course at Harajuku!

More interesting costumes.... Posted by Picasa

Sunday morning

Today it is Sunday and is a rainy and gloomy morning. Mom is off to start her workshop this afternoon and I am probably going to venture to Harajuku which is where all the young kids dressed up in Kubuki and Anime costumes hang out on Sundays and pose for the cameras. Tomorrow I will tour the historic sights (since mom is already done on previous trips I will do it while she is working) with a guide that the hotel found for me. Tuesday I have no plans yet, and Wednesday we leave for Kyoto which we are both really excited about!

Overall impressions so far? Tokyo is one of the cleanest cities I have ever been to. The subway system is amazing – expansive and relatively easy to figure out if you are willing to be adventurous and make mistakes. The food is really good too – I actually haven’t had all that much Japanese food because there is food of every variety available and unlike other foreign countries, the food in Tokyo is good and true to form in almost every single place you go. I even had a Margherita pizza to rival Bertuccis! The streets are also pretty easy to figure out, unlike say, Bangkok where everything is windy and nothing is written in English. The few times I was getting my bearings; Japanese people came up to me and offered to help me find my way. The other thing is that because I am tall, blond and light skinned, I obviously stick out as foreigner, so I don’t feel nervous about trying to be “cool” or to act like I know what I am doing or saying like I would in say, France or Germany. I don’t look anything like a Japanese person, I definitely don’t speak the language well at all (just hello, goodbye, please and thank you) so I don’t even try too hard to “fit in” like I might in European countries, and I think that makes for a much more relaxed experience. The Japanese are also incredibly helpful and polite in a way that Europeans just are not.

Pregnancy Report: Month 7 begins!


I am officially 24 weeks along as of today.

At this point, the baby is almost completely formed, and is beginning to deposit brown fat on his or her body. S/he weighs in at 1 lb 5 ounces (595 grams) and 30 cms or 11.8 inches total length! During pregnancy week 24 and beyond the baby’s central nervous system continues to develop, as do baby’s lungs.

The baby has been moving around a ton lately especially around dinner time and late at night. In addition to feeling the baby moving all around inside, I am also starting to be able to see the baby's movements on the outside of my belly. It is very cool. What elseis going on...Well, I have a sore back, achy feet and well its hard to find a comfy sleeping position, but that's all typical pregnancy stuff, and I dont want to sound ike an old geezer! Seriously, all is going really well so I am not going to dwell on the minor negative stuff...after all, pregnancy is a temporary condition after all! Prenatal yoga, lots of walking, and swimming are really helping me to manage the minor discomforts.

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Oct 28, 2006

Ginza lights

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Yesterday, Saturday, we visited two places – walked our neighborhood some more and looked in various stores and Takashima Times Square (a big shopping center near the train station with a huge Japanese crafts store inside) and then at night we went to the Ginza district, where we had dinner at a fabulous Vegetarian Indian restaurant.

Ginza itself is hard to describe – its daylight there at 9pm because of the neon lights and lighting displays built into the buildings – they are really amazing. It is like being in an architect’s dream of redoing Las Vegas with tasteful lighting and modern buildings or something.
The architecture in Ginza is positively inspiring and very modern, in a really delicious way.

The pool ritual

So the trip is halfway over already and I am just beginning to feel normal finally.
The jet lag was a bitch to kick. Over the past few days we have taken it easy. Venturing to breakfast then to the gym or pool, then out for a while, then back for naps, then out again then to bed.

The pool is a funny thing. It’s the cleanest pool ever, probably because you go through the following procedure to get in it:
1) Change into swimsuit and come to pool in your robe (it is somewhat awkward to be roaming the hotel halls in a bathrobe and slippers, but whatever)
2) Check in at desk. Then you are escorted to elevator told what button to push (there is only one button on elevator, but still they tell you) Arrive upstairs and go through a series of glass sliding doors.
3) Check in at next desk. Greeted again and given a towel, then instructed to take of slippers and walk to drop off your robe in walled in pool area.
4) Take off your slippers, and step down into pool entry area where you wade your feet through a warm pool of foot cleaning water. You head to a chair to disrobe then are instructed to go back and shower at what looks like a decontamination chamber along the wall.
5) Showering ritual: There are 3 handheld showers in a row, followed by 3 face showers (I though they were water fountains, boy was I wrong), followed by 3 water fountains.
6) Then you must put on your cap and goggles
7) Congratulations you are ready to swim! Posted by Picasa

Roppongi Hills

We took the subway (quite another adventure) to one really interesting mixed use development called Roppongi Hills. It reminded me somewhat of that old shopping center area in Kansas City, only on steroids. This place is like a mega-developer’s dream come true. The architecture is all different to make it look like it evolved over time, and it’s full of shops, restaurants, cinema, museums, gardens, you name it! The most fascinating thing about it was that it was all foot-traffic accessible. The Highways and streets surrounding it were integrated in such a way that it felt natural. Almost everyone arriving or departing was using the subway – I didn’t see many parking lots, and it didn’t seem like a place you would drive to if you lived in Tokyo – ii would be too much trouble I think.
We left the development and walked the neighborhoods surrounding Roppongi Hills which had delightful little neighborhood streets and smaller boutique shops – and it was delightful. We stopped at a few stores and had lunch, then headed back to the development to catch the subway. On our way back we stopped in a children’s store and spotted one of the fancy foreign strollers that mike’s been eyeing, the Quinny Buzz – the one not sold in the US…so mom and I got to try it out and look at it up close (we thought it was pretty cool). I thought I might see more interesting Japanese kids clothes, but so far (and we have looked) we’ve been kind of disappointed. Almost everything is imported and expensive. There just isn’t as much cute clothing for babies as you might have thought. Paper is another thing all together though – the selection of stationery here is unbelievable and I have already spent about $100 on papers from various shops. Posted by Picasa

View from our room

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The hotel room

The very comfy beds in our hotel... Posted by Picasa

First Days in Tokyo

Day 1: Long flight on Japan Air. Very nice seats in Executive Class. Not enough food (in my pregnant opinion). Arrived here around 4 pm on Wednesday afternoon and took limo Bus to hotel which took another two hours. Arrived at our very zen hotel room at the Park Hyatt Tokyo about 7:30 pm. Took hot baths and dressed to go down to very cool lobby bar for snacks. The bar reminded me a little of the pyramid club -- only the views of Tokyo are way more spectacular! Its like the NY Skyline but 12 times larger and longer. First "funny different thing" observation is that Japanese are very concerned with having warm butts and clean genitals -- have now encountered 3 toilets with a full range of controls on the seat...heated seats, an air filter machine that kicks on when you sit down (its either that or a noise machine intended to mask embarrassing noises) and then a whole push-button bidet system and dryer system that puts the Europeans to shame! For more about these toilets and to see photos, click here.

Day 2: Slept the whole night through, Woke up and had a delicious breakfast. The views from every place in this hotel are spectacular, so we looked out on Tokyo as we ate from a gorgeous American style buffet. Afterwards we went out for a walk and checked out a bunch of electronics stores (overwhelming, but cool) and watch stores (mom bought a watch) and then a paper store, where I spent $30 on cards. Then we stopped to eat lunch at a tempura place --where we couldn't understand anything...thank goodness for pictures on the menu, except that "oh no!" all the pictures were of tempura batter food, so we had no idea what was actually under the batter on anything. We basically just pointed to two meals and took a chance..I have no idea what I actually had (mom got pork) but it tasted pretty darn good. Also got my first taste of *real* miso -- yum! The lunch was delicious and about $20 total. We did a bit more shopping (browsing) then we came back to our room -- mom is resting, I am also going to nap, and then we'll probably hit the gym. The gym is amazing...the views from the treadmills are absolutely the best in the whole hotel....all glass walls, all the fitness equipment looks out at the Tokyo skyline, and since there aren't a ton of skyscrapers close by, the views are very clear and broad. The pool and spa is also gorgeous and I cant wait to get in it. Good thing I brought my swim cap though -- its mandatory and you have to rent one if you didn't bring one, and they seem to be rather strict about it.
Here I am on our first day in Tokyo. This is taken from a pedestrian crossing in the Shinjuku neighborhood, which is where we are staying. Posted by Picasa

Oct 23, 2006

Off to Tokyo

So I am off to Tokyo and was reminded today to blog while I am there, which I will try my best to do. I am staying at the Grand Hyatt Tokyo for most of the trip - which is the same hotel where they filmed the movie Lost in Translation. I am most excited for the fabulous pool they have, as I have not been swimming as much as I would like (downfall of this city -- no good indoor pools) and I look forward to some floating and swimming to get rid of the jet lag!

In other news...well the biggest news is that Mike's brother Bryan is leaving the army this week. Its amazing to think that this smart West Point grad is nervous about his future out of the Army, but I think he's maybe a bit nervous. We're so proud of him for making the very tough decision to leave and try something else, and we just know he is going to have a terrific new adventure in his family life and work.

Not much else to report. There seems to be a baby boom happening -- quite a few of the other childless couples we are close friends with have announced pregnancies (Woody& Deb, Christopher & Emily, a few select others who are not ready to be named) so its fun to think there will be so many "first kids" our kid's age....we didnt expect it, but its nice to think that some of our closest city friends are doing the same thing we are doing.

I went to a baby shower for my cousin-in-law Lisa McGrath on Sunday -- and it was a surprisingly easy way to quickly catch up with Lisa while she's visiting from California. I probably wont be seeing her or Scott or their new baby until 2007 sometime, and its amazing to think she will soon (December) be a mom. She looks great -- the yoga has obviously paid off!
But talking with her got me a little nervous...realizing that "holy crap we are going to need a few things ourselves" and "February is right around the corner" so I went home feeling kind of stressed about baby products. Then I was reminded that small infants really need only a few things -- clothes, blankets, diapers, breasts, and loving caring parents. All the other stuff is just icing. It made me feel better to think that way, especially since I am not into clutter. We've already gotten some great things secondhand, we've got a crib, and we've got a good list of "essentials" started, so I guess when I get back, we'll start prioritizing and acquiring the other stuff.

off to Tokyo!

Oct 17, 2006

October update

On Columbus Day, our good friends Matt and Jen delivered a healthy, bouncing, baby boy named Jay. He is scrumptious. They are in love!

On October 13th, we celebrated our 5th anniversary. We went down to Washington, DC for the weekend (which is where we fell for one another) and spent a delightful weekend hanging out, walking around, and eating the most delicious food! If you ever the chance to try Asia Nora, its the most amazing dining experience.

Otherwise, life is good -- Mike's brother Bryan and his family are leaving the military and moving back to this area in November to start a new chapter of their lives.

I head to Tokyo early next week with my mom.

My prenatal appointments have been great -- the baby is healthy, growing and it should be a good time to take a trip! The belly is getting bigger.

Mike and I are planning to go away around Thanksgiving for a last hurrah parents-only vacation before the baby comes.

Not much to report.

Oct 10, 2006

Cute baby shirts and cool baby links

These adorable t-shirts are proto-types that my sister-in-law-to-be picked up for us from someone in her building. They are totally the cutest little toddler shirts. I can't wait to put mcdunn jr. in them.

Some other cool links to check out:
Check out this cool fetal growth website - so you can check out baby growth and potential future growth.....

Check out these adorable things called "cranky pants" courtesy of the daddytypes blog.

More than you ever wanted to know about Cloth Diapers can be found here.

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Oct 5, 2006

The Crib

So we arent even really sure if we will need a crib...(yes, we might indeed co-sleep with baby mcdunn, and we do know other families who have been totally crib-less and it worked out fine, their kids are normal and sweet) but since we reserve the right to do whatever the heck we want, and whatever works for us...then let's just say for now that we're keeping all of our options open...

So with that in mind, we went and bought a fancy, modern, fully yuppiefied crib...and every time I look at it, I wish it were my bed. Its gorgeous. I am jealous. Would we have bought said crib if it was not 60% off the retail value because it was a floor model at Design Within Reach? No never. We would have a crib from Ikea. But we got lucky because it was indeed 60% off, and so. we caved in to our mutual love of modern design and sustainably harvested wood and deassembled it right in the store and carted it away to come live in South Philly with us. In case you are wondering, its the Austin Crib by a company named DucDuc. For the time being, it lives in a pile on the third floor. We have no nursery picked out, and plan to have baby Mcdunn sleeping in our bed or our room for at least the first few months, so we aren't worrying about making a nursery. It just seems premature at this point....We have a HUGE bedroom (which used to be two rooms) and it just doesn't make sense not to share it with our new little creature until that scheme doesnt work anymore...

...So now we just need a mattress and sheets, a rocker, some cloth diapers, a carseat and some other small things, and we will be all set. Posted by Picasa

Oct 1, 2006

20 Weeks -- Halfway there and what you never wanted to know about stroller shopping

Karin's belly at 20 weeks.

Took our first visit to a baby store yesterday. Went to Norman's in South Philadelphia mostly just to look at Rockers and Strollers.
Saw some gliders that were really comfy (not terribly aesthetically pleasing, but comfy) and then decided to look for a recycled one -- (mean's we're going to try to buy one from Craig's List instead of ordering a new one) -- and then we'll just get a nice new cushion made for it in a cool fabric.

....Then we got to the stroller section and....ugh! How are we ever going to choose? We don't really anticipate needing a stroller right away -- strollers in city markets are sometimes more of a pain then just carrying the baby, so we do plan to invest in a nice moby wrap so we can carry the baby around town and keep him or her close to us (and keep our hands free) but we know that a stroller will be great for the grandparents and great for long walks, so we are starting to indoctrinate ourselves into the world of strollers...

First, we eliminated a few things: I know I don't want anything to do with the whole infant car seat carrier/stroller snap-in business mostly because it seems to be an item built for people who use cars all the time, and we just don't use our car more than once a week or so. Also, I just kind of object to anything made to last only through the first 6-8 months of a baby's life and then requiring another upgrade to some other car seat and stroller contraption....that kind of thing seems like a total racquet created by the baby industrial complex.

So, not wanting to invest in a snap-and-go infant carrier system (thankfully) rules out about 20% of the stroller choices. We also don't need a stroller for two (thankfully), so that rules out another 10% of the choices. From what is left, we whittled it down even further with our additional requirements: We want something lightweight enough to take up and down subway stairs and in and out of the house without breaking a sweat, and something that folds and unfolds without a book of translations. It would be ideal to find something tall enough for the two of us so that we don't get back cramps walking the baby, and with wheels that can handle urban sidewalks. We'd like something that will grow with our kid. And finally, we want something where the wheelbase isnt so wide that we cant get through the Italian market with it.
So there you go...we had a great list of requirements and thought we'd have no problem making a choice... and so we hit the stroller section full of optimism. And, we left...deflated. Having kind-of-liked only one out of 40 strollers there, we felt we had more searching to do. So when we got home, Mike went online, and discovered there is an online stroller design revolution happening. And that's when "Engineering Mike" took over and started finding expensive and foreign stroller choices galore. We've got to go find these strollers and test them out, but he managed to locate a bunch of new options:
  • The McLaren Volo (Saw it at Norman's...not perfect, but lightweight and popular with urban parents we know)
  • A Phil & Ted's three wheel stroller (US brand, kind of neat looking - about $400)
  • The Micralite (a cool origami looking thing imported from UK, about $400)
  • The Quinny Buzz (Some foreign stroller Mike would have to travel to Canada to get, making it -I assume- very expensive instead of just kinda expensive)
  • The Bugaboo Gecko (the yuppie factor on this one kind turns me off - they are seen everywhere in NYC)
  • The Stokke Xplory (Yikes, this one is a lot of $$$!!! About $900! Could any stroller be worth that much money?)
So after all of that and the talk of Mike going to Canada to locate the Quinny, I decided that Mike's officially in charge of choosing the stroller. Basically, as long as its easy to fold and unfold, doesnt weigh more than 25-30 pounds and it doesnt have teddy bears or bunnies printed all over it, I am on board.

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The lovely couple of the week...

My brother Patrick and his fiance Lilliana last night at dinner. Lilliana's lovely mom Diana came into town from Texas to meet us all this weekend. We all had dinner at La Locanda Del Ghittone in Old City. They shared that they're planning an October 2007 wedding in Mexico...Puerta Vallarta area. I cant wait!!! Posted by Picasa

A la Famiglia

More of the dinner at La Locanda Del Ghittone. That's Diana (far left), Monica (my mom) and Jim (my dad) talking wedding plans and doing the all-important family bonding. Posted by Picasa

Sep 30, 2006

Our Belgian Guests

Finally! A Photo of our lovely new Belgian friends Hanna (left) and Lein (right) who came to visit a few weeks ago Posted by Picasa

Sep 29, 2006

Phillies Game

A few nights ago, we watched the Phillies beat Boston at the new stadium - it was a great game and we ate too many hot dogs and peanuts. You can see the optimism on our faces...we actually thought, for a moment, that maybe the Phillies might get the wildcard. Yeah right! What were we thinkin? Posted by Picasa

Sep 25, 2006

Halfway there

So, the bloom is off the rose and we are finally settling in to life where both of us lives here, all the time and we each make messes that bug the other. We're just starting to re-asses the division of labor and daily household (crappy) chores (Mike got out of this for a good year at least) -- so yes, the ugly reality has arrived but I wouldn't trade it for the world, its great to have Mike here and not traveling.

In other news, we are in week 20, which means, we are hitting the halfway mark with our pregnancy. Its strange to think that in only a few short months, we will have a mini of our own.
Yesterday we went to a potluck at our midwives home and met lots of other natural childbirth parents in the midwives' client community. Some were pregnant and many had babies and small kids. It was a nice event and a great way to connect with other urban couples who are having babies and planning natural childbirth. I also made a new four year old friend, named Nika. We played Mr. Potato Head together.

Nothing else to report.

Hey by the way -- for those of you who read this blog as a way of keeping track, in lieu of calling to ACTUALLY talk to us and ask us how we are, shame on you!
Give us a call. 215-551-0570. Seriously. We'd like to hear from you.

Sep 19, 2006

Appointments, Appointments

Prenatal appointment #3 went great.
  • Baby is growing at the right speed.
  • My Blood Pressure is 98/62 and my pulse is 72.
  • We heard the heartbeat - beating at about 160 BPM
  • Also heard the placenta through the fetoscope
  • Baby weighs about 1/2 pound
  • I have put on 5 pounds, which is exactly where I should be.
  • Blood tests all came out normal.
  • I found out that peanuts are okay to eat (Dad, I asked that one for you)
Over the next few weeks, I am to pay attention to my green-intake (meaning get more greens in my diet!) and try to get moer calories on my high energy (aka Dragon boating) days. Also may start an Iron supplement to help with lagging energy (I tend to have low iron anyway).
The book "Eating for Two" by Robin Lim was recommended as a great resource for nutrition during pregnancy, so I am goign to check it out!

The midwives are having a potluck for present and former clients this Sunday, so we are looking forward to meeting lots of other young families and natural childbirth advocates!!!

Next week, I have my first OB consultation with a doc who may also become our family practice physician.

No Videos for Babies...

Well, maybe it's an inherited trait (my mom thought Barbies were just bad and I wasnt allowed to have them, I seem to have turned out okay) but I have long felt that babies shouldnt watch TV. And, videos like the trance-inducing Baby Einstein series (if you have ever watched an infant watch it, you know of which I speak) seem to just be feel-okay-about-it babysitting devices for parents and care providers who need a break, but I doubt if they have any real educational value. Now I find that I am not alone in my concerns...
So, yes, I am going to be one of those parents.

Sep 18, 2006

Bulletin on Elective C-Sections

A good case for avoiding electively scheduled Cesearan-Section:

Happy 35th Anniversary Mom and Dad!

So, today is my mom and dad's 35th wedding anniversary.
Last night, we took them out to celebrate and got to check out the new restaurant at the Waterworks. It was fabulous. At dinner, they sort of did a review of their "marital highlights" good and bad, and, when asked if they could sum up the advice they would give for staying married 35 years, dad said:
  1. No matter what is happening around you or how annoyed you are, always try to remember the person who you fell in love with when you first met them.
  2. And, always say I love you before you go to bed

    Mom said:
  1. Keep your sense of compassion and sense of humor and have fun together
  2. intellectually challenge one another
To me, the story of their marriage is a good and realistic example -- it both inspires me and gives me courage -- Because of them, I realize the reality of marriage isn't always easy or Cinderella-like, but I also realize that it doesn't have to be awful, boring or stagnant either. They have taught me that a couple can choose to continue their growth and development throughout their lifetime, and if they do that, they can inspire one another while living a full and rich life with no regrets.

Congrats guys -- and here's to another 35 more!!!

Sep 17, 2006

Here is what the baby is up to:

What are we up to? Well, we are beginning to look into hiring a post-partum doula to help us out in the first few weeks after the birth when we plan to lay low and just bond as a family. We're thinking about what we will do to welcome the baby upon his/her arrival (a welcome baby party?), we're thinking about what we need to get before the baby comes, and also what projects we want to finish around the house before January. We're lining up our cloth diaper service and supplier information (you didnt honestly believe that people who are into Environmental Planning would be able to bring themselves to use ONLY plastic disposable diapers did you? We plan on doing our part to save 1 ton of waste from our landfills by not using dsiposable plastic diapers). Also, we signed up for a couples childbirth class at starts in late October 2006 and we're so excited for that. We're also thinking about names, but not committing to anything, and just thinking of ways to enjoy this moment in time, when we are still a couple, and not yet a threesome.