Tuesday, November 15, 2011

34 weeks down

Today I hit 34 weeks. And I am tired. Very tired. And I feel very big. I am also very aware that the time is nearing where the labor could be begin. I know it is unlikely that it will happen in the next two weeks... but it could. It seems that the one thing people like to do when you're pregnant is tell you their own "I was SUPER early" or "I was SUPER late" stories. So really, according to every individual story out there, it could happen at any moment between now and mid January. EEEEE.
I have heard and read several times that the last weeks of pregnancy are geared to make you WANT to go into labor (code for: let's make you so uncomfortable you'd rather push a watermelon out of a keyhole than stay this way). I have certainly gotten to that point. Here is a list of things that, as a result of my melon-stomach, are very difficult to do:
Tie my own shoes
Put on pants
Touch the floor for any other reason
Have Petunia sit on my lap (sad dog)
Sit close to the table
Walk briskly (although I do try)
Walk up hills at any pace
Shave my legs
Get up from the coach unassisted
Use my abdominal muscles
This last one is the killer. JUST GET ME THERE!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Birthing Class

Everyone recommends that new parents take a birthing class. Originally we were going to do a 6 week class, but our schedules got crazy, and instead we decided to pack it all into 1 weekend. 8 hours on Saturday, 4 hours on Sunday. This happened this past weekend. There was not a TON of new information, but plenty of opportunity to ask questions like "do I wear glasses or contacts during labor?", "when EXACTLY do I go to the hospital?" and "how do I introduce my dog to my baby"?. There were funny things about this class as well. For one, our instructor had a significant high-pitched wheeze. Every three sentences or so she would take a sharp breath in and you could hear a loud whistling. This happened about every three sentences for 8 hours on Saturday and 4 hours on Sunday. Another helpful thing was discussing and practicing pain management. Breathing, positioning yourself differently, distracting yourself from the pain with back massages (this was nice), etc. To practice this breathing and relaxation, we did some visualization meditation. However, I don't know about you, but visualizing my own labor and giving birth is not very relaxing, nor is being propped up on pillows that caused an incredible burning pain around my lower back and my tailbone and poor SHM, who had to support me by leaning back on his hands for 25 minutes. Nor was the snoring woman next to us (although clearly she was plenty relaxed). Or the insufferable church laughter that we both inevitably had and it was SO bad!
Despite all of this, the class was great at easing fears and talking through a lot of scary but inevitable aspects of giving birth. The best part about it all was that SHM was able to sit through the whole thing without feeling faint or squeamish, and this included a play by play of a c-section which I had to turn away from. So at least we know he'll make it:) YAY!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Things Beyond My Control

Minor and Major Things That are Beyond My Control:

1. The weather on my wedding day
2. The weather in general
3. Waiting 45 minutes for a table at my favorite restaurant that does not take reservations
4. Changes in other peoples' schedules that affect my schedule
5. My due date
6. The gender of the person delivering my baby....

My doctor's office is all women. It specializes in women's issues and all its doctors are women. While I have had the same doctor throughout my pregnancy, I was told early on that in my third trimester I would start rotating through all the doctors, in case my doctor was not available for when I go into labor. Yesterday, at my 31-week check up, I was informed that actually, there are 4 more doctors who share the weekend rotation. Oh yeah, and one's a man. Now I know that men have been OBGYNs forever and lots of women go to plenty of male doctors, blah blah, but I am not one of those women. I actually haven't had a male doctor since Chuck, my pediatrician at Mystic Family Clinic and I am pretty sure the last time I saw him I was 6 and getting a booster shot. I have always had women doctors and that is actually specifically why I chose the practice I chose. For no men. I just don't want a man THERE, while I'm doing THAT. No thanks. My current doctor assured me he was very experienced and SUPER nice. Almost as if he KNOWS that he's not what the women of this practice are expecting. Well that's nice... I have no control over my due date, and I have no control over the rotation... I have no control over this situation... I'll breathe, ignore the possibility and remain calm...

Monday, October 17, 2011

My Ability to Keep Thoughts in My Head

I have heard a lot of talk about a condition of pregnancy called "Baby Brain" or "Mommy Brain Drain" and the negative effect it has on one's ability to recall information, tap into short term memory and generally be able to formulate coherent sentences. When I was first pregnant I felt this effect right away. At one point I was so bad that a friend of mine (known to bloggers as Ultimate Chicken) actually guessed my condition based on the fact that I had lost my train of thought twice and forgotten 3 different things in the course of 10 minutes.
But then, like most dreadful side effects of Trimester 1, it disappeared. I was able to keep track of many things at once. And remember them too! Someone could ask me for something at lunch and I would be able to remember it back at my desk 30 minutes later. Amazing.
But alas, the onset of Tri 3 has reduced me once again. Today I have found my head swimming with To Do's for work, home and miscellaneous. I am currently keeping 3 separate lists. My third list is my newest, just started in the car this afternoon when I miraculously remembered that I needed dog food while I was at the bank which is NEXT TO THE PET STORE. If you can't tell from my tone, this sort of serendipity has not been happening to me lately. So I thought I'd try to run with it- was there anything else I could get to pop into my brain? The next minute of thoughts went like this: Yes! I need to write a thank you card for a baby gift, I also need to balance my bank account. And there was more... what was it... let me jot these things down anyway and start driving home, but wait- YES! I remember the third! where is that receipt scrap I have been writing on and a pen, where is my pen? shoot I just HAD it, what car is that in front of me? A new VW? I like it... Got the pen! Wait, what was it that I was writing? BLAST! It's gone. Oh, but I do want to get a hair cut, that wasn't it, but I'll write it down anyway....

I did finally remember what that missing item was, but the list is in my purse in the kitchen and I am in the living room and I cannot for the life of my remember what it was.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Baby Dreams

We are not finding out the sex of our baby. As a result, lots of people have given their predictions and asked me if I have a "feeling" of what it's going to be. Other women have told me that they had signs, or feelings, or they just knew. Some women dream the sex of their baby. My mother, when pregnant with me, said she had a dream where not only did she see what I was, but she saw my exact face! She knew ahead of time what I was going to look like. And I looked just like how she dreamed! That's weird.
So far I have had two dreams:

Dream #1 was at about 16 weeks or so. I was in a warehouse of some sort. My parents were there and my brother and sister in law and SHM. Everyone was going about their business, doing their own thing in the warehouse which was all completely normal. I am pregnant in the dream, but not very... maybe half way, but I suddenly go into labor. I start yelling to people because I know that I am early, but the baby just shoots right out. Probably within 30 seconds. I am relieved, no labor! That was so easy! And I have a boy. A suddenly 3 year old boy, with red hair. Everyone is excited.

Dream # 2 was at about 20 weeks. This time I am completely asleep for the labor (are you noticing a theme?) and wake up to SHM handing me the baby. This time it's a girl. I am a little bummed that I missed out on the entire birthing experience, although I am happy that I am not in pain. This time I am in a proper hospital. But it looks like a ski chalet, and we have two rooms, one with a fire place. Petunia is there with us as well. SHM and I look at each other and look at our girl. I keep saying the name we have picked out in advance and he doesn't respond. Finally I say "don't you like this name? I thought we had agreed on it?" and he says "sure sure, we can change it" and then I am confused. What is her name then? SHM replies "Stephanie Francesco". At this point I start to yell and cry, and I think I throw my phone at him and yell something that I cannot call my parents and tell them the baby is named Stephanie Francesco. He says "ok, ok, I'll change it, no bid deal". And that's the end of the dream.

So those are my two dreams so far. Not very helpful in terms of predicting the sex. Although now, instead of calling the baby "it" we call it "Steffi Francesco".

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Plights of Pregnancy Catch Up to Me

At week 28 I have been reading more books and blogs about pregnancy. I have to say, compared to some of the stories I have read, my pregnancy hasn't been so bad (KNOCK ON LOTS OF WOOD). There are a lot of side effects associated with pregnancy that have kept a happy distance from me. There was some fatigue and nausea first trimester, but nothing too severe. I never actually threw up which seems like a miracle, and I could keep a fairly good handle on my upset stomach by taking my prenatals at night and keeping to a strict diet of cereal, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, and anything made out of carbs. And then, as I entered week 12, the nausea went away. Salads, chicken, fish and other healthy sources of protein no longer make me cringe- hurrah!
I spent my second trimester waiting for various shoes to drop. I was waiting for the heightened sense of smell, the weird food cravings, the spidery stretch marks. But.. nothing... So far, so good.
Until today. Today I am starting to feel quite pregnant. As I scurry across campus from one meeting to another, I feel more like I'm waddling then walking. I have been drinking lots of water (need to stay hydrated!), but today, the baby has decided to plant itself upon my bladder. So of course, I've gone to the bathroom a million times and probably within ten minutes of going, I start to need to go again. But, of course, the urge to go is not gradual like it should be. It's urgent, immediate. Like something is pressing hard on my bladder, and then kicks me in the bladder in case I wasn't getting the message.
Finally, for the past few weeks, in the evenings when SHM and I are done watching TV, he has been sweet and given me little boosts off the couch. We laugh about it, and the fact that "wow, I'm really looking pregnant". But it has always been more of a gesture then really necessary. Tonight, as I sit on the couch writing this blog, I need to get up and go to the bathroom. The effort both of us need to put forth in getting me off the couch is no longer a "little boost" nor is it a gesture. It is quite real and quite necessary. This realization and the fact that I still have 12 weeks to go and the baby has about 5 pounds to gain is my biggest plight of pregnancy so far.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pregnant Thoughts

The last time I wrote for this blog I was 4 weeks pregnant and didn't know it yet. I am now 6 months pregnant and staring down the third trimester. Starting 6 months ago, my feelings about pregnancy were ranging from being shocked, to excited, to anxious, to excited, to panicked, to excited, to panicked again (notice the theme) and now I am just impatient. There is an awful lot of build up to the "biggest change of your life". You hear a lot of comments like "Better get your sleep now!" or "It will change your life" or "Have your fun now, it's all going to come to an end soon". Encouraging. And unlike planning for your wedding (which is also 9 months of build up, sometimes more), the fear of this unknown puts a light damper on the excitement. You know your life is about to change forever. You know it's monumental. You just can't possibly imagine what it's REALLY like. This isn't just build up for a big fun party and a pretty white dress. This is the build up of a whole new little PERSON. A person who is, by the way, growing inside you. A person who is kicking you from the inside out, much like you'd imagine an alien would if it somehow got stuck inside your stomach. And this little person will need you for every second of every day for everything for YEARS. Until they don't and they're yelling at you to leave them alone. This is not at all intimidating. BUT, we stay positive.
This week I have exactly 3 months to go until my due date (December 27- Christmas Baby? New Years Baby? Can I just be 10 days early??). As I have settled into my emotions (or maybe it's the hormones that have temporarily settled), I am noticing that there is a lot about being pregnant that I will want to remember (and a lot that I'll happily forget but laugh at later). So, for the next few months be prepared for my pregnant musings. Hopefully one day Baby Mattison will think it all as funny as I did.

Monday, April 18, 2011

We So Excited!

The 7th Grade trip to NYC was a success! We navigated all 40 girls through Brooklyn, Times Square and Ellis Island without incident despite the fact that they much more concerned with staring up at the lights on Times Square than with watching where we were going and had to be re-herded on several occasions. I won't bore you with the whole trip, but here are some amusing stories:
The girls were so excited to get to NY, we could barely contain them on the bus. One particularly animated young lady narrated a large portion of our trip through song, to the tune of "Friday" by Rebecca Black. If you haven't heard it yet, you need to... it's a YouTube and Middle School phenomenon. She also had a cute little game called "firsts" which went like this: "first hydrant!" "first New York doctor!" "first New York puppy!" first sbarros" first park!" "first orange car" "first guy riding a bicycle!" "first blue door!" "first deli!" "first, wait, what's that? Tasty Dee-Lite? OHH let's go there it looks yummy!" You get the drift.
Later that evening, we chaperones surprised the girls with a side trip to Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum. The girls were running all over getting pictures of every statue (the most popular were Beyonce, Michael Jackson, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Taylor Swift, with Justin Bieber being the main objective). One of my advisees who WORSHIPS Taylor Swift, started to cry when she saw the statue! To which a confused classmate whispered to me quietly "but it's not the REAL Taylor Swift".
Since we were rushing through in order to make it to the theater in time, I was constantly ushering girls to move along, while also trying to remind them that they were in public and could not be hyper shrieking girls, but to remain somewhat composed. During these efforts, I ushered a stranger by the arm (she saw what I was trying to do and laughed). I also yelled at two of my girls for jumping in front of a woman taking a picture of the Michael Jackson statue, only to realize that the photographer was also made of wax. Creepy. I definitely could see a horror movie out of all this (wasn't there one? Starring Paris Hilton?).
So overall, a great trip; exhausting but great! The girls seemed to have a great time. And now I don't have to go again until next year:)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New York! New York!

I am writing this on the eve of my third Middle School Chaperoning Trip at Girls Prep. We are taking the 7th grade to New York City for two days and one night. We will walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, take the train, walk through Times Square, see a Broadway show (Lion King), and take them to Ellis Island. All this, without losing a single girl. I have spent a few afternoons answering questions like "Can you tell us who we're rooming with? Can you tell us the bus seats? What about just the first name? What about the first initial of the last name? Can we bring snacks on the bus? Can we bring snacks to the hotel? Can we buy snacks in Time Square, Can we buy snacks at the play? What if we get lost?
As I go over the details again and again, I can't help but reminisce about my own school trips.
In 4th grade I was at Progressive Elementary and we were studying American History. We took a trip to the Old State House and put flowers on the spot of the Boston Massacre and had a memorial service (complete with eulogies) for those who died. I was shocked 7 years later when I found out it wasn't so much a massacre, as an angry mob provoking soldiers. I remember sitting in my AP US History class saying "No, wait, but in elementary school they told me that... wait, that's NOT what happened??!!"
The next trip was in 6th grade, still at Progressive Elementary. This time it was a week-long trip to Nova Scotia. 20 boys and girls, ages 11, with no parents, just teachers. How brave our teachers were! Some of them even camped. In tents! I'm stressed about going away for one night in a hotel. But of course, in 6th grade, it was amazing and most of the trip I still remember.
My last class trip was in 8th grade, at Girls Prep. This was before they started going to Washington D.C., but when we would go up to Quebec City. By bus. We were in French-Speaking-Canada with only half of us speaking French (and those who did, it was only 8th grade French). I remember walking around the city, walking in a mall, but mostly I remember the ridiculous games we played in our hotel room (the very fancy Le Chateau Frontenac). I really don't think we slept at all (I actually think we challenged ourselves not to). And, much to the chagrin of our French-Canadian Security Guard (who didn't specialize in interacting with Middle School girls), we had a hilarious, fabulous, amazing time with no sleep. That's what it will be like for the girls tomorrow (but add back the sleep please). They'll bond as a class and have great memories of running around New York City. I just hope they don't run too far or sleep too little or I won't make it to Friday.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


If you follow this blog, you can likely gleam that I am not a morning person. Those who knew me in high school knew that my mornings were so well coordinated to maximize sleep, that I could get out of bed and to school within 5 minutes. Those who knew me in college knew that I could orchestrate my Saturday with supplies surrounding me (phone, computer, remote, snacks), so that I wouldn't have to get out of bed at all. I always had an appreciation for mornings. But I admired them from a distance, like an expensive pair of shoes or a marathon runner. Impressive, but out of reach. But now, in the final months of my 30th year and have noticed some significant changes. I think my long term motivation has been SHM, who has always loved the mornings. But more recently, I think it was my jet-lagged return from London that has pushed me over to the mornings. When we first got back we were naturally waking up early, as our bodies adjusted to the time change. But then, it started getting easier and easier to get up early. Granted, its always been easier to wake up early when you have nothing to do for the rest of the day. Once school began, my enthusiasm in the morning waned quite a bit. However, today, the first Saturday since vacation ended, I found myself at a spinning class at 7:00am. And liking it! By 9:00am this morning I had spun for an hour, had a leisurly coffee and breakfast stop with SHM, come home and showered. And I feel great! It's quite possible that I have turned the corner and seized the mornings! Who would have thought? If my 19 year old self could see me now, she wouldn't recognize me. But I think that's ok.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Glorious Britain! Part III

The next two days in London were similar to the day before, but with each day a different section of London. Tuesday was east and the Tower of London. This was by far the most highly anticipated venue given its high profile status in The Tudors series. We spent close to 5 hours touring all the different towers (there are several) and getting a personal tour and hearing the various stories from when it was a palace to the most notorious jail. Interesting and spooky fact: Upon Anne Bolelyn's execution, when the ax man held up her severed head, instead of cheering and chanting "Long Live the King!, as the crowd was supposed to do, they all gasped in unison. It is said that her eyes and mouth were still moving as if praying and looking about the crowd! OOOOOOHHHH. We went into towers where they have preserved graffiti etched in by former prisoners, and to the chapel where ex-Queens Anne Bolelyn and Catherine Howard were buried, We saw the AMAZING crown jewels (some of us went around the conveyor more than once).
From the Tower, we walked on to St. Paul's Cathedral (incredible, with the most sophisticated ipod audio tour). From there we crossed the Millennium Bridge and spent the afternoon at the Tate Modern. Of all the museums I have seen, this was quite an interesting one. I thoroughly enjoyed the Picasso exhibit, and seeing Pollack, Miro, Matisse and Warhol. I did not enjoy as much, the exhibits of "bulls-eye made with pebbles", "White Splotch on the Wall" and "Mirror". I actually missed the mirror entirely to which SHM said, "That's because it was a mirror". Right.
Although we were exceptionally tired, we made our way down the Victoria Embankment, mainly on the hunt for a cute pub for some snacks or dinner. We began walking in, away from the river, at the Temple Bar stop and wandered to Rouge Cafe, a very cute little bistro that made us feel like we had jumped the channel and were eating in Paris.
On Wednesday our now bruised feet took us north. We tried again to see Westminster Abbey, and success! Thank goodness because we stayed here about 3 hours. We saw the tombs of half of the British Monarchy: Elizabeth I, Mary I (entombed together, although they were rivals in life). Mary Queen of Scots, Henry VII and his wife Elizabeth of York, among others. We also toured through "Poet's Corner" to see the tombs and monuments of Lewis Carrol, Henry James, Jane Austen, Chaucer, Handel, and many many others.

From here, we walked north passed the National Gallery, and into the area of Covent Garden. Here we again were transported to Boston. Although this time we are standing in a pedestrian market place: there is a main center where a street performer is doing contortions and magic to the delight of school children on tour. Behind the performer is a large columned building that housed the food stations. The only thing missing were the words "Quincy Market". After a little shopping and a bite for lunch we continued north to the British Museum. Not originally on our itinerary, we added it once we read that it was the oldest museum in the world and home to the Rosetta Stone. How could we not go? Luckily for us, and our feet, the Rosetta Stone was in the "Ancients" exhibit, right on the ground floor, as you enter. We stayed to see the massive Egyptian exhibit as well as bits from the Parthenon. It was all very incredible, very amazing and very old. But on our fourth day of seeing old, incredible, amazing things, we were at our maximum saturation of old, incredible, amazing things. We exited the British Museum and met Briggie for dinner at a bustling restaurant in the theater district called Brown's. Very good, although SUPER busy and our waiter was greatly flustered all the time (we had to ask him three separate times for flatware). Although he did give us complimentary champagne:)
Finally, our great tour ends with Hampton Court. Another highly anticipated stop! We were there for 5 hours and toward the end felt rushed and could have used another hour. Hampton Court was a palace originally built by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey (Henry VIII's chief advisor), but when he fell out of favor with the King (mainly because he could not get the pope to approve Henry's divorce from Katherine of Aragon), he "gave" his palace to the King and went to the Tower (although he suspiciously died along the way). The staff was incredibly welcoming and friendly (they held our bags for us, since we were heading straight to the airport). The palace was "interactive" with "Henry VIII" and his courtiers roaming the grounds and doing little presentations in the different halls. We, of course, were most interested in the Tudor section (there is also a section built by William and Mary as well as a "Georgian" section).
We saw the Great Hall of Henry VIII as well as the Royal Chapel. It was just amazing to be standing and walking in the same rooms as all of these historic people! We saw doorways engraved with roses and pomegranates (the symbols of Henry and Katherine). Then, in the Great Hall, that was originally built for Anne Bolelyn, our attention was turned to a wood carving of an H and A intertwined. The hall had been full of these carvings to commemorate the marriage of Henry and Anne, but when she was executed all signs of her were destroyed... except this one carving... ooooohhhhh. In the next grand hall with saw the coat of arms of Jane Seymour decorating the ceiling. So neat.
It was a fantastic way to end our trip. We saw everything we were hoping to see (minus some royals) and more! We can't wait to come back and see more of the countryside!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Glorious Britain! Part II

Monday began with a lesson on British Railway. Our lovely host walked us to our station, Watford Junction, helped us buy Oyster Cards (like a Charlie Card), and instructed us on how to change to the Tube. All went without a hitch for the entire trip! We didn't get lost, or misdirected or confused. It's a very user-friendly system. We did however witness the potential peril of riding the tube. That first day, as we were waiting for our train to pull away from the station, not one but two different people got caught in the train's closing doors. What's even scarier is that it did not seem that the doors had motion sensors, like ours do. They seemed to hit quite hard and take a minute to release. One poor woman, had the door close on her arm, causing her to release her Oyster card and drop it in the gap between the train car and the platform. She and her husband got off the train to try to retrieve the card, and we saw them board our very same train car about 4 stops later. These gaps can range anywhere between a step down of about 4 inches, or a full space of air about half a foot wide. No wonder it's posted everywhere and announced at every station.

We arrive at the Westminster stop, ready to begin our great tour of London. We walk out of the station- Big Ben! We walk across the street to Westminster Abbey... CLOSED! Curses! Tough start. So we continue walking. We walk through the lovely St. James Park, through to Buckingham Palace. We cut over through Knightsbridge to Harrod's and then the Victoria and Albert Museum. We then walk next door to the Natural History Museum because Pablo tells us about its amazing entry way. We follow the crowd in and WOW- it is amazing! It is set up like the galaxy with constellations on the ceiling and an enormous earth that has an escalator that goes up into it. So then you are IN the middle of the earth- so cool! Too bad it wasn't the right entrance. Later that night we checked our tour book and saw that the actual entry way he was talking about is a magnificent, old, gold and intricate ceiling, not the galaxy exhibit. Blast! This museum also had an earthquake exhibit, in which there is a model of a Japanese convenient store where you can stand and feel a real earthquake. Given recent events, this was kind of spooky.
From here we walked up to Kensington Garden which was just lovely. It reminded us of being in Boston Common. Actually, a lot of London reminded us of Boston, like Boston is a mini version of London. I think all of Boston could fit into Hyde Park. The funniest thing in the parks were the large groups of tourists taking pictures of squirrels. Is that another link between Boston and London? Does no one else have squirrels? People were posing with squirrels, trying to feed them. So strange. Meanwhile, we find city bicycles that were FREE for 30 minutes- only 1 pound for 24 hours. Nevermind that it took a good 20 minutes and 3 different people helping us to figure out how to unlock these bikes, we finally did it and rode up and down the park:)
The highlight of Kensington was the palace! Under renovation, it had a special exhibit called "Enchanted Palace". Each of the rooms we went through was designed for a certain princess who lived at the Palace. Each room was also designed by a different artist with a different interpretation. This is the picture from Queen Victoria's room. Other princesses included were Diana, Margaret, Mary, Charlotte and Caroline. Each princess with her own story and with intrigue and secrets.

This was our last stop and we could barely walk another step. Instead of wandering up to Notting Hill, which had been our plan, we walked toward Holland Park, where we were meeting Pabs and Briggie for dinner. We paused at a place called Mall Tavern, and it was heaven! Quiet, with cheap bar snacks (soda bread and butter for 2 pounds, Dorset Meatballs for 3), and chill music. It was just what we needed to rest our weary feet.
From here we met up with Pabs and Briggie at the restaurant Belvedere, which was very lovely and fancy. The perfect end to our second day in London!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Glorious Britain! Part I

We have been back from England for a couple of days now. It has taken a thorough recovery from the 5 days of intensive walking in non-supportive shoes. For the third morning in a row, I have woken up on my own before 8:00am, which I guess is a good habit to start. Today, I am sitting at my kitchen table, drinking newly purchased English Breakfast Tea out of my newly purchased William and Kate Royal Wedding Commemorative Mug and reminiscing with SHM about our fabulous trip.
The trip began with a very easy flight, direct, to Heathrow, with a car picking us up. Everything was arranged by our fabulous host, Brigitte, who booked us dinners, researched trains, and did any other leg work we needed. We arrived in London and were shuttled to Pablo's (Brigitte's paramour) house in Fulham, a section of London equivalent to Brookline. The scenery throughout London is much like what we see on TV. It was so realistic, that it almost looked like a caricature of itself. Skinny little streets packed with brick or stone row houses and little biddy cars. I was assured that all roads are two-way, but I really don't see how that's possible.
For our first dinner in London we went to a swanky little place around the corner from Pablo's called the Sands End, confirmed to be a watering hole of Prince Harry, but no sightings today (in fact, no sightings at all of any members of the royal family. Very disappointing). This spot proved to be quite lively. It was so loud that it was easier to observe other patrons than to talk to each other. At one point we were all trying to speak, when what appeared to be a ball of fire came flying in, through SHM's hair, and landed on the table. It was a lit match, catapulted by a bloke at the table next to us, who was quite inebriated, but still quite stunned (and I think a little proud) that it had made it all the way to our table. He apologized profusely, and SHM, and his hair, remained nicely intact.
Sunday morning we arose bright and early and set out to Stonehenge. Pablo graciously drove us. The weather started out pouring rain, but cleared quickly, and we luckily saw no more rain the rest of our trip. Stonehenge is literally in the middle of rolling fields, although back in the day, it would have been in the middle of a forest. You can see it quite early from the road, and from that large distance, it looks a bit small with a thin line of people who look like ants circling like satellites in orbit. We arrived and received a free audio tour. Up close, the stones are really something. Gigantic and looming, and we find out there is at least 10 feet worth of stone underground. Incredible! We learned about the construction, about the design, theories as to what it was used for, but two questions remain unanswered: WHY? and by WHO? Very mysterious and intriguing.
From Stonehenge, we continue our road trip to Windsor Castle, royal residence when the Queen is on holiday from Buckingham Palace. The Castle was built after William the Conqueror invaded around 1066, and is the birth place of many monarchs as early as Edward III in 1312. The grounds and the interior are all incredible. Despite quite a devastating fire in 1992, the Castle has been kept in amazing condition (and was renovated after the fire using Medieval techniques to keep authenticity). The slight disappointment was the fact that we couldn't go into St. George's Chapel as it was closed for Sunday worship. Inside is the tomb of Henry VIII and his favorite wife Queen Jane Seymour.

It was a packed first day, and Brigitte and Pablo were wonderful tour guides. The next day begins our adventures as we navigate Central London on our own.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Games We Played

In my work with Middle School girls, I am reminded daily of "how things have changed." Just as often, I am also reminded of the many ways I have changed since 7th grade. This may seem obvious: me, now 30, am of course different from me, at 12 years old. And it is obvious. But sometimes, like today, I am surprised.
I am sitting in my 7th grade Health class observing a senior teach a class on peer pressure. The girls are instructed to write down on a instance where they have been pressured to do something they didn't want to do. There are a lot of examples as innocent as "one time my friends made me jump off a really high diving board even though I was afraid", to the more risque like "my friend tried to make me kiss her brother because he liked me, but I didn't like him." Then came one about Truth or Dare. "I hate when we play Truth or Dare because I am afraid my friends will make me do something I don't want to." This got a major reaction from the rest of the class. They all chimed in: "YEAH, what do we do? How do we avoid it?" The teacher and I are both surprised by the reaction. She says "Is this, like, a huge deal for you guys? Is Truth or Dare still super popular?" "OH YES!" say the girls. And then one girl speaks for the class: "Oh My God! When do you STOP playing it?!!?"
Ah, to be an age when the certainties in life are school, friends and Truth or Dare.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I wrote this back in December, but never finished it. As I reread it today, even though its a little belated and not as thorough as I intended, I am still posting it, more to keep the memory than anything else.

Holiday traditions have come and gone in my family. But no matter if they lasted two years or 10, they have made a lasting impression on me and the way I celebrate the holidays:
Present Scavenger Hunt
Christmas morning at my other grandparents house- with all 7 cousins (each one year apart in sequential order) sitting on one gold velvet couch open stocking presents from matching stockings with ET on them (mine now hangs on my banister)
Listening to Christmas Revels, alternating with Secret Garden Sound track, while Eating clementines and writing Christmas cards
Going Christmas Shopping with Tai the day after break in Fanieul Hall
Christmas Stroll in Nantucket

Growing up we never had a real Christmas tree. That's not to say we never had a tree. In my early years (0-4? 5 maybe) we had a small silver tree that sat on a table. The trunk was made of cardboard and had holes to stick in the branches. Once that tree retired to holiday heaven, it took a couple of years to find a proper replacement. A large tree wasn't a great option in our Somerville house, but we (and by we, I mean me) still wanted some way to make the house festive. While our Somerville house was too small for a tree, it did have some great pillars separating the living and dining rooms. So began the tradition of evergreen boughs to spiral up one pillar, across the top and down the second pillar. This was quite an engineering feat, as it was made of real evergreen branches attached with string, and not one long pliable piece of greenery. There was nailing and tacking and stringing into place- but eventually it would be up and gorgeous with white lights and a view of select ornaments (most of which sit on my tree today).

Friday, January 21, 2011

Freak Accident

Freaky things happen to my husband. For those who have known him, you know that weird things gravitate to him at an alarming rate. Technology stops working for him, but magically revives when someone else tries. Items fall or break seemingly just when he looks at them. Those who know my husband have likely heard the dirt muffin story, or the splinter up the fingernail while skiing story. I have heard these stories, amongst others, and have been warned of his "curse", that it would inevitably transfer to me. But last night, I saw it in action.
We are sitting on the coach, watching The Office, when SHM gets up to get some water. He yells in pain. By simply stepping down, he has somehow managed to get a massive splinter lodged into the ball of his foot. Something else you should know about him to complete this story: He is incredibly ticklish. Not just a little, but unbelievably ticklish, particularly on his feet. So perhaps you can imagine the trouble it was for me just to hold his foot to assess the damage. Most splinters come out with tweezers. This one was a good 3 millimeters under the skin. You could see the shadowy form- about half a centimeter long sitting nicely under the ball. Off to the ER we go. We arrive at 10:15pm. By 12:15am we are in with the doctor. Poor SHM, not for the pain of pulling out the splinter, but for the immense concentration and effort it took for him not to flail about and kick the doctor in the face as she removed it.
All we can do is laugh, including the doctor, at the ridiculousness of the whole scene. We walked out at about 12:40, giggling with relief that splinter was out. Just another freak accident in the life of my husband.